prepaid card switzerland
Accounts & Cards

Swiss Prepaid Card Guide

May 4, 2024 - Benjamin Manz

How are Swiss prepaid card different from standard Swiss credit cards? Does using prepaid cards make financial sense? Find answers to your questions in this guide to using prepaid cards in Switzerland.

1. Which Swiss card issuers offer prepaid cards?

Many Swiss card issuers issue prepaid cards. These include:

2. How is a prepaid card different from a credit card?

The biggest difference between a prepaid card and a credit card is that a prepaid card cannot be used to make purchases on credit. Because a prepaid card account does not have a line of credit, you must add money to the account before you can use your card.

Creating or carrying a negative balance is not possible. You can only make purchases as long as there is money in your account which can be debited to pay for the purchases. Some prepaid cards come with the option of placing a direct debit order so that money is automatically drawn from your bank account and credited to your prepaid card account.

3. How is a prepaid card different from a debit card?

A debit card is directly linked to a private account at a bank. When you pay or make a cash withdrawal with a debit card, the amount spent is debited from your bank account balance. A prepaid card is not linked to a bank account, but to a prepaid card account from a card issuer. You do not necessarily need to have a bank account in order to use a prepaid card. You must load money to your prepaid card account in order to use a prepaid card.

4. Do I need a bank account to use a prepaid card?

As with credit cards, whether or not you need a bank account in order to obtain a prepaid card depends on the card issuer. For example, you do not need to have a bank account to use prepaid cards from Cornèrcard and Bonuscard. The prepaid cards which are sold at kiosks (like k kiosks from Valora) can also be used without a bank account.

5. How high are the annual fees of Swiss prepaid cards?

Like credit cards, prepaid cards typically have annual card fees. The highest annual fee charged for a Swiss prepaid card is 60 francs per year.

Some prepaid cards do not have annual fees. Swiss no-annual-fee prepaid cards include:

6. How much does it cost to load prepaid card accounts?

Unlike credit cards, Swiss prepaid cards generally have loading fees. You pay the loading fee every time you “load” your prepaid card by transferring or depositing money into your prepaid card account. With some prepaid cards this fee is waived for the first “loading” and then charged for each additional reloading.

Loading fees vary between prepaid cards:

  • 2 francs per loading (some Cornèrcard prepaid cards, for example).
  • 1% of the loaded amount, minimum 5 francs per loading (Viseca and Swissquote, for example).
  • 4% of the loaded amount, minimum 2 francs per loading (Valora ok.- prepaid Visa or Mastercard).
  • 6% of the loaded amount (Yuna To Go).
  • No loading fees (Postfinance Mastercard Value, UBS Mastercard Prepaid).

Understanding prepaid card loading fees is very important because they can become very expensive. The interactive Swiss prepaid card comparison on lets you select how many times you expect to load your prepaid card account each year. The loading fees are accounted for in the comparison based on your entry. You can also find the exact loading fee for each prepaid card in the detailed cost breakdowns.

7. How much do cash withdrawals cost?

Like the cash advance fees of credit cards, the cash withdrawal fees of prepaid cards are typically very high. Withdrawing money from your prepaid card account is generally not a good financial move. Debit cards are much more suitable for cash withdrawals. Many Swiss prepaid cards charge cash withdrawal fees equal to 4% of the amount withdrawn, with a minimum fee of up to 10 francs per withdrawal. When you make cash withdrawals outside of Switzerland, you pay a foreign transaction fee on top of the cash withdrawal fee.

8. What does using prepaid cards outside of the country cost?

When you use a Swiss prepaid card to make purchases from foreign merchants (online or while traveling, for example), you pay foreign transaction fees. Foreign transaction fees vary between prepaid cards, but can be as high as 2% of the amount you spend.

Additionally, you also pay a markup on the currency exchange rate. These markups can be just as important as the foreign transaction fee, and can add another cost equal to more than 2% of the amount you spend.

9. Are there any other costs?

Depending on the prepaid card, you may pay additional costs for certain services. For example, getting a replacement card if you lose your prepaid card typically costs 20 francs.

10. Where can I compare Swiss prepaid cards?

You can compare the costs and benefits of Swiss prepaid cards using the interactive prepaid card comparison on

11. Are prepaid cards cheaper than credit cards?

No. As the comparison shows, the most favorable credit cards are often cheaper than the most favorable prepaid cards.

It is important to consider the total of all costs and not just annual card fees. The prepaid card comparison accounts for all fees, including loading fees and foreign transaction fees.

12. Do Swiss prepaid cards come with special cardholder benefits?

Most Swiss prepaid cards have very few benefits compared to Swiss credit cards. The majority of prepaid cards do not have rewards programs and do not come with complimentary insurance.

13. Who could benefit from using prepaid cards?

Prepaid cards are widely used by teenagers and students. One reason for this is that banks often market prepaid cards to teenagers as young as 12 or 14 years old. Credit cards, on the other hand, are only available to adults aged 18 or older.

Prepaid cards are also used as an alternative to credit cards by adults who are not eligible for credit cards (due to poor creditworthiness, for example).

Prepaid cards are also often promoted by teachers and educators because they do not allow you to make purchases on credit. Prepaid cards can also be practical for families because they enable parents to monitor their children’s’ spending and to freeze or reload a child’s prepaid card account remotely if necessary.

14. Can Swiss prepaid cards be used for mobile payments?

Yes. Many Swiss prepaid cards work with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Swatch Pay, Fitbit Pay or Garmin Pay. You can easily filter Swiss prepaid cards based on their compatibility with popular mobile wallets in the interactive prepaid card comparison.

15. Are there alternatives to Swiss prepaid cards?

In addition to conventional credit cards and debit cards, neobanks now offer cards which can be used much like prepaid cards. Examples include the cards from Swiss neobanks Neon, Yuh and Zak and UK neobanks Wise and Revolut.

The main advantage of neobank cards is that they typically have favorable currency exchange rates, which makes them an affordable option for international purchases. Another major advantage compared to most Swiss credit cards is that you do not pay loading fees to fund your card account. Basic neobank cards typically do not have annual card fees.

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