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Old 04.09.2012, 14:55
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Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

I'll be living in Basel for six months for work. I plan to keep all my US bank accounts. My ATM card and credit cards obviously work fine in Basel and my particular bank has very low foreign transaction fees.

So from a cost perspective I don't see much benefit in getting a local bank account but I'm wondering of its common to need checks in daily life. For instance my son will be with us and I don't know yet how the daycare will expect to be paid.

So basically I'm wondering if I'll be able to love with just cash and credit or should I look into setting up a Swiss account?

Btw: having a Swiss bank account will have the added benefit of being able to tell friends and family back home that I have a "Swiss Bank Account"

Thanks!

Ed
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Old 04.09.2012, 14:56
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

You will need it in order to get paid, for one.

Also, it makes bill paying much easier.

Tom
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:03
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

A better alternative is the Post Finance, legally not a bank, as it is not allowed to give loans, but a big bank none the less. All the Swiss banks use post finance for their electronic financial transactions. It is owned by the Swiss government, and has strong ties with the Swiss Post, and so in every village you can collect cash with your account card. The account only costs CHF 3,-- per month, unless you are very rich.

https://www.postfinance.ch/en/priv/p...chf/offer.html
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:09
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You will need it in order to get paid, for one.

Also, it makes bill paying much easier.

Tom
Actually, I'm going to stay on US payroll. My company is going to give me a cost of living adjustment, but it's going to be paid in the US.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:16
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A better alternative is the Post Finance, legally not a bank, as it is not allowed to give loans, but a big bank none the less. All the Swiss banks use post finance for their electronic financial transactions. It is owned by the Swiss government, and has strong ties with the Swiss Post, and so in every village you can collect cash with your account card. The account only costs CHF 3,-- per month, unless you are very rich.

https://www.postfinance.ch/en/priv/p...chf/offer.html
Thanks! This will probably be the ill go IF I need a bank account. Right now I only pay 1% to withdraw from my US bank account and no fees for credit transactions with my US cards. So unless I find myself withdrawing massive amounts of cash (which I may end up doing considering how expensive CH is!) there isn't much financial benefit to opening a Swiss account.

But the real question is whether I'll NEED one. As I said above, I'll be paid in the US in US dollars, so I don't need a place to deposit pay, but I'm not yet sure whether cash and credit are enough for daily life.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:16
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

Agree with st2lemans, and before you waste time searching threads about one bank or another, just go to Post Finance and save yourself the hassle.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 04.09.2012 at 15:32. Reason: Sbrinz's post reminded me it's PF not PB.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:19
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

If you use your credit card, you will have foreign transaction fees.

I am not sure what happens when you simply use an ATM to
get money out of your bank account. Certainly you will be
charged about 5CHF for a withdrawal from another bank's ATM, but I am not sure whether there is also a foreign transaction fee or not.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:24
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

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Actually, I'm going to stay on US payroll. My company is going to give me a cost of living adjustment, but it's going to be paid in the US.
So are you going to pay Swiss taxes? What about the Swiss pension (also to be partly paid by your employer)? I didn't know what you are doing is even possible (legally). But then again, I don't know much.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:31
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

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So are you going to pay Swiss taxes? What about the Swiss pension (also to be partly paid by your employer)? I didn't know what you are doing is even possible (legally). But then again, I don't know much.
And to maybe add something useful to your original question (coming from the US as well):
1. There were a few places where my US credit card wouldn't work. I have more than one and could always find one that worked.
2. It is near impossible to buy anything online if you use a US credit card that is tied to a US address. If you are or have been able to update your credit card info to a Swiss address, this probably isn't an issue.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:34
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

Capital One Visa doesn't charge transaction fees for international charges and has good exchange rates in my experience.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:50
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

I can't see why you would need a bank account.

The day care will probably give you payment still (it's like pink) and you can take the pink form to the post office and pay in cash and the bank will make the transfer to the day care's bank account.

