What is the local currency?
The official currency is the Swiss franc divided into 100 centimes. (The Swiss-German word for cents is Rappen.)
Swiss francs are shortened either with the official banking name CHF (from the Latin name of the country Confederation Helvetica, CH) or sometimes just Fr. or Sfr.
For example, 1 CHF = 1 franc = 100 centimes.
What denominations does it come in?
Notes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1,000.
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50
What is the best way to exchange currency?
The best way to exchange currency is either at banks, post offices or at railway stations.
What are commonly-used forms of payment for everyday purchases (such as groceries)?
The most commonly-used forms of payment for everyday purchases are cash, debit cards and credit cards.
Checks are not used in Switzerland.
Will I be able to use my credit card around town? If not, list when I’ll need cash.
It is common to use credit cards in daily business. While major credit cards are very popular, there are still many places in Geneva and the rest of Switzerland that do not accept credit cards, such as newspaper stands and bakeries. Since you can never be too sure which places these are, be sure to carry at least a small amount of cash at all times. For quick withdrawals, a bank or post office will usually have an ATM machine.
By what method are bills (such as rent and utilities) paid?
Direct debit is an efficient way of paying rent, gas, water and electricity bills. Your bills are automatically deducted from your bank/post account. The various utility companies can help you with the arrangements. Internet banking is also a reliable and accessible option.
Should you choose not to arrange the automatic debit, you can arrange for a series of one-time payments for each bill. With each bill, you receive a payment slip (bulletin de versement) that you can use to pay it directly at the post office or send it to your bank or post office. The amount will be automatically paid from your account.
What are the requirements for opening a bank account? At what stage of the settling-in process should I open it?
A bank or post account can be opened at any stage, but the sooner the better. You will need the following:
- A valid passport
- Your work permit - failing this, a confirmation note (which you will be issued on registration at the Commune) confirming that you have registered and that your work permit is being processed
- A copy of your work contract
- A current address of residence
A very common way to open an account is to have your monthly salary transferred into the new account; this salary account will be free of bank charges.
For US citizens or US green card holders: please inquire at your bank of choice whether they follow a specific process or apply any restrictions in your case.
Will foreign residents be able to find banking services in their native languages?
All Swiss banks have employees well-versed in English, as well as other common languages used in Switzerland such as German, French and Italian.
Are there any restrictions on services for those who are new to your country?
Most banks will not grant you a loan before you have lived here for at least one year. Banks will only issue you a credit card when you can provide them with a copy of your work and/or residence permit. But you can always use your debit card until your permit has been granted.
What are typical banking hours?
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
They are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Major affiliates may be open on Saturday in the morning.
Are automatic teller machines (ATMs) available around the clock?
Yes, you can find ATM machines all around the city, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Is there any other money information that might help me?
The most common cards in Switzerland are the Maestro and the Post card, which are debit (rather than credit) cards linked to your current bank/post office account. These cards are accepted at department stores, supermarkets, gas stations and restaurants. They are a good alternative to other cards as there are many places in Switzerland that do not accept credit cards.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.