Zak vs Neon: Best Swiss digital bank account in 2022?

By Baptiste Wicht | Updated: | Save

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

Zak and Neon are two good Swiss Digital bank accounts. This is because they are both entirely digital and accessible through mobile applications.

The great thing about these bank accounts is that they are significantly cheaper than conventional bank accounts. Their low prices are what make them successful. And they have some interesting extra features.

But which one should you choose? Which of Zak vs Neon is better for you? Let’s find out!

In this article, I compare Zak vs Neon in detail. We see the fees, the security, and the limits of both bank accounts. By the end of the article, you will know which of Zak vs Neon is best for you!

Zak

Zak is a bank account managed by Bank Cler (previously Bank Coop). So while it is a digital bank account, it is still backed up by a traditional bank and not a startup.

Even if Bank Cler backs it up, there are no offices for Zak. It is entirely digital. It is also entirely mobile, so you will have to use it from your phone. Zak is not a bank itself. It is merely a bank account offered by Bank Cler.

On top of the usual banking features, Zak has several extra features that you can use with other  Zak users. For instance, you can send money directly to any other user of Zak. You can also manage a budget with several other users. It is an excellent feature if you know other users.

For more information on this bank account, you can read my full review of Zak.

Neon

Best Digital Bank
Neon
5.0

All the banking services you need, in a neat package, with extremely good prices!

Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF for free!

Pros:
  • Pay abroad for free
  • Everything from your phone

Neon was one of the first Swiss digital bank accounts. Neon is entirely digital. There are no offices where you can do operations. And it is fully mobile in that there are no online applications either.

Neon is not a bank. They do not have a bank license of their own. Another bank does not back Neon. However, your money is held in the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg Bank, another reputable Swiss Bank. It means you are protected as if your money was in any other large bank.

One very interesting fact of Neon is that they offer payments abroad for free with their card. Neon was the first Swiss bank that provides this service! Of course, it was quickly followed by others (Zak!), but it is interesting to note that they lead the innovation.

For more information on this bank account, you can read my full review of Neon.

Zak Vs Neon: Neon mobile interface
Zak Vs Neon: Neon mobile interface

Which is cheaper? Zak vs Neon

Let’s start with the critical question of the fees! Which of Zak vs Neon is cheaper?

The critical point about these two bank accounts is that they both do not have management fees. So keeping your account open will not cost you anything. This absence of management fees is essential because it is the most significant advantage of digital banks these days.

With Zak, you will get the cards delivered for free. But with Neon, since May 2020 (it was free before), you will pay 10 CHF to get the MasterCard delivered to you.

For both accounts, the transfers in CHF between bank accounts are entirely free. Payments in Switzerland are also free with both bank accounts. But every bank in Switzerland offers this for free.

Now, not everything is free with these two bank accounts. So, we need to compare their prices for several features.

Let’s start with withdrawals. Zak offers withdrawals for free at any ATM from Bank Cler. For all other ATMs, you will pay 2 CHF per withdrawal. With Neon, you get two free withdrawals per month. After this, you will have to pay 2 CHF per withdrawal.

I would think that Neon is slightly better than Zak for withdrawals unless you withdraw a lot of cash. But most people should not withdraw cash more than twice a month. However, if you have a Bank Cler ATM close by, Zak could be better for withdrawals.

For withdrawals abroad, it is different. With Neon, you will pay a 1.5% fee on each withdrawal abroad. With Zak, you will pay 5 CHF per withdrawal abroad with the Visa. Generally, you should avoid withdrawing money abroad.

Neon is entirely free for payments abroad or in other currencies. With Zak’s physical Visa card, you do not pay any base fee, but you use the Viseca exchange rate which is not great, so this is a fee, although a hidden one.

Also, Neon has a partnership with Wise for international transfers. This partnership makes Neon significantly cheaper if you need to send money abroad.

So, regarding pricing for Zak vs Neon, Neon is cheaper than Zak. But both bank accounts are quite cheap! Furthermore, for international purchases, Neon is more convenient since it is an actual physical card, and you do not need to use your phone.

Basic Features

Let’s compare the basic features of Zak vs Neon.

While Neon offers a Mastercard, Zak offers a Visa. This should not make a difference.

Regarding mobile applications, they have the same basic features. You will be able to do all your banking from any of those apps. Both apps have the same features and the same quality.

