free swiss credit cards guide
Accounts & Cards

Free Credit Cards in Switzerland Explained

May 28, 2024 - Benjamin Manz

Are the free credit cards offered in Switzerland really free? In this guide, independent online comparison service moneyland.ch lists Swiss credit cards with no annual fee, and explains the incidental fees you might pay when you use them.

To get straight to the point: There is no such thing as a completely free credit card. If there were, the company which issues it would not likely be able to survive very long.

When Swiss credit card issuers talk about free credit cards, what they mean is credit cards which do not have basic annual card fees just for holding the credit card account. But there are many other possible fees and charges which can apply when you use a credit card. That also applies to so-called free credit cards.

Incidental fees may include foreign transactions fees, currency exchange markups, and cash withdrawal fees. With prepaid credit cards, you may pay loading fees when you put money on your card. Other fees which can apply in certain situations include billing fees, card statement fees, fees for freezing your card account, and fees for phone calls.  

However, it is perfectly possible to use a no-annual-fee credit card within Switzerland without any costs for you at all. The primary requirements are that you only buy from Swiss merchants, forego cash withdrawals, and pay your credit card bill in full every month. Many credit cards have reward programs, so in the best case you can even get money back.

Migros Cumulus credit card

The Migros Cumulus credit card replaced the Migros Cumulus Mastercard from Cembra Money Bank on July 1, 2022. The new card is issued by Migros Bank. The new Visa credit card has more insurance benefits than its predecessor. Probably the most important different is that the new card has no foreign transaction fee, so the extra costs when making purchases from foreign merchants are lower. You do still pay markups which are worked into currency exchange rates. You can find more information about the Migros Cumulus credit card here.

Free credit cards from Cembra Money Bank

Cembra Money Bank launched its Certo credit card as a successor to the Migros Cumulus Mastercard on July 1, 2022. Compared to its predecessor, the new Certo credit card offers more cardholder benefits and a cash back reward program. You can find more information about the Certo credit card here.

Other no-annual-fee credit cards issued by Cembra Money Bank include the Ikea Family credit card, the Cosy Conforama credit card, the Lipo credit card, and the Fnac credit card.

Coop Supercard credit card

Coop and Topcard (UBS) launched the Supercard credit card on November 1, 2018, after Coop ended its partnership with Swisscard for the phased-out Coop Supercardplus. The Coop Supercard is also available as a prepaid credit card, but the prepaid version has loading fees. You are rewarded with Coop Superpoints when you use the card to pay at non-Coop merchants. You can find more information about the Coop Supercard credit card here.

Free credit card from Viseca

Viseca issues the free credit card Manor World Mastercard. This has no annual fees. With the Manor card you get Manor points.

Cashback credit cards from Swisscard

Swisscard launched its stand-alone Cashback credit cards on November 1, 2018, as an alternative to the Coop Supercardplus. In March, 2019, the upgraded Cashback credit cards were launched as a two-card set. These were the first Swiss credit cards with no annual fees which rewarded users with cash back, and also the first that could be used with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. The Cashback credit cards are available in American Express, Mastercard, and Visa versions. You can find more information about the Cashback credit cards from Swisscard here.

Swisscard also issues the new Poinz credit cards. The Poinz credit cards stand out as some of the cheapest credit cards for purchases from Swiss merchants because of their high cash back rewards.

Free credit card from Loeb (Bonuscard)

Bonuscard issues the free credit card Loeb Visa Card. It has no annual fee. Bonus points are awarded in Loeb stores and a cashback of 0.5 percent outside Loeb stores.

Other free credit cards

Aside from the Migros Cumulus, Coop Supercard, and Cashback credit cards, there are other credit cards which also do not have annual fees. The Visa Free card from Migros Bank, for example, does not have an annual card fee.

The fee of the UBS Basic Card (Visa and Mastercard versions) is waived if you make at least 24 transactions per year. Otherwise, you pay 40 francs per year for the use of the card.

There are also free prepaid credit cards with no annual fees. These include:

It is also important to mention that you do not normally pay extra annual fees for credit cards which are part of bank packages. Instead, you pay a flat fee for the whole bank package which covers all of the components.

Possible fees explained

Most free credit cards charge foreign transaction fees when you use them to buy from foreign merchants. These fees range between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent (Cashback cards from Swisscard).

Unlike some paid credit cards, all Swiss no-annual-fee credit cards have fees for paper card statements (1.95 francs per statement, for example).

You also pay for customer service hotlines. Swisscard and Topcard, for example, charge 1.90 francs per phone call for customer support related to their free credit cards.

All Swiss free credit cards also have markups on currency exchange rates. The Migros Cumulus credit card, for example, uses Migros Bank exchange rates. The Coop Supercard credit card uses UBS exchange rates. The Certo credit card uses exchange rates from Cembra Money Bank. The Manor store credit card uses Viseca’s exchange rates, and the Cashback credit cards use Swisscard exchange rates.

Free credit cards: Watch out for interest charges

As with other credit cards, carrying debt on free credit cards generates high interest charges if you do not pay your credit card bill in full and on time. Interest charged on card debt is an important source of revenue for credit card issuers. Tip: Set up a direct debit for your credit card to avoid making late payments and having to pay expensive interest charges.

Free credit cards: It is all about how you use them

Using free credit cards is often the cheapest option, but there are exceptions to the rule. Depending on how you use credit cards, using a card which has an annual fee can actually be more favorable. The only way to find out which credit card works best for you is by running a custom credit card comparison which accounts for all possible costs.

If you are interested in supplemental benefits for cardholders, then you should also take a close look at the exact benefits offered. In many cases, cheaper credit cards have fewer or more limited benefits.

The moneyland.ch credit card comparison accounts for cardholder benefits in addition to costs. You can easily sort credit cards based on cardholder benefits like insurance and reward programs (including airline miles) in the comparison results.

An alternative to using a credit card is to use a neobank account. The cards that come with neobank accounts are typically debit cards. That means they are not as widely accepted and have generally have fewer supplementary benefits. The advantage of neobank cards is that they are often cheaper for making transactions in foreign currencies. The advantage of credit cards, on the other hand, is that they often come with rewards programs and complimentary insurance.

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Leading credit cards

Free credit card

Swisscard Cashback Cards Amex

  • No annual fees

  • Two cards Amex & Visa/Mastercard

  • With cash back

Free credit card

Migros Cumulus Visa

  • No annual fees

  • With Cumulus points

  • Without foreign currency fees

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