The Best Bank Accounts in Switzerland in just one more click
Compare the best options on the market and choose the one which best adapts to your day to day needs.
Our Rating: 9.5/10
Best Bank for Non-German Speakers
✔️ Free standard account
✔️ Free Mastercard debit card
✔️ Up to €10,000 overdraft allowance
✔️ Free Unlimited Payments in any currency
✔️ Free ATM cash withdrawals in Euros
N26 Bank Review
One of the real upcoming giants in the digital world of banking is N26. Launched in 2015, it now has a full European Banking license, operating in 25 markets worldwide with over 5 million customers.
Your money is safe as can be in this digital bank since it is supervised by the Financial Markets Regulator. This means that clients’ funds are guaranteed up to €100,000 by the Deposit Protection Fund.
N26 offers “zero exchange fees on card payments in any currency” which is really useful for any of you who like to travel.
The bank account comes along with a free Mastercard Debit card (and an optional Maestro Card), your ability to pay should be accepted pretty much everywhere.
The sign-up process is short and can be easily be done completely in English, as well as French, Italian and Spanish. Which is a huge bonus over other banks if you struggle with German.
It is important to note though, that N26 will only offer a euro-denominated account so you can’t maintain a swiss franc balance.
But you can still make card payments in Swiss Francs, it will just be taken from your euro account and be converted at the interbank exchange rate with promised “no hidden fees”.
Since the account is in euros, its very handy for people who like to travel around the Eurozone and make payments in euros since many non-swiss cities are in commuting distance.
The standard N26 bank account, with all its basic functions, is free and doesn’t charge any opening or maintenance fees at all.
With it, you can gain access to its online and mobile banking with a super easy-to-use app. And make unlimited payments in any currency anywhere in the world with your card or phone. Also, you can withdraw euro cash for free from ATMs up to 3 times per month.
The interface is honestly great, along with fantastic customer support to help you with everything.
You can even set up 2 sub-accounts with features to help you budget and manage your money to meet your financial goals.
It also uses artificial intelligence to “automatically categorize your spending”. So you can see the total amount you’re spending in each category. You can even create your own #tags categories – “#gifts # friends #eatingout, you name it.”
N26 also makes it pretty simple and easy to use in exporting your transaction information and downloading it as a CSV or PDF file to make your tax returns and invoicing easier.
N26 Bottom line:
N26 is definitely one of the best digital banks to use for foreigners and people who aren’t super comfortable with German.
It’s very simple to use and has the best digital app interface there is. And with the higher tiers, it can offer some of the best packages of perks and services that you would want.
The only downside is that since it is a German account with a German IBAN that is euro-denominated and not swiss denominated, it might not be accepted for regular payments like rent and other things.
But since they always have online chat support and even a dedicated phone line for Metal customers, you should have no real problems getting your questions sorted out. They are well known for their high customer satisfaction and service.
Our Rating: 9.1/10
Best Mobile Bank for Swiss residents
✔️ Offers account in CHF with a Swiss IBAN
✔️ Great app interface with nice features
✔️ Requires Swiss residency
✔️ Free to open and maintain an account
✔️ Great Customer support
Neon Bank Review
Neon is the first big Swiss challenger neobank in Switzerland challenging the traditional banks. It offers a great package for those wanting an app similar to N26 or Revolut, but with a swiss IBAN and an account balance with swiss francs (CHF).
Insured by the Swiss authorities, all who have a bank account at Neon are guaranteed up to 100,000 CHF if anything happens to the bank themselves. This means that your money is as safe as it can be with this bank.
The best thing with this bank is that it is almost completely free to open and maintain.
This definitely puts it ahead of all the other swiss banks which are known to charge fees for maintenance and usage of the account. So, going with Neon will save you money.
With the account you’ll gain access to their simple app and interface, allowing you to manage your transactions and finances all from your phone.
It comes along with all the fancy features you could want such as automatic categorization of your spending so you can easily see what you’re spending your money. This makes things a lot easier for spotting where and how you can start saving.
To make your life even easier, you can now also scan your bills and invoices to automatically make payments for you without having to input every single detail.
All payments can be done in CHF for free and you’ll get a free Mastercard debit card from which you’ll be able to pay for pretty much everything you could need to in Switzerland.
You’ll also have access to free ATM withdrawals twice a month from any ATM in Switzerland. Meaning you’ll even have cash needs covered with this bank.
Also, the sign-up process is very short and available in English as well as German, Italian and French, making it very friendly to foreigners who have become residents in Switzerland.
Neon Bottom Line:
Neon is a great bank to choose and is probably the best digital bank that is free from heavy fees that you could have in Switzerland. It’s very easy to use and has great customer service and generally makes your banking a lot easier in comparison to the other traditional Swiss banks.
If you want to have all your payments in Switzerland covered, then Neon is your best choice. You can even get a bonus of 10CHF for signing up with them with a referral code.
The only potential downside is that since its an online bank, you won’t find any physical branches anywhere to go and have your questions answered in person. But they have great customer support so you shouldn’t really have any issues at all that can’t be solved by them.
