Visa Debit Switzerland FAQ
Accounts & Cards

Visa Debit in Switzerland: Questions and Answers

July 14, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Visa Debit is a debit card from Visa which has recently been introduced in Switzerland. Here, independent online comparison service moneyland.ch answers the most important questions about the new Visa debit card.

Debit cards are very popular in Switzerland. The Maestro debit card from Mastercard is the most widely-used debit card, followed by the PostFinance debit card. The Debit Mastercard is gradually replacing the Maestro card as the standard Mastercard debit card. Likewise, the Visa Debit is replacing the V Pay card as Visa’s standard debit card in Switzerland.

With the Visa Debit, Visa is hoping to gain a stronger foothold in the Swiss market. Here, moneyland.ch answers the most important questions about the Visa Debit.

1. Can I use the Visa Debit to pay online?

Yes. The Visa Debit can be used to pay online much like you would use a credit card. The majority of online merchants which accept Visa credit cards also accept Visa Debit cards. The ability to make online purchases is the biggest advantage of the Visa Debit over the V Pay and Maestro debit cards.

2. Where can I pay with Visa Debit cards?

You can use the Visa Debit card to pay at almost all merchants which accept Visa credit cards. There are some exceptions to the rule, with some merchants requiring credit cards. For example, some rental car companies, airlines and hotels require credit cards for bookings.

3. How is the Visa Debit card different from Visa credit cards?

The Visa Debit is a debit card. When you use a Visa Debit to pay, the purchase is charged directly to your bank account. When you pay with a credit card, the purchase is charged to your credit card issuer, which then bills you for total charges on a monthly basis.

4. How is the Visa Debit different from the Debit Mastercard?

With the exception of the payment network, Visa Debit is in many ways identical to the Debit Mastercard. Both of these are part of the latest generation of debit cards.

The main difference is that the Visa Debit card is offered by payments giant Visa, while the Debit Mastercard is offered by Visa’s main competitor Mastercard.

5. What are the main advantages of the Visa Debit over credit cards?

One advantage is that – depending on the bank which issues the card – the Visa Debit may have lower fees than credit cards. Cash withdrawals in Switzerland and abroad are typically much cheaper with Visa Debit cards compared to credit cards. Paying for large purchases from foreign merchants is often cheaper with Swiss Visa Debit cards than with Swiss credit cards.

6. What are the disadvantages of the Visa Debit compared to credit cards?

There are two possible disadvantages.

Firstly, depending on the sector, merchant and situation, acceptance of debit cards by merchants can be somewhat lower than credit card acceptance. This is especially true for car rentals and hotel reservations.

Secondly, credit cards often included more complimentary benefits (like insurance or reward programs) than debit cards.

7. Do I still need a credit card if I can also pay online with a Visa Debit card?

Having a credit card is still beneficial if you travel. Carrying a credit card gives you a backup for situations when your debit card is not accepted.

Using a credit card is also advantageous if you want to benefit from complimentary insurance or reward programs.

8. What does the Visa Debit card cost?

The annual card fees are generally identical to those charged by Swiss banks for V Pay or Maestro debit cards. Annual card fees generally only apply to adults, and are generally waived for teenagers. Annual debit card fees are generally included in the flat fees charged for bank packages.

You do not pay transaction fees for purchases from Swiss merchants in Swiss francs. The foreign transaction fees which apply to purchases from foreign merchants vary between banks. For example, you may be charged 1.50 francs per purchase, or 2% with a minimum fee of 1 franc per purchase. You pay currency exchange rate markups on top of the foreign transaction fee.

Cash withdrawals at out-of-network ATMs typically cost 2 francs per withdrawal in Switzerland and 5 francs per withdrawal outside of Switzerland.

9. Does the Visa Debit work with Apple Pay?

Depending on the bank which issues your Visa Debit card, you can add your card to Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay just like a credit card. You can then make mobile payments charged directly to your bank account.

10. Which Swiss banks offer the Visa Debit card?

Currently UBS, Raffeisen, Migros-Bank, Bank Cler, the Luzerner Kantonalbank, and neobank Yapeal offer the Visa debit card.
More on this topic:
Private account comparison (including debit cards)
Debit Mastercard in Switzerland: Questions and answers

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