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Geneva - Banking


Although Zurich is considered Switzerland's financial center, a large number of the Swiss banks can be found operating branches in Geneva, particularly in the area of private banking. There are a number of retail banks in Geneva – from the major players (e.g. UBS, Credit Suisse) to smaller, family-run ones who can offer English-speaking staff to assist you in your various banking needs. The Banque Cantonale de Genève is a cantonal bank and the Swiss Post also offers financial services.

While it is not difficult to open a bank account in Geneva, some banks now require certain documentation, such as your residence permit, a copy of your work contract (or "permis frontalier" if you are a cross-border work permit holder) and a recent utility bill. Some banks may require a larger deposit from non-Swiss when opening an account, so check around before opening an account. SW Consulting provides a useful summary of the banks located in Geneva, and the corresponding number of branches found in Geneva on their website.

Banks in Geneva usually operate Mondays through Fridays, 830am to 430pm.

Cashless Payments

A "carte maestro" or EC card is a useful debit card that is issued by banks. This card can be used at "bancomats" (ATMs or Automated machines) to withdraw cash (usually in CHF but Euros can be withdrawn from some bancomats). The carte maestro can also be used to pay for items in many shops via use of a personal pin, or to pay for parking. Credit cards ("carte de credit") are widely accepted in Geneva, although some smaller shops or restaurants may impose a minimum sum before credit cards are accepted. Checks are not as widely used as in the US.

Utility bills are best settled via making prior arrangements with your bank to pay via e-banking or tele-banking. Another way to settle regular bills is to pay directly at the local post offices with a bill slip ("bulletin de versement" - BVR). Most bills are given 30 days grace for settlement.

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