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Unless you live entirely off the grid and get paid in cash, you need a bank account. But which Swiss Bank should you choose?
There are tons of Swiss banks. After all, Switzerland is the country of banks. However, contrary to popular belief, Swiss banks are not great!
Most Swiss banks are costly and offer poor service. You can find much cheaper and better banks in other countries. Fortunately, this situation is improving with new banks trying to break the status quo.
Which is the Best Swiss Bank in 2023? But first, we start with how we can choose a bank!
How to choose a bank?
There are many criteria you can use to compare banks. We see the most important parameters. Of course, some of your needs may be different than mine. So the best Swiss bank for me may not be the best for you!
The parameters will also depend on what you need. But here are the things most people need from a bank:
- A checking account to get their salary.
- A debit card to withdraw cash when you cannot use your credit card.
- Possibly, a savings account. But not everybody needs one. I have not used one in years.
You will also need a credit card. However, the best credit cards are not the ones you can get from a bank! I would encourage you to have a separate credit card from your bank account. If you do not know which one to choose, you can read about the best credit cards in Switzerland. So, for our comparison of banks, we will ignore credit cards.
1. The Base Price
First, you need to consider the price of the bank account. These days, you can find free bank accounts in Switzerland. So there is no reason to pay anything for a bank account!
You just need to be aware that some Swiss banks have some conditions to make it free. For instance, my current bank, Migros Bank, is free as long as I have 7’500 CHF in my bank account. These limitations are not an issue for me. I generally keep about 10’000 CHF on my account. But it could be an issue for people having less than that on their bank account.
So, before you choose a bank account, you need to know how much you will keep in your account.
2. The price of features
The base price of a bank account is essential, but we should not forget to look at the features’ prices.
First, you want a free debit card. You can find several banks with free debit cards, so there is no reason to pay for a debit card! You should not use it too much, of course. You should only use it to withdraw money. And you can use it if you cannot use a credit card.
Of course, you want to be able to do bank transfers in Switzerland for free! You do not want to pay extra money to pay your bills! You will also need bank transfers to send money to your broker (Interactive Brokers, for instance).
You may want cheap bank transfers in Europe in euros. This feature is not mandatory since you generally do not want to use your bank account for this. For this, you probably want to use Revolut to save on fees and bad conversion rates.
Finally, you want to be able to withdraw some cash for free! There are always some cases where you will need cash. You do not want to have to pay to get some money!
3. The security of the bank
Even if you do not keep much money in your bank account, you want your money to be safe.
For that, you should keep your money in a Swiss bank account. All Swiss bank accounts are insured for up to 100’000 CHF. If your bank goes bankrupt, you still get your money back.
You must ensure the money is kept in an institution with a Swiss banking license. You should not consider small startups that may not yet have a banking license.
If you are serious about security, learn how to secure your online finances!
4. Access to the bank services
For this one, it will highly depend on you. You need to decide how much access you want to your bank account.
Some people want an actual office with people in case they have an issue. I do not care about that. But that is not the case for everybody!
And also, sometimes, people want a local bank. They feel like they can trust more a regional bank. We have plenty of cantonal banks in Switzerland, and people seem to like them. This would be one of the last points I would use to compare the two banks. But if you want, that is something you can consider! I prefer to look at the ATMs of that bank rather than the bank itself.
Some people want a mobile application. And some people, like me, would prefer a web application. If you want a mobile or web application, you may want to ensure it works well. But you do not need to use your bank application a lot.
I use my bank account monthly to pay all my bills. Except for that time, I rarely check my bank account. As long as I can do that relatively quickly, I do not care how to do that. But I want to be able to do that from home.
But some people check their bank accounts daily. For these people, it is essential to have a powerful application that works well. If you are one of these people, I encourage you to find reviews of mobile apps of banks and maybe demos so that you can get a feel of it.
One important thing is where you can withdraw money for free! The lack of ATMs was a big issue for me with Postfinance. There were no ATMs where I could withdraw cash for free, close to where I worked or lived. It could be vital if you withdraw money often!
5. Features of the bank
Finally, the least important thing about a bank is its features.
You do not need anything fancy with your bank. For instance, I only use four features with my bank:
- Getting my salary in.
- Paying my bills by scanning them with my phone or computer.
- Transfer money to my broker.
- Withdraw cash from time to time.
That is it! And I do not think that people need any more features than that.
But if you need it, you could consider a few things.
One thing many people want to have is electronic bills. I do not like them. Using electronic bills will bind you with a bank. And that is bad. You want to be able to change to a new bank very easily. But some people like it and cannot live with it. So you could use that as an argument.
Another thing that some people want is to transfer transactions to their fancy budgeting tools, such as YNAB or Personal Capital. Once again, I do not think this is useful. You do not need any fancy budgeting tool. You just need a simple spreadsheet. And you can even have some budget applications for free! I do not understand people willing to pay for a budgeting tool.
Managing your budget with a simple spreadsheet will take you fifteen minutes a month! But if you want, this could limit the choice of your bank. I do not think it is a good argument. But that is up to you!
