We plan to buy our half price tickets at an Interlaken rail station when we arrive from Salzburg. Will this be a problem? Should I apply for an AMEX card asap? Many thanks ahead of time for any help in answering this question for us.
Visa will work fine.
From the Swiss Rail site:
Here’s what the ticket machines accept.
Reka cheques and Reka Card
Credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, myOne, Diners and JCB)
SBB Gift Card
Problems seem to be with on-line transactions which pass through their banks credit card vetting systems. Never had a problem with in-person transactions. In fact, at times I have emailed credit card info directly and they (not specifically SBB in this case) were able to process the transaction when their automated on-line bank processor did not allow it.
Thank you both for your quick responses!
10 years ago we were unable to purchase train tickets from a machine in Zurich with our Visa card---the machine wanted a PIN. Debit card with a PIN worked fine.
Last trip to Switzerland, in 2015, we had a chip and PIN Visa card so the issue did not arise. I assume a PIN is required for the ticket machines, but one can see an agent for ticket purchases if using a Visa card without a PIN.
Can someone confirm that?
If a pin is required, it is usually from the bank who issued the card. I would telephone your bank and ask if they will require one. sbb.ch takes all the usual credit and debit cards. If you will have internet, the easiest way to purchase tickets is by downloading the sbb.ch app. You can access train schedules, buy your tickets, etc.
...one can see an agent for ticket purchases if using a Visa card without a PIN.
Yes, Visa chip and signature not a problem at staffed SBB ticket counters this past March.
As the others have said credit cards shouldn't be a problem at Swiss rail stations although if you don't have a Chip & PIN card, you may have to use a staffed ticket window.
I wouldn't bother with an AmEx card. Visa and Mastercard are generally much more widely accepted throughout Europe than AmEx.
Thank you for all of the helpful responses. They are much appreciated!
Amex used to be nice to have because of the help available at their offices, but the world runs on Visa and Mastercard. Don't bother.
Also, make sure you have a variety of cards from different banks on you. Guaranteed that at some point one won't work and another will for no reason.
Switzerland is the banking capital of the world. You won't have any problems using a credit card or debit card unless, of course, you choose poorly and get suckered into one of those awful "prepaid" travel cards. Just say NO to them.
Thank you for the reassurance!
I just got back from Switzerland. I was able to use my Visa cards. First at the staffed ticket office at Zurich airport and then in the ticket machine in Bern. My cards are chip and signature and it worked fine in the machine.
As an aside, using cc was very easy throughout the country. Everything from Coop markets on up. I used the self check out lane at Coop and the attendant printed out a receipt for me to sign.
I purposely got a chip and PIN card from Andrews, but everywhere I used it I had to sign. I guess it was programmed to default to that.