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Banking News

New Debit Cards from Swiss Banks

February 17, 2020 - Ralf Beyeler

Many Swiss banks will begin issuing Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit cards to private account holders in place of Maestro debit cards. Independent online comparison service moneyland.ch inquired about changes at major Swiss banks.

An update of the article for 2022 can be found here.

Debit cards are very popular among customers of Swiss banks. Over 10 million Swiss debit cards are currently in use. The Maestro card from Mastercard is the most widely used, followed by the PostFinance Card from PostFinance and the V-Pay Card from Visa.

Now the Debit Mastercard and the Visa Debit are being introduced to the Swiss market.

The biggest advantage of the Debit Mastercard and the Visa Debit over Maestro and V-Pay is that they can be used to pay for online purchases from most merchants which accept Mastercard and Visa.

Using these debit cards is cheaper than using credit cards in many cases, but they are (moderately) less widely accepted than credit cards and do not generally include complimentary benefits.

Example of lower acceptance: Up until November 2019, the airline SWISS did not accept payments made with the Debit Mastercard. It has since begun to accept Debit Mastercard cards for payments.

Will Maestro cards still be offered?

Most Swiss banks do not plan to phase out the Maestro card in the near future. Over the mid-term, some banks will replace the Maestro card with the Debit Mastercard.

Will the PostFinance Card still be offered?

The PostFinance Card will continue to be offered by PostFinance in its current form.

Will V-Pay cards still be offered?

As from 2021, the V-Pay card from Visa will be no longer be issued. V-Pay cards issued before than will remain active and can be used as normal. Visa, which owns the V-Pay brand, will move to Visa Debit as its debit card for Switzerland.

What do the Visa Debit and Debit Mastercard cost?

Most banks have not yet published their fees for the new debit cards. It is safe to assume that the fees will be identical or similar to those which currently apply to Maestro and V-Pay debit cards. With the Maestro and V-Pay cards, purchases from Swiss merchants are generally free of charge for the payer. A 1.50 foreign transaction fee typically applies to purchases from foreign merchants. Cash withdrawals are typically free of charge at in-network ATMs and typically cost 2 francs for out-of-network withdrawals and 5 francs for withdrawals outside of Switzerland. The exact fees and charges vary between banks.

Which banks offer the new debit cards?

moneyland.ch inquired into the plans of major Swiss banks with regards to the Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit.

Bank Cler

Bank Cler is currently looking into various options and plans to either extend or replace its current debit card lineup with a new debit card over the short- to mid-term. Bank Cler is not yet able to say whether its new debit card would be a Visa Debit or a Debit Mastercard.

Berner Kantonalbank

The Berner Kantonalbank will offer a debit card from Visa or Mastercard which cardholders can use to make online purchases. It is currently concluding its evaluation and will settle on its next step and a launch date shortly.

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse plans to issue a new debit card sometime within 2020. It is currently developing the product, and is not yet ready to state which option will be used or whether it will continue to offer its Maestro debit card.

Banque Cantonale de Fribourg

The Banque Cantonale de Fribourg was the first Swiss bank to introduce the Debit Mastercard, which it launched in 2018. The bank continues to offer the Maestro debit card as well.

Luzerner Kantonalbank

The Luzerner Kantonalbank expects to introduce new debit cards towards the end of 2020. The details have not yet been decided.

Migros Bank

Migros Bank is currently exploring a number of options. The bank is not currently in a position to make any concrete statement with regards to its debit cards.

Neon

Swiss app-based banking service provider Neon only issues one card. Although transactions are debited directly from the linked account, as with a debit card, the Neon card is a Mastercard Prepaid Card and not a Debit Mastercard.

PostFinance

There are currently 3 million PostFinance Card debit cards in use. PostFinance is following the market closely and evaluates the functionality of its debit card and how it can be extended. The PostFinance Card can already be used to pay for online purchases from many Swiss merchants. PostFinance has not yet decided whether or not it will extend functionality to include online purchases from foreign merchants.

Raiffeisen

Raiffeisen will replace its V-Pay debit card with the Visa Debit card. The bank plans an initial pilot launch of the Visa Debit in the second half of 2021. Raiffeisen also plans to replace the Maestro card with the Debit Mastercard over the mid-term.

Revolut

Financial services provider Revolut is not a Swiss bank, and operates out of the United Kingdom. However, the service is very popular in Switzerland. Revolut primarily issues prepaid cards linked to user accounts, but it also gives users the option of Maestro debit cards.

St.Galler Kantonalbank    

The St.Galler Kantonalbank expects to offer new debit cards from the end of 2020. It is not yet ready to communicate which card or cards will be offered.

TransferWise

TransferWise is not a Swiss financial services provider, but the UK-based financial services provider has a large user base in Switzerland. TransferWise has already issued Debit Mastercard debit cards to Swiss customers for several years.

UBS

UBS plans to add the debit cards to its lineup ahead of the fourth quarter of 2020. The bank is not currently open to sharing which cards will be offered and whether or not it will continue to offer its Maestro debit card. UBS offers a V-Pay debit card in addition to its Maestro card, so it is likely that it will offer the Visa Debit card in addition to a debit card from Mastercard.

Valiant

Valiant has offered a Debit Mastercard to youth account holders since September 2019. It expects to begin offering the Debit Mastercard to adult and business account holders in the future, but an exact time-frame has not yet been defined. Valiant has stated that it will replace its Maestro card with the Debit Mastercard, but here too, the exact timeframe is still undefined.

Zürcher Kantonalbank

The Zürcher Kantonalbank will publish details about its new debit card before the end of 2020. Both the Debit Mastercard and the Visa Debit are being considered.

More on this topic:
An update of the article for 2021 can be found here.
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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at moneyland.ch and also covers other areas of personal finance.