I'm planning to do a hut-to-hut 10-day hiking trip in Switzerland and am wondering if it would be worthwhile to open a Swiss bank account & use that ATM card for getting local currency. Or would it be just as easy to use my American credit union debit card.... Any thoughts?
Just use your US card, it will be accepted at most all ATMs in CH. I'm not sure what advantage you would get by opening a swiss account? It would probably take about 10 days for you to get your Swiss card after you opened the account.
Guess I was thinking that I could try to hedge on the exchange rate by opening an account now (anticipating that the dollar is going to continue to go down in value) when my trip isn't for several months....Seems, though, as I think it through, that it would be much easier to just the US card. Thanks for your reply!
Just make sure that you inform your US credit union that you will be traveling. I haven't had a problem with my credit union card while abroad, but many people report that they have had problems because their banks suspected fraudulent activity when they saw foreign transactions. You'll also want to make sure that the daily limit for withdrawals will work for you, or ask if it could be increased while you are gone.
If you want to hedge your currency, buy fxf through your local discount broker....this is a convenient way to buy foreign currency....buy now and sell after you return (or not...). If the Swiss Franc has appreciated against the dollar, you will get your money back on the increase in value of the fxf. After I got back from Europe last fall, I immediately bought a bunch of fxa (Austrailian dollars) knowing that the dollar would continue to fall (and wanting a better return than the Euro, fxe.)
Kris check out this post on ATM/ Charles Schwab:
There's no fee to use the ATM for cash.
Ive done one of the hut to hut trips with alpinehikers.com (with some hotels in between in larger towns). Great fun.
As for SFr - I just use my US ATM card, and I like to get there with a couple hundred dollars worth. If you want a swiss account - then you can walk in and apply for one but they may have fees and depending on if its small or large, you may not have online banking options like here is US. (there are some off rules about that with US citizens). Stick to large regional banks if you do - vs a huge international one. Also they never use checks - just credit-debit cards. If you plan to go a lot - it may be nice but it will be probably more of a hassle if you dont really need it. ATMs are all over, as banks are all over - even in the smallest towns.