open pillar 3a account
Accounts & Cards

How to Open a Pillar 3a Account

March 13, 2024 - Ralf Beyeler

The third pillar lets you save on taxes while saving for retirement. This guide explains how to open a pillar 3a bank account or invest in a pillar 3a retirement fund.

The pillar 3a can be used to save for retirement. You can place money in pillar 3a saving solutions every year, up to the annual pillar 3a contribution limits for people with or without an occupational pension fund. Once you place money in the pillar 3a, it is held in trust and can only be withdrawn five years before Swiss retirement age, at the earliest, unless you qualify for early withdrawals.

The advantage of using the pillar 3a to save is that the money you contribute can be deducted from your taxable income, which lowers your income tax. Additionally, you do not have to declare your pillar 3a savings along with your taxable wealth in your tax returns, and you do not pay wealth tax on pillar 3a assets.

Which banks offer pillar 3a savings accounts and retirement fund accounts?

Nearly all Swiss banks offer a pillar 3a account. Normally they also give you the option of investing pillar 3a assets in retirement funds.

In addition to established pillar 3a solutions from Swiss banks, there are also many online retirement saving services. Some retirement savings foundations – the entities that hold pillar 3a assets in trust – let you open pillar 3a accounts directly with them.

Regardless of whether you open a pillar 3a solution from a bank, an online retirement saving service, or directly from a retirement savings foundation: in the background, there is always a retirement savings foundation that holds the money in trust.

How can I open a pillar 3a account as a new customer?

Many consumers want to open pillar 3a accounts at banks without having to also have a private account or a bank package at the same bank.

The table below shows which Swiss banks let you open a pillar 3a account without a private account.

Table 1: Pillar 3a without a private account at the same bank

Bank Opening a pillar 3a account without a private account
At a branch office Online By mail
Banks with branch offices
Aargauische Kantonalbank Yes Yes Yes
Appenzeller Kantonalbank Yes No No
BancaStato Yes Yes No information
Bank Cler Yes No Yes
Banque Cantonale de Fribourg Yes No Yes
Banque Cantonale de Genève Yes Yes No information
Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise Yes No 2 Yes
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise Yes No 2 No information
Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank Yes Only with a
private account 1
No information
Basler Kantonalbank Yes No Yes
Berner Kantonalbank Yes Only with a
private account 1
No information
Bank BSU Yes Yes No
Glarner Kantonalbank Yes No No information
Graubündner Kantonalbank Yes No No
LLB Yes 1 No 1 2 No
Luzerner Kantonalbank Yes Yes Yes
Migros Bank Yes No 2 Yes
Nidwaldner Kantonalbank Yes No Yes
Obwaldner Kantonalbank Yes No 2 Yes
Postfinance Yes No 2 Yes
Raiffeisen Yes No No
Schwyzer Kantonalbank Yes No 2 Yes
St. Galler Kantonalbank Yes No No information
Thurgauer Kantonalbank Yes Only with a
private account 1
No information
UBS Yes No No information
UBS Key4 Yes Only with a
private account 1
keine Angaben
Urner Kantonalbank Yes No Yes
Valiant Yes Yes No
Zuger Kantonalbank Yes Yes No information
Zürcher Kantonalbank Yes Yes No information
Coop Finance Plus No Yes No
Yuh No Yes No
Zak No Yes No
Online retirement saving services
(Glarner Kantonalbank)
No Yes No information
Descartes No Yes No information
Finpension No Yes No
Frankly No Yes No
Inyova No Yes No
Selma No Yes No
Swissquote 3a Easy Only with a
private account 3
Only with a
private account 3
Only with a
private account 3
True Wealth No Yes No
Viac No Yes No
Volt by Vontobel No Yes No
Yapeal Y3A No Yes No
Stock brokers
Cash Banking by Bank ZweiPlus No No 2 Yes

1 You can only open a pillar 3a account online in combination with a private account.
2 You can apply for a pillar 3a account online, but the account opening process is done by mail.
3 You can only open a pillar 3a account if you have a private account (formerly a trading account) at Swissquote. The private account does not have basic ongoing fees as long as you do not hold securities.

How can existing customers open a pillar 3a account?

If you already have an account at a bank, then opening a pillar 3a account at the same bank is simple. Most banks let you open a pillar 3a account via online banking. You can also open a pillar 3a account at a branch office or by phone. As an existing customer, you do not need to complete the identification process again.

Can I invest my pillar 3a savings?

Yes, most service providers give you the option of investing your pillar 3a assets in a retirement fund. You generally also need to open a pillar 3a account into which you can transfer the money that you want to invest in the fund.

At least from a historical perspective, retirement funds have delivered bigger returns than retirement savings accounts, over the long term. But be aware that the risk is also bigger. If having your money invested in a fund that can fluctuate in value keeps you up at night, then you should use a pillar 3a savings account instead.

Which documents do I need to provide when opening a pillar 3a account?

When you open a pillar 3a account, you must provide your ID card or passport. You also need to provide your OASI number. You can find your OASI number on the European Health Insurance Card that you get from your mandatory health insurance provider.

More on this topic:
Compare Swiss pillar 3a retirement funds now
Compare Swiss pillar 3a savings accounts now

Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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