The Swiss Franc - Everything You Need to Know About Switzerland's Currency

Information on the Swiss Franc denominations, exchange rates and currency transfers...

Swiss Franc – everything you need to know about Swiss currency  

 

Moving money to or from Switzerland? Then it’s time to get to grips with the Swiss Franc!

Our handy guide gives you all the information you need to know about the Swiss Franc (sometimes known as the ‘Swissie’).

Swiss Franc denominations

One of the first things to know about the Swiss Franc is the different denominations you’ll come across…

Coins1 franc, 2 franc, 5 francs, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents

Notes – 10 francs, 20 francs, 50 francs, 100 francs, 200 francs, 1000 francs

Fun(ish) fact... The 1000 francs banknote is the most circulated denomination, accounting for over 60% of circulation. This is despite the fact that very few shops accept it for payment!

What a difference a rate makes

Exchange rates come into play any time you make an international currency transfer.

If you feel pretty confident with exchange rates and how they work move on to the next section, but if you’re new to currency transfers and would like an overview read on…

In basic terms an exchange rate is the value of one currency relative to another. So, for example, if you had Pounds but wanted Swiss Francs the GBP/CHF exchange rate would tell you how many Swiss Francs each Pound would buy you.

However, exchange rates are far from static. In fact they’re always moving, and this constant movement means the value of the Swiss Franc to the Pound does change day to day.

The larger the amount you’re transferring the bigger the difference a discrepancy in the exchange rate can make.

For example...

Currency pair

Transfer amount

Exchange rate

Total

GBP/CHF

£250,000

1.20

300,000 francs

GBP/CHF

£250,000

1.15

287,500 francs

 

 

Difference

12,500 francs

 

Securing the right exchange rate is crucial if you want to make your money go further.

Fun(ish) fact... Swiss bills are less likely to be counterfeited than Euro, the US Dollar and British Pound banknotes.

Historic Swiss Franc movement

Exchange rates can move by as much as 5% in a matter of days during periods of heightened volatility (political shifts, economic crises etc.) but if we look back over 10 years you can see just how much rates can change.

GBP/CHF

Over the course of a decade the GBP/CHF exchange rate traded at lows of 1.12 and highs of 1.57.

That’s a whopping difference of 0.45 – or 45,000 francs on a 100,000 francs transfer!   

EUR/CHF

The EUR/CHF exchange rate, meanwhile, has traded at both 0.98 and 1.33 over the last decade – a movement of 35 cents.

 

Both the GBP/CHF and EUR/CHF exchange rates are trading at lower levels now than they were back in 2011.

This means you’d receive fewer Swiss Francs for your transfer than you would have a decade ago.

Fun(ish) fact... The term "franc" comes from Latin “Francorum rex”, meaning King of Franks.

What causes Swiss Franc movement?

We’ve already established that exchange rates are always moving, but different factors drive different currencies.

So, what are the main triggers of Swiss Franc fluctuations?

Safe-haven currency

A safe-haven is an investment that is expected to retain or increase in value during times of market turbulence. The safe-haven status of the Swiss Franc is supported by a stable Swiss government, a strong financial system and confidence in the Swiss National Bank (SNB). In times of volatility, uncertainty or unrest people tend to turn away from higher risk currencies and towards safe havens like the Swiss Franc, driving up their value. 

Gold prices

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has one of the largest gold reserves in the world. Latest reports suggest that the SNB holds more than 1,000 tonnes of gold in its possession. Subsequently, when gold prices rise the reserves of the Swiss National Bank gain buying power and Swiss franc becomes more attractive to investors and currency traders.

 

Swiss Franc currency transfers

Our top tips

1.     Beware interbank exchange rates – rates quoted online are often the ‘interbank’ rate. This is the rate at which banks and financial institutions buy currency and is not available to private individuals or businesses.

2.     Look into your options and explore different providers – currency specialists may offer better rates and more support than your bank.

3.     Keep an eye on the currency market – move your money when the exchange rate is in your favour.

4.     Find out more about services like spot and forward contracts (see below for more information!)

5.     Plan your currency transfers in advance – give yourself time to secure the right rate and the right service.   

Swiss Franc currency transfer services

If you want to get more for your money when sending funds to Switzerland there are a number of services you can take advantage of.

Currency service

What do you need to know?

Spot contract

Use a spot contract when you need to move money ‘on the spot’. Transfers will be made at the current exchange rate and will take between 24-48 hours depending on the country and currencies involved.

Forward contract

Fix an exchange rate up to two years ahead of making a currency transfer.

While fixing the rate in this way would mean you’d miss out if the exchange rate strengthened, you’d be protected from any negative shifts.

Limit order

Target a stronger exchange rate. Set the rate you want to achieve and your transfer will be triggered automatically if the market hits that level.

Rate alert

Set your target rate and get notified by text or email if the market moves to that level.

Regular payments

Automate regular overseas transfers. Remove all the hassle and benefit from excellent exchange rates and no transfer fees.

Currency wallets

Some international payment specialists allow you to buy currency in advance and keep it in a currency wallet until you need it. This allows you to take advantage of favourable rates and can speed up future transfers.

 

Swiss Franc currency transfer FAQs

How long do currency transfers to Switzerland take?

The speed of your currency transfer will depend on the provider you use and the countries/currencies involved. A GBP/CHF transfer should typically take between 24-48 hours, although it can be quicker if you have funds on account.

Is transferring money to Switzerland safe?

As long as you use a reputable provider your transfer should be safe and secure. Look for a well-established currency provider who’s regulated by the right bodies and has good online customer reviews.

How much do currency transfers to Switzerland cost?

If you use a bank to move money to Switzerland you may be charged a transfer fee. This can be a flat rate or a percentage of the transfer amount.

Some specialist transfer providers don’t charge anything outside of the exchange rate they quote, and as they work on smaller margins than banks you’ll receive a more competitive rate.

What is a margin and how does it affect my exchange rate?

Banks and other large financial institutions buy currency at the interbank exchange rate and add on a ‘margin’ before selling it on to consumers. The larger the margin applied the less competitive the exchange rate, and the less you’ll receive.

How much can I transfer to Switzerland?

Again this depends on the provider you use, but many have no upper transfer limit when it comes to moving money to Switzerland.

 

This information has been provided by TorFX

If you need to move money to or from Switzerland our currency partner TorFX can help.

TorFX have been offering their customers great exchange rates, no transfer fees and personal account management since 2004.

They’ve won the Moneyfacts Consumer ‘International Money Transfer Provider of the Year’ award for six years running (2016 – 2021) and hold an ‘Excellent’ five-star rating on Trustpilot.

Get a quote now to find out how much you could save.

You can also create an account with them in two minutes online or over the phone. Once you’ve created an account you’ll be able to check live exchange rates 24/7 and make fast, hassle free currency transfers.