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Old 03.05.2011, 17:03
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Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Hello there,

I'm going to move from Romania with an IT job starting on the 1st of June in Fribourg and as such I'm having a lot of questions in mind.
One of them would be referring to the bank system changes and what choice to make.

Here in Romania I have a debit card with ING Bank Netherlands, which is a Visa Electron, works for Internet payments, allows for withdrawals from any ATM (worldwide), is compatible with Paypal, functions in the e-banking interface, allows for 1 x monthly salary overdraft (extracting beyond the 0 balance of the account) and basically I use it for any need I have which needs money out of my salary account or a payment.
For anything I can not afford in one shot I use a separate credit card that bills me in monthly installments if I choose that option (otherwise it's one big bill).


What I would like to know if exist and is possible is a similar banking product to meet the following needs:
- ebanking interface (that shows after a payment the total amount remaining minus the pending expenses; I would like to avoid making manual calculations until the payments get processed by the banks concerned; I found out that PostFinance does this more real-time like)
- possibility to extract money from anywhere in the world (ATMs, etc)
- possibility of automatically paying bills from the ebanking interface (Direct Debit for example)
- compatibility with online shops and payment systems like Paypal (PostFinance card for ex. cannot be associated with a Paypal account)
- compatibility with normal shops (like grocery stores, etc)
- card to be associated with salary / bank account and not with a credit account which would be on 0 balance ( + emit a monthly invoice)
- card to allow overdraft (extracting beyond just the salary which exists there each month, if possible, not mandatory)
- card to allow payment in other countries also (I will be traveling from time to time back to Romania and will need to pay things there also by card)

Is there anything that could behave like what I stated above ? (like what I've been used to here in Romania ?)
I'm looking more at a Debit Card and not a Credit Card (that functions on the being in debt principle)

A friendly beer for any help that might appear ?

Serious mode:
Thank you in advance for any advice you might have concerning my dilemma.
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  #2  
Old 03.05.2011, 17:12
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

UBS, Credit Suisse and the Kantonal Banks all do the facilities you need - with a varying degree of charges. Credit Suisse is now pushing their Bonviva package which is reasonable value for an account, maestro card and credit card.

There is no Swiss word for Overdraft!!
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Old 03.05.2011, 17:24
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Hi and welcome to EF.

Debit Cards
Almost any swiss bank will offer you debit cards that work in almost any country of europe and the world (they used to be called EC-Cards and since 2002 Maestro Cards: http://www.maestro.ch).

E-banking
Also, most banks will offer e-banking where you can make your online payments and check your account statement with all the latest movements.

Credit Cards
You have two options: most banks will offer you their own cards. If you have specific needs (e.g. if you're a golfer, travelling often by plane and want the miles, often renting a car...) you might want to apply for a dedicated card. These you can receive directly from the company offering the service (e.g. Swiss for a Milemaker card) or from one of the credit card providers (e.g. Swisscard)

One of the best ways to find out what suits you best is using Comparis. A service that allows you to compare prices and services (not just for credit cards but also for insurances, cars, homes... you name it):
http://en.comparis.ch/kreditkarten/default.aspx

Banks
Ok, this is the tough one. There are basically three types of bank in Switzerland (for the average retail customer, not private banking).
- Big banks
- Regional banks
- Reiffeisen bank
Plus the Swiss Post that offers banking services but actually does not have a banking license (yet) so their money is with one of the big banks.

The two big banks in CH you should know. They're regularly in the press and I don't want to advertise them.

The regional banks (called Kantonalbanken). Each canton has it's own. In Fribourg that would be tha Banque Cantonale de Fribourg (www.bcf.ch).

The Raiffeisen bank is an association of many small banks unter one hood (www.raiffeisen.ch).

Which one to go to depends on you:
- how much money you intend to put in the bank (some banks don't charge any fees depending on your total assets under management)
- what services you need (local payments, international payments, trading... fees vary)
- interest rates
- number of ATMs available and fees if you take money from an ATM of another bank
- currencies (only CHF or also other currencies)

I would recommend putting together what your exact needs are and then getting a detailed offer from each of the four above mentioned type of banks based on your needs. Then compare and select. You can also have accounts at different banks.

Unless you're a Private Banking customer... then it's a different story altogether. Can't help you for bank in Fribourg. I work in ZH (and no, I do NOT work for a bank, but do banking software so don't really have an interest in advertising for a specific bank... ;-) )

Cheers
Andy
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Old 03.05.2011, 17:27
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

PS: since competition is very big in Switzerland, the services provided by almost any bank will cover the needs you mentioned in your post.

The question is more: what does it cost you. This is what you should be looking at
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Old 03.05.2011, 17:28
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

I have a Credit Suisse account with a Maestro debit card, which will meet some if not all of your criteria. As dodgyken says, I would imagine the Banque Cantonale and UBS offer something equivalent.

I found it quite hard to get a credit card when I initially arrived here as a EU citizen with a B permit. At the time, I was refused any credit card at all by UBS and the Banque Cantonale, and was able to get a Mstercard but not a Visa through Credit Suisse. That was 13 years ago though, things may have changed.

