Credit cards are used all over the world

Credit cards are not just a replacement for cash

The credit card is a worldwide accepted, secure and convenient method of payment.

With credit cards, foreign currency is available on demand without having to change money back.

Hotel and rental car reservations can be guaranteed using credit cards. Cardholders often benefit from special offers.

Travel insurance and assistance are included as additional benefits with many credit cards.

Cardholders receive support all over the world from the 24-hour customer service. Emergency cash is provided, if necessary.

A replacement card is sent in the event of loss. In contrast to cash, debit and prepaid cards there is no loss for the cardholder in the event of theft if the obligation to exercise due diligence has been observed. By contrast, you do not get your cash back.

The foreign currency transaction process

Foreign currency transactions are more complex than transactions at home for card issuers (purchasing, handling and hedging foreign currencies, higher risk of fraud abroad, extra work clarifying queries/complaints with foreign currency transactions). Therefore all issuers collect handling fees with foreign currency transactions.

The card rate (foreign currency rate plus handling fee for foreign currency) is generally better than changing up cash.

The time of conversion depends on when the retailer or his contractual partner (acquirer) submits a transaction for processing to the issuer (issuers like Swisscard). Sometimes, there are a few days to several weeks between paying by credit card and the processing of the transaction by the issuer. The foreign currency rate at the precise time of the electronic processing of a transaction at Swisscard is authoritative. For this reason, different rates may be applied for two purchases made at the same time.

Swisscard bases its calculation of foreign currency rates on various market sources and rates from credit card networks.

Swisscard publishes the rates used on its website The foreign currency rates can be downloaded in PDF format from this page (retrospectively for three months after publication). 

Dynamic Currency Conversion

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) means that the merchant abroad can make an offer to the credit cardholder to calculate the purchase amount in the currency of the credit card account. For example, someone from Switzerland would then pay in Swiss francs instead of euro in Spain.

The customer can decide whether to take up this DCC offer or not.

Swisscard has noted that with DCC, conversion rates are often used that are worse for the customer than the conversion rates charged in Switzerland.

Generally it is more advantageous for the customer to pay the amount in the original currency.