cash withdrawals guide
Accounts & Cards

Cash Withdrawals: A Practical Guide

December 13, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Cash withdrawals can be expensive. This moneyland.ch guide explains how expensive cash withdrawals are, and how you can minimize the costs of getting money.

Although consumers are increasingly using cashless payment services to pay for purchases, cash remains extremely popular. Each month, residents of Switzerland collectively make more than 10 million cash withdrawals from ATMs, withdrawing between 4 and 6 billion francs.

Do I pay different fees depending on how much money I withdraw?

Different banks and card issuers have different fees. 

Typically, banks and issuers use different cash withdrawal fees for different kinds of cards. Cash withdrawals with debit cards are normally much cheaper than cash withdrawals with credit cards. Debit cards include the Debit Mastercard, the Visa Debit, the Postfinance card, and the Maestro card. Money withdrawn using debit cards is deducted directly from your bank account.

The cost of cash withdrawals with Swiss debit cards can vary depending on whether you use in-network or out-of-network ATMs, withdraw money at the till of a supermarket, or withdraw money in a different country.

Many Swiss banks let you withdraw money at the counters of their branch offices as well. But in recent years, some bank branch offices have stopped offering this service.

The cost of cash withdrawals with Swiss credit cards varies depending on whether you withdraw money in Switzerland or in another country. You pay higher fees for cash withdrawals outside of Switzerland.

Which fees apply to cash withdrawals from in-network ATMs?

ATMs that are operated by the same bank that issued your debit card are in-network ATMs. For example, UBS customers do not have to pay any fees to withdraw Swiss francs at ATMs operated by UBS.

Many Swiss banks do not charge you any fees when you use their debit cards to withdraw money at their own ATMs in Switzerland. Some banks only offer free cash withdrawals at their own ATMs to customers with certain bank packages or options. These packages and options, in turn, normally have monthly fees.

Some Swiss banks let you make free cash withdrawals at ATMs operated by certain other banks, in addition to their own. For example, debit cards issued by a cantonal bank can generally be used for cash withdrawals at ATMs from other cantonal banks free of charge. Raiffeisen banks also share an ATM network. Regardless of which individual Swiss Raiffeisen bank hosts your bank account, you can withdraw cash at all Swiss Raiffeisen ATMs free of charge.

Which fees apply to cash withdrawals from out-of-network ATMs?

Many Swiss banks charge you a fee when you withdraw money at out-of-network ATMs – Swiss automated teller machines that are not operated by them or their network partners. The fees for withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs are structured differently from one bank to another. Some banks charge you a fee for each out-of-network withdrawal. Other banks let you make a certain number of withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs free of charge. Still other Swiss banks let you make unlimited cash withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs at no extra cost, but these banks normally charge basic monthly account or card fees.

The private account comparison on moneyland.ch accounts for cash withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs.

Can I make cash withdrawals in supermarkets?

You can make cash withdrawals using debit cards at the tills of many Swiss supermarkets. Many banks and supermarket chains offer their customers this service. Cash withdrawals with debit cards at supermarket tills are either free of charge, or cost 2 francs per withdrawal. You can also withdraw cash at the tills of some retail outlets using Twint, with a fee of either 1.50 or 2 francs, depending on the amount withdrawn.

You can find detailed information in the guide to cash withdrawals at Swiss retail outlets.

How much do cash withdrawals at Swiss ATMs cost?

There are differences in the fees charged by different banks. The information in this section applies to withdrawing Swiss francs at Swiss ATMs.

Many Swiss banks do not charge you fees when you make cash withdrawals at their own in-network ATMs with their own debit cards. Banks that do charge for in-network withdrawals typically have a fee of 2 francs per withdrawal for debit cards.

Most banks that charge you for withdrawals made at out-of-network ATMs have a fee of 2 francs per withdrawal at other banks. The Banque Cantonale Vaudoise is an exception, as it charges 3 francs per out-of-network withdrawal.

Getting cash using credit cards is much more expensive. Most Swiss credit cards have a cash advance fee equal to either 3.75 or 4 percent of the amount withdrawn. Only a handful of credit cards have lower cash withdrawal fees. Additionally, the minimum fee per withdrawal is typically 5 or 10 francs.

The costs of cash withdrawals at ATMs are accounted for in the moneyland.ch private account comparison, bank package comparison, credit card comparison, and prepaid card comparison.

How much does it cost to withdraw money at bank counters?

You can withdraw money at the counter in many bank branch offices. Many banks only provide this service to their own customers. Increasingly, certain Swiss banks have stopped offering this service at some of their branch offices.

Examples: Adult holders of a UBS private account pay 2 francs for each withdrawal made at a UBS counter. Valiant charges 5 francs when customers withdraw less than 2000 francs at the counter. Postfinance customers, on the other hand, can withdraw cash free of charge at the counters of Swiss post offices.

How much does withdrawing cash outside of Switzerland cost?

Most Swiss banks charge a fee of around 5 francs per withdrawal in a foreign country. Some banks use a combination of fixed and variable fees. For example, the Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) charges a fixed fee of 5 francs, plus a percentage-based fee of 0.5 percent on top of that. So, a ZKB customer would pay 6.50 francs to withdraw 300 francs outside of Switzerland. That fee is made up of a 5-franc fixed fee, plus the variable fee of 1.50 francs (0.5 percent of 300 francs).