Some banks have even more features than that. Some banks try to do your budget for you, for instance. Some banks have features to automate bank transfers between accounts. But do you need that? Ultimately, deciding which feature is worth it will be up to you.
The two Best Swiss Banks
Based on these arguments, here are the two best Swiss banks in 2022:
- Neon is the best digital Swiss Bank
- Migros Bank is the best traditional Swiss Bank
I decided to choose one digital bank and one standard bank. Because some people do not yet want to move to a digital bank, I can understand them. And as it turns out, there are still some great Swiss Banks!
Also, there are more limits to digital banks currently. So, it still makes sense to have a traditional bank account.
And, of course, there are other Swiss banks than these two. And some of them are pretty good. But I do not want to give you a list of too many banks. That would be a waste of time for you and me! There is more value in a shorter list with two good banks.
The Best Digital Swiss Bank in 2022: Neon
Neon is an entirely digital bank. That means they do not have any office that you can walk in. Of course, they have some form of customer service. But all your operations will need to go through the mobile app.
Neon does not offer a Maestro card. Instead, Neon provides a Mastercard prepaid card. You can use this card where you usually use a Maestro card. But there are some exceptions in places that only accept Maestro cards.
Given its wide range of features and low price, Neon is currently the best digital Swiss bank.
If you enter the code “poorswiss” during registration, you will get 10 CHF for free once you use your account. And I will get 10 CHF as well.
1. The Base Price
Price is where Neon excels! The base price of a checking account with Neon is entirely free! That’s right. You will not pay any management fees! And you do not need a specific amount of money on your account for this to be valid!
Now, not all operations are free. For instance, you will still have to pay for transferring money abroad or receiving money in foreign currencies. But these are exceptional events.
2. The price of features
The price of features at Neon is also excellent! Pricing is where Neon shines compared to other Swiss banks.
You can make payments for free in Switzerland in CHF. These payments are for all our bills and all your money transfers!
With your Mastercard, you can purchase things online and abroad in foreign currencies for free! These free purchases abroad are probably one of the most significant advantages of Neon.
If you transfer money abroad from Neon, you will profit from their partnership with Wise. So, you will also pay very low fees for transferring money to other countries.
Neon does not offer a Maestro card. Instead, they provide a MasterCard. It is different than most Swiss banks. But Neon offers the MasterCard for free! But you may have to use cash in places that only accept Maestro.
You can also use your Neon card with Google Pay. So you can pay in many shops.
Finally, you can also withdraw money at any ATM for free! However, you only have two free ATM withdrawals per month. After this, you will have to pay 2 CHF for each withdrawal. If you are like me and trying to avoid cash, you should be more than okay with two monthly withdrawals. I generally withdraw money less than once a month.
3. The safety of the bank
All Swiss bank accounts are insured for up to 100’000 CHF. But Neon is not a bank. However, your funds are deposited in your name with the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg bank. This bank has a Swiss banking license.
So, as long as you do not have over 100’000 CHF, your money is fully insured!
4. Access to The Bank
Access to the features of the bank is entirely on your phone. That means that your bank is always in your pocket!
As for withdrawals, you can use all ATMs in Switzerland. It is great because this is not the case for many banks!
Another great thing is that the website is entirely translated into all national languages and English! The application itself is also available in English! If you are an ex-pat and do not yet speak one of the national languages, this could be very important to you!
Finally, customer service is available by email and by phone. But you will not be able to talk to people in person since they do not have offices for the customers.
Overall, Neon has more than enough features for most people. The mobile application is excellent and very easy to use.
You can scan your bills with your phone to get the reference number! This feature can save you a lot of time. But these days, it is almost there in all mobile banking applications.
Also, you can easily download account statements in PDF. This feature is essential if you want to archive them! You can also receive an SMS notification when something happens to your account. This feature could be helpful.
Neon is also the only digital Swiss bank with support for e-bills. On top of that, Neon has a few extra features. For instance, you can send money directly to other users of Neon.
One of the missing features for me is the lack of a Maestro card. It is not a huge deal. But there are still shops and offices that do not take credit cards. And for these shops, you must plan to have cash beforehand.
The Best Standard Swiss Bank in 2022: Migros Bank
If you prefer a standard brick-and-mortar Swiss Bank, I recommend Migros Bank. I am currently using Migros Bank as my main bank account.
One thing you need to be aware of is that the application is not available in English. If you are an ex-pat and do not speak one of our national languages, I recommend going with Neon instead.
1. The Base Price
We start with the base price. A checking account is free if you have over 7500 CHF on your entire Migros account. The checking account will be free if you have a savings account with 7500 CHF.
If you do not have 7500 CHF in your account, you must pay 3 CHF per month.
If you do not keep this amount in your bank, you should probably not use this bank. But this is still the best of the standard banks. Other banks are either more expensive or have a higher limit for free management.
I always try to keep 10’000 CHF on my account, so I am okay with this limit.
2. The price of features
Most of the features you use are free with Migros Bank.
First, you can make payments for free in CHF in Switzerland. So you can pay your bills and transfer money for free!
