Traveling by car allows for seamless exploration of Switzerland and neighboring countries. Although Switzerland may be famous for its railways, the majority of residents get around by car. Nearly 6 million cars call Switzerland home.
Although electric automobiles enjoy some popularity among short-range commuters, gas is still the undisputed standard. Unfortunately, Swiss gas prices are high. While Swiss gas stations are well equipped to handle cash payments (even automated pumps take cash), using a gas card to pay can benefit you by letting you earn points that can save you money. If you like to keep track of your gasoline spending in a convenient way, a card statement provides a more hassle-free alternative to collecting receipts.
What gas cards are available in Switzerland?
Migrolcard (Migrol Private Card) can be used to pay at Migrol gas stations (around 370 countrywide), both at the pump and in store. It can also be used to pay at Migrol car washes. This gas card works like a charge card in that you receive a bill at the end of each month. There is no annual fee for the first year, but you do pay CHF 10.75 per year for the card after that. Online statements are free (paper statements cost CHF 2.40), as are electronic bills (paper bills cost CHF 2.40).
When you use the Migrolcard you earn Cumulus points. Every 2 liters of gas tanked gives you 2 Cumulus points and you earn 1 point per 2 francs spent at Migrol shops, carwashes and on Migrol car servicing. Your card will need to be linked to your Cumulus account or, alternatively, you must provide your cumulus card when you pay. You also earn points when you use this card at Shell stations which host a Migrolino store. Depending on the price of gas, you may earn more points (1 point per 1 franc charged) by using the Cumulus credit card from Migros to pay for gas at Migrol stations. Cumulus points are redeemeable for vouchers (500 points for a 5-franc voucher) which can be used towards gas purchases at Migrol stations.
Swiss motor club TCS offers its members a BP gas card which gives you 2.5 centimes off every liter of gasoline you buy at all BP stations in Switzerland. However, you have to have TCS membership in order to apply for this free gas card. BP also has a partnership with Viseca, which issues credit cards for cantonal banks, Raiffeisen Bank, Valiant, Migros Bank and Bank Coop, amount others. Thanks to this partnership, Viseca cardholders earn 2 Suprize points for every 1 franc of BP purchases. Viseca’s Surprize points can be redeemd for BP vouchers at the rate of 11,200 points for a 20-franc voucher.
Socar offers a gas card as well. However, the Socar card does not let you earn rewards on spending, so there is little incentive to pay the 10-franc annual fee. That’s especially true considering the fact that you can pay using a free debit card or a no-annual-fee credit card (like Cumulus or Supercard) which rewards you for your spending.
The Coop Pronto Card lets you earn “Superpoints” every time you tank at a Coop station (around 220 in Switzerland). You earn 1 superpoint per 1 liter of fuel purchased. Superpoints can be redeemed for Coop vouchers which can be redeemed for merchandise at Coop stores and various other rewards.
The Agip Plus card from AGIP/ENI, which has close to 290 gas stations in Switzerland, is similar to the Socar card in that you do not earn rewards, although occasional merchandise-based rewards are offered during special promotions.
Tamoil customers have little incentive to use the “mycard Tamoil” which comes with an annual fee and no rewards. However, Bonus Card credit card holders earn 1 point per 1 franc in purchases at Tamoil, and these points can be redeemed for Tamoil vouchers (albeit at a poor rate of around 12,500 points for a 50-franc voucher). The Visa Libertycard credit card from Bonus Card delivers 2 points per 1 franc spent at gas all gas stations, and the Visa Libertycard Plus delivers 4 points per 1-franc of purchases from gas stations. Points can be redeemed for Tamoil and BP vouchers (2500 points per 10 francs of value). TCS members can access the TCS Tamoil Card which delivers a 2% discount on gas at all 350 Tamoil stations in the country.
Avia, which operates around 600 stations in Switzerland, does not offer rewards or gas discounts to its Avia Card holders. Perhaps fittingly, cardholders can get a 10% discount on travel and legal expenses insurance from AXA Winterthur. A 1.50-franc monthly administration fee applies (e-payment), and this fee goes up to 2.40-francs if you want paper billing. That makes it more expensive than similar gas cards.
Agrola, which operates around 400 gas stations across the country, offer customers an “energy card” at no annual fee. Aside from the obvious benefits like card statements and mileage estimates, this card does not have a huge amount of saving potential. You earn 1 “energy club” point for every liter of gas you tank and 1 point per 1 franc spent in an Agrola station store. Redemption options are somewhat limited and rewards cannot be redeemed for gas.
Is a gas card worth getting in Switzerland?
A handful of gas cards offer useful rewards that can help you save money. However, many credit cards offer a higher rate of rewards. A quick look at Swiss credit cards using the moneyland.ch credit card comparison tool shows that using the right credit card to pay can save you more than using a gas card.
For example, the TCS MasterCard Gold gives you discounts at BP and Tamoil and also delivers 1% cash back on every purchase. Even the Migros Cumulus credit card which has no annual fee can be used to earn points at Migrol and Migrolino/Shell petrol stations, and those points can be redeemed towards fuel purchases.
Most of the gas cards available give you less saving opportunities and most of them can only be used to pay at corresponding gas stations. If you are going to carry just one card, a good rewards credit card may be more effective.
Business gas cards are another ball game, as some of these deliver heavily discounted gas prices to business customers who make a minimum amount of purchases monthly.
Are there any other alternatives?
If you are not interested in earning rewards, you can also use a debit card to pay at most Swiss gas stations. The REKA card can be used to pay at Avia and BP gas stations in Switzerland, and if you load it correctly you can benefit from a 2% discount. REKA checks are also accepted in place of cash at those stations. These can be obtained at prices below their face value and redeemed for gas at full face value - providing another alternative for gas savings..
Interactive Swiss credit card comparison