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The Swiss franc


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Must knows about the Swiss franc

  • The Swiss franc is the only official currency in Switzerland.
  • The euro is accepted in many places but certainly not everywhere.
  • The Swiss franc is a strong currency, so the exchange rate is often perceived as expensive.
Swiss francs

The Swiss franc is the only official currency in Switzerland.

Exchange rate of the Swiss franc to the euro, pound and USD

1 ARS = 0.0092 CHF (1 CHF = 108.4600 ARS)
1 AUD = 0.6839 CHF (1 CHF = 1.4622 AUD)
1 CAD = 0.7409 CHF (1 CHF = 1.3497 CAD)
1 CNY = 0.1435 CHF (1 CHF = 6.9695 CNY)
1 EUR = 1.0667 CHF (1 CHF = 0.9374 EUR)
1 GBP = 1.2604 CHF (1 CHF = 0.7934 GBP)
1 HKD = 0.1179 CHF (1 CHF = 8.4853 HKD)
1 ILS = 0.2858 CHF (1 CHF = 3.4995 ILS)
1 INR = 0.0122 CHF (1 CHF = 81.8606 INR)
1 JPY = 0.0081 CHF (1 CHF = 123.8652 JPY)
1 NZD = 0.6556 CHF (1 CHF = 1.5253 NZD)
1 SGD = 0.6796 CHF (1 CHF = 1.4714 SGD)
1 THB = 0.0274 CHF (1 CHF = 36.4315 THB)
1 TWD = 0.0329 CHF (1 CHF = 30.4014 TWD)
1 USD = 0.9161 CHF (1 CHF = 1.0916 USD)
1 ZAR = 0.0617 CHF (1 CHF = 16.2094 ZAR)

Last updated: October 23, 2021 - 6:15 PM

Swiss franc or euro, what to use?

The Swiss franc is the only official currency in Switzerland (and in Liechtenstein). The franc is the only currency accepted everywhere. The euro is the currency in the neighboring countries Germany, France, Italy and Austria, and in many other European countries.

Nevertheless, you can pay with euros in many shops, hotels, rail stations and gas stations in Switzerland. This is convenient if you're only in transit or only stay for one night. Many smaller shops, market stalls, kiosks, etc. only allow payment in Swiss francs.

Note that the euro is a foreign currency in Switzerland, so accepting it results in extra costs and risks for shop owners. Therefore, if you pay with euros, change will be in Swiss francs and the exchange rate is mostly not in your favor.

For longer stays, it is cheaper and more convenient to have Swiss francs at hand.

How to pay in Switzerland

Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted, so there is no need to have large amounts of cash at hand. You can pay larger amounts by cards and take along some cash for smaller payments and places that do not accept cards.

Swiss francs can be obtained from ATM's. They are available in all towns. You usually find them at the post office, rail station and shopping center. In general this is the cheapest way to obtain cash. Your bank can provide exact fees. To save time upon arrival, it can be handy to purchase some Swiss francs before you depart.

Your bank may charge fees for both cash withdrawal through ATM's and credit/debit card payments.

Cheapest way to pay in Switzerland

We recommend the Wise debit card because it's cheap and easy to understand.

Wise (formerly TransferWise) offers an online bank account which can hold many currencies. A low fee is charged when converting money from one currency to the other. They charge the actual exchange rate, while most banks charge a lower rate in order to keep the difference themselves (a hidden fee). Wise has no fees on spending money from any of the currencies in your account.

So, your can convert your home currency to Swiss francs for a low fee. Then, you can spend those francs without any further costs.

In all, it's much cheaper than most other banks and credit cards. Please find prices here: https://wise.com/us/multi-currency-account/pricing.

This is how it works for Switzerland:

  1. Open a Wise account (free): https://wise.com/us/multi-currency-account/.

  2. Order a debit card (small one time payment): https://wise.com/us/borderless/card.

  3. Deposit money into your account, in your home currency (free).

  4. Convert any amount to Swiss francs (low fee). To save even more, you can do this when the exchange rate to your home currency is in your favor. See exchange rates here: https://wise.com/us/currency-converter/currencies/chf-swiss-franc.

  5. Once you're in Switzerland, use your card to conveniently pay from your Swiss francs balance (free). You can also get cash from ATM's (free or low fee). The card can be used online too, wherever the merchant asks for a debit card or credit card.

  6. Once you return home, convert your remaining Swiss francs balance back to your home currency (low fee). Again, you can wait doing so until the exchange rate is best for you. Of course you can also skip this step and hold on to your Swiss francs until your next trip.

Swiss franc symbol

The symbol for the Swiss franc is "CHF". The official currency code (ISO currency standard) is "CHF" as well. Alternatively, the abbreviation "Fr." is widely used as the symbol as well.

In practice, prices are often noted without a symbol at all. For example: "12.95", with a dot as a decimal marker, not with a comma like in many other European countries. If the price is rounded to the nearest franc, it can be written as "13.00", "13.-" or even "13".

Swiss franc notes and coins

Notes

  • 10 francs
  • 20 francs
  • 50 francs
  • 100 francs
  • 200 francs
  • 1000 francs

Coins

One hundredth of a Swiss franc is called a rappen (German), centime (French) or centesimo (Italian).

  • 0.05 francs, 5 rappen
  • 0.10 francs, 10 rappen
  • 0.20 francs, 20 rappen
  • 0.50 francs, 50 rappen
  • 1 franc
  • 2 francs
  • 5 francs

Is Switzerland expensive?

The Swiss franc is a strong currency, so Switzerland is not cheap for visitors from many other countries. There are many ways to save money on your holidays to Switzerland though.

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Insider tips about the Swiss franc

  • You can do without francs if you're just in transit. In other cases you best have Swiss francs at hand.
  • Many hotels and shops accept euros, but change will be in Swiss francs and the exchange rate is not in your favor.
  • Smaller shops mostly only allow payment in Swiss francs.
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