Banking News

UBS Launches Visa Debit and Debit Mastercard

October 27, 2020 - Benjamin Manz

UBS is introducing new debit cards and raising its card fees. Independent Swiss online comparison service analyzed the new UBS debit cards and answers the most important questions in this review.

Customers of Swiss banking giant UBS will receive new debit cards on October 19, 2020. The UBS Maestro card from Mastercard is being replaced by the Debit Mastercard. The V Pay card from Visa is being replaced by the Visa Debit.

1. How are the new UBS debit cards different from the old ones?

The most important difference is that the new UBS Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit cards can be used for card-not-present transactions like online and phone-based purchases.

In order to use the new UBS debit cards for online purchases, UBS customers must subscribe to online banking and use a smartphone with the UBS Access App installed.

2. What do the new debit cards cost?

Important: UBS is raising its debit card fees as from December 1, 2020.

Both the Debit Mastercard and the Visa Debit cards from UBS have a 50 Swiss franc annual fee. Formerly UBS debit cards had a 40-franc annual fee. As before, UBS debit cards are included in UBS bank packages at no extra cost.

Cash withdrawals at UBS ATMs remain free of charge. Cash withdrawals at non-UBS ATMs in Switzerland in Swiss francs cost 2 francs per withdrawal. Euro withdrawals – both at Swiss and foreign ATMs – cost 5 francs per withdrawal.

Purchases in Swiss francs from Swiss merchants paid directly with the card are free of charge, as is standard with Swiss debit cards.

A foreign transaction fee of 2% (min. 1 franc per transaction) applies to purchases from foreign merchants. Formerly, the UBS debit card foreign transaction fee was 1% (min. 1.50 francs per transaction).

3. Can I continue to use UBS Maestro or V Pay debit cards?

UBS Maestro and V Pay debit cards can be used until their expiry date. UBS customers will automatically receive a new Debit Mastercard or Visa Debit card shortly before their existing debit cards expire. 

4. Can I order a new UBS debit card before my existing credit card expires?

Yes. UBS customers can request a new Debit Mastercard or Visa Debit card to replace their Maestro or V Pay debit cards. If you order a new UBS debit card via online banking from December 2020, you only have to pay the annual fee for the new debit card in 2021.

5. Do the new UBS debit cards work with Apple Pay and other mobile payment services?

While it is technically possible to link Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit cards to mobile payment services, UBS does not have debit card partnerships for Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. As a UBS private account holder, you can link your account directly to UBS Twint for mobile payments.

6. Do the new UBS debit cards replace the need for a credit card?

Many consumers use debit cards to pay for purchases as well as for cash withdrawals and account access. Purchases and cash withdrawals are debited directly from private accounts. 

Online purchases and other card-not-present transactions are typically paid by credit card. Because the new UBS debit cards can be used for card-not-present transactions, many UBS customers may wonder whether they still need a credit card.

Whether or not you still need a credit card depends on a number of factors:

  • Some merchants require a credit card for certain kinds of transactions and will not accept debit cards for these purchases. This is often the case with hotel bookings and car rentals.
  • Credit cards may include special cardholder benefits like reward programs and insurance coverages. Debit cards generally do not include complimentary cardholder benefits. If your credit card includes benefits which save you money, continuing to use it for relevant purchases can make financial sense.
  • Many credit cards have reward programs which reward you for spending with points, airline miles or cash back. For example, when you use UBS credit cards you are rewarded with UBS Key Club points.
  • More credit cards than debit cards work with mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. For example, UBS credit cards can be used with Fitbit Pay, Garmin Pay, and Swatch Pay (Mastercard only). UBS debit cards cannot. 

If you do want to continue using a credit card, it is worth knowing that you can use a credit card from any Swiss card issuer. You do not need to use a credit card from your bank. You can use the interactive credit card comparison on to find the credit card with the lowest costs and highest rewards, or the cardholder benefits that you need.

7. Can I make contactless payments with the new UBS debit cards?

Yes. Both of the new UBS debit cards support NFC transactions. No authentication is required for tap-and-go purchases up to 80 francs.

8. Can I change my UBS debit card settings via online banking?

Yes. You can perform these actions via online banking:

  • Temporarily disable your debit card
  • Enable or disable online transactions
  • Enable or disable cash withdrawals
  • Enable or disable contactless (NFC) transactions
  • Enable or disable magnetic stripe transactions

9. Our verdict on the new UBS debit cards

UBS has made a customer-friendly move by moving to debit cards which can be used for online payments.

UBS requiring customers to subscribe to its online banking service and install its UBS Access App in order to use the new debit cards for online purchases is less customer friendly.

The higher UBS debit card fees are also not customer friendly, says CEO Benjamin Manz. The introduction of a higher foreign transaction fee is particularly surprising because the banking trend is moving in the exact opposite direction. UBS’ biggest competitor Credit Suisse did away with the foreign transaction fee altogether when it launched its new Debit Mastercard.

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