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Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB) Review 2024

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

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

The Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB) is the largest Swiss cantonal bank. It is also the fourth-largest bank in Switzerland and has many users.

But is ZKB any good as a bank? We find out in this in-depth review of this bank. I review the features, fees, advantages, and disadvantages of the Zürcher Kantonal Bank.

About Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB)
Monthly fee 0 CHF
Users 300’000
Card Visa Debit
Currencies CHF
Withdrawals in Switzerland Free at cantonal banks, 2 CHF otherwise
Withdrawals abroad 5 CHF
Languages German and English
Custody bank Zürcher Kantonal Bank
Depositor protection Unlimited
Established 1870
Headquarters Zürich, Switzerland

Cantonal Banks

Before we delve into the Zürcher Kantonal Bank, we should discuss cantonal banks.

I have not yet discussed these banks much. The reason is that these banks are, by definition, local to each canton. This means they do not have offices for private customers in other cantons. As a result, people very rarely use a cantonal bank from a canton apart from where they live.

If I review a cantonal bank, this only impacts one canton. Therefore, I prefer to talk about national banks. However, some of these cantonal banks have very interesting features and fees and should not be dismissed.

I will not review all 24 cantonal banks in this blog, but I will review these in the future.

Zürcher Kantonal Bank

Zürcher Kantonal Bank headquarter in Zurich
Zürcher Kantonal Bank headquarter in Zürich

The Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB) is Zürich’s cantonal bank. It is the largest cantonal bank and the fourth-largest bank in Switzerland. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) considers it a bank of systemic importance.

The bank was founded in 1870 under the name “Bank of the Citizens of Zurich.” To this day, the ZKB is still wholly owned by the canton of Zürich. Like all Swiss banks, it is regulated by the FINMA.

The ZKB is especially interesting because it is so large. It is also interesting to note that you can open an account online even if you are not living in Zürich. However, ZKB only has offices in Zürich, so you will have to use the app only. And some accounts, like joint accounts, can only be opened in person, in Zürich.

ZKB Features

5/5

Now, we look at ZKB’s banking features.

Fortunately, ZKB has a very simple system with a simple banking package. This banking package offers:

  • A private account
  • A savings account
  • A Visa debit card

With this account, you can deal with the mobile and online applications and directly in ZKB offices. You can do all the operations you need:

  • See your balance and transactions
  • Pay your bills
  • Transfer money internally or to other accounts
  • Pay electronic bills

You can also use your card directly with the ZKB TWINT app. And if you want to pay from your phone, ZKB has excellent support! Indeed, they support Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. You can even pay with your watch with Fitbit Pay, Garmin Pay, and SwatchPay!

You get a 0.85% interest rate up to 50’000 CHF on your savings account. After that, you will get a 0.25% interest rate up to 250’000 CHF and nothing after that.

You can also get credit cards in addition to the basic banking package. However, these credit cards are generally not what you want. The best credit cards are not coming from banks.

Of course, ZKB offers many additional features, such as mortgages, vested benefits, 3a accounts, and more. However, this article only focuses on the retail banking package.

The ZKB’s primary language is German. However, the apps and website are available in English. Unfortunately, there is no support for French or Italian. In addition, you can generally find someone who speaks English in their offices.

Overall, ZKB has excellent features.

ZKB Fees

4.5/5

Of course, we need to look at the fees for the banking packages. This is often the main thing that will differ from one bank to the other.

A great thing about ZKB is that its banking package is free! In January 2024, they removed all account management fees, so holding a ZKB account is now free of charge.

This price is excellent because you do not need any minimum to get a free account, as many other banks do.

All basic actions are included in the price:

  • Send and receive wire transfers in CHF
  • Pay your bills and electronic bills
  • Pay in Switzerland and CHF with your Visa debit card
  • Withdraw CHF in all cantonal banks ATMs (not only ZKB)
  • Withdraw EUR in all ZKB ATMs

If you withdraw CHF from an ATM from a non-cantonal bank, you will pay 2 CHF per withdrawal. If you withdraw money abroad in a foreign currency (at a non-ZKB ATM), you will pay 5 CHF per withdrawal.

If you pay abroad or in foreign currency with your card, you will be charged a 1.25% surcharge (maximum of 1.50 CHF). While it is not the cheapest available, it is cheaper than most major Swiss banks. There seems to be a hidden surcharge on top of the exchange rate, but it is not clear how much.

Overall, ZKB fees are excellent. They are really good for a traditional bank and even compare well with many digital banks.

User reviews

4/5

We should also look at what users think of a bank before we use it.

