The best free Swiss bank in 2021

You can save up to CHF 4'440 per decade by making the right choice for your Swiss online bank.

Hence, it's worth looking into it.

As I do every year, I look at the solutions available to optimize my bank fees as much as possible. And also, in order to answer the new questions I receive from readers of the blog.

"Zak or Neon?"
"Neon or CSX?"
"What about Yapeal, is it good or not MP?"

My answers below!

My criteria for choosing the best Swiss bank in 2021

But first, let's take a look at the criteria I use to choose my best Swiss bank in 2021:

  • Free
  • Online and mobile
  • Secure
  • Free bank transfers in Switzerland
  • Free bank transfers in the Euro zone (via SEPA)
  • Free Maestro debit card
  • Free ATM withdrawals
  • Free cash deposit at ATMs
  • ISR and/or QR code payment via scan
  • eBill support
  • Accessible physically (via real people in real offices)
  • Download of account statements in PDF format
  • Live push notifications

One point that doesn't matter much to me is payment via Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay cell phone. Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more important for some of you, so I will add it as an additional criterion in the tables below.

An important point to note is that I don't talk about credit cards in this article. In fact, you can optimize your costs much more, as well as your cashback earnings, by choosing two different institutions for your Swiss bank and your Swiss credit card. You will find all info about my Swiss credit card setup on this page.

Comparison best Swiss bank 2021

My goal is not to become the Comparis of personal finance, but to help you get straight to the point in your choice of the best Swiss bank for a Mustachian.

So let's eliminate paid solutions (with no added value in return) in the first place:

  • Yapeal: minimum CHF 4.08/month if you want to be able to make transfers. Bye!
  • CSX: CHF 3.95/month (there is a free option with which ATM withdrawals come with a fee, hence a nogo for the MP family) β€” so yes, it's still better than CHF 200/month, but Credit Suisse can do better. See ya!

As a result, we still have the usual suspects that we have had for a few years now: Zak, neon, Raiffeisen, and also the BCV (for the canton of Vaud).

Note: if you see a Swiss bank missing in my ranking, don't hesitate to let me know in the comments section below or by email β€” because I'm not Google nor do I know it all :)

Let's see how each of them meets our Mustachian criteria.


Review Zak bank by Bank Cler

Free Swiss Bank Zak

Mustachian criteria Zak
Free βœ…
Online and mobile βœ…
Secure βœ…
Free bank transfers in Switzerland βœ…
Free bank transfers in the Euro zone (via SEPA) βœ…
Free Maestro debit card βœ…
Free ATM withdrawals βœ… (Bank Cler only)
Free cash deposit at ATMs βœ…
ISR/QR code payment via scan βœ…
eBill support 🚫*
Accessible physically βœ…
Download of account statements in PDF format βœ…
Live push notifications βœ…
Apple Pay/Google Pay/Samsung Pay βœ…

[*] If you're a regular Zak user, you know that eBill is really their black spot. They've been announcing it for more than a year now, but it's still not available...
BUT, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as the product team responded on their Trello board (where they announce Zak's product roadmap) in early February that it should happen in about 2-3 months. Fingers crossed!

The eBill is coming soon on Zak. As quickly as possible, but as slowly as necessary :D


Review neon bank

Free Swiss bank neon

Mustachian criteria neon
Free βœ…
Online and mobile βœ…
Secure βœ…
Free bank transfers in Switzerland βœ…
Free bank transfers in the Euro zone (via SEPA) βœ…
Free Maestro debit card 🚫*
Free ATM withdrawals βœ… (free 2x/month)
Free cash deposit at ATMs 🚫 (via postal deposit slip)
ISR/QR code payment via scan βœ…
eBill support βœ…
Accessible physically 🚫
Download of account statements in PDF format βœ…
Live push notifications β˜‘οΈ (via SMS)
Apple Pay/Google Pay/Samsung Pay βœ…

[*] neon does not offer a Maestro card. This can be entirely OK for some people, or annoying for some people who live in villages where some shops only accept this means of payment.

