The basic unit of Swiss currency is the Swiss franc (F), which is made up of 100 centimes. Bank notes are issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 francs, and coins are minted as 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes, and 1, 2, and 5 francs.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
Warning: Some establishments in Switzerland might not accept your credit card unless you have a computer chip embedded in it. The reason? To cut down on credit card fraud. More and more places in Switzerland are moving from the magnetic strip credit card to the new system of Chip-and-PIN.
In the changeover in technology, some retailers have falsely concluded that they can no longer take swipe cards, or can't take signature cards that don't have PINs anymore.
For the time being, both the new and old cards are accepted in shops, hotels, and restaurants regardless of whether they have the new Chip-and-PIN machines installed.
In the interim between traditional swipe credit cards and those with an embedded computer chip, here's what you can do to protect yourself:
- Get a four-digit PIN from your credit card's issuing bank before leaving home, or call the number on the back of each card and ask for a four-digit PIN.
- Keep an eye out for the right logo displayed in a retailer's window. You want Visa or MasterCard, not Maestro, Visa Electron, or Carte Bleue.
- Know that your Amex card will work where an Amex logo is displayed, but the card is not as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard.
- As a last resort, make sure you have enough cash to cover your purchase.
For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to http://www.frommers.com/go/mobile/ and click on the Travel Tools icon.
What Things Cost in Switzerland
- Taxi from the airport to city center 55F
- Train service from airport to city 6F
- Double room at Hotel du Theatre (moderate) 195F
- Double room at X-Tra Hotel Limmat (inexpensive) 166F
- Dinner for one, without wine, at Mère Catherine (moderate) 24F-45F
- Glass of beer 6.50F
- Coca-Cola in a restaurant 5F
- Cup of coffee in a cafe 4.50F
- Admission to Swiss National Museum 10F
- Movie ticket 16F
- Theater ticket 23F
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.