The Visa debit card is free. You must pay 30 CHF per year if you want an additional card. Their credit cards are not free either. But they are not great, so you do not wish to use them anyway!
Withdrawing in all the places I have mentioned before is free of charge. And you can withdraw money as many times per month as you want! But if you want to withdraw from another ATM, you will pay 2 CHF per withdrawal.
There is another fee with Migros Bank. You will pay 0.20 CHF for each incoming transfer. This is acceptable since I do not receive many payments each year. However, this is still a bad point for Migros here. This fee means Migros Bank is not entirely free.
Moreover, SEPA payments in euros are not free! You will pay 0.30 CHF per payment in EUR abroad. This fee is a bit disappointing, I think. But it should not be an issue if you do not get too many incoming payments.
You should not use the card from Migros Bank to make payments abroad. They will be costly. Neon is much better for this, but you can also use a Revolut card, for instance.
3. The safety of the bank
Migros Bank is a licensed Swiss bank. As such, your money is protected for up to 100’000 CHF. This protection is the best security you can get for your money in Switzerland.
4. Access to The Bank
Since Migros Bank is a standard brick-and-mortar Swiss bank, you can access its service in offices. That means you can do transactions in the office, and you can also get customer support there. Actual customer support is the main difference with a fully digital bank.
There are plenty of Migros Bank offices in Switzerland. If you live in a city, you should have access to one. Otherwise, the nearest town should have one!
And, of course, you will also have access to the bank services through the Migros Bank mobile application. And they also have a desktop application for Windows and Mac.
Finally, if you want to withdraw money, you have many choices! You can withdraw cash with your Migros Bank debit card in:
- Migros Bank offices
- Migros shops
- Migrolino shops
- Migrol shops
- Denner shops
This list makes up many places where you can withdraw money! It takes time to get used to it since people are used to withdrawing cash from banks. But now, I always withdraw money in Migros shops.
For features, nothing is missing with Migros Bank.
All the basic features are here. You can get report statements in PDF. You can also scan bills with your phone. You also have access to electronic bills (e-bills).
However, the mobile application of Migros is much worse than the mobile app of Neon. It is not intuitive at all. And it does not look good at all, either.
The biggest problem is what they call two-factor authentication. You need a second computer, mobile phone, or tablet with the application to validate transfers from the main. This limitation is a big issue for me because my computer runs Linux. And Migros Bank does not support Linux!
For me, this system is a big problem with Migros Bank. I had to install the application on my wife’s phone to use it. It is terrible! If you do not have two phones or a tablet and a phone, you cannot use Migros. Even if you install it on your computer, you must still install it on your phone to confirm transactions.
Swiss Banks Summary
We can summarize our findings with this comparison table of the best Swiss banks:
Of all the banks I have considered, these two were the best. These are the two banks I would recommend to anybody.
There is one group of banks we need to mention: cantonal banks. Cantonal banks are generally providing great value for money. I did not mention any cantonal bank in this article because they are, by definition, local banks. I would have to make one article per canton. But for instance, the Zuger Kantonalbank provides excellent value, and so does the Freiburg Kantonalbank from my canton, Fribourg.
I have also reviewed other brick-and-mortar banks, such as Raiffeisen and PostFinance. And I also compared some other digital banks like Yapeal and Yuh. But they are not as good as Neon or Migros. If you want me to compare other Swiss banks, let me know in the comments below, and I will see what I can do.
The only honorable mention I would like to mention is Zak. Just after Neon, this is the second-best digital bank in Switzerland. And they have some great features. You can check out my Zak review to know more.
What about the most famous Swiss banks: UBS (my UBS review) and Credit Suisse? These banks are not bad, but they are expensive. I do not believe they provide enough value to justify their price. So, you can get much better value for your money by using the two best Swiss banks I have outlined in this article.
The two best Swiss Banks for 2022 are Neon and Migros Bank!
The choice of a Swiss bank currently boils down to whether you want a digital bank. If you want a Digital Swiss Bank, you can go with Neon. If you prefer a Swiss Bank with an office, choose Migros Bank.
These Swiss Banks are cheap and offer a good amount of features.
I use both banks. I was with Migros Bank before discovering Neon. Then, I opened a Neon account to test it, and I like it. I pay all my bills on my Neon account.
Today, I would probably use Neon as my primary bank account if I had to choose. The main advantage is the mobile app, which is ten times better. However, there are a few things that keep me at Migros:
- The limits of Neon. Generally, 30’000 CHF per day should be more than enough. But there are some cases where I had to do larger transfers than this, for instance, for my downpayment. So, this limit could be a blocker for some people.
- The fact that my mortgage is at Migros Bank.
But overall, Neon is better than Migros Bank for me. Mainly because of the issues I have with the Migros Mobile Application. And this would save me a little money by avoiding the 0.20 CHF fee on each incoming payment.
Learn more about these best Swiss banks with my detailed reviews:
If you want to create an account at Neon, do not forget to enter the code “poorswiss” during registration. You will receive 10 CHF once you start using your account. And I will get 10 CHF as well.
What about you? Which of these two Swiss Banks do you prefer?
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