Review Raiffeisen bank

Frugal Swiss bank Raiffeisen

As a reminder, Raiffeisen is one of my favorite Swiss frugal banks thanks to their membership program, which, when you join it, gives you access to their culturally very interesting MemberPlus loyalty program with more than 500 free museums. And the same goes for Swiss castles, discounts on train tickets, and other discounts on events.
What's more, this offer is interesting because the free admission applies to the Raiffeisen customer, but also to three accompanying children.

To take advantage of this offer, you need to be:

  • A Raiffeisen shareholder member with a one-time entry fee of between CHF 200 and CHF 500, depending on your branch (Raiffeisen will reimburse you for this amount if you decide one day that you no longer wish to be a member)
  • Possess a debit (or credit) card, costing CHF 40 per year

If you are a fan of culture and museums, apart from the few hundred CHF of blocked assets, this offer is worth it because the annual fee of CHF 40 is quickly paid back.

Mustachian criteria Raiffeisen (shareholder account)
Free 🚫 (CHF 200 to CHF 500 to become shareholder)
Online and mobile βœ…
Secure βœ…
Free bank transfers in Switzerland βœ…
Free bank transfers in the Euro zone (via SEPA) 🚫 (CHF 1/transfer)
Free Maestro debit card 🚫 (free the 1st year, then CHF 40/year)
Free ATM withdrawals βœ… (Raiffeisen ATMs)
Free cash deposit at ATMs βœ…
ISR/QR code payment via scan βœ… (via a second mobile app...)
eBill support βœ…
Accessible physically βœ…
Download of account statements in PDF format βœ…
Live push notifications β˜‘οΈ (via email, or SMS...with a fee!)
Apple Pay/Google Pay/Samsung Pay 🚫

Review BCV bank

Free Swiss bank BCV

Finally, the last Swiss bank to review is the BCV. I don't go around all the cantonal banks, but I assume that others also have attractive offers like this.

For the record, we were at the BCV for our MP family accounts until a few years ago.
We used to take advantage of their offer of "free management fees as soon as you have at least CHF 10'000 there" instead of paying the CHF 3.5/month fee.
Except that when we bought our main residence, we could see their business practices (the whole story here under "1/ Hard pressure from the salesman"). And since Zak and neon arrived on the market at the same time, we closed all our accounts and they will never see us again.
I've also heard other stories that I can't talk about publicly on the blog, but which confirm to me that I won't go back there.

And on top of that, I don't like having 10kCHF of blocked money because I sometimes go below that amount.

But in order to be as fair and objective as possible, I include them in our Swiss bank comparison 2021.

Mustachian criteria BCV
Free 🚫 (CHF 3.5/month, or free from 10kCHF with them)
Online and mobile βœ…
Secure βœ…
Free bank transfers in Switzerland βœ…
Free bank transfers in the Euro zone (via SEPA) βœ…
Free Maestro debit card βœ…
Free ATM withdrawals βœ… (BCV ATMs)
Free cash deposit at ATMs βœ…
ISR/QR code payment via scan βœ…
eBill support βœ…
Accessible physically βœ…
Download of account statements in PDF format βœ…
Live push notifications βœ…
Apple Pay/Google Pay/Samsung Pay 🚫

Summary comparison best Swiss online bank

If we put the four free Swiss online banks we just saw side by side, this is what we get:

