Living and travelling cashless in Switzerland

I've just had some family over from abroad and they thought they could get by on their credit cards. They couldn't.

They needed cash for local events, farm shops and mountain restaurants. They didn't have Twint but many of these places still only take cash.

We made quite a few trips to the ATM machines.

I think it's possible to mostly get by here, especially since Covid really pushed the cashless payments.

The most cash based country I've seen is Austria. It's becoming less every year though.

I get my apple juice from a farm in Jura. Since covid, they put a QR code to pay with twint. The nearby greens farm has a credit card terminal since 5 years ago, and it's self-payment. Only remaining use for cash is having coins the machine that sells milk in a nearby farm.

In the Innerschwyz, there are many mountain restaurants which do not take credit cards. Farm shops only take cash and Twint. Most local festivals don't take cards but some will take Twint.

If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture in the more remote areas, you still need cash.

Are we calling Twint cash or cashless?

It works great for people here but I realise for visitors the lack of Twint could be a pain.

I've been taking visitors around my area the past week and have found that even Twint isn't used at some local events or mountain restaurants. Usually I can get by with my Twint but visitors really still do need cash if they want to immerse in local activities.

The reason why I'm posting this is that my American visitors were surprised that they couldn't just use their cards everywhere.

Same in our rural area. Good.

I think there are quite some costs and minimum sales involved if you have a credit card system for payment. Probably these little farm shops, etc., don't have the turnover to justify the outlay?

They'll need some sort of internet connection for any credit card system. Perhaps they don't have that?

TWINT is, according to their website:

Of course with a sketchy mobile connection in the mountains, TWINT won't work either.

No set up fees but 1.3% + CHF 0.30 per transaction.

I’ve spoken to many local business owners. It’s definitely not about the internet connection. Unless they are using their private phone service, TWINT charges 1.3% of the total amount per transaction, which is enough to keep conservative or low-profit business owners from signing up.

I understand they feel as though they're getting less, many people forget that cash takes time and effort to count up, sort and deposit. For a single owner working somewhere that might not be an issue. When you have multiple staff someone needs to count the money and then deposit it, all with a higher risk of loss or mistakes.

I still like cash though. In a pub during a busy night, cash will get you served faster.

The only time I absolutely need cash is to pay my dog’s hotel (kennels) bills!

I think since the beginning of the year I've only withdrawn cash once, so I've become largely cashless. Businesses, including small one-person affairs and farm shops have mostly recognized that becoming cashless is the way of the future.

Those that haven't ought to remember that handling cash itself costs money. You've got to count it at the end of the day, reconcile it with your till, drive to the bank to deposit it. My local Raiffeisen now charges you to deposit coins (this because I'm the treasurer of my vocal ensemble and our collections often include coins). I would have thought that just the cost of the petrol to and from the bank would cover the fees associated with card payments in many cases.

Not here, but a couple of months ago I was in the Netherlands and at one point wanted to make a purchase in a tourist shop. The shop owner only took the Netherlands equivalent of Twint and no credit cards (this was for a purchase of 30 or so €), so I just went next door. Don't understand how a tourist shop won't make the effort.

Its entirely possible to live cashless in Switzerland. Mostly because remote farm shops and mountain festivals are not exactly a cornerstone of every day live. And that might be the case, but is in no way always true: the last farm shop I visited was a fully automated vending machine in Zug taking credit cards... and I cant recall a mountain restaurant not accepting cards in the last few years. You really have to leave the tourist tracks quite a bit for that.

The only place I find I constantly need cash is Germany... for several reasons. One is that some of the restaurants and even parking houses who have payment terminals only accept bank cards, not credit cards. No problem... so I pay with my Swiss bank card, right? Not happening, because those terminals only accept "EC" cards, the debit cards of Mastercard. My ZKB debit card are issued by Visa and wont work. I do have an EU bank account, but it isnt German... and the debit card is a Visa as well. happened to me twice within the last few months. I fortunately had some cash on me as I really dont know what I could have done at night in a parking house not being able to pay the fee...

Maybe not even a Visa/Mastercard problem, I've come across too many places in Germany that only take German debit cards.

Fully cashless within Europe is completely possible (ime) only in Scandinavia and the UK - increasingly places there don't accept cash any more (try getting food in Borough Market with cash for example).

I honestly dont need any cash in Zurich. Maybe for the parking meter... but there is an App for that...

Were they also surprised that menus weren't in english or that not everyone in innerschwyz could or wanted to speak english with them too?

TBH, you don't leave one of those mountain restaurants with a bill lower than CHF. I'd be surprised too if "no cards".

I once stopped for fuel, a beer, and an icecream in Surselva.

Clerk goes to me in Rumantsch "your card is bent", which I understood, but was at my limit of my Rumantsch so we speant several minutes trying to figure out which language to switch to.

Not sure if I used cash or another card, nor which languge we switched to.


I read the other day a comment from a retired US spy that he always carried the equivalent of currency $200 in his wallet as it allowed him enough money for a couple of days to navigate outside the electronic world.

excellent advice from an expert