credit card study survey switzerland 2018

How Are Credit Cards Used in Switzerland?

Banking, General News, 25.05.2018
A survey of credit card and prepaid card use in Switzerland conducted by online comparison service moneyland.ch sheds light on gender-based, age-based and regional differences.

On behalf of independent online comparison service moneyland.ch, market research institute GfK Switzerland surveyed 1517 consumers across German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland with regards to their use of credit cards and prepaid cards.

The results show that card use varies based on the age, gender and region of cardholders. Contactless payments are on the increase: 57% of participants have already made a contactless payment with their credit card, while 55% of prepaid card holders have used the contactless option. The number of cardholders who use credit cards to withdraw money at ATMs is still very high – in spite of the excessive cash advance fees.

Popularity of credit cards and prepaid cards in Switzerland

Of the consumers surveyed, 15% do not have a credit card. 45% of Swiss consumers hold a single credit card, while 27% hold two credit cards, 9% hold three credit cards, 2% hold four credit cards and 1% hold five or more credit cards. Prepaid cards are much less widely used. 67% of Swiss consumers do not have a prepaid card, while 25% have a single prepaid card, 5% have two prepaid cards and 1% have three or more prepaid cards. 77% of participants have already held their credit or prepaid cards for more than three years, which shows that the hesitance of Swiss consumers to migrate between products applies to credit cards as well.

Swiss credit card use compared

64.5% of the population would not be willing to forego using credit cards. “That means that after cash, credit cards are the payment method which Swiss consumers are the least willing to forego,” says moneyland.ch analyst Michael Burkhard. The popularity of credit cards is also apparent in the frequency with which they are used: 78% of consumers use credit cards. Of these, 4.5% use a credit card every day, 24% use one several times per week, 11.5% use one once a week, 27% use a credit card several times per month, 15% use one once a month and 18% use one several times per year.

Credit cards are more popular in German-speaking Switzerland than they are in French-speaking Switzerland. 79.5% of survey participants in German-speaking Switzerland use credit cards, compared to 72.5% in French-speaking Switzerland. Gender-based differences are also apparent: A quarter (25.5%) of women never use credit cards, compared to 18.5% of men. Differences between urban and rural areas are less pronounced: 21.5% of urban consumers never use credit cards, compared to around one quarter (24.5%) of rural consumers.

Only 61.5% of participants in the youngest age group (age 19 to 25) hold credit cards – while prepaid cards are more prevalent in this age group. 81% of adults between the ages of 26 and 49 and 79.5% of adults between the ages of 50 and 74 years old use credit cards.

Swiss prepaid card use compared

Prepaid cards (sometimes called prepaid credit cards or prepaid debit cards) are most popular among young consumers. 39.5% of young adults aged 19 to 25 use prepaid cards, while just 18.5% of adults between the ages of 26 and 49 and only 14.5% of adults between the ages of 50 and 74 use prepaid cards.

Prepaid cards are significantly less widely used than credit cards: Only 29% of survey participants have a prepaid card. 2.5% of prepaid card holders use them every day, 12.5% use them several times per week, 10% use them once a week, 17% use them several times per month, 23% use them once a month and 35% use them several times per year.

Prepaid cards are less popular in German-speaking Switzerland than they are in French-speaking Switzerland: 26.5% of consumers in French-speaking Switzerland use prepaid cards, compared to 17.5% in German-speaking Switzerland. Men are more likely to hold prepaid cards than women: 83% of women never use prepaid cards, compared to 78.5% of men. Prepaid cards are also more popular in urban areas than they are in rural areas.

How cardholders use their credit cards

Credit cards are the payment method of choice for online purchases: 26.5% of participants always use credit cards to pay for online purchases, 39% usually use credit cards, 20.5% occasionally use credit cards and 7.5% rarely use credit cards to pay for online purchases. Credit cards are also a popular means of paying for hotel stays outside of Switzerland. 26.5% of participants always use credit cards to pay for hotel stays, 32.5% usually use credit cards, while 15.5% occasionally use credit cards and 10% rarely use credit cards to pay for hotel stays.

Credit cards are somewhat less widely used for settling payments at stores and other businesses in Switzerland and abroad. When paying at shops outside of Switzerland, 10% of Swiss consumers always use credit cards to pay at foreign shops, 30% usually use credit cards, 25% occasionally use credit cards and 17.5% rarely use credit cards. When paying at shops in Switzerland, just 9.5% of consumers always use credit cards, 26% usually use credit cards, 27% occasionally use credit cards and 20% rarely use credit cards.

When paying at restaurants outside of Switzerland, 9.5% of participants always use credit cards, 25% usually use credit cards, 24.5% occasionally use credit cards and 16.5% rarely use credit cards. Credit cards are less commonly used to pay at restaurants in Switzerland: 6.5% always use credit cards, 19.5% usually use credit cards, 26.5% occasionally use credit cards and 20.5% rarely use credit cards.

On the whole, credit cards are more frequently used to pay for purchases outside of Switzerland then for purchases in Switzerland. A possible reason for this is that – depending on the circumstances – there is often a broader array of payment methods available for local payments than for payments abroad.

Cash withdrawals using credit cards

Of the consumers who participated in the survey, 6% always use credit cards to withdraw money from ATMs, 7% usually use credit cards, 7.5% occasionally use credit cards, 18% rarely use credit cards and 57% never use credit cards for this purpose. When making cash withdrawals outside of Switzerland, 6% of consumers always use a credit card, 7.5% usually use a credit card, 12.5% occasionally use a credit card, 24.5% rarely use a credit card and 42.5% never use a credit card for cash withdrawals at foreign ATMs. Those statistics show that while credit cards are not as widely used for making cash withdrawals as they are for settling payments online and at shops and hotels, their use as a tool to access cash is still more common than it ought to be. Getting cash advances at ATMs using credit cards is significantly more expensive than withdrawing money from bank accounts using debit cards. “Apparently many cardholders still do not know that they pay high fees when they use credit cards to withdraw money,” says moneyland.ch CEO Benjamin Manz.

More on this topic:
Leading Swiss credit card comparison

About moneyland.ch

moneyland.ch is Switzerland’s independent online comparison service covering banking, insurance and telecom. More than 80 unbiased comparison tools and calculators are available on moneyland.ch, along with useful financial guides and timely news. The comprehensive comparison tools help you to find the right insurance policies, bank accounts, credit and prepaid cards, loans, mortgages, trading accounts and telecom products for your needs.