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Old 23.10.2011, 14:34
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Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

Hello all,

Since 3 weeks now I've moved to Switzerland and aside from some tiny things I quite love it here.
People are friendly (or seem so in the Fribourg area), the mountains are really tempting and winter is coming (maybe some skiing will be in order ).

I have though some tiny issues and I'll request some help with one of them if you can spare some time.
As most people in Switzerland, I've also opened an account with PostFinance and opted for their E-Finance ebanking interface in hopes of having the exact same functionality I was used to in Romania with ING Bank (I know, 3rd world country in some people's view but with e-banking it was ...let's say better on the evolution scale).
Now the problem:
With PostFinance I go and buy something and if the merchant doesn't have direct debit with the Post, then my account balance is shown updated after 1 day.
With ING Bank in Romania I had after each purchase in the Ebanking interface:
- account balance (shown minus the amount I had spent)
- payments still under processing (amounts that were not yet debited but were shown here and were also shown as deducted from my account's available total)

Is there any bank in Switzerland that offers something like this ?
I don't have many requirements from an e-banking interface or from a bank.
I just want:
- direct debit or equivalent to be possible
- payments, transfers (like for example from CHF to my Ro account in RON without requiring any additional account)
- highly accurate e-banking interface regarding account balance
- possibility of a prepaid card (not a credit card) that would work on the Internet (maybe Paypal ?) - the last part is optional..as I can still use my Romanian one which is a debit Visa on the Internet as an alternative

With the most sincere excuses into mind as I'm writing this message out of frustration at this moment after having called the PostFinance support center in order to find out my actual balance, could you please point out if there is any bank offering all that I need ? (but most important aspect ..the account balance updated instantly ?)

Thanks,
Mihai
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  #2  
Old 23.10.2011, 15:36
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

Romania is not considered a major currency. I doubt you'll find a bank
that can open a romanian currency account. PostFinance can handle
eight currencies.

https://www.postfinance.ch/en/priv/p...gn/detail.html

Romanian is not on the list. You're better off with a brokerage account
like swissquote or xe if you want to convert currencies.

As for instantaneous update of account balances, I'm not sure why that's
even an issue unless your account balance is always very close to zero.
Credit card transactions are NEVER posted instantaneous. It ways takes
up to 3 days. Some banks can display debit transactions instantaneously
and some can't. But choosing a bank based solely on its ability to
display debit transactions on its web site instantly is probably not a good
idea. Step back and look at the big picture a little.

DavidSJC
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Old 23.10.2011, 15:53
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Quote:
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Romania is not considered a major currency. I doubt you'll find a bank
that can open a romanian currency account. PostFinance can handle
eight currencies.

https://www.postfinance.ch/en/priv/p...gn/detail.html

Romanian is not on the list. You're better off with a brokerage account
like swissquote or xe if you want to convert currencies.

As for instantaneous update of account balances, I'm not sure why that's
even an issue unless your account balance is always very close to zero.
Credit card transactions are NEVER posted instantaneous. It ways takes
up to 3 days. Some banks can display debit transactions instantaneously
and some can't. But choosing a bank based solely on its ability to
display debit transactions on its web site instantly is probably not a good
idea. Step back and look at the big picture a little.

DavidSJC
Why would the Swiss account need to be in RON? If you transfer funds, the receiving account converts the amount - the sending account doesn't do that unless you have a specific function or go to the counter and convert it first. The entry may show the converted amount though, as that may be reported back by the receiving account. Bu no you won't find an account that will convert to an obscure currency first.

I don't have an alternate service unfortunately, but I completely agree that the e-banking options here are sorely lacking - make sure you actually see the transfer reported in the ledger, I've seen over 10 fail over the past 6 months. It says it goes, and then never actually does...
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Old 23.10.2011, 15:55
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

This may sound blunt, but if you're living so close to the edge that you need real-time updates of your account balance to avoid going over-drawn, you should probably learn to make a note of your available balance before making purchases, then noting any purchases you make during the day.

