How best to pay when abroad

Cash for taxis and tipping

You will need to use some cash in any country – to pay for a taxi or leave a tip, for example. Cash payments are not subject to fees and they work without electronic support. This is particularly advantageous in countries with little infrastructure. One disadvantage: once stolen, cash is usually gone forever.

In many countries, especially outside the EU, shopkeepers, restaurants and taxis are suspicious of large banknotes for fear of counterfeiting. You can avoid awkward situations if you take care to carry enough small change. Bonus tip: handle banknotes carefully. Crumpled notes are frowned upon in some countries.

Debit card for cash withdrawals

ATMs can be found around the world. Withdraw cash by debit, not credit card, to keep fees low. Because you are charged for each withdrawal, you're better off withdrawing one large amount than several smaller ones.

Credit card for reservations and car rentals

Credit cards are essential for some hotel and car reservations. In addition, some car rental companies waive the usual deposit and offer additional discounts if you pay by credit card. Some cards include limited liability insurance for rental cars. You should clarify this in advance.

Pay in local currency

If you pay by credit card abroad, you'll often be asked whether you want to settle the amount in local currency or in Swiss francs. Rule of thumb: choose the local currency, because it is usually not possible to know which exchange rate is applied locally and what fees are incurred.

Have foreign currency delivered to your home

Because fees are charged for each currency exchange, we recommend you obtain no more foreign currency than you'll need. You can usually withdraw euros from ATMs in Switzerland. Less well known is that many banks as well as the SBB will deliver a wide range of foreign currencies to your home. On the other hand, expect exchange offices in foreign airports and hotels to offer inflated exchange rates. Additionally, certain countries do not allow their currency to be imported or exported. You should clarify this before your departure.

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