Banking News

Credit Card Use in Switzerland in 2017

May 31, 2017 - Benjamin Manz

A new survey conducted by shows that cash is still king in Switzerland, followed by credit cards and debit cards. Demand for mobile wallets is almost non-existent.

A survey conducted by market research institute GfK Switzerland on behalf of provides interesting insights into the preferred means of settling payments across German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland.

The results of the survey show that cash remains the most popular means of settling payments by a long throw, followed by credit cards and debit cards. Mobile wallets like Twint and Apple Pay are among the least popular payment services. The vast majority of Switzerland’s population avoid mobile payments.

Foregoing the use of cash in everyday life is unthinkable for 85% of the population. 75% of the population would not be willing to give up their credit cards, while 60% would not forgo using Maestro and V-Pay debit cards and 39% would not give up Postfinance cards. Only 8% of the population would not be ready to forgo Twint and Apple Pay, and just 1% of the population finds those solutions indispensable.

Cash tops, mobile flops

Swiss consumers have long found Apple Pay and Twint equally unnecessary. However, Apple Pay is backed by a global corporation of monolith proportions with enormous financial power. This allows it to develop slowly while enjoying strong financial backing. Twint, on the other hand, is backed only by Swiss banks and is far more dependent on achieving immediate success.

Credit cards are almost as popular as cash

The study confirms that Switzerland remains a cash society, but credit cards also enjoy a high level of popularity. In spite of a high concentration of smartphones, the Swiss market for mobile wallets remains in its fledgeling stage. According to Benjamin Manz. CEO of, mobile wallets simply do not provide enough added value over contactless payment cards. Payment card transactions are typically completed faster than mobile payment transactions.

Mobile payments are more popular among French-speaking Swiss and men

It is interesting to note that French-speaking Swiss are generally more interested in mobile wallets than their German-speaking compatriots. French-speaking Swiss are also somewhat more willing to forgo the use of cash.

On the whole, women show a stronger preference towards using cash than men, and are also less interested in using mobile payments than men.

Similar trends are present in location-based results. People living in large cities are more open to alternative payment methods than the rest of the population. Age also plays a role: Consumers between the ages of 19 and 25 years old are among the most open to the idea of mobile payments. Consumers between the ages of 50 and 74 years old generally find mobile wallets irrelevant.

Credit card and prepaid card use

Only 7% of survey participants do not hold a credit card. Of those that do hold credit cards, 50% have just one credit card, 30% have two credit cards, 9% have three credit cards and 4% have four or more credit cards. Prepaid cards are less widely used: 66% of the population does not use prepaid cards at all, while 25% hold a single prepaid card, 6% hold two and 3% hold three or more prepaid cards.

Just 5% of consumers use a credit card or a prepaid card on a daily basis. 28% use a credit or prepaid card several times per week, while 44% use their cards several times per month. A further 22% of consumers only use a credit or prepaid card several times per year.

Credit cards are primarily used for online payments

Credit cards are most commonly used to make payments online. 64% of participants use a credit cards as their primary method of settling online payments. Only 8% of consumers stick to credit cards when paying at Swiss merchants, while 25% use normally use credit cards to pay, 28% occasionally use credit cards to pay, 21% rarely use credit cards to pay and 18% never pay by credit card. Credit cards are payments at Swiss restaurants are slightly less common than credit card payments at stores.

Credit card use abroad

Swiss consumers more frequently use credit cards when they pay for purchases outside of Switzerland: 9% always use credit cards to pay; 30% use credit cards more frequently than other means of payment; 27% occasionally use credit cards to pay; 17% rarely pay by credit card; 17% never pay by credit card.

When paying for hotel accommodations outside of Switzerland: 26% of consumers always use credit cards; 31% use credit cards more than other means of payment; 17% frequently use credit cards; 12% rarely use credit cards; 14% never use credit cards.

Cash withdrawals using credit cards are still common

Credit card users pay high fees when they withdraw cash from automated teller machines (ATMs) using their credit cards. However, many consumers continue to use credit cards to get cash rather than using debit cards – which charge low fees or none at all.

7% of consumers always use credit cards to make cash withdrawals in Switzerland. A further 5% normally use credit cards for cash withdrawals and 9% occasionally use credit cards to access cash. 18% rarely withdraw cash using credit cards and 61% never withdraw cash at Swiss ATMs using credit cards.

When traveling outside of Switzerland, 5% of consumers withdraw cash using credit cards, 7% normally use a credit card to get cash, 14% occasionally withdraw cash with a credit card, 26% rarely use a credit card for this purpose, and 48% never use credit cards for cash withdrawals.

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.