Migros Bank Visa Free review
Banking News

Visa Free Credit Card from Migros Bank Reviewed

April 21, 2021 - Benjamin Manz

With the launch of Visa Free, Migros Bank is adding a new “free” credit card to the Swiss market. Migros customers can now choose between two different free credit cards. This moneyland.ch review analyzes the Visa Free card and answers the most important questions.

1. Is the Visa Free credit card really free?

The term free credit card denotes credit cards with no basic annual card fee. A broad range of no-annual-fee credit cards are now available in Switzerland. You can find them listed here.  

Using the Visa Free credit card costs you nothing if you pay your credit card bills in full and on time every month, and only use the card to pay for purchases from Swiss merchants.

But depending on how you use it, the Visa Free card can cost you money. For example, you will pay fees when you make purchases from foreign merchants or make cash withdrawals at ATMs. If you carry a balance, you will be charged interest.

2. Do I earn rewards for using the card?

Yes. You earn one Cumulus point for every three francs of purchases charged to the card at non-Migros merchants. The Cumulus rewards are identical to those of the Migros Cumulus Mastercard issued by Cembra Money Bank (the Visa Free from Migros Bank is issued by Viseca).

Important: When you shop at stores in the Migros group, it is a smart move to use a non-Migros rewards or cash back credit card to pay, and simply collect your Cumulus points with your Cumulus membership card. You do not earn Cumulus points in addition to those earned with the membership card when you use the Visa Free to pay at Migros.

Your Cumulus membership barcode is printed on the back side of the Visa Free credit card, and you can use this to collect Migros Cumulus points (one point per one franc of purchases from Migros) just as you would use a regular membership card. However, you earn exactly the same points with your regular Cumulus membership card even if you use a different payment method.

3. What are the requirements for getting the Visa Free credit card?

You must be at least 18 years old to apply for the Visa Free credit card. A credit check is performed when you apply for credit cards.

Another important requirement is that you must have or open an account with Migros Bank.

4. Will Migros Bank still offer its existing Viseca credit cards?

For new customers, the new Visa Free credit card is replacing Migros Bank’s Silver and Basic credit cards. However, existing customers can continue to use their existing Silver and Basic credit cards.

The Migros Bank Gold credit card will continue to be available to new and existing customers.

5. Why is Migros Bank also launching a free credit card now?

The fact that the Migros group – which includes Migros Bank – already offers a customer loyalty credit card (Migros Cumulus Mastercard) in collaboration with Cembra Money Bank is difficult to ignore. Now the Migros group has two competing loyalty credit cards.

Is the launch of the new card a response to cards offered by neobanks? Migros Bank’s response to this question was simply that it is aware of the trend. But the fact that the Visa Free credit card has average foreign transaction fees while neobank cards depend on low currency exchange costs to attract users speaks against this possibility.

Another possibility is that Migros Bank hopes to acquire new customers by offering a free credit card. Migros Bank has stated that its primary focus is attracting new cardholders and new customers.

5. Can I also use the Visa Free credit card for mobile payments?

Yes. The card is compatible with all popular mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay, Fitbit Pay and Swatch Pay

6. How much do supplementary cards costs?

Like the primary card, supplementary cards also do not have annual fees.

7. What fee is charged when I shop from foreign merchants?

You pay a foreign transaction fee equal to 1.5% of the purchase when you use the card for purchases from foreign merchants. You also pay Viseca’s standard markup on currency exchange rates.

The 1.5% foreign transaction fee also applies to purchases from foreign merchants which are charged in Swiss francs. The fee also applies to online purchases from foreign merchants.

8. How much do cash withdrawals cost?

You pay a fee equal to 4% of the amount transacted for cash advances in Swiss francs. The minimum fee is 10 francs per withdrawal. That even applies at Migros Bank ATMs!

Whenever possible, use your debit card for cash withdrawals rather than your credit card.

9. What interest rate applies to carrying balances?

The 9.9% effective annual interest rate is lower than the Swiss average credit card interest rate.
Still, we recommend that you always pay your credit card bills in full by the due date whenever possible. If you need a loan, Swiss personal loans are often more affordable.