I don't think that you're going to find any bank that offers the real-time functionality that you're after. At a guess, I would suspect that in Romania you have a single bank who does the credit clearing for most of the shops, and that you happened to bank with that bank.

In Switzerland, there are a number of different clearing banks, and if they choose not to settle their charges until overnight, there is no way your bank, regardless of who you bank with, will see it sooner.

For what it's worth, the reason that so many people bank with PostFinance is that PostFinance is actually one of the better banks out there. They have low charges, convenient locations, good eBanking functionality, and for most people they provide a very good service. When I compare the basic 'PostFinance' service that I get to the 'HSBC Premier' service that I use elsewhere in the world, PostFinance gives me a lot more in their cheap, standard service than HSBC Premier gives me in their rather-more-expensive service.
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Old 23.10.2011, 15:58
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

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I don't have an alternate service unfortunately, but I completely agree that the e-banking options here are sorely lacking - make sure you actually see the transfer reported in the ledger, I've seen over 10 fail over the past 6 months. It says it goes, and then never actually does...
Are you sure that this isn't a case of user error?

In hundreds of transactions, both domestic and international, I have never had a problem with a payment going through or reaching the intended recipient. In fact, the only time I've ever had a problem was when I used a human clerk to execute the transfer (made a typo) instead of using the online option.

Banking systems are, by their very nature, very sensitive and as a result they are typically very well tested. While they may not offer the functionality that you want, things "going wrong" are very rarely down to the reliability of the system.
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Old 23.10.2011, 16:12
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

UBS + Maestro card + SMS info service gives you most of what you're looking for.
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Old 23.10.2011, 16:53
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

I understand what mihai is saying. Back home in Quebec, my wife uses our debit card and I follow her shopping spree in real time at home with our ebanking. And when she comes home, I tease her about it .

Here we use e-finance with PostFinance. At first I was worried when I saw that my latest transactions were not immediately present online; had something gone wrong? Now I know that it takes a day or two and it's no big deal.

So far I have had only one minor problem with PostFinance: they do not accept cheques from a US or Canadian bank.
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Old 23.10.2011, 23:42
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

Hi guys,

Wow that's a lot of answers.
Thank you.
I guess my first issue was misunderstood. I was not looking to have a RON account in Switzerland but Romania had a crazy system and I wanted to see if in Switzerland it happens this way too.
For some Romanian banks, when you receive money destined for a RON account but they originate from a foreign currency, the bank automatically opens up an account for you in that currency and then does the conversion (so you end up without wanting with another bank account).
From what you explained to me in Switzerland this doesn't happen in any case.
So that's solved.

As for the second stuff:
I want real-time functionality not because I'm living on the edge of things but because it's a service I used to have and that I liked to have.
Now I'm downgrading from instant knowledge of the account to learning to have patience which is kind of hard
I am paying ebanking to have ebanking not use a piece of paper to write down my expenses

@Quebecman:
Neat method with tracking your wife's expenses I like the idea and glad you also had this service

@Tilia
Do you know if I can see a demo of the UBS E-banking if I ask them ?
I'd really like a "preview" before switching from PostFinance and again going through all the paperwork
Thank you very much for your help.

P.S. To the guy explaining the clearing process.
In Romania there was only one entity called Transfond handling the clearing for all banks.
Regardless of this the bank would see the amount being blocked until the processing would take place.
This is what PostFinance also confirmed to me on the phone today after they told me what amount was "locked" for undergoing future processing.
I'm not requesting the impossible.
Logically if it's locked, it should be able to display that in the interface and show the current balance (not being a very patient person I find it logically to have an accurate view of things without waiting 1-2 days; this is one of the factors that I personally and this is just my case, appreciate in an ebanking system).


