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Getting cash in Zurich

Hi there,
Ive done some research and seem to see that using an ATM to get cash in Switzerland is probably the cheapest way to go a out getting cash in Switzerland. Can anyone else confirm this? I plan on making most purchases on my credit card that has no foreign transaction fee, however I also plan on taking around 200 francs out as well in case I need cash. Also, how much can I expect to be tacked on for this 200 CHT ATM withdrawal and where is best to do so?
Thank you!

Posted by
6996 posts

An ATM is almost always the cheapest way to get currency anywhere, but fees depend on your bank and/or your card so you'll have to read the fine print yourself!

Posted by
5697 posts

Also, check that the ATM does not provide "bill in your currency" as the default option -- I saw more of that in Switzerland than anyplace else. Easy to overlook as you click your way through the screens. Just READ the message and click "no" as needed.

Posted by
7976 posts

I just passed the last 4 days in Switzerland. I only needed cash once and that was at a restaurant in a very remote hiking location that mostly just locals eat at and the menu was only in German. I took out 80 chf and that was all I needed over 4 days. When you pay with a card or you take out cash like the above poster said always select to pay or take it out in CHF do not select the currency conversion rate in USD. Every machine will ask you that.

Posted by
33123 posts

you are not planning on using that no exchange fee credit card to get cash are you? If you do it will be the most expensive way.

If it is a debit card you will use, that will be the cheapest. Don't be surprised if when use withdraw CHF 100 you get one single CHF100 note. They are the usual way in Switzerland where they are not in any way uncommon. If you don't want one get CHF90 or CHF 190 (then you'll only get one).

Posted by
2771 posts

Nigel, great tip on how to get some smaller bills!! Do you have any tricks for turning paper bills into coins? One of my biggest worries is how will we get enough coins for the public toilets. 😊 I assume Swiss banks won’t change money for noncustomers.

Posted by
8586 posts

Carrie, some of the Swiss banks will have exchange windows or a separate kiosk for exchange. I used one at a Credit Suisse bank in Luzern to change some leftover euro for CHF a couple of years ago. Rates were not good but I wasn't concerned about that for a small quantity.

Posted by
7976 posts

Only some of the smaller train station toliets require coins. There is always a convenient store attached to or nearby the train station where you can buy water or a snack to get some coins in a pinch. I needed 9 CHF coins yesterday to put my bag in a locker at the Montreux station and went to a COOp store to make the change.

Posted by
4528 posts

The bathrooms in the Bern train station were pay to play, I'm guessing they only wanted bills or coins.

There was also a price difference if you were going to, well, use your imagination.

Posted by
4981 posts

As a rule, the least expensive way of getting any local currency is from an ATM at your destination. However, it's always a good idea, in my opinion, to have local currency in hand when you arrive. Getting two or three hundred Swiss Francs from your local bank will cost a little more, but it eliminates the hassle of finding a machine, of hoping it works (they do occasionally malfunction), and doing it while somewhat jet lagged. The small amount extra it cost to have money in hand when arriving is money well spent, and the extra cost relative to the overall cost of the trip is not that much.

Regardless, be sure to notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling. Otherwise they may see a foreign transaction, suspect fraud, and shut down access to your cards.

Posted by
11380 posts

I plan on making most purchases on my credit card that has no foreign transaction fee, however I also plan on taking around 200 francs out as well in case I need cash

To add emphasis to Nigel's comment DO NOT USE A CREDIT CARD to get cash.( unless it is literally a life or death situation). When you get the monthly bill you could be subject to heart stoppage issues.

Posted by
31 posts

Hi everyone,
Thanks for the help! I do not plan on using my credit card to get cash and will use my debit card. I will probably tone it down to 150 CHF because its sounds like it won't be too needed.
Thanks to everyone for the comments!

Posted by
20309 posts

Also, how much can I expect to be tacked on for this 200 CHT ATM withdrawal and where is best to do so?

Most of the fees will come from your own bank. Check if they charge "Out of Network" fees, and "Foreign Transaction" fees. These are often 3% if you bank at one of the "monster megabanks" and megabank wannabees. Most credit unions charge less than 1%. And as said previously, decline any offers to be charged in your own currency if it pops up on the screen, very likely in Switzerland.

Posted by
3521 posts

Capital One is a good choice too, if you can still find one of their debit card accounts that doesn't charge a fee (as with mine).

Posted by
27349 posts

My old Capital One account started to charge fees late in 2019--after I returned from my most recent European trip, fortunately. I recently went online and set up a Capital One 360 account that doesn't charge out-of-network ATM fees. It was a simple process, but it does take a while for the ATM/debit card to arrive in the mail, so this is something that should not be delayed until the week before departure.

Capital One also has credit cards that don't carry foreign transaction fees. Some airline mileage cards have a similar policy, but not all of them.