The apps themselves are very highly regarded. The app gets 4.8 stars out of 5 from about 11’000 reviews on Google Play. And the app gets the same score out of more than 80’000 reviews on the App Store. People are very happy about the simplicity of the app and the fact that it works well. Some people are unhappy about the app’s latest version, which apparently removed several features.

Finding reviews related to the bank is more difficult because it has many officers. Searching on Google, we can find very different ratings, from 2.6 to 4.5, depending on the office’s location. The average seems to be about 3.5 stars.

On the positive side, people seem to be very happy about the competence of the staff. They also like the short waiting times and friendliness.

On the negative side, people mention that it is sometimes difficult to get cash because not all counters are available for cash withdrawals. Some people also complain about offices closing and users having to go farther to get service. I could also find some complaints about unfriendly or unhelpful staff.

Overall, it looks like some offices have a much better reputation than others. Since the apps have excellent ratings, this should only concern people planning to go to the offices often.

Is the ZKB safe?

5/5

If you are considering depositing a significant amount of money in any bank, you should ensure this bank is safe.

Like most cantonal banks (except for 3), the ZKB has an unlimited state guarantee. This means the canton of Zürich is entirely responsible for all customer deposits. This guarantee covers the following deposits:

  • Savings accounts
  • Third pillars
  • Vested benefits
  • short-term deposits
  • certificate of deposits

This guarantee already makes the ZKB a very safe bank. It is also regarded as one of the safest banks in the world. Indeed, it is rated AAA (the best rating) by the main rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s. This means these three agencies consider the bank very unlikely to fail.

So, overall, the Zürcher Kantonal Bank is very safe.

Alternatives

It is essential to always compare a bank against alternatives before choosing.

ZKB vs UBS

First, we can compare ZKB with UBS, the largest Swiss bank.

UBS has a standard guarantee of 100’000 CHF, while ZKB has an unlimited state guarantee. Both banks are considered to be of system importance. So, it is very unlikely that any of them fail without a bailout. So, I would say that both are pretty safe. On the other hand, ZKB has a better reputation for safety than UBS.

Both banks have very similar features. You can use the features on your phone, on your computer, or in the bank offices directly.

The two offers differ when we look at the fees. UBS costs at least 8 CHF per month if you want a banking package with a card and have 10,000 CHF in your account (13 CHF if you do not). In contrast, ZKB offers free accounts, so it is significantly cheaper.

When used abroad, ZKB has a surcharge of 1.25%, while UBS has a surcharge of 1.75%. Both banks then likely have a spread on the exchange rate, but this is not clear.

Since both banks offer the same features, but ZKB is significantly cheaper, ZKB is a considerably better alternative if you like in Zurich!

If you would like to know more about UBS, I have written a complete UBS Review.

ZKB vs Neon

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We should also compare ZKB with Neon, a great digital Swiss bank.

Neon itself is not a bank but rather a bank account implemented in partnership with the Hypothekarlenzbzurg bank. It does not make any difference in practice, but it is important to know that.

ZKB has an advantage in terms of guarantee since it has an unlimited guarantee from the canton. On the other hand, Neon has a standard guarantee of 100,000 CHF. If you do not plan on holding a lot of cash, this will not matter.

In terms of features, both banks are very comparable. The main difference is that Neon is only available on mobile while ZKB is available on phones, computers, and in their offices.

Both offers are very comparable in terms of fees. They are both exempt from account fees. With Neon, you can withdraw twice per month for free, while with ZKB, you can withdraw for free at any cantonal bank ATM.

The main difference is when paying abroad or in foreign currencies. ZKB will have a 1.25% surcharge, while Neon only has a surcharge of about 0.4%. Without even considering the hidden conversion rate surcharge of ZKB, Neon is already three times cheaper. This is a significant advantage of Neon if you pay abroad or often in foreign currencies.

Overall, both banks are very interesting. If you are looking for a traditional bank, ZKB will be a good banking account. If you are looking for a digital bank account, Neon is excellent. And if you want to use this often abroad or in foreign currencies, Neon will be significantly better than ZKB.

If you would like to know more about Neon, you can read my review of Neon.

FAQ

How much cash is protected if ZKB bankrupts?

The cash deposits from ZKB have an unlimited guarantee from the canton of Zurich, like most cantonal banks in Switzerland.

Who is ZKB good for?

The Zürcher Kantonal Bank is a great bank for people who live in Zurich and want a great traditional bank with very affordable fees.

Who is ZKB not good for?

The Zürcher Kantonal Bank is not great if you want to use it abroad or in foreign currencies.

