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Old 31.07.2013, 02:13
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Limitations of PostFinance Card?

Hi,

After having read a couple of threads on the PostFinance offer, I am still not too sure how the limitations of this card may affect me.

I'm looking to open a basic account, for the sake of convenience mostly, since my credits (salary) and a number of my debits (most online purchases in particular) will be done on my home (French) account. Thus, the Swiss account / card would be used for:
- ATM cash withdrawals (in Switzerland only);
- payments at shops (also in Switzerland only);
- paying rent and local bills (utilities);
- booking SBB and Swiss.com tickets (seems Postfinance has it own "tick" on both websites);
- on the credit side, I'd probably do a wire transfer every other month from my French account.

I'm not sure a credit card would be interesting, considering the huge (from a French perspective, where they are non-existent) ATM withdrawal fees. Not too sure about the Set Plus account either.

So my questions are:
- purely for Swiss financial transactions as listed above, would a basic account with PostFinance Card be enough, or is a local credit card really a must?; in particular, are there other critical commercial websites (in the like of SBB / Swiss.com) or brick and mortar places where payment via Postfinance would be limited, and instead require a credit card? Such as local hotel chains for example (sorry, don't have precise example in mind yet)
-for holders of either standard or Set Plus accounts, how do you see the convenience of having free withdrawals in all ATMs Switzerland for 12 CHF vs. being limited to the Post ones for free, or a 2 CHF fee for other ATMs (in other words, on average, do you find yourself at least 6 times per month in a position where a Post ATM, or the partner networks, is not readily accessible)? I know it will depend from location to location, so let's keep it to Bern + Zürich + Geneva.

Thanks!
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Old 31.07.2013, 02:32
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

Swiss.com definitely takes PostCard.

There's a few restaurants I've been to that don't take it. Not sure about hotels, but I think you should be ok as long as you don't want to charge stuff to your room.

I'm pretty sure car hire would be an issue.

Incidentally, The PostCard can be used in quite a few other countries where ATMs take PLUS cards.
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Old 31.07.2013, 02:48
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

I hardly ever use it, but still have a Swiss credit card.

If you want a Halbtax card, get the one which doubles as a Visa card. It's free (and in fact makes the Halbtax a tiny bit cheaper). The downside is that the halbtax is automatically renewed each year and charged to the card.

(I have UK credit cards which I still use where necessary outside of Switzerland as the Swiss ones seem to charge a fortune in foreign exchange fees/commission.)
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Old 31.07.2013, 06:44
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

It works for everything. except you cannot pay for anything outside of CH. I had a credit card which I used for nothing. Always the Post card. you can get money out at the atm in other countries (most of the time) AND they got a great English website+ customer service
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Old 31.07.2013, 07:11
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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I hardly ever use it, but still have a Swiss credit card.

If you want a Halbtax card, get the one which doubles as a Visa card. It's free (and in fact makes the Halbtax a tiny bit cheaper). The downside is that the halbtax is automatically renewed each year and charged to the card.

(I have UK credit cards which I still use where necessary outside of Switzerland as the Swiss ones seem to charge a fortune in foreign exchange fees/commission.)
I use a zkb credit card outside the country and the fees are minimal hardly worth the effort to even bother working out the conversion
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Old 31.07.2013, 09:14
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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...zkb credit card...the fees are minimal...
Just Googling quickly gave me >>these<< prices for ZKB-CreditCards.

Foreign payments have a 1.5% surcharge on the >>Devisenverkaufskurs<<. The "Devisenverkaufskurs" is ZKB´s selling fx-rate of yesterday.

While the current mean rate is 1.2320 (today at 08h10) ZKB is selling EURs @ 1.2449 (31 July 2013). Adding 1.5% surcharge yields 1.2636 for EUR-payments effected with a ZKB-CreditCard abroad today. (1.2320 vs 1.2636)

For cash withdrawals, add 3.5% on top of that (= 1.3078), with a minimum of CHF 10 in fees. (1.2320 vs 1.3078)

As such I guess "minimal" lies in the eye of the beholder.
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Old 31.07.2013, 09:35
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

Credit cards are not as widely accepted here as they are in many other countries, although they're becoming more popular as the years go by. Very few places would take a credit card when we first moved here nearly 15 years ago. But a PostFinance card should be fine for everything, except possibly reallly large purchases. I know there used to be a limit in places like Media Markt of CHF3,000 for the PostFinance card, but not sure if that's still the case. But Switzerland is still very much a cash/debit card society so you should have no problems if you leave the credit card out of the mix. Nor should you have problems finding a PostFinance ATM somewhere so I wouldn't bother with the extra monthly payments to access others.
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Old 31.07.2013, 10:39
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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For cash withdrawals, add 3.5% on top of that (= 1.3078), with a minimum of CHF 10 in fees. (1.2320 vs 1.3078)
Yeah, but you'd be mad to use a credit card to draw out cash, even in your home country.
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Old 31.07.2013, 10:48
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

