Exchange your salary as a Swiss cross-border worker
A Swiss cross-border worker's salary (gross salary - social security contributions - withholding tax depending on the canton) is generally paid in Swiss francs (CHF) by the employer. To receive your salary in euros, two transactions are necessary: an exchange of Swiss francs into euros and a transfer of the funds to the account in euros.
These two transactions are necessary in order to have access to the money:
- in a bank account in the country where the cross-border worker incurs their daily expenses (here, for simplification purposes, we'll be talking about a bank in France, but it's the same for Portugal, Germany or any other country in the European Union),
- and in a currency that they can use in this country (in this case, euros).
Depending on how a cross-border worker is set up with their bank, the exchange transaction can take place before or after the transfer of their salary to their bank.
Below, we present the various options available to a Swiss cross-border worker looking to exchange Swiss francs for euros in order to transfer their salary.
This information is also valid for a Swiss resident looking to exchange Swiss francs for euros and transfer them to a euro account outside of Switzerland, for example, for a real estate purchase.
We'll also tell you what b-sharpe can offer in order to save you money on both money transfers and currency exchanges.
How to transfer your Swiss salary as a cross-border worker?
Find out the options available to Swiss cross-border workers needing to exchange Swiss francs for euros in order to transfer their salaries or transfer money for the purchase or sale of a property.
To receive their Swiss franc salary from their employer, a cross-border worker may ask their company to transfer it: :
- to a Swiss franc account in a Swiss bank
- to a Swiss franc account in a French bank (this is only possible with some French and foreign banks)
- to a Swiss franc account in a specialised institution like b-sharpe, who then takes care of the exchange and transfers the euros to a bank in Switzerland, France or elsewhere.
In practice, the employer only sends the salary to a Swiss bank account (or equivalent) in Swiss francs. The way the cross-border worker is set up (choice 1, 2 or 3) has a significant impact on the amount of fees he or she will pay.
Cross-border workers who conduct manual exchanges by physically going to the exchange office will generally choose Option 1, and withdraw the money in person from their Swiss bank.
If you already have a bank in France and/or Switzerland, b-sharpe can act as an intermediary without you having to change banks.
b-sharpe can also be an alternative to opening a bank account in Switzerland, thus considerably reducing your costs while providing you with the best exchange conditions.
The employer transfers its employees' salaries, whether cross-border worker or resident, to a Swiss franc account.
The main options are as follows:
Opening a Swiss franc account in a Swiss bank
This is the easiest and most flexible solution. However, it involves bank charges (which could be very low depending on the bank), but allows the use of a debit card in Switzerland.
Opening a Swiss franc account at b-sharpe
b-sharpe provides its customers with a non-nominative CHF account, which allows the employer to transfer the salaries of its cross-border workers directly to b-sharpe.
Opening a "technical" Swiss franc account at a French bank
Some French banks offer packaged solutions which provide Swiss employers with a "technical" account in CHF where they can transfer their salaries.
In all cases, a cross-border worker must send a Swiss franc bank account to his or her employer. Having a CHF account at a Swiss bank gives you some flexibility, for both local expenses (using a Maestro card, for example) and for the option of keeping some Swiss franc savings in Switzerland.
Technical accounts should be avoided, as employers are increasingly reluctant to transfer salaries to these accounts.
To keep costs to a minimum, the b-sharpe solution allows you to have your salary transferred directly from your employer. However, the entire salary is exchanged, and cannot be kept in a b-sharpe account.
Depending on the services used, a cross-border worker has two options:
- exchanging Swiss francs for euros in Switzerland,
- make the transfer exchange with a French bank (or European bank).
If you're receiving many euros, we'll only discuss the solution where the exchange is conducted on the Swiss side, for obvious cost reasons.
The exchange of Swiss francs for euros is conducted in the financial institution in Switzerland, with a margin that's generally between 1.6% and 2% (in other words, the bank will deduct this percentage from your salary). Since the margin is included in the exchange rate, it's very difficult to discern it (and no institution will reveal it).
By exchanging your Swiss francs through b-sharpe rather than through your Swiss bank, you'll enjoy very low fees and more attractive exchange rates, with margin fees that are an average of 70% lower. To benefit from this advanta, all you need to do is sign up for free. You won't need to change your bank habits and there are no monthly subscription nor registration fees!
Once the foreign exchange transaction has been conducted, the salary (now in euros) must be repatriated to a bank in France or the European Union.
In this case, it's a simple transaction (a SEPA transfer), which is usually free of charge.
Since Switzerland is part of the SEPA zone, euro transfers from Switzerland to European Union countries are often conducted quickly and free of charge. However, some French banking institutions have decided to apply fees for receiving SEPA transfers from Switzerland.
These banks should be avoided because they're expensive and won't give you much latitude in your exchange transactions (those which are not conducted through them will be charged indirectly via receipt fees).
In this case:
- the employer transfers the salary in Swiss francs directly to b-sharpe's CHF account,
- b-sharpe takes care of exchanging the Swiss francs for euros,
- b-sharpe transfers the euros to the French, German, Italian or European Union bank
Fees to be aware of:
- currency exchange fees: particularly low because the exchange is conducted by b-sharpe (with fees on exchange margins which are on average 70% cheaper than other traditional financial institutions),
- exchange transfer fees: there are no transfer fees from b-sharpe
This solution allows you to reduce your banking costs on the Swiss side, but it has several disadvantages: the entire salary is exchanged, and on the date it's sent by the employer.