How Much Cash Do You Need In Switzerland?

This is a question I get asked a lot on my 1-on-1 consultation calls, so I thought I would answer it in detail here!

What About Credit Cards

When it comes to credit card acceptance, Switzerland is the same as most countries.

You can use your credit card, or Apple or Google Pay, in

  • any shop
  • restaurant
  • and even at many markets

Even the small vending machines from Selecta now have credit card capabilities.

So, just make sure you know your PIN code, and your card is up to date and you are good to go!

What About Cash?

My local farmer’s fridge – cash only

Although the Swiss love having cash on hand, for most tourists like you, you won’t need it very often.

Here are some of the places I believe you will find it necessary:

  • Public toilets (aka restrooms) take coins (usually between 1-2 CHF)
  • Supermarket trolleys (aka carts) take 1 or 2 CHF coins
  • Some small market stands might only accept cash
  • Farmers honesty shops (found out on hikes or outside towns) only accept cash (or TWINT, which only Swiss have access to – same as Venmo is only US based)

Getting Hold Of Coins

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Because many of the above situations require you to have coins, I recommend breaking your notes either at the supermarket or a Kiosk, which are often at train stations selling quick (to-go) style food and cigarettes, drinks etc. Just buy a pack of gum or bar of chocolate.

I would do this pretty soon after landing to ensure you have some on hand when you need the bathroom! (bathrooms on trains are free BTW)

Swiss coins include:

  • 5, 10, 30 & 50 rappen (cents equivalent)
  • 1, 2, 5 Francs (CHF)

** Notes only start at 10 CHF (10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000)

What About Tips?

I have a detailed post about tipping if you really want to get into the nitty gritty.

However, the long and short of it is that tipping is not expected in Switzerland and people do not live from it like in the USA.

Sure, it is nice to tip (round up) at dinner or a bar – which you can do when you pay for credit card. Just tell the server. (so you don’t need cash for that)

And if you are at a 5 star hotel, perhaps you could tip the bell staff or concierge. And on a tour, the guide is certainly not earning a fortune, so you might want to give them 5-10% if you enjoyed the experience.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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