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Everybody needs a bank account. If you have an income, you will need it to be deposited into a bank account. And you will need to pay your bills from your bank account. Unless you live completely off the grid and get paid in cash, you will need a bank account. But which Swiss Bank should you choose?
There are tons of different banks. After all, Switzerland is the country of banks (and chocolate). However, contrary to popular belief, Swiss banks are not really great!
In fact, most Swiss banks are really expensive and offer poor service. You can find much cheaper and better banks in other countries. Fortunately, this is starting to improve with some new banks that try to make things move.
Let’s see which of these banks is the Best Swiss Bank in 2019! But first, let’s start with how we can choose a bank!
How to choose a bank?
There are many parameters you can use to compare banks. We are going to see the most important parameters. Of course, some of your needs may be different than mine. So the best bank for me may not be the best bank for you!
The parameters will also depend on what you need. Everybody needs a checking account. This is where your salary will be deposited. You most likely need a debit card to be able to withdraw cash when you cannot use your credit card. And, you may need a savings account. But not everybody needs one. I do not have one anymore.
You will also need a credit card. However, the best credit cards are not the one that 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, we are going to ignore credit cards.
1. The Base Price
First of all, you need to consider the price of the bank account. These days, you can find free banks in Switzerland. So there is no reason to pay anything for a bank account!
You just need to be aware that some banks have some conditions to make it free. For instance, my current bank, Migros, is free as long as I have 7’500 CHF on my bank account. This is 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.
Before you choose a bank account, you need to know how much you are going to keep on your account.
2. The price of features
I think that the base price is very important, but we should not forget to look at the prices of the features.
First of all, you want a free debit card (a Maestro generally). You can find several banks with free debit cards, so there is again no reason to pay for a debit card! You should not use it too much of course. In fact, you should only use it to withdraw money. And you can use if you cannot use a credit card.
Of course, you want to be able to do bank transfers in Switzerland for free! You really do not want to pay extra money for paying your bills! This is also what you are going to use to send money to your broker (Interactive Brokers or Degiro for instance). And you are also going to make money transfer to Revolut.
You may want free bank transfers in Europe in euros. This is not really 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 cash for free! There are always some cases where you will need cash. You really do not want to have to pay to get cash!
3. The security of the bank
Even if you do not keep a lot of money on your bank account, you want it to be safe.
For that, I would argue that you keep your money on a Swiss bank account. All Swiss bank accounts are insured by the state up to 100’000 CHF. That means if your bank goes bankrupt, you still get your money back.
You need to make sure that the money is kept in an institution with a Swiss banking license. For that, you should not consider too easily 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 on how much access you want to your bank account.
Some people want an actual office with people they can talk to. Personally, I do not care about that, but that is not the case of everybody!
And also, sometimes, people want a local bank. They feel like they can trust more a bank that is local. We have plenty of cantonal banks in Switzerland and people seem to like them. For me, this would definitely be one of the last points I would use to compare two banks. But if you really want, that is something you can consider!
Some people want absolutely a mobile application. And some people, like me, would prefer a web application. If you want a mobile application or a web application, you may want to make sure it works well. But honestly, you are not going to use it a lot.
I use my bank account once a month when I pay all my bills. Except for that time, I never check my bank account. As long as I can do that relatively easily, I do not really care how I have to do that. But I want to be able to do that from home.
But there are some people that check their bank accounts on a daily basis. For these people, it is important to have a powerful application that works well. If you are one of these people, I would encourage you to find reviews of mobile applications of banks and maybe demos so that you can get a feel of it.
One thing that could be important is where you can withdraw money for free! This was a big issue for me with Postfinance. There were no ATMs where I could withdraw money for free close to where I worked or close to where I lived. This could be important if you withdraw money often!
5. Features of the bank
Finally, the least important thing about a bank is its features.
You really do not need anything fancy with your bank. Personally, I use four features with my bank:
- Getting my salary in
- Paying my bills
- Transfer money to my broker
- Withdraw money from time to time
That is it! And I really do not think that people need any more features than that.
But if you need, there are a few things you could consider.
One thing that could be practical is to be able to scan bills with the application. If you can do that, you will not have to enter the few digits of the reference code. This is not a must but this is at least useful.
One thing many people want to have is electronic bills. Personally, I do not like it. 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 could not live with it. So you could use that as an argument.
Another thing that some people want is to be able to transfer transactions to their fancy budgeting tools such as YNAB or Personal Capital. Once again, I really do not think this is useful. You do not need any fancy budgeting tool. In fact, you just need a simple spreadsheet. And you can even have it for free! I really do not understand that are willing to pay for a budgeting tool.
It will take you maybe 10 minutes a month to manage your budget with a simple spreadsheet! But if you really 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. And some banks have features to automate bank transfers between accounts. But do you really need that?
The two Best Swiss Banks in 2019
Based on these arguments, I chose two banks that I consider are the best Swiss banks in 2019:
- Neon as the best digital Swiss Bank
- Migros Bank as the best standard 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 and I can understand them. And as it turns out, there are still some great Swiss Banks!
And of course, there are other banks than these two. 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! I think there is more value in a shorter list with two banks that are different enough to make the list.
The Best Digital Swiss Bank in 2019: Neon
Let’s start with 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 o go through the mobile app.
I believe it is currently the best digital bank available in Switzerland.
If you enter the code “F9YMGT” during the registration process, you will get 10 CHF for free once you start using your account. And I will get 10 CHF as well.
1. The Base Price
Price is really where Neon excels! The base price of a checking account with Neon is entirely free! That’s right, you will not pay any fee! And you do not have to have any amount of money on your account for this to valid!
