How do I manage my banking needs in Switzerland as an international student?

A Guide to Applying for an MBA in Switzerland 1

Swiss banks have an esteemed reputation for security and high return of investments. Their data protection laws are cautious and second to none in the world.

Opening a Swiss bank account is a wise decision for international students. Interest rates may be low, but you get almost impenetrable security for your money.

Banking in Switzerland remains unrivaled with its low inflation rate and economic vitality. If you’re studying in Switzerland, here’s what you need to know about Swiss banking:

Understanding Swiss Banks

Switzerland has two banking group giants: Credit Suisse Group and UBS Group. These two banks have offices across the country, making their services accessible.

There are also private Swiss banks. Different private banks offer different financial services. Some private banks may offer special accounts to students.

There are also cantonal banks in Switzerland. Cantons refer to the states in the Swiss Federation.

Cantonal banks operate in a specific canton. You can only open a cantonal bank account in the canton you’re in. If you’re leaving that canton, you have to change your bank.

Opening a Bank Account in Switzerland

In general, non-Swiss citizens must be at least 18 years old to open a bank account. You can also expect to undergo a process similar to other countries. 

You can open a bank account outside Switzerland. But that can be a long and challenging process. It’s best to visit the bank in person once you’ve arrived.

To open an account, you need certain documents to prove your identity. Prepare to present your passport, address, and latest bank statement.

It’s important to note that Switzerland has political exclusions. For example, you may not be eligible to open an account due to the Embargo Act.

A bank may also deny you service if they find your background questionable. As long as your records are clean, then you can open a bank account.

Banking Costs and Other Fees

It’s typical for banks to have a monthly maintenance fee. This ranges from CHF 10 to 30 depending on your bank.

You can have this fee reduced or waived under certain conditions, one of which is opting for electronic bank statements. 

Swiss banks also operate on a negative interest rate. As of writing, the interest rate is at -0.75%.

If you have your money in Swiss Francs, you have to pay a withholding tax. As a foreign student, it’s better to keep your money in a different currency. 

Transferring or Receiving Money

The most popular way to move money in Switzerland is through Transferwise. Through this service, you can send or receive money within or outside of Switzerland.

Using Transferwise is also more affordable and more convenient. You can create a Transferwise account online for free.

Sign-up, provide necessary details and agree to their terms. After all these, you can use their services to transfer and receive cash.

Switzerland offers a wonderful banking experience to international students. To learn more about money and financial matters in Switzerland, read our stories here at MSM Unify.


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