A roundup of 12 alternatives to Skrill money transfer in the UK, including Wise, Revolut, Western Union, Remitly, and MoneyGram.
If you’re a Swiss expat in the UK, or if you’ve previously lived in Switzerland and still have an active Swiss bank account, you may be wondering: are there Swiss banks in the UK?
This guide walks through the options for Swiss banking products in the UK - and because you’ll find relatively few options for opening a bank account in the UK with a Swiss bank, we’ll also introduce Wise as a smart, low cost way to hold, send, spend and exchange CHF.
If you’re a regular retail customer, you may struggle to find Swiss banks with branches you’re able to walk into and transact in, in the United Kingdom. However, some Swiss banks do have offices in London which deal with corporate and business customers, or offer services to high wealth clients looking to invest in the UK. Let’s walk through some of the Swiss banks with a UK presence, including a bit about the products they offer.
Credit Suisse¹ in the UK caters mainly to private clients, UHNWI (ultra-high-net-worth individuals, usually defined as individuals with 30 million USD or more ready to invest), family offices, and entrepreneurs. Private clients can access services like wealth planning and investments, as well as some financing products.
At the time of writing, Credit Suisse is in the process of being acquired by UBS². The acquisition was announced in March 2023, as part of an emergency rescue deal brokered to protect Credit Suisse clients and stakeholders after the bank ran into financial difficulties. As with any merger or major corporate change, this acquisition may change the Credit Suisse focus in the UK - so do keep an eye on announcements as the process unfolds.
UBS³ has a presence in the UK with a clear focus on wealth management and investment for clients with a high net worth. Packages and options are split based on the investable assets an individual holds, starting from 1 million GBP, and running through to solutions for UHNWI clients with over 20 million GBP to invest.
Julius Baer⁴ has been operating for over 130 years, and in the UK has wealth planning, investing and financing services available. Offices are available in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Belfast and Leeds if you’re looking for a personal service to help you manage your money.
Swissquote Bank has an FCA regulated UK subsidiary - Swissquote Ltd⁵. The services offered are mainly based around asset trading including forex and investments like bonds, indices and commodities. Their specialty is in online trading solutions, although there is a London office which may be helpful if you’re UK based.
So what about using your Swiss card while you’re in the UK? If you’ve previously lived in Switzerland, or if you’re a Swiss national visiting the UK for the long or short term, you should have no real problem using your Swiss issued credit or debit card while you’re here. You’ll need to check the network your card has been issued on, but most major networks like Visa, Mastercard, Maestro and Amex are widely accepted by merchants and ATMs in the UK.
All that said, using your Swiss card in the UK may not be the cheapest way to get cash or spend in stores, thanks to bank foreign transaction fees, and currency exchange rates which may include a markup.
To give an example of how that works, if you have a UBS Switzerland personal account and card, and you hold CHF but spend in GBP in the UK with your card, you’ll usually pay the following fees⁶:
- A foreign transaction fee of up to 1.75%
- A currency exchange markup, which varies based on the value of the transaction, up to an additional 1.7% for payments under 100,000 CHF
These fees aren’t always easy to spot, which can mean you’re paying more than you expect to use your Swiss bank card in the UK, without even knowing it.
The other costs you’ll need to take into account are the fees for withdrawing money from an ATM in the UK. In this case, a withdrawal fee from your own bank may apply, plus an exchange rate markup, and any extra fees the specific ATM operator levies. All in all the costs can mount up pretty quickly. We’ll look at how Wise can help whenever you need to spend foreign currencies, or send payments between the UK and Switzerland, next.
If you hold funds in CHF and need to send money to the UK, or if you’re spending in GBP online or in person when you visit the UK, you may be better off with Wise.
Wise accounts let you hold and exchange 50+ currencies, including CHF and GBP, plus you can get a linked debit card for use in 170+ countries around the world. Switch between currencies in your account, or for spending with your Wise card, with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.41%⁷. That can work out cheaper than using a traditional bank - plus you’ll get some fee free ATM withdrawals every month so you can get your hands on cash when you travel easily.
Wise will not charge you for these withdrawals, but some additional charges may occur from independent ATM networks.
If you’re living internationally, and need to send payments to and from Switzerland - or to 80+ other countries around the world, Wise can also help, with transfers which are fast or even instant⁸, the mid-market rate, and low charges from 0.41%⁷ every time.
While there are some options to access Swiss banking products in the UK, the services available aren’t as broad as you might hope, and the focus tends to be on corporate customers and ultra high net worth individuals looking to invest high amounts. That can mean that a Swiss bank can’t help if what you want is a day to day account to hold and manage CHF as well as GBP. Check out Wise as a smart alternative, where you’ll get a flexible account with low fees, and the mid-market rate whenever you need to convert currencies.
- Credit Suisse
- UBS media announcement - Credit Suisse acquisition
- Julius Baer
- UBS Switzerland - possible extra charges
- Speed: Transaction speed claimed depends on funds availability, approval by Wise’s proprietary verification system and systems availability of our partners’ banking system, and may not be available for all transactions
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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