You are about to learn more about the Swiss banking system than you probably care about.
Remember several months ago when the IRS started demanding that Swiss banks open their books for Americans who are dodging taxes by hiding money in Switzerland? Well that made the Swiss banks mad so they stopped accepting applications from anyone with an American passport. There is another very commonly used option in Switzerland... It is called a post account. It is just what it sounds like, a pseudo bank account but at the post office instead of a bank. I opened one of those because I arrived after the Swiss banks stopped accepting US clients. Twenty days after I opened my post account, the Swiss post office stopped accepting clients with a US passport for the same reason the banks did.
How is a post account different than a bank account? Glad you asked. I get a "debit" card that DOES NOT have a Visa or Mastercard logo but will allow me to withdraw cash at ATMs and pay at most stores around Switzerland. I can technically withdraw cash from ATMs worldwide as long as it has a Plus logo but I've heard mixed reviews on that.
Originally Posted by annettemarie
Not to play devil's advocate
but 1) I was able to use my debit card to secure a rental car with my debit card; I just had to make sure there was a certain amount of money was in my account and 2) I use cash and stock up. Using cash doesn't really have anything to do with sticking to a list-- you just leave yourself a margin. And really, if you don't have the cash, you shouldn't be buying it, bargain or not. Whether the cash is in your hand or in your bank account, you still need to only be spending what you have allotted on groceries.
I have done this too with a debit card on an American account but I can guarantee my post account card will not be accepted. I would have to wire transfer enough money for a deposit (if needed) to my American account and I would lose money on the exchange rate plus any wire transfer fees.
Originally Posted by p1gg1e
Why not use prepaid Visa's or Master cards? OR set up another checking account with a debit card separate from you main checking for your trip?
If you have a Visa logo on your debit card its protected in the same fashion as your CC. Its a myth that its not. You have the bank AND Visa protecting your account and when we had our account stolen it was refunded and a new card issued.
I could probably find prepaid Visa or Mastercards but they wouldn't provide trip protection or auto insurance, which my cc's do provide. It would probably be best to find a prepaid Swiss MC/Visa but I have to wait until our residence permits go through. I can't even get a library card without it.
I will look into it though.
My debit card does not have a Visa or MC logo. It really isn't a debit card at all but some fancy way of doing a free wire transfer. If I transferred money more than 2x a month into my American account that does have a debit card with a logo, I would have to pay $30 per transfer plus I would lose money on the exchange rate twice. Once into US dollars and once back into Swiss francs when the online merchant charges my US account in Swiss francs.
We use a cash system for everything except rental cars, online purchases and airline tickets.
Clear as mud?