Edit: there are adverts on the trains at the moment for a free Visa card coupled with a CFF Half-price railcard. You would need to read the small print carefully though, to find out just how "free" the Visa card really is...
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Old 04.05.2011, 11:07
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Hello guys,

That's quite a lot of info you all provided me with. I must start digesting it
Thank you very much.
I think my next step would be to contact the banks and get some quotes/offers for what I need.

P.S. 1: I know the 2 biggest banks
Regarding the e-banking and why I was asking:
I used to work for a Swiss company here in Romania and one of my former Swiss colleagues told me that the 3 letter very big bank for example doesn't show after an expense the total amount available in the ebanking.
It just shows it after it gets processed. (so you see the total without the expense removed until it gets processed physically by the bank which can take some time)
Otherwise he has to click on some forecast button that will show him how much money he will have in his account in X days (assuming he knows that the payment will be processed in Y < X days; I'm being very math oriented about it).
This is what I'm trying to avoid. I just want to keep it simple, clear and friendly. (PostFinance was ranking in 2010 as the best e-banking interface from what I saw but their PF card is not what I'm seeking as for example I can't use it for paying something in another country at a shop POS).

With the overdraft I didn't know there would be no such thing in Switzerland
We have it here for the debit cards and it allows maximum 1-3 salaries in debt to be used after reaching 0 balance.

I guess for something like overdraft...there can just be a combination of debit card (Maestro - in Romania we have Visa Electron and Mastercard Maestro for that) and credit card.

With comparis I got accustomed a bit yesterday but it left me with the dilemmas you helped out solve

Allanon, regarding what I mentioned as needs (and eliminating the Overdraft part) could you suggest some bank names to try and request quotes ?
I mention I'd like to also be able to extract money without enormous fees from other ATMs around Switzerland (I believe that if I go with a canton bank then I only have 0 fees upon withdrawals on their ATMs which are only inside a canton).
Reifeissen Bank I also have in Romania but I think it functions differently from that in CH as from what you say they are also structured in another way.

Thanks,
Mihai
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Old 04.05.2011, 11:29
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

As all services are approx. provided by all banks and approx. at the same cost, I would pay attention to some practical aspects:
- where do you live/work and how close is it to the my bank?
- is my bank open on Saturdays, just in case (Raiffeisen is on Sat morning)?
- where are my bank's ATM to withdraw money without costs (2CHF/withdrawal if on ATM from other than your bank.)
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Old 04.05.2011, 11:29
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Hi Mihai.

I'll try to be a bit more concise this time

E-banking
I understand what you mean. True, the three letter bank didn't show the real balance until bookings were made. But you have the option to show the future balance.
As for the post, I don't exactly recall (although I use it and am satisfied).
In both cases though, it's a two click process… should not be so fastidious.

Overdraft
There actually are two kinds of limits:
- Account balance limit. Overdrafting your account limit with a debit card might become VERY expensive… so I would suggest if you intend to do this, better use Credit cards. That's what they're for. I'm a bit "scared" at you mentioning an overdraft of a few salaries… that's a lot!
- Card limit. Depending on your account balance, your record and your income, you will get a maximum monthly or daily draw limit (same as for credit cards). If you need more money for a specific period, you'd have to go to the bank cashier desk directly.

Suggestions
Can't really give you recommendations because I don't know all the services you want, nor your income/outcome stats (and don't want to know… ). All I can give you are the pros and cons. As I said, I would try all four options (get offerings or look it up on the internet).

- One of the big-banks. Advantage: globally present. Depending on total AuM, you'll be dispensed from all fees. Disadvantage: e-banking and their way of making business
- A cantonal bank (Banque Cantonale de Fribourg). Advantage: they provide what you need. Disadvantage: fees (not that most cantonal banks have agreements, so drawing from an ATM of another bank might not be charged). As far as I know, it doesn't matter how much AuM you have :-(
- The Raiffeisen group (any would do… they really stand up as a single bank, no matter where you open your account). Advantage: all over Switzerland, good interest rates. Disadvantage: wouldn't know of any because I never saw their e-banking nor their fee agreements.
- The Swiss Post. Advantage: dispensed from fees with a minimum AuM. Good e-banking service. EXCELLENT telephone support. Disadvantage: internationally not present. You need to pay for both debit and credit cards to also use in foreign countries.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04.05.2011, 13:50
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Allanon you really are a well of information..I owe you one big time.

E-Banking
As long as I can see the true balance in 1 or 2 clicks and most banks provide this I'm very very happy.
I hate doing extra things by hand.
I just hope not to get to a bank which doesn't have something like this (in Romania we have cases like that) as I'm hinting there is no preview of their e-banking interface before opening an account with them. (will they show it upon request ?)