Actually any pink payment slip you get can be handled this way at the bank.
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Old 04.09.2012, 15:58
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

it's a bit like asking .. "can I get around without shoes?".

won't be the most comfortable way, but sure you can.
however, it being so easy to get shoes, why would you not want to have a pair...??
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Old 04.09.2012, 16:25
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

for 6 months I wouldn't bother, you will probably lose a rappen here or there on the FX exchange rates by using your US account and credit card, but candidly the Swiss banks screw you on FX rates for wires into Switzerland from the US anyway. paying bills will be a little more hassle since standing orders are the SOP for rent and other monthly expenses over here, but so long as you're up for the little extra inconvenience it is certainly not anything too dramatic.

my 2 rappen, anyway. the upside, btw, is that you won't have a Swiss account to close when you leave, and you won't have to file any additional bank disclosure forms with the IRS.
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Old 04.09.2012, 16:51
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

Of course you don't need a bank account.

When I first arrived, as an American, I wasn't allowed to open an account before my B-permit was processed (which took nearly three months). I survived...just fine.

It's fairly straightforward to pay bills-as previously mentioned by miniMia. Paying rent felt weird, since the 1000 CHF bills seemed comically large, but the post office folks never even raised an eyebrow. (The post office also managed to pay my salary in cash to me since I had no bank account....) There's no equivalent of checks here, btw. Nothing personalized with your name, no checkbook, only these Empfangsschein-bills with the payee's information.

You can buy nearly anything online in Switzerland with either a paypal account or by having the aforementioned red or orange bills sent with the package. On several occasions, I've tried to order by credit card and it has not been possible .

I've not had problems with my American credit cards in Switzerland-so I am not sure about that one. When I first arrived, we spent about 3000 CHF, mainly on groceries, IKEA, and other things to set up an apartment-all on US credit cards (no savings, no Swiss bank account!). I've since used a US credit card on several occasions, tied to a US address (again, usually groceries, and universally because I can't find my maestro card and my kids are acting up). Coop, Globus, H and M, all no problem.

I do agree that it's not worth opening an account here if you're only around for six months. If the total amount of money on all combined foreign account s(including any renter's account that your name may be on-even if you can't access the money) goes over $10,000 for a single day, you have extra filing duties-and it's a pain in the rear! Different form, different due date, different filing address.

So, yeah, go barefoot. You'll be fine. I was.
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Old 04.09.2012, 17:59
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

On a general level, as you want to stay "6 months", it is extremely important to consult with a lawyer how many days exactly you should stay. Staying abroad for more than half a year, i.e., 183 days or more in total (including any preceding visits for interviews or so), can mean that your tax status, health insurance etc. changes. Just that one day more or less can mean that you have to pay Swiss taxes, etc.

As mentioned by swiss_in_training, checks are not used here. But your mentioning of checks brings back childhood memories. Funny.
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Old 04.09.2012, 18:12
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

To: Swiss_in_Training, MiniMia, and Crazy Gringo,

You have answered my questions perfectly! Thanks!

I have a Capital One card so no transaction fees. And my bank (E*trade) has a reasonable 1% transaction fee. If I set up a bank account here I would probably pay the equivalent of that 1% in other fees (wire transfer fees, monthly fees, etc..) so I would rather avoid the hassle. If I can just pay bills in cash at Post that is great news!

Also, someone asked about taxes, pension, etc... That stuff I don't know about. My company is a big global company, and I have a feeling the reason they are paying me in the US has something to do with taxes, but I'm trusting that they know what they are doing. I still "officially" am employed in the US, but I'm on assignment in Basel. I'm guessing the fact that I'm only here for six months allows them to do that. I've been told that I can't stay a day longer than six months, and I assume that's because if I stay any longer than they have to give me Swiss benefits.
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Old 04.09.2012, 18:38
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

no one has mentioned the hot topic of late - being a US citizen, it will be hard for you to open a bank accout...Post Finance is one that still works, but many banks are refusing us Americans as customers.