You pay much higher fees to get cash outside of Switzerland using a Swiss credit card. Most credit card issuers charge a fee equal to either 3.75 percent or 4 percent of the amount you withdraw. Only a few Swiss credit cards have lower fees. Examples include Neon, which has a 1.5 percent fee, and credit cards from Migros Bank (including the Cumulus credit card), which have a 2.5 percent foreign cash advance fee. The Cumulus credit card from Migros Bank includes two complimentary cash withdrawals outside of Switzerland per year, with no cash advance fees.

It is also important to note that Swiss credit cards normally have a minimum fee of 10 francs per cash withdrawal outside of Switzerland. On top of that, you also generally have a foreign transaction fee that applies on top of cash advance fee. Depending on which credit card you use, the foreign transaction fee can equal as much as 2.5 percent of the amount you withdraw.

Banks and card issuers also add markups to the currency exchange rates when you withdraw money in a foreign currency with debit cards or credit cards. Many banks use special, less favorable exchange rates for cash withdrawals.

You can find more information in the guide to making payments and withdrawing money while traveling.

Do any other fees and charges apply to cash withdrawals?

There are other fees which may apply, especially to cash withdrawals outside of Switzerland:

  • ATM fees: When you withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM, your bank or credit card issuer compensates the ATM’s operator. But some ATM operators charge an additional fee directly to you as the customer. For example, you may be charged an ATM fee of 2 euros for a 100-euro withdrawal, so that a total of 102 euros is charged to your bank account or credit card. The ATM informs you about the ATM fee, and you can choose to either cancel the transaction, or make the withdrawal and pay the fee. ATMs from Travelex and Euronext have particularly high fees, and are best avoided. In some countries, nearly all ATM operators charge ATM fees. Compare the fees at different ATMs to find the cheapest ATM for your withdrawals.
  • Dynamic currency conversion: Some ATMs give you the option of having the withdrawal charged to your bank account or credit card in Swiss francs. This is called dynamic currency conversion. In most cases, the exchange rate used by the ATM operator is very unfavorable, with markups as high as 10 or even 20 percent. It is better to charge the withdrawal in the local currency. In that case, the money will be exchanged by your Swiss bank or card issuer. These normally have more favorable exchange rates, with markups typically ranging between 2 and 5 percent.

How much does withdrawing 300 francs cost?

Each bank has its own fee schedule, but the fees shown in the table below are typical for cash withdrawals at ATMs:

Table: The cost of a 300-franc cash withdrawal

Card Cash withdrawal Fee per withdrawal
Debit card In-network ATMs in Switzerland Typically free of charge. Some banks charge 2 francs per withdrawal.
Debit card Out-of-network ATMs in Switzerland Typically 2 francs per withdrawal.
Debit card ATMs outside of Switzerland Typically between CHF 5 and CHF 6.50*
Credit card ATMs in Switzerland Typically CHF 11.25 to CHF 12 per withdrawal*
Credit card ATMs outside of Switzerland Typically CHF 11.50 to CHF 12.30 per withdrawal*

* Plus possible ATM fees from foreign ATM operators (these are shown on the ATM when you make a withdrawal). Additionally, nearly all cards have currency exchange markups.

Can I make cash withdrawals with my phone?

In Switzerland, you can make cash withdrawals at the tills of certain retailers using Twint or the Sonect app.

Some Swiss banks let you make cash withdrawals at their own ATMs using their mobile banking apps.

On a worldwide level, the number of ATMs equipped with NFC connectivity is on the rise. These ATMs can theoretically be used to withdraw cash with mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay, but you currently cannot count on this working. The terms and conditions for phone-based cash withdrawals are typically the same as those for debit cards or credit cards from the same card issuer.

How can I lower the costs of withdrawing money?

There are a number of saving tips which are worth paying attention to:

  • Use in-network ATMs: Use ATMs from your own bank to withdraw cash, as long as your account and debit card does not charge fees for in-network ATMs.
  • Withdraw money at supermarkets: You can withdraw money at certain supermarkets with some debit cards and credit cards. If your bank account or debit card is not accepted, you could consider getting an additional card that is. For example, you can use a Cumulus credit card to get fee-free cash advances at any Migros supermarket, or the Coop Finance debit card to get cash at Coop supermarkets.  
  • Watch out for supplementary fees: If an ATM charges an additional ATM fee, then avoid using that ATM for cash withdrawals if possible.
  • Use neobanks: Some neobanks have much more favorable currency exchange rates and lower fees for cash withdrawals outside of Switzerland. Using the right neobank card for traveling can save you money.
  • Do not pay in Swiss francs when traveling: Avoid using dynamic currency conversion when traveling outside of Switzerland because the exchange rates are often very unfavorable. Pay in the local currency instead. When you choose to pay in local currency, the money is exchanged by your Swiss card issuer at more favorable rates.
  • Use a debit card and not a credit card: Debit cards generally have much lower fees for cash withdrawals than credit cards.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at moneyland.ch and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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