Are you planning a trip to Switzerland, and you are not sure which currency to carry? Then you are definitely at the right place because this detailed guide will help you to get a hassle-free stay.
Contrary to common belief, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU) and has retained its currency, the Swiss Franc (CHF). Switzerland values its independence and firmly prefers its native currency. Nonetheless, you will find that euros are accepted in some places, notably in big tourist regions where businesses cater to international visitors.
When going to Switzerland, one typical question is whether to bring euros. It’s understandable given Switzerland’s amazing position in the heart of Europe, surrounded by euro-using nations like France, Germany, and Italy.
Let’s find out!
What Currency Does Switzerland Use?
The Swiss Franc (CHF) is the native currency of Switzerland, not the Euro (EUR). Despite its geographical location in central Europe, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and has always kept it’s currency independent.
While certain shops in tourist regions may accept euros, the Swiss Franc remains the principal mode of payment throughout the nation.
Currency Codes CHF and EUR
In the world of finance, currencies are represented by three-letter codes. For the Swiss Franc, the code is CHF, while the code for the Euro is EUR.
You should know the correct codes, as it will help you understand price conversions and avoid confusion when exchanging money or doing transactions involving different currencies.
Non-eurozone Countries and Common Currencies
Do you know Switzerland is not the only European country that has chosen to keep its currency separate from the Eurozone? Countries like the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are non-eurozone nations.
These countries have kept their currencies independent for various reasons, including economic independence and sovereignty over monetary policies.
I recommend bringing local currency with you when traveling across Switzerland and other European countries because you may not get choices to convert your own currency spending money on charge fees.
As a result, a credit card is the best solution in this case because it will save you time and provide quick access to the facilities you may require.
You will find ATM’s at all Swiss airports and in all shopping areas, plus American Express, Visa and Mastercard are accepted at all major and most major retailers.
The only time I seem to use cash is at the local farmer’s markets, but even these markets are starting to accept cards too.
So many people ask, why Switzerland doesn’t use the Euro; let’s dig a little deeper here.
Why is Switzerland Not Using Euro?
Well, very simply, it is not a member of the Eurozone; sure, it is associated with the Eurozone, but it is not an actual member, like France, Italy, and Germany.
Several factors played a prominent role in Switzerland’s decision not to join the Eurozone. The following are some of the main reasons for Switzerland’s choice.
1. Monetary Independence
Switzerland places a high priority on its monetary independence. Switzerland has greater control over its monetary policy by maintaining its currency, the Swiss franc.
This independence allows the country to set interest rates, manage inflation, and implement economic policies tailored to its specific needs and economic conditions.
2. Economic Flexibility
Switzerland’s independence from the Euro allows it to adapt effectively to economic challenges and fluctuations.
It enables the government to alter its exchange rates, which can help to preserve price stability and promote the country’s export-oriented economy. This flexibility is considered a significant advantage for Switzerland.
Below is a great clip, about CHF vs the USD
3. Political Considerations
Switzerland’s decision not to join the EU reflects political reasons and a desire to maintain sovereignty and independence in various further policy areas, mainly financial affairs.
It’s worth noting that Switzerland has strong economic ties to the eurozone and the European Union. The country has signed many bilateral agreements with the EU to facilitate trade, economic cooperation, and market access.
Now you know which currency to use on your Switzerland trip, and better understand the money setup in this beautiful country, let’s look at the best ways to manage your money.
How To Exchange Money in Switzerland
Banks and currency exchange booths are common places to exchange your cash, but let’s explore the best options so you can get more cash… well, for your cash!
When you land, consider the following:
- ATMs: Withdrawing Swiss Francs from ATMs using a debit or travel money card is often the most convenient option.
Check with your bank for its compatibility with foreign transactions, and how much ATM fees will they charge?
- Credit Cards: All major credit credit cards can be used in Switzerland. Be aware of potential foreign transaction fees and ensure your card has a secure PIN.
- Travel Money Cards: A travel money card, preloaded with Swiss Francs, offers an alternative solution. Travel money cards can save you from fluctuating exchange rates.
- Wise Debit Card: A Wise debit card is another good option ( and my favorite for traveling anywhere), providing better exchange rates and lower fees than traditional bank cards. Remember to activate your card and test it out before traveling to ensure smooth transactions.
I always take the physical Wise card with me and load it ono my phone too.
I strongly recommend putting a secure pin on your cards to protect them from theft and misuse. The payment modes listed above will allow you to travel safely nationwide.
Do I Need Cash In Switzerland?
Not really; times have changed.
Look, as a general rule, whenever I travel anywhere, I like to have a few hundred dollars in smaller notes with me, as you never know when you need it.
Can You Use Euros in Switzerland
You can, and you can’t; let’s explore where Euros can be used in the country.
The following are the key tourist destinations where you could utilize your euro notes:
1. Hotels and Hospitality Locations
When staying in Swiss hotels and hostels, you may come across certain facilities that accept euros.
The hotel may charge an average exchange rate if you pay in euros; it is always better to pay in Swiss Francs (CHF)
2. Shops and Restaurants
Many shops and restaurants in the main tourist areas take euros. However, don’t assume every establishment will gladly take your euros. Always ask before purchasing to avoid confusion.
Additionally, be aware that change may be given in Swiss currency, even if you pay with euros. Remember that smaller shops and food joints might only accept cash in Swiss francs, so carrying some cash is always better.
3. Cross-border Trade and Tourism
When traveling near the Swiss border, you are more likely to find companies accepting euros.
This is because of the large amount of cross-border trade and tourism. For everyday transactions, however, the Swiss franc remains the dominant currency.
Before your jump on the plane to Switzerland and start spending Swiss Franks, do your homework, check your card’s international fees and exchange rates, compare it to travel cards on the market, and most importantly, compare it to a Wise card.
Switzerland does use the Euro, or shall I say, accepts the Euro at major hotels, restaurants, and many shops too. But, be sure to call ahead to make sure.
Also, when you land, make sure you take a little cash out and keep it on you; you never know when you will need it!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Swiss currency?
Swiss Franc (CHF) is the official currency of Switzerland. It is widely used in both Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
2. Is Euro accepted in Switzerland?
Even though the Euro is not Switzerland’s official currency, many shops accept it as payment, especially in tourist areas. But you might get your change in Swiss Francs, and the exchange rate may not be as good as at currency exchange offices or banks.
3. Can I use Swiss Francs in Geneva?
Yes, you can use Swiss Francs in Geneva, as it is the official currency of Switzerland. You can use CHF for shopping, traveling, etc.
4. Do businesses in Switzerland accept other currencies?
Some businesses, especially in tourist areas and big cities like Zurich, Geneva, etc., might accept currencies like the Euro or the US Dollar. However, it is best to carry Swiss Francs, as not all businesses accept foreign currencies and those that may have expensive exchange rates.
5. Why isn’t the Euro Switzerland’s main currency?
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU), so it has not adopted the Euro as its main currency. The country has maintained its independence in terms of its monetary policy and prefers to use its currency, the Swiss Franc, due to its historical stability and association with Swiss identity.
6. What does CHF stand for?
CHF stands for Confoederatio Helvetica, which is the Latin name of the Swiss Confederation.