Are you visiting Switzerland or planning your trip and unsure how to use the local currency? And what is the official Swiss currency? Do they use Euro? Can you pay in USD while traveling in Switzerland?
I lived in Switzerland for 3 years, so the currency was a big change for me, too (as I grew up in Slovakia, where we use Euro). I got my monthly paycheck in Swiss Francs, did grocery shopping in Swiss Francs, and even while traveling, I had to deal with Swiss Francs and conversions.
So, in this article, I’ll answer all your doubts about the Swiss currency from my experiecnce, how to pay and where to convert, and how to have a great time in Switzerland without currency issues.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a financial expert or an advisor. I only write from my experience living and traveling in Switzerland and using the Swiss Franc. If you want professional advice, please get in touch with a financial expert.
Switzerland Currency: All You Need To Know About The Swiss Franc
The official currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (official symbol is ‘CHF‘). It’s one of the strongest currencies in the world and is also known as the ‘safe heaven’ currency. It’s backed up by a lot of gold, financial assets, and bonds, making the Swiss Franc very stable, even in an economic downturn, as we’ve seen from 2020 onwards.
With that said Switzerland has remained one of the countries with the lowest inflation rate in 2023 (1.6%), while other European countries experienced up to 8.0% inflation.
Why Does Switzerland Not Use The Euro?
Switzerland introduced the Franc in 1798 and has never used the Euro since. While other European countries entered the European Union and adopted the Euro, Switzerland isn’t part of it and works with its currency.
The Swiss Franc is one of the world’s strongest currencies and a great reserve, so why would they change to any other currency, right?
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How To Pay In Switzerland: Cash & Card Payments
When visiting Switzerland, you can pay using cash or by card. Below is my advice and experience on paying by cash and card in the country, what is better, what to pay attention to, and whether you can also pay in Euro or USD.
Cash Payments In Switzerland
If you have cash (Swiss Francs), you can pay everywhere using cash.
Some places like big grocery stores and 4* and 5* hotels accept Euro and USD in cash; the conversion rate is pretty bad (they always make the conversion rate to their benefit to make extra money from it). And if you pay with Euro or USD, you’ll always get Swiss Francs back.
With that said, I would only pay with Euro or USD cash in Switzerland if you can’t do it otherwise (because you lose).
SWISS FRANCS IN CASH EXPLAINS:
Here is a quick guide to the coins and banknotes you’ll get in Swiss Francs:
✔ Coins: 50, 20, 19, 5-centime coins & 1 CHF, 2 CHF, 5 CHF (locals refer to centime coins as ‘Rappen’, it’s like ‘cents’ in EUR)
✔ Bank Notes: 10 CHF, 20 CHF, 50 CHF, 100 CHF, 200 CHF, 1000 CHF
Card Payments In Switzerland
It’s possible to pay by card everywhere you go. So, for all my American friends out there, I know you love paying by card, and unlike the rest of Europe, you can do so a lot in Switzerland.
Some places also accept credit cards, but you must sign the receipt.
One of my biggest tips (and a little secret as not many people know about it) is that when paying by card, always choose to pay in Swiss Francs. It’s for everywhere you travel, not just for Switzerland.
When paying by card, always choose a local currency on the terminal (if it asks you). I’m not a financial expert, so I won’t discuss the details here. But I know that paying in a local currency is cheaper.
If you choose to pay in USD or EURO (or any other currency) on the terminal when paying by card, it charges too many conversions (from your bank, the local bank, the terminal, etc.)
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How And Where To Exchange Money In Switzerland
You can exchange cash in local exchange places. If you want to do so, do it in bigger cities such as Zurich, Lucerne, Geneva, or Lugano. Because if you go to the small mountain towns, there are no exchange places. And if there are (in shops or at the post office), the exchange rate is unfavorable.
PRO TIP: I always use XE.com to look up the currency rate when traveling. Then I check the exchange place and see how much it differs. This way, I know which exchange place has a better deal.
