Currency in Switzerland - A Full Guide 2024

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
December 4, 2023

Planning a trip to Switzerland? Whether you’re heading there for work or pleasure, you’ll need to know how to pay your way as you travel.

This guide covers all you’ll need to know about the official currency in Switzerland, where to get it and how to keep your costs down during your trip.

What is the currency in Switzerland?

The official currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc, which is issued and overseen by the Swiss National Bank. If you’re buying your travel money online you may also see the official code being shown - CHF. In stores and restaurants, Swiss Franc prices are likely to use the currency symbol CHF.

Once you’re in Switzerland you’ll see costs of items shown in CHF and you’ll need to start paying for things in local coins and notes which are often found in the following denominations:

banknotes - 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 CHF and coins - 5, 10, 20 rappen; ½, 1, 2, 5 CHF.

Can you officially pay in CAD when you are in Switzerland?

You’re unlikely to be able to officially transact in CAD in Switzerland, which is why it’s time to start getting used to CHF and learning more about the currency exchange rates so you’ll know what you’re spending on your trip.

This guide will walk through all you need to know, including Canadian dollar/Swiss Franc rates and where best to get your travel money from.

Swiss Franc
Currency nameSwiss Franc
SubunitRappen (German)
Central BankSwiss National Bank
Best travel cards to take to SwitzerlandWise

CHF coins and banknotes

Here’s a full rundown of the CHF coins and banknotes you’ll need to be familiar with when you’re in Switzerland.

CHF banknotesCHF coins
banknotes - 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 CHFcoins - 5, 10, 20 rappen; ½, 1, 2, 5 CHF

History of Swiss Franc currency

The Swiss Franc (CHF) was introduced in 1850, consolidating Switzerland's diverse currencies into one. Known for its stability, the franc is a safe-haven currency, reflecting Switzerland's political neutrality and fiscal prudence.

Is CAD accepted in Switzerland?

As we’ve seen, the official currency in Switzerland is CHF. If you carry CAD with you on your trip, you’ll probably need to exchange it before you can spend.

Sometimes when you’re away on a trip abroad you’ll find that merchants will take payments in a selection of major foreign currencies. However, the chances are that where this is offered, you won’t get a good exchange rate for your CAD. Planning smart and convenient ways to spend in CHF when you’re away is likely to mean you save on costs in the end.

Usually, having a few different ways to pay and get cash is the best option for travelers and tourists. That’s because you’ll have a back up plan in case one payment method isn’t accepted for any reason, and you can pick the method that’s best suited to the specific transaction. Having a multi-currency card from a provider like Wise, plus your normal bank debit card, and some local cash in CHF should mean you’ve always got options. You can use your cash for small purchases and tipping, and make low cost payments and cash withdrawals with your multi-currency card, while keeping your bank card in reserve for emergencies.

Use a travel card on your next trip to Switzerland

Using a travel debit card in Switzerland is usually cheap, safe and convenient. A few providers in the UK offer multi-currency cards which come with a linked payment account that lets you convert, hold and spend in CHF. That allows you to add a balance in CAD and switch over to CHF to lock in the exchange rate and set your travel budget.

Once you have CHF in your account there are no extra fees to make payments, and you’ll not have foreign transaction charges to worry about, either.

Here’s a quick overview of a couple of handy travel debit cards you may want to order and use in Switzerland.

Wise travel card

Order a Wise travel card online or in the Wise app, to hold and exchange 40+ currencies and manage your money from your phone. You’ll be able to spend conveniently in CHF - and all currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup.

Card holders get some free ATM withdrawals available every month, and there’s no annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement.

Read a full Wise review here

Go to Wise
Wise prosWise cons

✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate

✅ No foreign transaction fees apply

✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies

✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies

✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees

❌ Card order fee applies

❌ ATM fees apply once you’ve exhausted your free monthly withdrawals 

What is the currency exchange rate for £ 1 CAD/CHF?

It’s helpful to get to know the live CAD/CHF rate so you can easily calculate how much things are costing you while you’re on your trip abroad. The rate you need to focus on is the mid market rate, which is the one banks and major currency services get when buying and selling currencies. This rate isn’t always passed on to customers. Instead you may find that the CAD/CHF rate you get when exchanging travel cash includes a markup - an extra fee.

Find the CAD/CHF mid-market rate from a currency conversion site or a website like this, so you can keep an eye on the market and compare the rates you’re offered as you travel against the mid-market rate easily.

Should I exchange CAD to CHF before traveling to Switzerland?