In some Bank Cler’s ATMs, you can deposit cash directly into your Zak account. Being able to deposit cash is a great feature for a digital bank account. However, if you want to deposit cash in your Neon account, you will have to pay a fee for it. With digital bank accounts, having extra cash is always an issue.

Both bank accounts support eBill. Neon supported eBill since December 2019 while we had to wait until March 2022 to get eBill support in Zak. But now, they are both on the same level.

Neon is available in French, German, Italian, and English. On the other hand, Zak is not available in English. So, if you do not speak any of the national languages of Switzerland, you may have issues with Zak.

For the basic features, we can draw simple conclusions:

  • If you need a Physical Card abroad, Neon will be better.
  • If you do not need a physical card, both accounts will offer the same level of service to you.

Extra Features – Zak vs Neon

We can also take a look at some extra features of Zak vs Neon.

Both banks offer a similar feature to send money directly to other users of the service. With Neon, you can send money directly to your contacts. And with Zak, you can use the Zak Illico service to send money to other users.

Both bank accounts offer the ability to have sub-accounts. They are called Savings Pots with Zak and Spaces with Neon. They offer the same feature.

On top of that, Zak has one extra notable feature: Common Savings Pot. You can manage some money with up to 10 people. This feature could be very useful in managing the budget of a project with several people. You could use that to manage money for a vacation with friends, for instance.

For extra features, Zak is slightly better than Neon. However, most of these features will only be useful if you know other people who use the application. If you do not know anybody using Zak, these additional features will not be helpful at all.

And if you do not use a feature, it is useless for you. So when you are comparing bank accounts, you should only compare the features you are going to use.

Which has higher limits?

If you plan to use a digital bank account as your main account, we need to look at Zak vs Neon’s limits.

With Zak, you can pay up to 5000 CHF per day. And you have a limit of 25’000 CHF per week. You can go over this limit, but you will have to call Zak for each transaction that goes over this limit. It could be a limiting factor if you plan to use it as your main bank account.

With Neon, you can spend 30’000 CHF per day from the account. In addition, you can withdraw 1’000 CHF per day with the card, spend 5’000 CHF per day in stores, and 5’000 CHF online. The card has a monthly limit of 10’000 CHF per month.

For the account, Neon has much better limits than Zak. With the card, you can spend more with Zak. But in both cases, you can spend more than enough with the cards.

But, starting from Mid-October the limit of Zak will be of 25’000 CHF per week. So, at this point, Zak will have higher limits than Neon.

However, you could have issues if you have to make large transfers. For instance, if you have to pay for a downpayment. So, these accounts seem better as a second active bank account rather than a first. But, if you do not have any big transfers planned, you should be okay with either of these bank accounts.

Security – Zak vs Neon

Let’s take a look at the security when using these two bank accounts.

First, a critical part is what happens to your money if they bankrupt (or close down). With Neon, your money is held safely with Hypothekarbank Lenzburg. So it is protected under Swiss law up to 100’000 CHF. With Zak, you have the same protection since Bank Cler holds your money. So both accounts have the same legal security

From a security point of view, both apps are linked to your phone. So you will have a password to enter the application. And the application is linked to your phone. It means that your phone acts as a second-hand factor. So the application is protected as long as the security of your phone is not compromised. So, again, Zak and Neon have the same technical security.

From a security point of view, Zak and Neon have the same level of security.

What about Zak Plus?

The basic account at Zak is free. But they have an offer for the Zak Plus account.

Zak Plus will cost you 8 CHF per month. But it will reduce the prices of the features of Zak. The prices when you use the Visa and the Mastercard will not change. But with the Visa, several things become free:

  • Unlimited withdrawals at any ATM
  • Unlimited withdrawals abroad

Given the fact that Neon offers free purchases abroad with their Mastercard for free, I think that there is little value for Zak Plus over Neon or Zak basic. Of course, an advantage of Zak Plus is that you will get withdrawals abroad for free compared to the Neon 1.5% fee. But it is not every day that you need cash abroad.