Our Rating: 8.9/10
Best Traditional Bank
✔️ Huge Physical Branch and ATM Network
✔️ Access to all the complex financial services you could ever need
✔️ Very open and helpful to foreigners and non-residents
✔️ Relatively low fees but not totally free
✔️ Offers account that can hold CHF and other currencies like Euros.
UBS Bank Review
If you aren’t comfortable with doing all of your banking online and would prefer having a physical branch available for you to visit, then UBS is definitely the best choice.
Having a reputation built upon being the oldest and biggest wealth manager in the world, UBS offers probably one of the largest, if not the largest, networks of physical branches in Switzerland.
So it’s pretty easy to find them and ask any questions you might have. Usually, all of their branches will have staff that speak English, so they’re very welcoming to foreigners who might not speak French or German.
UBS gives you the choice to hold your account balance in CHF or Euros. Which is great for those who might receive income and/or spend in both currencies.
With their account, you are given the choice of receiving either a V-pay or Maestro debit card, both of which are great and can be used for cash withdrawals and payments across all of Switzerland.
Also, since it is a traditional bank, you will have access to more complex financial services such as savings accounts, business accounts, loans, mortgages, etc.
So it is a great candidate for an all-in-one bank if you want all of your services at the same bank and don’t want to have the hassle of multiple banks.
UBS Bottom Line:
UBS is a great traditional bank with all the physical and complex financial services you could ever want, with a great reputation to stand on. If you’re not too comfortable with a fully online banking life, then UBS is probably the best choice.
They’re easy to find since they’re everywhere in Switzerland and you should never have any problems with them at all.
The only downside is that since they’re a traditional bank, they do charge more heavy fees for their services like account maintenance and aren’t very great with international transfers and exchange rates. To reduce your monthly maintenance fees, you also need to make sure your account balance is above 10,000 CHF.
So if you have an account with a bank like UBS or any other traditional bank, expect to pay much larger fees than with the virtually free accounts at the online banks.
Things to know about Swiss bank accounts
Just a quick 2 min read about the most common issues we see with our readers:
What is the Swiss “withholding tax”?
When you keep money in your swiss bank account, you can earn a bit of interest on it, but you will have to pay a tax on that interest earned called the Swiss withholding tax if it is in Swiss Francs (CHF).
Therefore, people who do not live in Switzerland or make payments in CHF choose to have their accounts in other currencies offered like the Euro, US Dollar, or Pound Sterling. Those currencies can be placed in a money market fund to earn interest for you there which will not have to pay the Swiss withholding tax.
How do I open a checking account at these banks or any other bank in Switzerland?
Opening a checking account with a bank in Austria is relatively simple to do and can be done relatively quickly (in 30 minutes or so) if you do their sign-up process in person and even shorter if done online.
Digital Banks like N26 or DKB offer sign-up processes that are usually much shorter. And they can be done from the comfort of your phone or laptop where you can scan your documents using your webcam or phone camera.
But usually, there are some information or document requirements that may vary from bank to bank. If you follow this list, you should be pretty safe.
Usual requirements for opening checking accounts in Austria:
- Completed application form with Name, Address, Nationality, Income, etc
- Valid Passport or ID (if you are opening a joint account with another person, make sure they have their documents too)
- Proof of address or registration (like a recent utility bill or “Meldezettel”)
- Initial Deposit (depends on your bank how much they will require as a minimum)
- Proof of income or employment (some banks may want to check the origin of the funds)
Whether you are a Swiss resident or not will also affect what type of current account you can have (“resident” or “non-resident” account) and which banks you can sign up with.
It’s best to check out their websites or speak with them directly to find out. They’re usually very helpful in giving you the information you need.
International online banks like N26 usually tend to be the easiest and most open to non-residents, but it’s also worth checking out traditional ones like UBS.
How to close or change bank accounts in Switzerland
Closing or switching bank accounts is pretty simple to do in Switzerland as long as you don’t owe the bank any money.
Usually, there tends to be a “closing account order” application or letter you need to complete and sign. Alternatively, you can either visit a physical branch or call them and they’re usually very friendly in helping you out in closing your account.
Make sure to ask that you’re following all the correct requirements and don’t have any fees that you have not paid off yet.
Things you have to make sure to do are:
- Make sure you don’t get charged any penalty fees for closing the account before a specified “minimum” time has elapsed since you opened the account.
- Get written confirmation in the form of a letter or email that the account has officially been closed
- If you’re switching over to a new account, transfer over all future incoming and outgoing payments such as direct debits, salaries, or standing orders. Usually either the old bank or the new bank that your switching to will take care of this if you ask.
- Make sure you’ve transferred all your money out of the old account and into the new account.
- Let your employer and, others who would transfer money to you, know that your old account will no longer work.
So overall you can see, choosing a bank account can be hard at first, but becomes easier if you know what exactly that you want. So try to make a list of the things that are important to you such as language or having physical branches, etc.
Then, try visiting their websites or even physical branches if they have any, to check out the different accounts (if they have more than one) and other products that they offer. You should be able to get a feeling for the banks pretty quickly and which one suits you.