If you don’t like carrying cash around (which I get), you can also rely on card payments in Switzerland. I would do it as it’s the easiest way to pay, and you won’t lose much on conversion rates. Just remember to pay in Swiss Francs and not your bank currency.
Great Bank For Traveling & Exchanging Foreign Currencies
I use Wise as my personal and travel bank account. Not only has it helped me save tons of money when I was working in Switzerland and got my salary in Swiss Francs, but also when I travel. There are other options, such as Revolut, which is also great. But I have experience with Wise, so let me tell you more in detail.
Using Wise When Converting Foreign Currencies
Wise is an online bank that offers you some of the best exchange rates on the market. That said, when I got my salary in Swiss Francs, I sent some amount to my Wise account when I wanted to convert them into Euros. It doesn’t charge me high exchange and conversion rates.
If I were to send the money via my regular Swiss bank to my regular Slovakian bank, I’d be charged almost 20 Swiss Francs on both sides. But with Wise, I paid less than 1 Swiss Franc and got my currency converted to Euro within 2 days.
Using Wise When Traveling
Similarly, I’ve been using Wise when traveling abroad. Not only does it help me save a lot on conversions when the countries have different currencies. You can also withdraw up to 200 USD for free per month, without any fees.
In addition, it’s free to use the card, so you don’t have additional charges when paying by card abroad.
Wise has saved me so much and has been great. I’ve been using it for over 4 years and recommend it to everyone, especially to all of you who want to exchange money easily and quickly.
Conversions Swiss Franc To Other Currencies
Here are a few conversion rates to different world currencies to help you understand the Swiss Franc and its value.
NOTE: The rates constantly change, so they won’t be 100% accurate when you’re reading the article. I will update it now and then. But please use XE.com to see the actual conversion rate for now.
|CURRENCY CONVERSION:||CONVERSION RATE:|
|Currency In Switzerland To USD||1 CHF = 1.10 USD|
|Currency In Switzerland To EURO||1 CHF = 1.03 EUR|
|Currency In Switzerland To CAD||1 CHF = 1.53 CAD|
|Currency In Switzerland To AUD||1 CHF = 1.74 AUD|
|Currency In Switzerland To INR||1 CHF = 92.22 INR|
|Currency In Switzerland To CNY||1 CHF = 8.06 CNY|
|Currency In Switzerland To KRW||1 CHF = 1’461 KRW|
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FAQs: Does Switzerland Use The Euro?
I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand the Swiss Franc even more. Check my answers below.
Can You Use Euros In Switzerland In 2024
Yes, you can use Euro in Switzerland in 2024 but know that only a few places accept it. You can pay with Euro in bigger grocery stores and hotels (4* or 5* hotels). The conversation is unfavorable for you, so I would avoid paying Euro. But you certainly can if you don’t have any other option.
Can I Use USD In Switzerland?
Yes, some places accept USD in Switzerland but don’t rely on it. Be sure to have a card or Swiss Francs in cash because only a few places accept USD in Switzerland (mainly just 4* and 5* hotels and some souvenir shops).
Can You Use Euros In Geneva, Zurich, Lucerne, Bern?
Yes, you can use euros in the Swiss cities. They’re the only place where you can be certain they’ll accept Euros. But not small shops, only in hotels, grocery stopes, and some restaurants.
Do I Need Cash In Switzerland?
No, you don’t need cash in Switzerland. You can easily pay by card everywhere you go. Unless you want to tip in cash or buy souvenirs using cash, it’s not necessary to have cash in Switzerland.
WRAP-UP: Does Switzerland Use The Euro?
This is my advice and perspective on currency in Switzerland and how to go about it. Things are not always so difficult, even if they look like it. So use some of my tips from this article; check Wise if you want to save money on conversions and make payments abroad a lot easier, and you’re good to go.
If you have any questions or need a customized travel itinerary, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll gladly help you.
More Tips For Switzerland Travel
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About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.