I agree, only coming for 6 months it isn't worth the paperwork hassle and if you can live around it, that is your best bet...
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Old 04.09.2012, 18:43
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no one has mentioned the hot topic of late - being a US citizen, it will be hard for you to open a bank accout...Post Finance is one that still works, but many banks are refusing us Americans as customers.

I agree, only coming for 6 months it isn't worth the paperwork hassle and if you can live around it, that is your best bet...
I did hear something to that effect, but I'm was hoping that since I would have a visa and a residence card it might be easier (assuming that I decided to get one of course). Perhaps this is a totally seperate topic, but is that also true for "residents" from the US?
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Old 04.09.2012, 18:44
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Re: Coming from US: Is a swiss bank account necessary for daily life?

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Of course you don't need a bank account.

When I first arrived, as an American, I wasn't allowed to open an account before my B-permit was processed (which took nearly three months). I survived...just fine.

It's fairly straightforward to pay bills-as previously mentioned by miniMia. Paying rent felt weird, since the 1000 CHF bills seemed comically large, but the post office folks never even raised an eyebrow. (The post office also managed to pay my salary in cash to me since I had no bank account....) There's no equivalent of checks here, btw. Nothing personalized with your name, no checkbook, only these Empfangsschein-bills with the payee's information.

You can buy nearly anything online in Switzerland with either a paypal account or by having the aforementioned red or orange bills sent with the package. On several occasions, I've tried to order by credit card and it has not been possible .

I've not had problems with my American credit cards in Switzerland-so I am not sure about that one. When I first arrived, we spent about 3000 CHF, mainly on groceries, IKEA, and other things to set up an apartment-all on US credit cards (no savings, no Swiss bank account!). I've since used a US credit card on several occasions, tied to a US address (again, usually groceries, and universally because I can't find my maestro card and my kids are acting up). Coop, Globus, H and M, all no problem.

I do agree that it's not worth opening an account here if you're only around for six months. If the total amount of money on all combined foreign account s(including any renter's account that your name may be on-even if you can't access the money) goes over $10,000 for a single day, you have extra filing duties-and it's a pain in the rear! Different form, different due date, different filing address.

So, yeah, go barefoot. You'll be fine. I was.
Just curious for future reference, how do you pay your US credit card bill from Switzlerland?

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To: Swiss_in_Training, MiniMia, and Crazy Gringo,

You have answered my questions perfectly! Thanks!

I have a Capital One card so no transaction fees. And my bank (E*trade) has a reasonable 1% transaction fee. If I set up a bank account here I would probably pay the equivalent of that 1% in other fees (wire transfer fees, monthly fees, etc..) so I would rather avoid the hassle. If I can just pay bills in cash at Post that is great news!

Also, someone asked about taxes, pension, etc... That stuff I don't know about. My company is a big global company, and I have a feeling the reason they are paying me in the US has something to do with taxes, but I'm trusting that they know what they are doing. I still "officially" am employed in the US, but I'm on assignment in Basel. I'm guessing the fact that I'm only here for six months allows them to do that. I've been told that I can't stay a day longer than six months, and I assume that's because if I stay any longer than they have to give me Swiss benefits.
You have an Etrade account. Do you have an ATM card from them and the money that is paid to you from the US company is paid into this account, and you then withdraw from this account through the ATM? Do I have this right? I am just checking for someone.
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Old 04.09.2012, 18:52
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Just curious for future reference, how do you pay your US credit card bill from Switzlerland?

You have an Etrade account. Do you have an ATM card from them and the money that is paid to you from the US company is paid into this account, and you then withdraw from this account through the ATM? Do I have this right? I am just checking for someone.
Hi. I still have a us bank account, and from Switzerland I will just use online bill pay (actually for many things I will have to use online bill pay).

And in regards to you question about my etrade account, yes, my pay (which originates in the US to be clear) is deposited there and I withdraw funds through the ATMs in CH. Btw, for international ATM withdrawals I find etrade is by FAR the least expensive US bank to use. No set per use fee and only a 1% foreign fee which is much less than most US banks.
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