Summary

Zürcher Kantonal Bank

The Zürcher Kantonal Bank is the largest cantonal bank in Switzerland. It is any good? This in-depth review analyzes this bank account in detail.

Editor's Rating:
4.5

Zürcher Kantonal Bank Pros

Let's summarize the main advantages of Zürcher Kantonal Bank:

  • No account management fees
  • Unlimited state guarantee
  • Very good reputation for safety
  • Can be used on mobile, computer and in the offices

Zürcher Kantonal Bank Cons

Let's summarize the main disadvantages of Zürcher Kantonal Bank:

  • No support for French and Italian
  • Not great at foreign currency transactions

Conclusion

The Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB) is a great cantonal bank, for retail users. It offers simple banking packages with excellent pricing. It has many features and an excellent reputation for being very safe.

The ZKB should be a great fit for your main account if you live in Zürich. It has all the features you need at a great price.

It could even be interesting if you do not live in Zürich, since you can open an account online as a non-Zurich-resident. However, if you ever have to do something in-person, you will need to go to Zürich. Therefore, it is less convenient if you live far from Zürich.

If you are seeking other alternatives, read my article about the best Swiss banks.

What about you? What do you think of the ZKB? Would you like me to review another cantonal bank?

The best financial services for your money!

Download this e-book and optimize your finances and save money by using the best financial services available in Switzerland!

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Photo of Baptiste Wicht

Baptiste Wicht started thepoorswiss.com in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. Since 2019, he has been 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.

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28 thoughts on “Zürcher Kantonal Bank (ZKB) Review 2024”

  1. We need to take into account that if we move to live abroad there are extranfees at ZKB of CHF 30 per month. CHF 360 per year. It is a shame ZKB has not removed these extra fees since these make them far less appealing.

    1. Unfortunately, most banks will have extra fees if you move abroad. The best banks are simply not available abroad. And the other can become more expensive.
      But then, why keep your CH account while abroad?

      1. From my point of view keeping my savings in CHF will avoid them from loosing value over time. On the contrary Fed and ECB policies are making USD and Euro loosing value over time.
        We could use multi currency accounts in banks located abroad, let’s say HSBC. But I think fees would be even higher than ZKB.

  2. Hi Baptiste,

    Thanks for the article. I didn’t know that ZKB account is now free of charge. Do you know if they offer accounts for trading shares/ETFs as well?

    Regards,
    Alojzy

  3. >And some accounts, like joint accounts, can only be opened in person, in Zurich.

    I would specify that this is definitely true for new customers. ZKB explains that they don’t have a technical solution for identifying two new customers online for a joint account. It might be different for existing customers, since they are already identified.

      1. Exactly. Two new customers can open their individual accounts online. I suspect that they can open a joint account online after that.

  4. “There seems to be a hidden surcharge on top of the exchange rate, but it is not clear how much.”

    Thanks, this very much summarizes the philosophy of Swiss Banking. ;-)

  5. Neon just launched their beta joint accounts but unfortunately it is CHF 3.- per person. You might want to consider the joint accounts aspect in the comparison. It seems weird to me that traditional banks start offering free services while neon is going in the opposite direction.

    1. Yes, I was also surprised about the price. What plays in their favor is that thy are the only joint digital account currently, but we can expect others to follow.
      I hope to have a review of Neon Duo next month.

  6. Hello
    You mixed the rates of the two banks: “ When used abroad, ZKB has a surcharge of 1.75%, while UBS has a surcharge of 1.25%.”

  7. They also offer a new money sending service. Haven’t tried it yet but theoretically it lowers the entry barriers for ppl living outside of Zurich.

  8. I just switched from GKB to ZKB after moving a few years ago. I can tell you that the app is very different and more user friendly then the one from GKB. I was surpriced that there is no fee, as GKB cost money. I thought all Kantonalbanks are the same, but this is not the case. I was also surprised how easy it was to move all ebill payments to my new bank account. It took less then 5 mins.

    1. Hi Baptiste,
      Thanks for this. The unlimited state guarantee is very appealing. As I will take early retirement in Ticino in a few years’ time, I already got the ball rolling to open an account at their cantonal bank for that reason, Banca Stato :-)
      Does the state guarantee also apply to ETFs held by the bank in case of fraud, such as if clients assets are not properly segregated?
      Thanks

      1. No, the state guarantee only applies to cash held in the bank, not to securities. I do not know any bank that provides insurance against fraud unfortunately.

    2. I can actually confirm, I don’t live in Zurich and I just made an account when they made it free, without any problems.

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