📌 [17.] Choosing a Swiss Bank and a Swiss Credit Card
I will introduce you to the best private wealth management bank in Switzerland. We only propose banks that do not have a leveraged balance sheet. They should have a minimum Tier-One Capital Ratio of 20%.
As the safety of a Swiss bank is very important to non-resident investors, we avoid banks involved in risky lending activities. We only work with the safest Swiss banks among 284 banks. Only the safest Swiss banks are good enough for our clients. The big Swiss banks are not always the best choice.
The safest banks according to the above criteria are not the two big banks. The Swiss private banks we suggest are, for example, Bank Vontobel, Lombard Odier, Pictet, UBP, and other very safe banks that have core business wealth management.
One or two weeks after the bank account opening, you will get the AMEX Black Card, also known as the Black Centurion Card, or any other of the most prestigious credit cards.
There is no need for an invitation letter. The Swiss private bank will issue a bank guarantee to AMEX. You will pledge your portfolio to the bank as collateral.
Swiss Banks have become more attractive than ever before
Today, the Swiss offshore banking industry is connected with second citizenship and golden visa services. The world has become more insecure and Swiss banks have become more attractive for wealth protection.
Often, the main shareholders of Swiss private banks are families involved in banking for centuries. Among the 104 banks offering private banking services, there are the two big banks. The two big banks are universal banks providing the full range of banking services.
As a non-resident investor, you have no chance of opening an account with one of the Swiss Cantonal banks, for example, the Zurich cantonal bank. Such banks operate in the Swiss cantons. They are oriented to the Canton where they have their head office.
They accepted non-resident investors in the old days but not anymore. Most of them do not have the compliance measures in place to serve non-resident clients. They are focused on the region where they operate. There is no bank branch located in a different canton outside the canton of the cantonal bank.
Many non-resident investors ask me if they can open a bank account with the Swiss National Bank (SNB). For an individual, it is not possible to open a bank account with the SNB.
The SNB conducts Switzerland’s monetary policy as an independent central bank of Switzerland. It is obliged by the Swiss Constitution to act in accordance with the national interests.
National Swiss retail banks
National Swiss retail banks are present in all the regions of the country. Their opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. As a Swiss resident, including an Expat, you can walk into the bank and open a bank account without depositing money immediately.
You can deposit and withdraw cash, ask questions and make an appointment with the retail banker in case of a specific business with the National Swiss retail bank. Swiss bank employees speak English.
The most famous National Swiss retail banks are:
- Credit Suisse
- Migros Bank
- Raiffeisen Bank
However, since the Covid crisis, National Swiss retail banks started offering online and call-center services avoiding physical contact.
Swiss cantonal banks
Swiss Cantonal banks are typically owned by the Canton. The head office is located in Canton’s capital. They are specialized in providing mortgages and savings accounts to the inhabitants of the specific Canton.
List of Cantonal Banks
- Aargauische Kantonalbank (AKB)
- Appenzeller Kantonalbank (APPKB)
- Banca dello Stato del Canton Ticino (Banca Stato)
- Banque Cantonal de Genève (BCGE)
- Banque Cantonale de Neuchâtel (BCN)
- Banque Cantonale du Jura (BCJ)
- Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV)
- Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank (BLKB)
- Basler Kantonalbank (BKB)
- Berner Kantonalbank (BEKB)
- Freiburger Kantonalbank (FKB)
- Glarner Kantonalbank (GKB)
- Graubündner Kantonalbank (GKB)
- Luzerner Kantonalbank (LUKB)
- Nidwaldner Kantonalbank (NKB)
- Obwaldner Kantonalbank (OKB)
- Schaffhauser Kantonalbank (SHKB)
- Schwyzer Kantonalbank (SZKB)
- St. Galler Kantonalbank (SGKB)
- Thurgauer Kantonalbank (TKB)
- Urner Kantonalbank (URKB)
- Walliser Kantonalbank (WKB)
- Zuger Kantonalbank (ZugerKB)
- Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB)
Regional savings banks
Regional savings banks are delivering savings and mortgage services in the specific region they are located in. The services are limited to their skills as they are not internationally oriented. You can have a standard bank account with a debit card. They do not accept non-resident clients. These traditional banks are good for expats and for the locals living not far away from the bank.
The best terms and conditions for a mortgage are most probably offered by one of the regional savings banks as they know the region very well.
Swiss investment banks
Swiss investment banks are banks offering investment banking services, for example, mergers and acquisitions, IPO, etc.
For our private clients, we avoid Swiss investment banks or Swiss banks offering investment banking activities as they are considered high-risk business activities.
Many people think that Swiss investment banks exclusively allow super-wealthy people to invest astronomic amounts of money. This is a misconception.
You can start opening an investment account with Caputo & Partners with a minimum balance of 500,000 CHF only (or counter-value). You don’t have to be super-wealthy to open an account in Switzerland.
The largest private banks in Switzerland
- UBS 2,260 billion USD assets under management
- Credit Suisse 770 billion USD assets under management
- Bank Julius Bär 379,1 billion USD assets under management
- Pictet 213,6 billion USD assets under management
- J. Safra-Sarasin 151,7 billion USD assets under management
The largest private banks in Switzerland are defined by the number of assets under management. From the client’s perspective, the largest private banks are not always the best. There are many other important criteria to consider. That’s where I come into play.
International banks have their physical presence in the two big Swiss cities, Zurich and Geneva. They all have English-speaking staff.
The 10 most known international banks in Switzerland are:
- Banco Santander
- Deutsche Bank
- Barclays Bank
- BNP Paribas
- J. Safra-Sarasin
- Credit Suisse
- Bank Julius Bär
Best Swiss Credit Cards
All Swiss private banks offer credit cards connected to bank accounts. Non-resident investors like to connect their credit cards to their offshore bank accounts for confidentiality reasons.
Caputo & Partners offers the most reputable credit card in the market, the AMEX Black Card, also known as the Centurion Card in conjunction with a bank account in Switzerland with one million CHF.
After the account is open, the assets deposited with the Swiss private bank are pledged in favor of the bank. The bank will issue a bank guarantee to Amex Switzerland enabling the client to use his credit card. A debit card has a monthly credit limit.
For the most prestigious Centurion Card issued by AMEX Switzerland, a deposit of a minimum amount of one million Swiss francs is needed. If you have one million invested with your Swiss bank, you will receive your Centurion Card within one or two weeks only after the termination of the successful bank account opening procedure.