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Created on 16.03.2023

The pros and cons of different electronic payment methods

What are the most popular electronic payment methods in Switzerland? What are these payment methods best suited to? What are the pros and cons of debit cards, credit cards and TWINT? We compare these online payment methods.

Swiss customers have access to an increasing number of payment methods. But in what scenario are you best off using online banking? When is a debit card or credit card the better choice? And what is TWINT suitable for? We have compared the most popular electronic payment methods for you.

What are classed as electronic payment methods, and what aren’t?

With electronic payment methods, the money also moves electronically. Electronic money – also known as e-money – is digital cash, and is linked to the monetary value of legal tender. E-money is saved on cards, online accounts or mobile phones. Cards not counted as e-money are those used solely for specific payment purposes (e.g. phone or gift cards), and bitcoins as well. The virtual currency can be transferred, but no digital cash is involved. This is because bitcoins are their own currency, i.e. a digital representation of a value. The same of course applies to other cryptocurrencies. 

The pros and cons of debit cards: paying and withdrawing money

Withdrawing money from ATMs in Switzerland or abroad, paying in a shop or restaurant or paying an invoice in an online shop: debit cards are a very popular payment method with the Swiss. As the account is debited directly at the time of purchase, no debts are incurred.

    • In Switzerland, you can use a debit card to withdraw money at a low price, or even for free,
    • and you can also make contactless payments up to a certain limit without needing to enter your PIN.
    • If you use debit cards like the PostFinance Card with the Mastercard logo, the Debit Mastercard or Visa Debit, you can make online purchases almost anywhere in the world. Some online retailers use 3-D Secure to make card payments more secure.
    • Debit cards rarely offer value-added services such as insurance or bonus programmes.
    • Thieves can use these cards to make contactless payments up to the limit.
    • Depending on the provider, you may incur annual fees or costs when paying or withdrawing money, and you are charged additional fees by the local provider abroad.

Useful to know: this is what the PostFinance Card offers

If you have a private account in CHF with PostFinance, you will also get the PostFinance Card. Using the new card (combined with the Debit Mastercard), you can make contactless payments (up to the limit of CHF 100) anywhere in the world in online shops or in stores, and you don’t need to enter your PIN. What’s more, you can also withdraw cash anywhere in the world from ATMs displaying the Mastercard logo. Withdrawing cash in Swiss francs is free of all charge for all banking packages, except for the Smart banking package. However, third-party fees apply to everyone abroad.

The pros and cons of credit cards: reserve, book and pay

Booking a flight, making an advance payment for a hotel or booking a rental car: when preparing for a trip, a credit card is often required as an electronic payment method for online bookings in particular. Unlike with a debit card, nothing is charged to your card on purchase. The expenses are collected by the credit card company, and usually billed to you once a month.

    • Credit cards are accepted in nearly all online shops as an electronic payment method.
    • Most credit cards can be used to make contactless payments, and in Switzerland you can often pay up to a limit of CHF 80 without needing your PIN.
    • More often than not, you can benefit from value-added services such as bonus miles, cashback or insurance.
    • You are charged annual costs and usage fees. Caution is especially advised when you are abroad.
    • Given the high costs involved, using a credit card to withdraw cash is generally not recommended. NB: you can withdraw money worldwide free of charge using the PostFinance Platinum card.
    • Thieves can use the card to make contactless payments.

Useful to know: PostFinance’s credit cards

The annual fee for the main card is CHF 50 for the Classic and Standard credit cards, CHF 100 for the gold credit card, CHF 250 for the Platinum credit card. With the SmartPlus, SmartStudents and SmartYoung banking packages, you benefit from an annual discount of CHF 50. Plus: if you use a PostFinance credit card to make an online or in-store purchase, you get up to 1% cashback.

The pros and cons of prepaid credit cards: full cost control during the payment process

For those who don’t want to spend more than they’ve budgeted, a prepaid credit card is a very suitable electronic payment method. However, these cards are not accepted everywhere. When making hotel or rental car bookings, for instance, “proper” credit cards are frequently required.

    • In Switzerland, you can usually make contactless payments up to a limit of CHF 80 without needing to enter your PIN.
    • The card is accepted in many online shops as a payment method.
    • You cannot get into debt with a prepaid credit card.
    • This payment method can only be used if you have enough credit.
    • Prepaid cards are not suitable for withdrawing cash given the high fees involved,
    • and they are often more expensive than credit cards in Switzerland. There are additional fees alongside the annual costs, e. g. for using or topping up your card.

Useful to know: the PostFinance Mastercard Value prepaid card

You get full cost control with the Mastercard Value prepaid card. This makes it an ideal electronic payment method for children and teenagers. PostFinance offers the prepaid card in its SmartPlus, SmartYoung and SmartStudents banking packages free of charge. Moreover, the annual price for the main card is CHF 50, and you also get up to 0.6% turnover reimbursement.


Not sure if you have a credit card, debit card or prepaid card? Normally, you can find this information on the card itself. If it is a debit card, it will normally say “debit” on the card, if it is a prepaid card, “prepaid” will normally be printed on it, and if you see the word “credit”, then yours is a credit card. If there is nothing at all on the card, it is most likely a credit card.

The pros and cons of TWINT: a mobile phone and wallet combined

Splitting the bill after an enjoyable meal in a restaurant with friends, paying for a shopping trip or asking a work colleague to contribute to the costs of a baby gift: a digital wallet is particularly suitable for small sums, making it a handy companion when you’re on the go. Additionally: more and more online shops offer TWINT as an electronic payment method. Making a payment is really easy because all customers need to do is scan the QR code.

    • If TWINT is connected to the account, you can be charged on purchase.
    • It is easy to send and receive money.
    • There are no annual fees or any added costs.
    • TWINT cannot be used abroad at present.
    • Paying by QR code requires a stable mobile phone connection.
    • If you select the neutral TWINT App, you must top it up with credit to be able to use TWINT.

Useful to know: this is what the PostFinance TWINT App can be used for

The PostFinance TWINT App can be connected to a private account with ease. This allows you to pay, send money or request money with ease at the checkout, at ATMs or in online shops, plus you can download customer cards, or activate coupons and stamp cards. The TWINT partner functions offer even more possibilities.

The pros and cons of online banking: transfer money from account to account

Setting up a standing order for your monthly rent, saving yourself from exceeding the card limit when it comes to larger sums or making advance payments: in these instances, online banking is a suitable electronic payment method. Pay your debts quickly and easily – either at your computer or on your mobile phone. Whereas domestic payments are fairly quick, it can take international payments (depending on the order) up to two working days until the money reaches the recipient.

    • Make quick and straightforward payments any time, any place.
    • Perfect for larger sums and standing orders.
    • With online banking, access and account management is generally free of charge.
    • Due to multi-level security systems, logging in is more complicated than with other payment solutions, but logging in via the app can help.
    • Online banking requires a stable Internet or mobile phone connection.
    • Scammers can try to gain access.

Useful to know: carry out financial transactions online with e-finance

There is free e-finance access to every account with PostFinance. If you have several accounts, you can manage them with the same login. In the settings, you can set notifications or adjust the limit, amongst other things. PostFinance also offers damage cover of up to CHF 100,000 in the event of viruses or Trojans.


Seeing as each electronic payment method comes with its own pros and cons, and acceptance varies, it is best to use a combination of these methods. If you have online banking, a debit card and credit card, plus a mobile payment solution, you will be ready for all eventualities.

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