Overdraft
Well I can clear up the scary part for you here and explain it.
In Romania a medium salary (and I'm talking about net value / month , we're an exception here and we never talk about gross-yearly amounts as other countries do plus the employer pays all the contributions also on behalf of the employee automatically so we get directly the net amount) in IT might be 800-900 euro and a very good one 1800 euro to 2000 net.
The bank usually allows an overdraft of 3 * 1800 euro net if you sign an addendum to their contract and thus = 5400 euro for a debit card account.
I think that this is much the same amount or lower than what can be expected in Switzerland..so that might be the reason why the banks here allow 3 salaries in overdraft (with a fee of course).
Credit Cards:
Do you automatically have at the end of the month the total expenses you've made during that month + an interest rate ?
Here in RO if we return the money during the same month then there's no interest (it depends on the bank but most of them offer this in case of POS payments; if you withdraw money physically then you have an interest tax from the beginning).

Also are there any special fixed installments / rates credit card there in Switzerland ?
Here we have 3 banks that offer special credit cards, let's say card A for bank A.
This is a Visa normal credit card but also on some special shops that have an agreement with bank A, card A allows to buy a product in either 3,6 or 12 fixed monthly payments without any interest (the interest is probably supported by the shop and included hidden somehow in the product's price).

With what you provided me in the last message I think I have all the needed ammunition to start browsing through each banks site and to ask them questions.
Thank you very much for that.

P.S. The AuM part I didn't get I googled and found it was Asset under Management (deposits + others, but didn't see if it also included the normal account for salary reasons)..but that didn't clear up to much of my doubts about what it exactly is.

Can you take the burden of the last things I've said also and help me out ?
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  #10  
Old 04.05.2011, 15:26
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

You're most welcome! :-)

E-Banking: just ask. Sometimes they even have screenshots of it online.

Overdraft: same amount more or less. Then again, you can expect to earn more here in CH (living is also much more expensive... especially Zurig)

Credit Cards: you get a statement of all the expenses made. You can either have your account debited automatically with the amount (and then have 30 days to claim any wrong debit) or make the payment yourself upon receipt. If you don't have the full liquidity, you can pay a minimum (stated on the bill) and then have a grace period of X days (don't know how much since I never bothered looking).

AuM = Assets under Management. It usually includes ALL the assets, including salary accounts and pension plans. Still, make sure you clarify this with the bank. They might have some small written notes about Service Packages and what they include (also affects fees).

Good luck to you!
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Old 13.05.2011, 16:44
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Thanks again (unfortunately with delay) for your answers.

The last part I'll ask again like "for dummies".
By:
"Still, make sure you clarify this with the bank. They might have some small written notes about Service Packages and what they include (also affects fees)."

this you mean that I can make a normal bank account for example and have some fees or I may opt in for that bank account, a pension plan, etc (a full package / offering) and then also have other fees involved ?

With the pension part is this a private one aside from the state one ?
I'm not familiar with the pension fund there and if there's a state one + a private one or how it works exactly (I must still read into this ).

Have a nice weekend,
Mihai
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Old 25.07.2011, 15:22
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Hello Mihai, I see no-one got back to you on your pension question.

By the way, overdrafts although possible are generally low here. A colleague has 10k where both of them work, but I'm unaware of it amongst most people. The max on a Postfinance account is 1k.

Credit cards generally require 5% a month if you have a credit agreement.

The good news is the max interest in CH by law is 15%. Some credit cards are as low as 9.9& branded by the supermarkets.

In CH there is a 3 Pillar pension system as follows:

P1: AHV/AVS 5.05% approx of your gross salary up to 106,800 paid by you. Same paid by employer or both by you if self-employed.
Additional small % on salary above 106,800 incl. bonuses.
P2: varies can be up to 15% or more depending on age shared by you and employer (some pay all of this). Bonuses not taken into account
P3a: Optional 33,408k if self-employed, or a % of your revenue, or 6,682 if in a P2 plan per year.

P1 is about bare existence. P2 is about maintaining your standard of living (at about 60% of your salary after 30-40 years of contribution from age 25+)
P3a is top-up. You can open a 3a at most banks and insurance companies as cash or shares/funds.
P3b is a life insurance linked product.

Subject to limits the P deductions come off your taxable income. A form exists to have taxes refunded if you are paying tax at source from your local cantonal tax authority or Gemeinde/Commune.

Good luck saving for the future. Most Swiss try to retire on approx 200-600k in funds in their sixties with 400k being the median at today's values.

Different rates are provided by the different Pillars. For P3a a table on performance and interest rates is available on Comparis.ch.
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Old 25.07.2011, 16:31
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Re: Which bank to choose ? Which card/debit card/etc ? Help needed:)

Quote:
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I used to work for a Swiss company here in Romania and one of my former Swiss colleagues told me that the 3 letter very big bank for example doesn't show after an expense the total amount available in the ebanking.
Back in olden times, we used to have to write all of our deposits and debits into a ledger and carry it with us.

My, how times have changed for the better.

Quote:
View Post
Credit cards generally require 5% a month if you have a credit agreement.
I was under the impression that Swiss/European credit cards all automatically debited your bank account each month and that running a balance wasn't an option.
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