Have a good night's sleep,
Mihai


And thank you all very much for explaining things to me.
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Old 23.10.2011, 23:49
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

you can open a UBS account for free and try it.

the PF e-banking feels like it was written by a 16 year old IT intern.

i didn't much like the UBS one, either, but after trying PF, i now primarily use the UBS system for any kind of payment even though PF is now my 'main' bank (the reason i switched from UBS was that my mortgage was with UBS and i didn't want them to hold my mortgage and banking accounts).

switzerland is slow for many things, not just banking, you'll learn to live with it
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Old 23.10.2011, 23:51
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

P.S.2
This was what I was talking about regarding the clearing:
http://www.transfond.ro/en/about_us.html
It's not that I chose a bank that happens to do the clearing (there's no such thing in Romania).
There is this Transfond and I quote:

"TRANSFOND is responsible for processing the interbank payments in Romania. The low value payments added up to approximately 96% of the total volume of payments in 2008.
Our main activity is to supply domestic-currency cashless payment clearing and settlement services to the credit institutions, National Bank of Romania, the State Treasury and other financial institutions (the Bucharest Stock Exchange, CreditCoop – head office). Starting July 2009, TRANSFOND has become an authorised supplier of electronic archiving services, in accordance with the legal regulations of law no. 135/2007. "

So our banks maintain a link to Transfond and even if the processing doesn't happen instantly, the account statement can be seen instantly (before leaving Ro there were 4-5 bank still showing with a delay but I've heard they also adapted their systems to the other banks recently).

This is just an info..I'm not trying to make a flame about it or prove anything so don't hit me with any solid rock on my head please
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Old 24.10.2011, 12:22
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

Have you tried the Fribourg cantonal back (BCF)??

As far as I can tell their e-banking offers everything you are looking for. Only possible problem is that their interface is French or German....however, with only a basic knowledge of french I have no problems with it (and once you manage it the first time it's just a case of repeating when necessary or setting it up to do automatic payments/transfers, right?)

Here is a demo version of the e-banking website if you want to test it out (no need for any passwords, just hit "continuer" (or "weiter" if in German)): http://www.bcf.ch/ebankinghelp/demo/fr/index.html
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Old 24.10.2011, 12:36
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

my Kantonalbank seems to be doing everything you are saying you want int a bank.
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:29
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

You can test the UBS e-banking demo under the following links
http://www.ubs.com/4/eBanking_PK_Demo/en_final/0.html
(english)

http://www.ubs.com/4/eBanking_PK_Demo/de_final/0.html
(german)

It will not show your transactions in an instant, so no help with this, however there is one major advantage if you transfer money to Romania.

You can transfer directly in RON, which is apparently impossible with Postfinance. You can therefore profit on UBS's lower currency exchange spreads comparing to most Central and Eastern European banks, which gave away lots of cheap loans in CHF and are now ripping off clients on currency exchange rates.

Regretfully this UBS currency exchange calculator does not show their rates for RON, however they're probably at around 3%.
http://www.ubs.com/1/e/index/bcqv/calculator.html

In case of Polish Zloty, the spread on CHF/PLN in UBS is 3.2% comparing to my Polish bank's (typical) 6.2%. There are some banks which have spreads as high as 10%, so the amounts saved can be substantial.
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Old 25.10.2011, 14:00
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

@Mihai
A couple of points coming from my experience which I gained along the years.
- Stay away from UBS or Credit Suisse because they are expensive and in terms of quality overrated as the most Swiss banks.
- Postfinance is probably the cheapest for payments, they are SEPA member, too. This means you can make cheap payments in Euro. Transaction in CHF are cheap, too.
- Don't ever think to make a conversion from chf or eur to a non major currency with a Swiss bank. It will be very expensive. Try a bank in Romania or use an online service as indicated.
- Credit cards: very expensive in Switzerland, you can get a total fee of about 4-5% or more from the price you paid. It's huge. Postfinance has one of the best credit cards, but it's expensive, too. Shop around in Germany or France. I bet your credit card from Romania has a much better value.
- Don't expect to find the same services from your home country. Take your time and be open for new. Hint: Switzerland has a good image, but you may find some services wanting, banking being not the only one.
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Old 26.11.2011, 21:27
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

P.S. Thank you all for your replies and your help.
I kind of lost track of this forum and forgot to give the proper thanks to all the people who were kind and tries to help me out.