Because Switzerland sees many tourists from the UK every year you might find you’re better off if you exchange your currency when you get to Switzerland rather than worrying about getting your cash sorted out before you leave.

Get familiar with the exchange rates offered locally to you, and online, so you can decide whether it’s worth switching some funds in advance of travel, using a card to pay while you’re away, or converting cash on arrival. Both in the UK and in Switzerland, steer clear of exchanging currency at the airport. A captive market means that CAD/CHF rates are often worse in the airport than in city centers.

Tips for exchanging money in Switzerland

Cards are widely accepted in Switzerland, but you’ll still need to watch the exchange rate given when making a transaction from CAD to CHF. Some merchants offer to let you pay in CAD instead of CHF, but this will usually mean paying more because of dynamic currency conversion costs.

Best place to exchange currency in Switzerland

You can get your CHF in Switzerland in a couple of ways.

You’ll be able to use a travel debit card from a provider like [wise-affiliate-name-links] to make convenient payments and cash withdrawals and to convert funds online.

Or if you prefer an offline solution you can carry some cash in CAD to exchange when you arrive. Currency exchange providers are often in airports and hotels, although the exchange shops in a city center are likely to be cheaper overall.

How to pay in Switzerland?

You’ll need to have CHF to spend in Switzerland. However, generally having a few different payment methods is a good plan. That means that if a merchant won't accept one, you’ve got a back up. It’s also reassuring to know you have a different way to pay if you were unlucky enough to have a card or some travel cash stolen. Here are your key payment options in Switzerland.

1. Debit or credit card

Card payments can be helpful in shops, restaurants and hotels but there will be places where cash is also important. Order a travel card from a provider like Wise for cheap and fast transactions, including card payments and cash withdrawals as and when you need travel money in CHF.

2. CHF cash

  • Cash is widely used in Switzerland, so it’s worth having some with you at all times. You may want to exchange money to CHF before you leave, but it’s also usually convenient to make ATM withdrawals locally once you arrive in Switzerland.

  • You’ll usually find you can use a card to make payments in Switzerland, but carrying some cash in CHF is also reassuring. It’s often easier for tipping and making smaller purchases, plus you’ve got a nice backup if your card is ever out of action for some reason.

  • It’s a smart idea to have both a card and some cash in CHF when you’re in Switzerland. Some merchants will prefer cash, but having a card for higher value payments and in busier more tourist places is also convenient. Consider using a travel card from a provider like Wise alongside your cash for flexibility.

Paying for the trip in CAD

If you’re paying for things in Switzerland with a CAD bank card you might find a foreign transaction fee is added. This pushes up your costs when you spend in a foreign currency, and can be tricky to calculate.

Travel debit cards don’t always work this way. When you make purchases in Switzerland using the [wise-affiliate-name-links] card you can either choose to convert your account balance to CHF in advance in the Wise app, or just leave your balance in CAD and let the card handle the transaction when you pay. You’ll always get the lowest available fee and there are no extra foreign transaction charges.

Conclusion - Currency in Switzerland

You won’t be able to pay in CAD when you visit Switzerland - so learning about the currency you need is essential. Whether you decide to use a travel debit card from a service like [wise-affiliate-name-links], or stock up on CHF in cash in advance, knowing the mid-market exchange rate can help you get the best available deal. Use this guide to learn all you need to know about the options, rates and fees for exchanging CAD to CHF, and make your money go further while you’re away.

The official currency in Switzerland is CHF. You can’t usually pay in CAD in Switzerland, so you’ll need to plan in advance to get your travel money sorted. Consider ordering a travel debit card from a service like Wise, for low cost conversions to CHF and convenient spending and withdrawals - and remember that knowing the CAD to CHF mid-market exchange rate is essential to check you’re getting a fair deal on currency exchange.

FAQ - Currency in Switzerland

What is the currency in Switzerland called?

The official currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc. You may also see the code CHF and the currency symbol CHF.

What's the currency in Bern?

The official currency in Bern is the Swiss Franc. You’ll only be able to spend in CHF while you’re there.

What is the old Switzerland currency?

Today the currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc. If you’re worried about currencies changing, why not get a travel debit card from a service like [wise-affiliate-name-links] which will automatically pick the currency needed in your destination when making a payment - with no penalties or inflated fees.

What is the best currency to take to Switzerland?

You’ll only be able to spend in CHF while you’re in Switzerland. Carrying some money in cash and using a travel debit card from a service like [wise-affiliate-name-links] is usually the best way to spend while you’re away from home.