10. Are there any other fees?

Yes. Incidental fees include the following:

  • Card replacement in the event of theft or loss: 20 francs.
  • PIN replacement: 10 francs.
  • Late-payment fee: 20 francs per payment reminder.
  • Paper credit card statements by mail: 2 francs per statement.

11. Does the card come with insurance perks?

Although the complimentary insurance coverage is not as strong as what you get with paid Migros Bank credit cards, the Visa Free card does include:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to 4000 francs of coverage per year and card).
  • Purchase protection (up to 2000 francs per year and card).
  • Online banking and fraudulent payment protection (up to 10,000 francs per year and card).
  • Internet legal insurance (up to 10,000 francs per year and card).

12. Which card issuer powers the Visa Free credit card?

The Visa Free credit card is issued by Viseca – the same issuer behind other Migros Bank credit cards.

13. How does the Visa Free card compare to the Migros Cumulus Mastercard?

There are many similarities between the Visa Free credit card and the Migros Cumulus Mastercard. For example, both use the Cumulus rewards program, and both have no annual fee. Many of the other card fees are also similar.

But there are also a number of differences. These include the following:

  1. You need a Migros Bank account in order to get the Visa Free. The Migros Cumulus Mastercard, on the other hand, is not linked to a specific bank or account.
  2. The Visa Free credit card from Migros Bank uses the Visa payment network. The Migros Cumulus Mastercard uses the Mastercard payment network.
  3. Customer service and issuer: Visa Free customer service is provided by Viseca. Migros Cumulus Mastercard customer service is provided by Cembra Money Bank.
  4. Currency exchange rates: The Visa Free credit card uses Viseca currency exchange rates. The Migros Cumulus Mastercard uses Cembra Money Bank’s exchange rates. Periodic samples have shown that Viseca and Cembra Money Bank have similar currency exchange rates.
  5. Cash advances: The Visa Free has higher cash advance fees for withdrawals at Swiss ATMs than the Migros Cumulus credit card. Note: ATM withdrawals using credit cards are generally not recommended. 
  6. The Visa Free credit card has a 9.9% effective annual interest rate. The Migros Cumulus Mastercard has a higher 11.95% effective annual interest rate.
  7. The Visa Free has a 20-franc late-payment reminder fee. The Migros Cumulus Mastercard has a higher 30-franc penalty fee.
  8. The Visa Free comes with more complimentary insurance benefits than the Migros Cumulus Mastercard.
  9. You cannot personalize the design of the Visa Free credit card. With the Migros Cumulus Mastercard you can customize the card art for a one-time fee of 30 francs.

14. How does the Visa Free compare to other Viseca credit cards from Migros Bank?

The Visa Free is an improvement on the Basic and Silver credit cards formerly offered by Migros Bank. The foreign transaction fee is lower at 1.5%. The Silver card had a 100-franc annual fee, while the Visa Free has no annual fee. The Basic card which Migros Bank offered until now also had no annual fee, but did no reward you for purchases nor include complimentary insurance coverage.

15. How does the Visa Free card compare to cards from neobanks?

Cards from neobanks like Neon, Wise and Revolut have more favorable currency exchange rates than those used by Viseca. This means they are usually a cheaper payment solution for making purchases from foreign merchants.

For purchases from Swiss merchants, on the other hand, the Visa Free credit card from Migros Bank and other no-annual-fee Swiss credit cards are more favorable than neobank cards because they reward you for purchases.

16. Is getting the Visa Free credit card a smart financial move?

If you are not already a Migros Bank customer, you can easily use a no-annual-fee credit card which is not tied to a bank. By getting your credit card directly from a card issuer, you avoid having to open a new bank account (at Migros Bank, for example).

If you already use the Migros Cumulus Mastercard, getting a Visa Free credit card in addition does not bring you much added value (unless you need a Visa credit card).

If you are already a Migros Bank customer and use a Basic or Silver credit card, then switching to Visa Free is a good move.

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