swiss banks with negative interest rates
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Swiss Banks with Negative Interest Rates

December 15, 2022 - Benjamin Manz

Which Swiss banks charged negative interest? This moneyland.ch guide provides a historical overview of negative interest rates in Switzerland.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) introduced negative interest rates for banks in January 2015. Many commercial Swiss banks eventually began charging their customers interest on their account balances.

Swiss private banks (like Lombard Odier) were the first to implement negative interest rates. These banks earn money by investing wealth on behalf of high-net-worth individuals. By imposing negative interest rates on account balances, private banks tried to encourage their customers to transfer their wealth from their bank accounts to wealth management services.

The situation for savers did not improve until June 16, 2022, when the Swiss National Bank (SNB) decided to raise its reference interest rate by half a percentage point from -0.75 percent to -0.25 percent. Following this decision, several commercial Swiss banks announced that they were also reducing their negative interest rates to -0.25 percent or even eliminating them altogether.

The next turning point came on September 22, 2022 with the SNB's decision to raise its interest rate above the zero-percent threshold to 0.5 percent interest per annum. That put an end to negative interest charges on Swiss bank account balances for the time being.

Negative interest rates were not always transparent

Here you can find a clear overview of the negative interest rates which Swiss retail banks charged. As a general rule, only the banks which openly published their negative interest rates are included in this list.

Some banks charged negative interest rates for account balances which exceeded certain thresholds, but did not openly publish these rates. More commonly, banks simply stated that interest rates for balances above a given threshold were only available upon request. The thresholds above which negative interest rates applied varied between banks. There were also cases in which interest rates differed between individual customers, or were even negotiable.

Historical negative interest rates in July, 2022

  • Aargauische Kantonalbank: This bank no longer had negative interest rates in July, 2022.
  • Alternative Bank (savings account): Interest rate of -0.25 percent from CHF 0, -0.75 percent from 50,000 francs (on savings accounts, even more negative interest for private accounts).
  • Bank Cler: -0.25 percent from 500,000 francs, but individual exceptions were possible depending on the client.
  • Baloise Bank SoBa: Interest rate of -0.25 percent, threshold variable, the threshold could be raised for customers with mortgages and/or investments.
  • Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank: Interest rate of -0.25 percent from 500,000 francs, the threshold could be raised for customers with mortgages and/or investments.
  • Berner Kantonalbank: Rates were determined on a case-by-case basis, with higher negative-interest-free thresholds for customers who had loans or investments.
  • Crédit Agricole next bank: Still did not have negative interest rates.
  • Credit Suisse: This bank no longer had negative interest rates in July, 2022.
  • Banque Cantonale de Genève: Negative interest was charged on the portion of account balances exceeding between 1.5 million and 2.5 million francs, depending on whether the customer also used asset management services.
  • Glarner Kantonalbank: No longer had negative interest.
  • Migros Bank: Interest rate of -0.25 percent on the portion of account balances exceeding 1 million francs.
  • Neon: The neobank had negative interest rates of -0.25 percent per annum (portion of balances between 100,000 and 125,000 francs) and -0.5 percent per year (portion of balances in excess of 125,000 francs).
  • Nidwaldner Kantonalbank: An interest rate of -0.25 percent was charged on the portion of account balances exceeding 1 million francs (existing customers). For new deposits, the bank could apply this negative rate to balances in excess of just 100,000 francs.
  • Raiffeisen Switzerland: A recommended annual interest rate of -0.25 percent applied to customers with new money inflows of 250,000 francs or more. A higher threshold applied to customers which used financing or investment services). Raiffeisen recommended that its member banks waive negative interest for long-term savings customers.
  • UBS: A -0.25 percent annual interest rate applied to the portion of account balances in excess of CHF 250,000. Customers with mortgages or investments benefited from a higher threshold, with the highest possible threshold being 1 million francs.
  • Urner Kantonalbank: A negative interest rate of -0.25 percent per annum applied to account balances in excess of 1 million francs for existing customers. Rates for new deposits were decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Valiant: This bank no longer had negative interest rates in July, 2022.
  • Vontobel: This bank no longer had negative interest rates in July, 2022.
  • Zürcher Kantonalbank: A negative interest rate of -0.25 percent applied. The amounts exempted from negative interest were decided on a case-by-case basis.