2. The price of features
The price of features at Neon is also really good!
You can do payment for free in Switzerland in CHF. This is for all our bills and all your money transfers!
For EUR transfers abroad, you will not have to pay anything either. However, the maximum spread of the exchange rate of Neon is 1.5%. I think this is a bit high. But we should not use them for this anyway! Revolut should be used for such exchanges!
Neon does not offer a Maestro card. They only offer a MasterCard instead. This is contrary to most banks in Switzerland. But they offer the MasterCard for free!
Finally, you can also withdraw money at ATMs 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 fine with 2 withdrawals per month. I generally withdraw money less than once a month.
3. The security of the bank
All Swiss banks accounts are insured up to 100’000 CHF. But Neon is not a bank. However, your funds are deposited, in your name, with the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg bank. And this bank has a Swiss banking license.
So, as long as you do not have more than 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. This is a great thing because this is not the case for a lot of banks!
Another great thing is that the website is entirely translated into all national languages and in English! And the application itself is also available in English! If you are an expat and do not yet speak one of the national languages, this could be very important to you!
Finally, customer service is available by emails and by phone. But you will not be able to go talk to people since they do not have offices for the customers.
Overall, Neon has more than enough features for most people. The mobile application is really well done and very easy to use.
You can scan your bills with your phone to get the reference number! This 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 is important if you want to archive them! You can also receive an SMS notification when something happens on your account. This could be useful.
Many people complain that you do not have access to electronic bills (ebills). Personally, I think it is good to not have access to this feature. People should not automate too much. But for some people, this could be a blocker.
One of the features that are missing for me is the lack of Maestro card. It is not a huge deal but there are still shops that do not take credit cards. And for these shops, you will have to plan to have cash before.
The Best Standard Swiss Bank in 2019: Migros Bank
If you prefer a standard brick and mortar bank, I would recommend Migros Bank. This is the bank I am currently using.
One thing you need to be aware of is that the application is not available in English. If you are an expat and are not yet speaking one of our national languages, I would recommend going with Neon instead.
1. The Base Price
Let’s start with the base price. A checking account is free if you have more than 7500 CHF on your entire Migros account. This means if you have a savings account as well with 7500 CHF, the checking account will be free.
If you do not have 7500 CHF on your account, you will have to 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.
Personally, I always try to keep 10’000 CHF on my account, so I am fine with this limit.
2. The price of features
Most of the features you are going to use are free with Migros Bank.
First, you can do payment for free in CHF in Switzerland. So you can pay your bills and transfer money for free!
However, SEPA payments in euros are not free! You will pay 0.30 CHF per payment in EUR abroad. This is a bit sad I think. But it should not be an issue as long as you have a Revolut card to make EUR payments.
The Maestro card is free. If you want an additional Maestro card, you will have to pay 30 CHF per year. Their credit cards are not free either. But they are not great, so you do not want 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. For me, this is acceptable since I do not receive many payments each year. Also, you can use a Revolut card to avoid this fee! However, I think that this is still a bad point for Migros here. This means they are not entirely free.
3. The security of the bank
Migros Bank is a licensed Swiss bank. As such, your money is protected up to 100’000 CHF. This is the best security you can get for your money in Switzerland.
4. Access to The Bank
Since Migros is a standard brick and mortar bank, you will have access to its service in offices. That means you can do transactions in the office and you can also get customer support there. This 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 city 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 money with your Migros Bank debit card in:
- Migros Bank offices
- Migros shops
- Migrolino shops
- Migrol shops
- Denner shops
This makes a huge number of places where you can withdraw money! It gets some time getting used to it since people are used to withdrawing money in banks. But now, I always withdraw money in shops.
For features, I think that nothing is missing.
You can get report statements in PDF. You can also scan bills with your phone. All the basic features are here.
And contrary to Neon, you have access to electronic bills (ebills). Once again, this is not such a good idea to use it. But people like ebills. So it could be a strong argument in favor of Migros Bank.
However, the mobile application of Migros is much worse than the mobile application of Neon. It is not intuitive at all. And it does not look good at all either.
But I think the biggest problem is what they call two-factor authentication. You need to have a second computer or mobile phone or tablet with the application to validate transfers from the main. This is a big issue for me because my computer runs Linux. And they do not support Linux!
This means I had to install the application on my work computer to be able to use it. This is absolutely retarded! For me, this system is a big problem for Migros bank. If you do not have two phones or a tablet and a phone, I would recommend you to use Neon instead. Even if you install it on your computer, you still have to install it on your phone to confirm transactions…
The two best Swiss Banks for 2019 are Neon and Migros Bank!
I think that the choice of a Swiss bank currently boils down to whether you want a digital bank or not. If you want a Digital Swiss Bank, you can go ahead with Neon. If you prefer a good old brick and mortar Swiss Bank, you should go ahead and choose Migros Bank.
Both banks are really cheap and offer a good amount of features. If you really need a Maestro card, you will have to go with Migros bank for the time being since Neon does not offer one yet. Unfortunately, this is sometimes still necessary in Switzerland.
For now, I am with Migros Bank. I went with them before discovering Neon. Today, if I had to choose, I would go with Neon instead. Especially because of the issues I have with the Migros Mobile Application that is really terrible. And this would save me a little money by avoiding the 0.20 CHF fee on each incoming payment.
If you want to learn more about Neon, I have interviewed Julius Kirscheneder, founder of Neon.
If you want to learn more about Migros Bank, read my review of Migros Bank.
If you want to create an account at Neon, do not forget to enter the code “F9YMGT” during the registration process, you will get 10 CHF for free 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?