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Which Swiss banks offer the highest interest rates on savings?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Which Swiss banks offer the highest interest rates on savings?
1,000-franc notes are back in circulation. after being stashed in safe deposit boxes. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland has raised the interest on savings, which means that some banks now offer a higher yield on assets. We look at where you can get more bang for your franc from January 2023.

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After seven years of negative interest rates, Swiss National Bank (SNB) raised its rates to 0.5 percent in September.

It did so at the time for the same reason that other national banks, including the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve in the US have done so: price stability.

On December 15th, SNB announced a further 0.5-percent increase in its key interest rate — to 1 percent.

"In doing so, [the central bank] is countering increased inflationary pressure and a further spread of inflation,” the SNB said in a press release

Switzerland’s inflation rate is currently at 3 percent, though the SNB expects it to drop to 2.4 percent in 2023 and to 1.8 percent in 2024; as a comparison, inflation stood at 0.58 percent in 2021.

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SNB’s announcement has prompted many people in Switzerland to take the money they had accumulated in past years back to the bank; the central bank estimates this amount at 10 billion francs in total, which was kept at home or in safe deposit boxes while the interest rate was in the negative territory.

This has resulted in the re-emergence of 1,000-franc banknotes, which had virtually disappeared from circulation since less money was being deposited in the banks. 

READ MORE: OPINION: Why Switzerland needs to scrap its fabled 1,000 franc note 

Does this mean now is a good time to get a higher yield from your money?

Yes, but it depends on several factors, such as what bank you use and what kind of accounts you have there.

Large financial institutions like UBS, Credit Suisse and Postfinance have not yet announced whether, or when, they will offer higher rates on savings.

Some cantonal and small commercial banks, however, already have. This is what you can expect from 2023:

  • At Raiffeisen, interest will increase to 0.3 percent, against 0.25 percent so far
  • Valiant bank will pay savings account holders 0.55 percent for assets of up to 20,000 francs
  • At Bank Cler, people who open a new account from January 1st will receive 1 percent more in the first year, in addition to the base rate of 0.3 percent
  • The Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) will increase its current interest rate of 0.01 percent for savings accounts. Customers will get 0.50 percent on assets up to 25,000 francs and 0.25 percent up to 250,000 francs
  • The Luzerner Kantonalbank will offer an interest rate of 0.6 percent instead of 0.3 percent on savings up to 100,000 francs 
  • Customers at the Zug Kantonalbank will receive up to 0.75 percent interest from February 2023. On savings “plus” accounts, interest will increase to 0.65 percent for accounts of up to 100,000 francs. Higher interest rates is good news for savers, but not so much for mortgage holders.

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How does it impact mortgages?

Higher interest rates are good news for savers, but not so much for mortgage holders.

While it is not yet known how the latest hike will impact mortgages, September increases have had repercussions on loans — more so on those with variable than fixed rates.

“It is not excluded that mortgage interest rates will reach 3 to 4 percent next year", from the current 2.6 to 3.1 percent, according to Donato Scognamiglio, director of real estate platform Iazi.

It is also likely that higher mortgages will affect tenants as well, since landlords may raise rents to compensate for increased interest rates.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What the steep rise in Swiss interest rates could mean for you

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