Enjoy the weekend.
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Old 27.11.2011, 09:37
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

For a prepaid credit card, have a look at the SBB prepaid Visa card.

http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and...visa-card.html

If you need an SBB 1/2 fare card, this really makes sense - it's free and I think it makes the 1/2 fare card slightly cheaper. I've had their normal Visa for 2 years now and the only complaint I have is that there is no online interface to check payments and balance, but you can call in for that.
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Old 27.11.2011, 10:33
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

"Don't ever think to make a conversion from chf or eur to a non major currency with a Swiss bank. It will be very expensive. Try a bank in Romania or use an online service as indicated."

Can you explain a bit what you mean? Far as I know SEPA payments are free and ING in Romania implemented this about a year ago. I sent money without any additional taxes back home.

"Credit cards: very expensive in Switzerland, you can get a total fee of about 4-5% or more from the price you paid. It's huge. Postfinance has one of the best credit cards, but it's expensive, too. Shop around in Germany or France. I bet your credit card from Romania has a much better value."

I'd have to double-check this with my bank, but I think I only pay a yearly fee (30chf) and the transaction fees are supported by the merchant. That being said, it's likely the Visa from Romania has better value (I also have it and use it) as the payments are handled by ING directly (so you get the instant status update you were talking about), unlike here where they are handled (in my case) by Viseca and only show up at the end of the month in my regular bank account. The only reason I have a credit card here is that last year my Visa expired and there is no way to get another one without going back in person to pick it up. So I needed another one in the meantime for internet payments (as the usual Maestro from here doesn't work)
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Old 28.11.2011, 15:44
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

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Can you explain a bit what you mean? Far as I know SEPA payments are free and ING in Romania implemented this about a year ago. I sent money without any additional taxes back home.
SEPA is only for payments in EUR. While it indeed can not incur any additional costs besides an initial fee (0.3CHF at UBS), you pay money exchange margins twice - once for conversion from CHF to EUR and then back from EUR to RON.

Alternatively you do your transfers in CHF which is then converted to RON by your target bank at their exchange rates. I would guess this is not a good deal, as this is one area where Central/Eastern European banks charge a lot. In this case it would be best to do your transfers directly in RON.
On top of that you pay the transfer fees, you can choose to pay them on the sender side, on the recipient side, or split (if you send money to yourself that probably remains a constant fee for you whichever way you choose to do it, on average ~20CHF).
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Old 28.11.2011, 16:29
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Re: Best ebanking - accurate and on the spot ? (not PostFinance please)

Dear OP, as you're already with Postfinance they also have a debit card linked to your existing e-finance for 50 CHF a year. You can load it up to 5k and transfer it back to your CHF account too. For instant balances you can subscribe to their SMS service per payment, so it acts as an instant debit card (with mastercard). https://www.postfinance.ch/en/priv/p.../pk11/103.html

Regarding RON transactions I'd recommend getting a linked EUR account. This can also come with a cashcard. Transfers to your EUR/CHF account online have better spreadrates than at the ATM.

You could then transfer as SEPA free in EUR to a Romanian EUR account and then transfer in ROL to your ROL account at home.

In Postfinance transfers to/from your EUR account are instant. To SEPA normally within 3 days, sometimes 1.

Finally try not to rely on your online account as an instant budgeting tool. Rather have a separate budgeting tool on your computer/phone. More boring I agree. UBS' account used to come with Quicken software, not sure if it still does.

Personally I use MoneyBook, Saver and YNAB on my iPhone to track spend against budget categories

Last edited by magyir; 28.11.2011 at 16:31. Reason: link
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