Here’s a list of the top banks in Switzerland:
- UBS (United Bank Switzerland)
- Credit Suisse
There are also canton banks and Post Finance.
I chose UBS because a friend had it and said the web banking was good, a branch was nearby and the website was easy to browse and navigate. And most importantly, the first year was free. After that it’s going to be 10 CHF/month if I have more than 10000 CHF in the account or 15 or 20 CHF otherwise.
Another option is Post Finance which have just 5 CHF/month if you have less than 7500 CHF in your account.
I decided to take advantage of having everything free for a year. Though someone warned me that it was a bit of a hassle for her to move from UBS to Post Finance after a year.
I used the UBS website to find a branch nearest to me. Since banks usually work from 9 AM to 5 PM, I went there on a lunch break. But I did see that the UBS branch is open from 6 AM till 10 PM every day at the airport.
I went to the bank and told the lady that I want to open a bank account. She wanted to see my permit first. I showed her the temporary one I got that morning. Right away she asked me if I am American, have a green card or have to pay taxes in the US. I said no to all of these and she told me to go to the first floor and she will join me shortly.
She took me to a meeting room, took out a portfolio and notebook. Before starting she wanted to know if I’ll be studying or working, how long I plan on staying here to find out my needs. Then she offered me a package and wanted to go over it. I’d researched it on their website already so that was fine. She went over the offer. Blah blah.
She also asked me how much I’ll be making, whether I’m planning on transfering large amounts of money to or from the account (over 20000 CHF), whether my tax residence will only be Switzerland.
Then she turned on the computer, took my ID card and opened the account.
She made a copy of my ID card and my permit.
I was asked whether to mail everything to the address on my permit or I can come to the branch. I chose to pick it up myself. I was told they’d call me in 3-4 days and one of the cards would take another week. They’d order a credit card only when I get the real permit. So they’ll call me twice.
When I had not received a call that week, I went to the bank on the next Monday and got my V PAY card.
I could deposit money at an ATM. I could also do transfers at their Multimat machines.
On Tuesday I received a bunch of checques? and a PIN code, but no card or banking login.
The next day I received my Prepaid Mastercard.
The day after that I received an access card + device. I also received a registered letter with the PIN code for the access card. I had to go to the post office the next day and get that letter.
Then I could finally log in.
I now have
* Personal account (for my salary)
* Savings account (5 CHF fee for taking out money)
* V Pay card, contactless, tied to my personal account, can’t pay online
* Prepaid mastercard, contactless, can pay online but obviously have to transfer money into it