Zak vs Neon – Summary

We can now make a final summary of the comparison of Zak vs Neon:

Best Swiss Bank
 
Zak
5.0
3.5
Pros:
  • Pay abroad for free
  • Cheap international transfers
  • Everything from your phone
  • Medium limits
  • Translated in English
Pros:
  • Pay abroad for free
  • Can deposit cash in account
  • Support for e-bills
Cons:
  • Difficult to deposit cash
  • Expensive withdrawals abroad
  • No Maestro card
Cons:
  • Not very transparent fees
  • Low limits
  • Expensive international transfers
  • Expensive withdrawals abroad
  • No Maestro card
  • No physical card for abroad
  • No English support
Withdrawals:
2 free withdrawals per month
Withdrawals:
Free withdrawals at Bank Cler ATMs
Management Fees:
0
Management Fees:
0
Best Swiss Bank
5.0
Pros:
  • Pay abroad for free
  • Cheap international transfers
  • Everything from your phone
  • Medium limits
  • Translated in English
Cons:
  • Difficult to deposit cash
  • Expensive withdrawals abroad
  • No Maestro card
Withdrawals:
2 free withdrawals per month
Management Fees:
0
Zak
3.5
Pros:
  • Pay abroad for free
  • Can deposit cash in account
  • Support for e-bills
Cons:
  • Not very transparent fees
  • Low limits
  • Expensive international transfers
  • Expensive withdrawals abroad
  • No Maestro card
  • No physical card for abroad
  • No English support
Withdrawals:
Free withdrawals at Bank Cler ATMs
Management Fees:
0

Neon has a few more advantages than Zak. But both Zak and Neon are good choices with different strengths:

  • Both bank accounts offer free purchases abroad and in foreign currencies
  • Neon offers international transfers cheaper than Zak
  • Neon offers a physical credit card
  • Neon has higher limits, but this will change starting Mid-October
  • You can deposit cash in your Zak account for free
  • Both banks are open to foreigners living in Switzerland.

You may want to choose between Zak vs Neon based on your needs. Or you may use both if you want. Since both are free, you can also try both and choose the one you prefer after some time.

Zak vs Neon Conclusion

Choosing between Zak vs Neon is not easy. They are both good digital bank accounts. They have both their advantages and disadvantages.

Best Digital Bank
Neon
5.0

All the banking services you need, in a neat package, with extremely good prices!

Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF for free!

Pros:
  • Pay abroad for free
  • Everything from your phone

Regarding Zak vs Neon, I prefer Neon over Zak for several reasons:

  • Neon offers a physical credit card. You do not have to use Google Pay or Apple Pay.
  • You can do international transfers with Neon at a good price.
  • Neon is truly innovative. Indeed, Neon introduced all the features first, and Zak just tries to follow.

Now, Zak has a few advantages, as well. For instance, with Zak, you can deposit cash directly into your bank account for free with Bank Cler ATM. Of course, it could be practical if you often get cash. But I cannot remember the last time I had to deposit some money into my account.

Since they are both cheap, you could try them both and see which one you prefer after some time.

In any case, if you want a good credit card, you will have to look at some other credit cards with cashback. Neither Neon nor Zak offers a good credit card for domestic purchases. On the other hand, they both offer good credit cards for purchases abroad.

If you want more alternatives from big Swiss banks, you can read my review of CSX from Credit Suisse.

What about you? Which of Zak vs Neon do you prefer?

Baptiste Wicht is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

54 thoughts on “Zak vs Neon: Best Swiss digital bank account in 2022?”

  1. I have neon since a year and it’s awsome. Make my life easier. Neon was my backup, because Postfinance was my main account. I used neon mostly on holliday and for paying bus, voi scooter and staff like that.
    Since two weeks i quit my postfinance account for ZAK, and i’m very dissapointed. The most important thing don’t work properly. Scanning orange bill. It says “coudn’t read code properly” and you have to do everything manually. O.K now try to type manually Orange bill with all the codes plus Adress.
    I really regret now opening account there. On the top of that, you have to type sms code each time you want to send payment. Really frustrating.
    There is only one solution. I made my neon as my main account and ZAK as backup. On ZAK i have only 50-100 CHF max. for paying bus etc.

      1. Yes I could but I don’t want to. Both banks have sometime problems. For example a couple weeks ago you couldn’t pay any bills with Zak. Also scanning bills … nothing worked. That was confirmed from Zak. They updated server and iOS app but it took three day. Right now there is problem with neon and TWINT. I send money with Twint to my friend. He didn’t receive the money but my neon Konto was charged. This is also confirmed from neon. The solution is wait couple of days. I wrote email to neon about this issue and they didn’t answered me. Tried to call them the whole day with no success. Nobody pick up the phone. Right now I’m gonna keep the both. So I have one backup account if other won’t work

        1. Thanks for sharing, this is very interesting to know.

          I never had issues with Neon, but I also never had TWINT :)

          Considering these issues, I guess it does indeed make sense to keep both accounts if you want to be on the safe side!

