5

I have a Deutsche Bank maestro debit card that i got in Germany with no magnetic strip, but a chip. I am traveling to Switzerland next week. Can I make transactions in hotel and restaurants in there with this card? If yes, will the deductions be in Euro or Swiss Franc?

  • Why don't you ask Deutsche Bank? – Neusser Sep 20 '18 at 15:35
  • 3
    Note that some ATMs let you pick the currency if you decide to get cash. If you get to choose, pick Francs. The fee by your bank will probably be less than the money you lose because they use a really bad exchange rate when you pick Euros. – Sabine Sep 20 '18 at 15:35
  • @Sabine this is a very sensible suggestion, thanks! – anotherone Sep 20 '18 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Neusser i cannot speak German. The phone numbers i am calling are all starting with German instructions. And currently not in a situation that i can go to a branch now. Thanks though! – anotherone Sep 20 '18 at 15:40
5

Maestro cards can be used in Switzerland and chip and pin is apparently in common usage there too.

That said, whether your particular hotel or restaurant will accept maestro is really up to the business itself, it's always worth checking before you start your meal/stay whether that business accepts maestro card.

With regards to the currency, A lot of chip and pin machines will give you the option to select whether you want to pay in local currency or the card's currency. You're nearly always better paying in local currency as it can avoid large commission fees added on by the vendor's bank.

  • I have more than just occasionally without any obvious reasons had problems using German debit cards (Maestro and VPay) in Switzerland. The card is allegedly accepted, but when it comes to payment, the payment is rejected by the terminal. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 20 '18 at 15:47
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Oh okay! I think I will keep euro in cash just in case. – anotherone Sep 20 '18 at 15:58
  • 3
    @anotherone You can't expect to be able to pay with euros in Switzerland. When paying with cash, most shops and venues will only accept Swiss francs. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 20 '18 at 16:05
  • 2
    In the popular tourist areas you might be able to pay with Euro, but any change you get will be Swiss francs, and the exchange rate obviously will be even worse than at banks or even airport exchange offices. So i would try to find an ATM and withdraw some francs, to be on the safe side. – dunni Sep 20 '18 at 17:10
  • 1
    If I'd bring cash in € for safety, I'd change it into SFr only at a bank or similar in order to get the official/better exchange rate. – Drux Sep 20 '18 at 20:21
7

As zeocrash stated, Maestro is accepted pretty much all over the place. In fact, my (Swiss) bank card uses the Maestro system if not used at an ATM of the issuing bank.

The terminals I have seen recently are all alike, and their primary contact with the card is the chip. Most also allow for no-pin transactions up to CHF 40.

You might check the general terms and conditions for your card (should be available from your bank's website), about fees and commissions. The exchange rate when using ATMs or Pay terminals is not that bad (maybe 2 to 3 cents more than the interbank rate).

When exchanging cash, most banks do it, but also train stations. If you are in a place with several banks, and you have time, you might shop around, and if it feels good, ask about the commissions. An example: the other day, I exchanged EUR 60 at the train station. The commission was CHF 4, and I got CHF 61.50. The exchange rate was around 1.10 CHF per EUR (which is not too bad at all for cash exchange).

If you are with friends you kind of trust, you might ask them which bank they are client of, and whether they would help you exchange. Most Swiss banks have no commission for their clients. At train stations, holders of a GA (Generalabonnement, national rail pass) will pay no commission.

It has been mentioned several times here, and I only can confirm it: When the ATM offers the transaction in the local currency and your home currency, always go for the local currency. The difference may be considerable.

Many stores and hotels do accept EUR in cash (bills only), but the exchange rate may not be very good, and you will get the change in CHF.

Enjoy your time in Switzerland!

2

UPDATE: Now that I am in Switzerland, I wish to give an update. In some shops, and in the hotel I am staying, while paying with the German debit card, it is showing an option of EUR and CHF ( with already converted amount). If I choose the EUR option there, Deutsche bank is not deducting anything extra. BUT in some shops, and the metro ticket booths, only CHF is shown. And when I am doing the transaction, Deutsche bank is converting it to EUR AND then adding 1.5 EUR charge for each conversion. So a 2.3 CHF ticket became 3.55 EUR(@1 EUR=1.12195 CHF). This is a bit inconvenient, but I think I will lose some money anyway during conversion.

  • That is the system, that the issuing bank (it is not limited to the Deutsche Bank) charges for every transaction outside of their "system". So, using the card for small amounts makes the purchase more expensive. (the 1.5 Euro is the same, no matter if your purchase is 1 Franc or 10000 Francs). That's why it is useful to have some small amount in the local currency with you… – Max Wyss Sep 25 '18 at 11:08
  • @MaxWyss Yeah, I agree. But I am trying to avoid CHF notes and changes, that is why I am using the card. I think the amount you will waste in coins and notes left when leaving the country, is roughly equal to the conversion charge. :D – anotherone Sep 25 '18 at 13:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.