Both debit cards (like Maestro cards) and credit cards (MasterCard, American Express, Visa, Diners Club) can be used to get cash at ATMs.
At most banks, a difference is made between withdrawals made at an ATM operated by your bank, and those made at ATMs run by other banks or service providers.
In Switzerland, using your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM belonging to your bank is always free of charge. However, many banks charge you fees of between CHF 1.50 and CHF 2 when you withdraw money at other ATMs.
Some banks, on the other hand, let you make withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs without charging you a fee. The moneyland.ch private account comparison provides detailed cost breakdowns which clearly show debit card ATM fees.
When you make cash withdrawals abroad using a debit card, you pay a fee of between 3 and 5 francs and/or a proportional fee of between 0.25% and 1.5% of the transaction amount. In some cases, like youth accounts, the bank may not charge an ATM transaction fee at all, even outside of Switzerland.
In addition to the fees you pay, you also pay for foreign currency exchanges through exchange rate spreads. These are markups on actual currency exchange rates, and are added by the card issuer.
In every case, getting cash is always much cheaper when you use a debit card rather than a credit card. This applies both in your country of residence and when you travel abroad. You can easily pay twice as much when you use a credit card to get cash at an ATM.
Verdict: Whenever possible, use a debit card to withdraw money, rather than a credit card. Stick to your bank’s ATMs for cash withdrawals or better yet, opt for a checking account which doesn’t charge fees for out-of-network ATM transactions.
The moneyland.ch team