If you need a credit card you can compare the total cost at moneyland.ch. It all depends on your usage and profile but in some cases the PostFinance Credit Cards are the cheapest.
(Cost: Annual fee, transaction fees, currency rate, currency conversion surcharge, ATM fee etc.)
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Old 31.07.2013, 10:50
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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If you want a Halbtax card, get the one which doubles as a Visa card. It's free (and in fact makes the Halbtax a tiny bit cheaper).
It's 150chf instead of 175, so definitely worthwhile if you want the halbtax anyway, and the card is then costing you a negative amount. The irony is that I never use it as a credit card as I have better options elsewhere.
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The downside is that the halbtax is automatically renewed each year and charged to the card.
I'm still in the first year, and it wasn't clear to me if this is the case or not. I thought from what was explained that failing cancellation the visa card itself would automatically renew, but that the halbtax would need to be done separately. But that doesn't seem to make sense in retrospect. Anyway, I'm going to make sure I keep an eye on it before renewal time.
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(I have UK credit cards which I still use where necessary outside of Switzerland as the Swiss ones seem to charge a fortune in foreign exchange fees/commission.)
I have a postfinance gold one, which give cash back and only charges .9% on foreign transactions. For the first year that's less than the cashback rate, so even they make a 'profit'. Thereafter the cashback of .75% means that effectively the additional foreign transaction fee costs 0.15%, so really not worth worrying about.

But prior to that my Swiss/Miles&More one would charge a whopping 2.5% for foreign use, so was always my last resort, given I have UK and French debit cards as well.
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Old 31.07.2013, 10:55
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

Spend over CHF300/year on it and the Jelmoli Visa Bonus card is free. It's Visa so accepted by everyone who takes CCs world-wide - it's even gold coloured...
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Old 31.07.2013, 11:03
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

You can withdraw money outside of CH with your postfinance card, I have done it not only across the border but also in South American so that should not worry you.
The system that postfinance card use is called PLUS and unlike maestro or visa electron they usually PLUS cards are not accepted for payment as debit cards outside CH.
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Old 31.07.2013, 11:23
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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Spend over CHF300/year on it and the Jelmoli Visa Bonus card is free. It's Visa so accepted by everyone who takes CCs world-wide - it's even gold coloured...
The problem with world wide and Bonus card : "Administrative fee for purchases abroad (in foreign currencies): 2% + exchange rate." Ouch.

See moneyland.ch for more details. (look at mailinator.com if you need a disposable e-mail address)
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Old 31.07.2013, 11:24
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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I hardly ever use it, but still have a Swiss credit card.

If you want a Halbtax card, get the one which doubles as a Visa card. It's free (and in fact makes the Halbtax a tiny bit cheaper). The downside is that the halbtax is automatically renewed each year and charged to the card.
But you can cancel it as long as you don't forget to do it 2 or 3 months in advance of the renewal.
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Old 31.07.2013, 11:33
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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But you can cancel it as long as you don't forget to do it 2 or 3 months in advance of the renewal.
Of course. It's not compulsory to keep it for ever.
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Old 31.07.2013, 11:39
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

I use postfinance normal account card (with the 'Plus' on it) and I have a linked postfinance prepaid mastercard.

That seems to get me through most problems with cash vs credit vs eftpos vs cash advance fees. And it's very easy to load up the prepaid mastercard when travelling.
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Old 31.07.2013, 12:48
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

In Switzerland the only limitation I found is CHF 1'000 cash daily at Post Office counters.

I have a "cheap" COOP Mastercard and VISA for travelling abroad.

Car hire is almost impossible without a credit card with enough spare credit, for the deposit.
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Old 31.07.2013, 12:54
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

Wow, thanks for all these great tips! Based on these replies:
- I've gotten accustomed to use cash for 90% of store transactions (India and Senegal are almost 100% cash-based), so the card would be used way more often for cash withdrawals than store payments (I'll probably use my French card for furniture acquisition when settling in Bern);
- interesting tips about the car hire limitation; while I would not be concerned by this one, does anyone here have any experience of using this card for ski rental? More generally, can it be used to secure bookings (just secure, not prepay; don't know if it's a customary thing in Switzerland, though)?
- I'll have a Halbtax card through work, so it will be a non-CC one (I doubt you can use a second, personal Halbtax card to turn the bundle into the equivalent of a GA: 50%+50% = 100% );
- bonus question: any experience of using Postfinance in Lichtenstein? Since they use CHF, I'm wondering if the country is considered as "national territory" from a monetary (and thus access / fees) point of view.

Thanks again!
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Old 31.07.2013, 12:57
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

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In Switzerland the only limitation I found is CHF 1'000 cash daily at Post Office counters.
I've never heard of this. And thinking back, I can remember at least three occasions when I've walked into a Post Office brandishing my PostFinance card and asked to withdraw some tens of thousands in cash. Never even had a batted eyelid, although one time they did apologise that they could only give me 40000 in 1000 notes, and the rest had to be in 500s.
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Old 31.07.2013, 13:04
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Re: Limitations of PostFinance Card?

I came across a 1000chf limit for eftpos transactions using the postcard at the SBB money office - I was trying to get 1000AUD and luckily at the time the exchange rate was just perfect, so it was 997chf for 1000AUD, but the lady at the counter did tell me that they had a 1000chf limit on postcard transactions.

There is probably a daily withdrawal limit for cash from ATM's but I don't usually take out more than 500chf in a day.

We pay all our bills with electronic banking and don't have any problems with that.

Oh, and I have a 1000chf overdraft with minimal fees linked to the postfinance account, and I was able to get that with my permanent job and B permit, whereas ZKB would not give one to my husband with the same B permit and a much higher salary...
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