  2. Hi Baptiste
    Did you also check out YUH? The Swiss app for paying, saving and investing seems to be a very interesting option. They have a decent amount of tradeable securities with a sound pricing model.

    Thanks for your time.

    Regards,
    Jonaldo

  3. Thanks for the detailed review! I’ve had Neon since last summer and love it. Great app, easy to use and sign up. Now I wanted to open a Zak account, but unfortunately, there’s a technical issue in the app when verifying the ID with the camera. Even though I have a great Samsung phone, the app doesn’t allow it to focus. After contacting Zak they said this is a known issue with Samsung phones and they will send me the registration documents by post. Although customer service was fast and friendly, I’m disappointed that they are not fixing the root cause. The whole point of an app only bank is that I don’t have to deal with a bunch of paperwork…

    1. Hi Eli,

      I had the exact same issue when creating a Zak account. It’s really painful. I had to call three times before they could verify the documents.
      I think digital banks still have some work to do before paperwork is really eliminated.

      Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Baptiste,

    Thank you for compiling all this information and presenting it in a fair and entertaining manner.

    In a few occasions you mention that international transfers and currency conversion is much cheaper with Neon vs Zak. If you ever find the time to provide additional data on that point, I would thank you.

    1. Hi Flutiste,

      For international transfers, Neon is using TransferWise, which makes it much cheaper than going through standard Bank Cler exchange rates.
      For payment abroad, both have no fees, but Neon is using the Mastercard exchanges which are significantly cheaper than Viseca exchanges. And with Zak, this is only free with the virtual car.

  5. Thank you for this useful comparison. I’m interested whether those banks also offer a desktop version (I’m uneasy with App only) and whether you can download easily account statements or the expenses according to the spending categories.

    1. Hi,

      Neither of those banks offers a desktop version. Very few banks still offer a desktop version. But you can easily download account statements. But no idea about spending categories, never used that in any of these tools.
      Migros Bank still offers a desktop version, but it’s really bad.

  6. Does Neon offers immediate notification for card payment, similar to Revolut? This is the only thing missing for me to go full Neon.

  7. Is it possible to increase the limit on the new zak visa cards? How much by max? The virtual cards zak is getting rid of were so much more convenient without any limits, just that the max you could hold was 10k at a time, whereas the new cards have only a 3k per month and 2k per day limit, even 10 year olds spend more these days lol

    1. I really hope 10 years old don’t spend that much :)

      You can’t change it in the app, unfortunately. However, you can call them to change the limit. At least that’s what the app says. But I don’t know how high you can go. In general, you should not expect much from the app, you can’t even change your address from there.

    1. Hi Jose,

      For me, there are two issues with ebill
      1) Most people will blindly pay them without thinking about what they can do to optimize them
      2) It’s a huge pain to change bank account once you have them, I have had a bad experience with that. But according to some of my readers, this has been improved.

    2. Hi the Poor Swiss, great review.
      I would like to ask if it is possible to get an additional second account in EUR with neon (like for example post finance offers).
      If not do you perhaps know which bank (digital or not) offering the possibility to get a second free account in EUR and which is the cheapest?
      Thanks in advance!

      1. Hi Luca,

        Neither Neon nor Zak has a EUR account.
        I am not aware of any banks offering free EUR accounts. PostFinance is among the cheap ones for EUR accounts. You could also use Revolut or N26 maybe.

        1. Hey Luca, best EUR account for Swiss people is DKB or N26. N26 is a finntec from Berlin and is completely online. DKB has most of their stuff online and a couple of ATMs in major german cities. But you can use any ATM in germany and abroad for free withdraws (as long as you have a monthly income of 700€ to the account). You can also withdraw currency different from EUR. I don’t know about the limits though.

  8. Great review. Do you know if the accounts can still be used if you leave Switzerland and move abroad? What do you think is the best bank account to keep managing savings in CH once you are back in your country?

    1. Hi,

      Unfortunately not. These accounts are only for residents. If you leave Switzerland, you will have to close these accounts.
      I would an account in one of the big Swiss banks (UBS or CS probably) if you plan to leave Switzerland.

Leave a Reply

Your comment may not appear instantly since it has to go through moderation. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *