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Banking, Money and Costs

Zurich - Banking, Money and Costs


Swiss banks are reputed for providing excellent, discreet, and sophisticated banking services. There are some 400 banks operating in Switzerland, and the largest two are Credit Suisse and UBS. All banks operating in Switzerland are licensed by the Banking Commission of the Swiss Federal Government. Expatriates in search for banking services in Zurich will be spoilt for choice. In addition to the usual banking services such as savings, deposits and remittance, Swiss banks also offer many services such as managing investment portfolios, wealth planning and estate planning for individual customers.

To open a bank account, be prepared to deposit a large amount of cash as long as you are a non-Swiss citizen. In some banks, to open a savings account, an initial deposit of CHF5,000 is not uncommon. Do also note that maintaining small accounts with banks in Switzerland can be expensive. You can open a bank account in different currencies. Different banks have different policies on opening banks accounts with non-Swiss citizens, and banks have the right to refuse to start a banking relationship with an individual. You usually need to open a bank account in person, and need to go through a face-to-face interview with a bank officer. You will also need bring proof of your residence status, identification papers (e.g. passport). Once you have crossed the hurdle of opening your first bank account, you should find it relatively easier to extend the range of banking services you require for your banking needs. For more information, you may wish to refer to the Swiss Banking Association website that is updated regularly.

An alphabetical listing of Swiss banks, addresses, contact numbers and websites are available here. The Swiss banking hours in Zurich are Mondays through Fridays, 830 am to 4.30 pm. Banks are closed on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).

Do note that many Swiss banks levy charges on transactions such as money transfers, coin exchange services, currency conversions, and for dispensing different currencies from ATMs, checking account fees, online banking fees and so on. Each bank will charge different rates for its services.

Although the Euro is usually accepted in most shops and restaurants in Zurich, it is recommended that you opt to pay in Swiss Francs as the exchange rate for the Euro by retailers are not as competitive as those offered by banks and/or money changers.

Credit Cards

Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard and American Express are widely accepted and used. You can compare the rates offered by different credit card companies here.

Costs of Living

Zurich may be the top city in the world to live in, but it certainly comes at a price. In general, many American, Australian and Asian expatriates find Zurich an expensive to live in. The Economist ranked Zurich as the sixth most expensive city to live in; while New York, the most expensive American city to live in, was ranked at number 28th. This means that many American expatriates experience a 'culture' (or financial) shock when they first arrive in Zurich, and discover the premium paid for many items, including necessities such as groceries or electricity.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


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