Historic negative interest rates in May 2022

  • Aargauische Kantonalbank: Individual negative interest.
  • Alternative Bank savings account: -0.25 percent interest per annum from CHF 0, -0.75 percent interest per annum from 50,000 francs.
  • Alternative Bank (Alltagskonto/Compte 7sur7): -0.375 percent per annum from CHF 0, -0.75 percent from 50,000 francs.
  • Baloise Bank SoBa: The bank had a -0.75 percent annual interest rate for balances in excess of a variable threshold which could be raised for mortgage and/or investment customers.
  • Banque Cantonale de Genève: Negative interest rates were applied to the portion of balances exceeding either 2 million or 3 million francs.
  • Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank: An interest rate of -0.75 percent per annum applied to balances in excess of CHF 500,000. The threshold could be raised for customers who used mortgage and/or investment services.
  • Credit Suisse: An interest rate of -0.75 percent per annum was applied to the portion of balances above 500,000 francs. The exemption could be raised to 2 million francs for customers who used mortgages or investment services.
  • Credit Suisse CSX: This app-based banking service had a -0.1 percent annual interest rate for balances in excess of 100,000 francs.
  • Glarner Kantonalbank: A default annual interest rate of -0.75 percent applied to account balances in excess of 250,000 francs. Different thresholds could be applied on a case-by-case basis.
  • Graubündner Kantonalbank: -0.75 percent interest per annum for the portion of balances above 250,000 francs for new customers (with investments and/or loans). For existing customers, exemptions were decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Migros Bank: -0.75 percent interest per annum for balances exceeding 1 million francs.
  • Neon: -0.75 percent interest per annum for balances in excess of 100,000 francs. -1 percent interest per annum for balances exceeding 125,000 francs.
  • Nidwaldner Kantonalbank: For existing customers, an annual interest rate of -0.75 percent per annum applied to balances exceeding a 1-million-franc exemption. For new deposits, negative interest rates could be applied to the portion of balances in excess of 100,000 francs.
  • Postfinance: -0.75 percent interest per annum for the portion of bank account balances exceeding a 100,000-franc threshold, for customers with no additional financial products from the bank.
  • Raiffeisen Switzerland: Raiffeisen recommended that its member banks charge negative interest for short-term deposits and large account balances, but not for long-term savings customers).
  • UBS: From July 1, 2021, UBS applied a -0.75 percent (-0.6 percent for EUR) annual interest rate on account balances exceeding an exemption of 250,000 francs or euros. The bank could grant higher exemptions to investment and mortgage clients.
  • Urner Kantonalbank: -0.75 percent interest per annum above a 1-million-franc exemption for existing customers. New deposits were reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Valiant: -0.5 percent interest per annum for balances in excess of a 250,000-franc threshold for new customers. Conditions for existing customers were decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Yapeal: -0.8 percent interest per annum for the portion of balances exceeding 10,000 or 25,000 francs.
  • Yuh: -0.75 percent interest per annum for balances in excess of a 100,000-franc exemption.
  • Zuger Kantonalbank: Negative interest rates were possible, but these were decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Zürcher Kantonalbank: Negative interest rates were possible for large account balances.

Historic negative interest rates for business accounts in May 2022

A number of banks applied negative interest rates to account balances which exceeded certain thresholds. Most banks did not publish these. The interest rates of business accounts were often determined or negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Examples:

  • Aargauische Kantonalbank: Individual negative interest rates were possible depending on the company.
  • Migros Bank: -0.75 percent interest per annum from CHF 5 million.
  • Postfinance: Lower-value business customers could be charged -0.75 percent interest per annum on their full account balances.

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