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Old 03.02.2015, 17:53
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Getting foreign currency (except EUR) in cash in Switzerland, apart from std forex

OK not the best title, but let me explain.

As most of you know, given the recent fortunes in the CHF compared to other currencies, I thought I would put away some amounts in useful foreign currencies - EUR, USD, GBP and AUD. I used CurrencyFair to change up those currencies from CHF. I have my AUD account back in Australia, so transferring that off was easy. I have Postfinance accounts in CHF and EUR, so transferring the EUR to that account was easy and later I can easily withdraw it in cash as I need to (e.g. from a Postomat or the post office counter).

The USD and GBP are, however, a more difficult kettle of fish.

If I open up USD and GBP accounts with Postfinance, the extra accounts shouldn't cost me much more (at worst, CHF 5 per account per month). The problem is that the accounts are only useful for electronic transactions only. I can't go to any post office and ask for a withdrawal in USD or GBP. At least, this is what I got the impression of when I asked someone at the post office (in my limited French, but I got the gist across).

I am also a Credit Suisse customer with a basic banking account. I asked them about opening a Current Account in USD or GBP. They said it is possible and will cost CHF 5 per account per month. The only way to get USD or GBP cash in Switzerland is to withdraw it from the Credit Suisse branch over the counter. This will cost me a fee of 2.5% of the withdrawal amount for the first CHF 1,000 and 1% after that. So basically to withdraw my converted USD 1,200 I would need to pay about USD 25 in fees, converted to CHF. Small amount as it may be, but....

The only other method which springs to mind is find someone who came from the US or UK and transfer the money to them (viz. add the account to my CurrencyFair profile). If I bump into them in my travels, I can take the cash off them when they withdraw it. A cumbersome method and not preferable.

Does anyone have any better ideas or something that I've missed? It's not likely that CurrencyFair will go bankrupt and I'll lose all the money that I have "stored" (i.e. not transferred out to any account), but there's no benefit keeping it there (except security) so I'd prefer just having the cash at hand, or at least almost at hand (e.g. only requires a simple withdrawal at a counter or the like).

For the rest of the background if necessary, I am not connected financially to any US institutions in any way and have a B permit valid until the end of this August.
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Old 03.02.2015, 18:32
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Re: Getting foreign currency (except EUR) in cash in Switzerland, apart from std fore

I found myself in exactly the same situation. I opened local accounts in countries of interest. In the UK with Lloyds, in Australia with HSBC. Theyīre free and only "really" cost a line in the yearly Swiss tax-declaration.

Admitted, itīs a hassle to keep them all up and running and managing the codes, pins and credit cards for all the different internet-banking strategies they use. However, I feel itīs worth it, as "native" accounts in the local currency usually pay the highest interest, and also like this I can use the associated (free) debit-cards locally. Thatīs the only way I found to actually "use" the currencyfair-rates for local transactions.

By the way: A currencyfair-manager that I once chatted with over the phone suggested that they want to establish a credit card, with allows using the balances you have with currencyfair in their respective local currency. However, since that was ~2 years ago and nothing happened since, I guess they ran into problems making this a reality. I shall hope itīll still happen one day.
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