Mustachian criteria Zak neon Raiffeisen BCV
Free βœ… βœ… 🚫 🚫 (free from 10kCHF)
Online and mobile βœ… βœ… βœ… βœ…
Secure βœ… βœ… βœ… βœ…
Free bank transfers in Switzerland βœ… βœ… βœ… βœ…
Free bank transfers in the Euro zone (SEPA) βœ… βœ… 🚫 (CHF 1) βœ…
Free Maestro debit card βœ… 🚫 🚫 βœ…
Free ATM withdrawals βœ… βœ… (2x) βœ… βœ…
Free cash deposit at ATMs βœ… 🚫 βœ… βœ…
ISR/QR code payment via scan βœ… βœ… βœ… βœ…
eBill support 🚫 βœ… βœ… βœ…
Accessible physically βœ… 🚫 βœ… βœ…
Download of account statements in PDF format βœ… βœ… βœ… βœ…
Live push notifications βœ… β˜‘οΈ (SMS) β˜‘οΈ (email) βœ…
Apple Pay/Google Pay/Samsung Pay βœ… βœ… 🚫 🚫

My free and frugal Swiss bank choice for 2021

Free Swiss Bank Zak β€” MP choice

If you've been following me for some time now, my opinion hasn't changed since last year.

My strategy is to use Zak as my primary Swiss bank, and neon is my secondary Swiss bank in case the first one has a bug with its mobile app (since they are both mobile and online banks by default).

My reasons for choosing Zak remain the same:

  • Need of a Maestro card in the MP family
  • To be able to deposit cash for free
  • Having access to the physical branches of the Bank Cler in case of problems. We fortunately never had a problem until now, but it's always good to have this backup

Promo code Zak and promo code neon, valid for all 2021

As in previous years, I have promo codes for the Team MP members in 2021:

Zak (MP's choice)

The promotion code "ONLYMP" entitles you to CHF 50 of welcome cash (I've been told that the app sometimes shows CHF 25 when you enter the code, but you'll get CHF 50!)

neon

The coupon code "mustachian" gives you CHF 10 of welcome bonus β€” to be entered during the registration because it is not possible afterwards.

As a reminder, I wrote a detailed tutorial on how to create a Swiss bank account at Zak and Neon with screenshots in this blog post.

Conclusion

To summarize my best Swiss bank comparison, and to declare which is the best free Swiss bank 2021, here is what it looks like:

Position Free Swiss Bank
1 Zak
2 neon
3 Raiffeisen
4 BCV

Zak will suit you if you want the "security" side of a Swiss bank established for almost 100 years, but with all the functionalities of a mobile bank β€” or almost, let's hope that eBill comes soon β€” as well as basic options such as cash deposit at the ATM and a Maestro card.
If you couple this with my Swiss credit card strategy with maximized cashback, then you will get the most frugal banking system in Switzerland that will allow you to save the famous CHF 4'440 over the next decade.

Note for the couples: neither Zak nor neon offers a joint account solution with one card per person linked to the same account. How do we deal with it within the MP family?!? In fact, it's quite simple, Mrs. MP is the one most likely to need to withdraw cash at the ATM or use the Maestro card, so she keeps the Zak Maestro card with her. And for all our other expenses, we use our different Swiss credit cards which all offer one card per person, and they're all free :)

As far as the Raiffeisen is concerned, we are not big enough consumers of museums/culture for their offer. And also, we don't want to feel "obliged" to go there just to make it profitable. But it remains a very good frugal option if that's your case.

Finally, the BCV offers a frugal solution with its "Direct banking pack", but knowing that I have other options with Zak and neon, I will abstain as long as it is the case given our past experience with them! What's more, I don't want to have to block CHF 10'000 at a bank :)

And you, which free (or at least frugal) Swiss bank are you with?


N.B. if you choose to open an account with Zak or neon, I will receive the same amount of compensation as your welcome gift β€” without you paying anything extra, of course. I am writing this down transparently so that there is no misunderstanding between us. This kind of partnership is what allows me to finance a part of the costs and especially of my time that I spend writing the blog. Thank you in advance! And as already explained many times, please know that I only share the services and tools that I personally use in real life. I recommend them in the hope that they will be as valuable to you as they are to me.


Some legal addition: the information on Zak is intended exclusively for persons living in Switzerland. A Zak account can only be opened with domicile in Switzerland.


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