My computer is fixed. Yeah! It took a little longer than I thought because our friend did not have the right part. He knew what part I needed, though, so he wrote it down for me. I took it to the computer store and presented the written part number to the nice man behind the counter.

This man, by the way, spoke English, and apologized to me for his subject/verb order. “I need to work on my English!” he said. I thought that if I could get both a subject and a verb in German I wouldn’t care about the proper order, I’d just be thrilled I’d communicated something.

Anyway, the computer store (and I find this amazing), does not accept credit cards. Cash or debit only. They sell computers! And big screen televisions! And fancy computer equipment.

I can only imagine that a place like that in America would go out of business if it didn’t accept credit.

Fortunately, my part was only 29.90CHF, so not buying on credit wasn’t a hardship. Still, I was amazed. They definitely have a different attitude towards credit over here.

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12 thoughts on “Random Swiss Fact

  1. I’m an American living in the Netherlands, and the situation here is very similar. It seems really strange to an American! I think at this point, Americans are very used to using credit even if we don’t need it — for example, my parents charge their groceries to their credit card and pay off the whole balance each month, to get the credit card rewards.

  2. Marina,

    I was the same as your parents. Everything I bought went on my Amazon credit card and then I used the gift certificates to buy Christmas presents. I paid my bills in full every month, so no real debt.

    It’s very different to carry cash.

  3. If I was walking around with enough cash to buy a big screen TV I would be paranoid all the time.

  4. While in Switzerland I did at times carry enough cash to buy a big screen TV and it did make me paranoid.

    I kept a large non-folding wallet in my coat breast pocket to carry cash. Never been the money clip type. Swiss paper money varies in size with denomination and won’t fit in a wallet typically carried by an American male. I still carry a pocket coin purse and miss the larger coins. Swiss paper money starts at 10 Franks. They use coin for the 1, 2 and 5 Frank denominations. Wisely they got rid of their “penny” some time ago.

  5. How were they affected by the credit crisis? My guess is not at all. 🙂

  6. My guess is that they are just avoiding the percentage markup rate charged to vendors by the CC companies

    I don’t think I have seen no credit card stores here (Canada) but there are many places with cash / credit either discounts or higher CC prices

  7. Remember in the not too distant past we didn’t have credit cards 🙁

    Have you been to a Lidl supermarket, there’s only about 5,000 or more of them around Europe, they don’t take credit cards.

  8. Germany’s the same.

    Here in New Zealand we were early on the EFTPOS bandwagon. (That’s debit cards). I got my first one in 1983, at 13.

    I remember when I went to the UK, sitting down at the HSBC in Regent Street and being told by the woman who issued my cards, that in the UK they didn’t just EFTPOS small amounts like we would – there would be a 5 or 10 pound minimum. I carried a twenty pound cash reserve in my purse as a result.

    Here in New Zealand, a few health practitioners don’t accept credit cards. It makes me think twice about going to my osteopath (who only takes debit cards), I go to the chiropractor (who takes a card) instead. And one local cafe has a $20 minimum for credit cards, to cover transaction costs.

    The move to credit cards for groceries took place here about ten years ago, and now I use my credit card for everything – from $3.70 cups of coffee upwards. In part that’s due to transaction fees – we pay 25-50 cents per bank transaction for debit cards, whereas credit cards the fee is on the merchant.

    That said, only spending money you had has a lot to recommend it. And, now that I think about it, I’m not that wild about channelling transaction fees to offshore (US and Australian ) banks.

  9. that’s quite interesting, that in in New Zealand you’re charged for each transaction on the debit card

    here in Australia, with my bank (which happens to be ANZ – the bank of Australia and New Zealand), I pay a monthly fee ($5) and have unlimited transactions on my account at no extra cost – thats transferring between my accounts, speaking to a teller, writing cheques, buying groceries, making withdrawls, anything really.

    The only time I get an extra charge is when I get cash out from another banks ATM – just recently we used to only be charged by our own bank, roughly $2.50 each time (i guess you could call it a disloyalty fee – the banks just claim its to cover the cost of transferring money). now we get charged by both our own bank, and the bank/company that owns the ATM.

    on the credit card side of things – most places accept credit for large purchases. Many petrol stations and restuarants charge extra depending on the type of credit card (american express and diners card get the biggest fee added). Smaller shops may not accept credit cards, and occassionally have an EFTPOS minimum purchase of $5.

  10. I’m Swedish, living in UK and one of the things I found very different when I was new was the attitudes to cash/credit. Both systems have things going for them, but to me it was really alien to spend money that I didn’t actually have, even if I was good for it so I’ve opted for debit card and cash.

    I was really surprised to come across overdrafts as well as the punishing amount of time it takes from time of payment to withdrawal and surprize overdrafts. If I pay a bill from my Swedish account, the money will leave my account and be in the creditor’s account immediately, whereas here it will be a four day process, during which my balance checks will show the money to be still in the account. Now, in Sweden, if I tried to pay a bill from that account or use the debit card when there wasn’t enough in the account it would simply be declined – here it would be paid out and give me a punishing unarranged overdraft charge. Because when setting up the account, I foolishly believed that choosing a “no overdraft” account meant that it wouldn’t be possible to overdraw – that it would in fact be declined. Not so. So what’s the frakking point?

    So basically, I don’t trust my statements or my bank to have a clue about how much money I actually have to spend, and my MO is to not spend money I don’t have- so I barely dare to touch any of it. Good for saving. Bad for living.

    So while a system based on debit/cash looks impractical to someone used to credit, the credit thingy is equally surreal and frustrating if you are used to it being the other way around. It’s probably simply a question of what you are used to. And of course – the cash/debit thing works best if the bank is capable of instant transfer.

  11. In my humble opinion, using a credit card, even when paying it back in full each month, is akin to borrowing from one’s 401(k).

    “Someone” once wrote that she thought borrowing from one’s 401(k) is a bad idea.

    For me, I spend cash. It’s win-win-win: (1) My purchase is immediately completely paid for, (2) The merchant has their money right away and pays no fees. That’s good for keeping them in business. (3) I don’t contribute to this US (worldwide?) credit insanity that’s going on.

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