If you feel comfortable with these banks you may even want to get more products from them like a savings account to earn interest on your money.
Once you’ve developed a relationship with your bank, later on, you might even get a business account, loan or mortgage from them once you develop a bit of credit history that they can evaluate you on.
But don’t worry too much about it if you end up opening an account with a bank which you don’t end up liking later. Banks in Switzerland allow you to close an account and switch over to another pretty easily and without a hassle.
Keep in mind though that I personally find it very useful to have two checking accounts instead of just one. So that in case there is ever an issue with one, you can still access your money in the other, so you’re not left stranded with no money.
Personally, I’ve become a fan of the online digital banks because of how simple and easy it is to do everything with banks like N26 or Neon from the comfort of my phone or laptop. But of course, you should only do so if you’re comfortable with doing all your banking online.
On the other hand, online banks tend to not offer more complex financial management services like loans, health insurance or mortgages that you would find at a traditional bank. So if you want some of those more complex products, you might need to look at more traditional banks like UBS.
But don’t worry. You can easily have a checking account at an online bank and still have other more complex products from other banks.
If you’re arriving in Switzerland soon, make sure to sort out your bank account sooner rather than later in case there are any delays, depending on the bank you sign up with. Life will be a lot more difficult if you don’t have one.
In the end, it is up to you and what you need that will decide which is the best bank for you. Hopefully, this article will have helped you with it.
Good luck with opening a bank account in Switzerland. If you have any questions or want us to write another post on something else too, let us know here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a foreigner or non-resident open a bank account in Switzerland?
A person of any nationality can open a bank account in Austria, but some banks might require at least a residence in Austria or in the EU/EFTA region depending on the accounts available.
If you are a non-resident, you will only be able to open a non-resident account and you might be subject to higher deposit minimums and might be charged much higher fees at Swiss banks. Traditional Banks usually have a dedicated department for setting up non-resident/international accounts.
Usually, it tends to be the online banks that are the most open with residence requirements and some even allow residence from pretty much anywhere in the world.
But it is important to check with a bank yourself if they accept your country of residence. You can usually do so on the website or during the sign-up process.
Can I have two bank accounts in Switzerland?
Yes, you can have as many bank accounts as you like in Switzerland. Just be aware of the extra hassle and possibly extra cost if you go for accounts that charge monthly fees.
Even if you go with a “free” account as the extra one, check that you keep meeting the minimum flow of income if it is required to keep them from charging you a fee. Some banks like to do this, so check in case.
Can I keep my Swiss bank accounts even after I leave Switzerland?
It depends entirely on your bank and account whether or not you can keep your Swiss bank accounts even after you leave Switzerland.
Some banks might charge you fees if you have a resident account but are no longer a resident in Switzerland. Or, if you no longer live in Switzerland, they might ask you to close your account and transfer your funds elsewhere.
Also, your tax status may change, or some banks may not be able to send you important notifications and PIN numbers if you change to a foreign number.
But these things vary a lot from bank to bank and its best to ask them and they should be happy to help. Overall, it is usually very helpful to keep your account since it might come in handy later.
If it’s a resident account at a traditional bank that charges a lot of fees if you are no longer a resident, then it might be better to close the account. In this sense, N26 is known to be very friendly since they don’t require a Swiss residency.
How long do applications for bank accounts in Switzerland take?
Once you’ve booked and arrived at the appointment made at the physical branch, standard traditional banks usually take from a week up to a month, to approve and open a new bank account.
The reason why it takes so long is usually for them to examine the origin of your income so you aren’t laundering money.
They also usually tend to take longer than digital banks since they sometimes need to send you documents to your address.
Online digital banks instead usually approve and open your bank account for you within 24 hours if not immediately.
How can I set up an overdraft?
The process to set up an overdraft will depend on the bank itself and will often have very different policies and requirements. Usually, you have to complete an overdraft application form in order to set up the facility for an overdraft in case you might need it.
Digital banks tend to reply and approve/reject your application within a few days or even within the same day. On the other end, traditional banks can sometimes take weeks to process your application.
Be aware that some banks tend to be quite strict with their overdrafts and may require months of credit history before accepting an application.
Banks will also differ in the amount they allow for you to have on your overdraft. Some will allow a fixed amount (such as up to €10,000 for an N26 overdraft) or an amount relative to your average net monthly income.
But be careful with your overdraft and make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible to avoid the interest charges (which vary from bank to bank).
What is the minimum age to open a bank account in Switzerland?
Usually, banks require a minimum age of 18 in order to open your own bank account, but this can vary from bank to bank in their process and requirements, especially for digital banks.
Normally, banks tend to allow parents or legal guardians to open bank accounts for their children if they are under the age of 18.
Can I open a bank account for my children?
Yes, you can open a bank account for your child if they are under the age of 18.
Remember that you will need to provide the ID or Passport for both you and your child. Some banks might require that the parent needs to already have an account with the same bank too.
It is best to check and call the bank to see whether they have accounts available for those under the age of 18.