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Cash, Credit, Debit, or Travelers Checks for Daughter going to Switzerland?

My daughter is 17 and going to Switzerland in two weeks. I was wondering what form of money she should take. we got her a debit card but is that safe? I grew up with travelers checks but I hear that those are obsolete. Is that right? Time is growing short.

What, in your travel savy opinions, should I do? She is meeting a 28 year x-exchange student we had for 10 months at our house 12 years ago. She has arranged a 15 railpass and will be my daughter's guilde for her three week visit. She is flying by herself! Thanks for your help

Posted by
13225 posts

Yes, Switzerland uses Swiss francs, not euros. It would be very expensive to buy that much foreign currency ahead of time, and no need. ATM's are all over Switzerland, and are very safe.

Also---just so you know--Swiss phones are the world's best bargain. She can call you from any SwissCom phone booth with a credit card (or she can buy a phone card). The display will show exactly what the call costs, and the amount it shows is accurate (I confirmed this with my VISA bill). The initial charge is 1.80 SFr (shown as 1,80 European style). But the per-minute charge is very low. Most of my calls home (5 to 8 minutes) eneded up around 2.80 SFr. It is less expensive than computer time for e-mailing, even.

Posted by
223 posts

Joe,

Typically, I'd say just give her a debit card. However, since she's meeting the exchange student, I thought I'd throw out the idea of you giving her some money to start from home so she can get herself over to Switzerland - and transferring the rest to the exchange student's bank account for your daughter. You might want to check to see what any fees might be and compare the two (ATM v. Transfer)

Posted by
4555 posts

Debit cards are the ONLY way to go these days for cash transactions. Most merchants simply won't taken them any more, and fees to cash them at exchange bureaus and banks are impossibly high....possibly as an emergency reserve, but that's all. I always travel with TWO debit cards from two separate institutions...if I lose one, a quick phone call back home, my kids transfer money from one bank to the other, and I'm back in business! Don't forget, in an emergency, you can always wire money, eg, Western Union....but you'll get hosed on the exchange rate AND the fees.

Posted by
4555 posts

Sorry..."most merchants won't take them"...refers to travellers cheques :)

Posted by
223 posts

The Swiss are still on the Swiss franc, not the Euro so unless she's going to travel outside of Switzerland, don't send her with many Euros.

Posted by
59 posts

I have found that a debit card from a credit union works best for me. My CU doesn't charge transaction, conversion, or ATM fees. My regular bank charges all of these fees and so does my Citibank credit card. The only extra charges I get are for using the card as a VISA to purchase something and then I get a 1% transaction fee. Check with your bank to see what charges are associated with its use in a foreign country.

Remember to let the bank know that the card will be used outside the country so it doesn't get frozen. Also check to see what the daily withdrawal limit is. In October 2006, mine was $500 and in April/May of this year, the most I could get was $343 (250 euros). If your daughter gets refused, tell her to try asking for a lower amount.

ATMs are everywhere in Switzerland and will give you a good exchange rate. They use a 4 digit PIN number, not letters.