Interest yield rates are, by far, the most important criteria to look at when choosing a 3a retirement solution. The rates offered by the most generous accounts are literally twice as high as those offered by the least generous accounts.
3a retirement accounts are not always free
In addition to interest rates, it is also important to compare fees and charges. Opening and maintaining a 3a savings account is free of charge at all banks, whereas opening and maintaining a 3a securities account may involve fees and charges.
Withdrawing assets from 3a savings accounts can involve charges. A growing number of Swiss banks and insurance companies impose a charge for early or "irregular" withdrawal of retirement savings.
In light of the current trend towards higher fees and charges in Swiss banking, it is fair to say that withdrawal fees may very well climb over the coming years.
Premature closure of 3a accounts
While the regular withdrawal of retirement savings when you reach the prescribed age is free of charge at most financial service providers, many banks and insurance companies charge fees for early account closure.
Depending on the service provider, you may pay charges when you close your account for one of many reasons, including: moving to another bank or insurance company, passing away, receiving disability benefits, becoming self-employed, buying or building a home as your primary residence in Switzerland or abroad, amortizing a mortgage, leaving Switzerland for good of dividing assets during a divorce.
Major differences in fees and charges
Fees and charges vary greatly between different banks and insurance companies. All relevant fees and charges are shown in detail on service provider information pages on moneyland.ch and cost breakdowns are clearly shown on the results page of the Swiss 3a solution comparison.
Charges for moving 3a assets to another service provider
The practice of charging you fees when you transfer your money to another bank or insurance company (to get a better interest rate, for example) is becoming increasingly popular among banks and insurance companies. Financial service providers impose these fees deliberately in order to discourage you from ditching them in favor of a better deal. Account termination and transfer charges can be as high as 100 francs at some service providers.
Pay attention to notice periods
Some banks impose notice periods for account termination. These are typically between 3 and 6 months. Heavy charges may apply if you close your account or withdraw assets without giving due notice.
Charges for home-purchase withdrawals
Charges for withdrawing 3a assets for use towards purchasing a home or paying off a mortgage are less common. However, some banks and insurance companies do charge administrative fees for withdrawal of assets towards purchasing a home.
Charges levied range between 100 and 400 francs. Additional fees may apply when you purchase a home outside of Switzerland. Fees may be reduced or waived altogether when assets are simply pledged but not withdrawn, as is the case with indirect amortization.
Fee-free 3a retirement solutions
Other fees may apply to other types of premature account terminations and withdrawals or locating account holders when contact information is not up to date. But there are still several Swiss banks and insurers which provide 3a solutions completely free of charge.
You can easily find all completely free 3a solutions on the results page of the 3a retirement account comparison by using the filter criteria. Fee-free 3a solutions include all 3a savings accounts powered by the Privor schemes.