Saving money in Switzerland
Because of the generally high cost of living in Switzerland, opportunities to save money are a welcome relief. There are several ways to save money in Switzerland - all it takes is a bit of research and the right information.
Saving money on culture, leisure & entertainment
The Museum Passport offers discounted entry rates to museums. Pair it with a combination train offer from SBB/CFF. Make sure to check out the reduced prices to fairs, shows, festivals and sports events on the SBB/CFF Events page. The Zurich Card includes free public transport, entrance to many of Zurich's museums, and other discounts on cultural activities and cinemas. Kultur Legi (DE) also lists offers in Canton Zurich.
Prozentbuch (DE) sells discount voucher booklets for restaurants, nightclubs and leisure activities in Zurich. Essen gehn! (DE) is another discount book with free meal vouchers for two people to eat at participating Bern restaurants. Finally, websites such as Groupon or Deindeal (DE/FR) run discounted leisure promotions throughout Switzerland.
Saving money on clothes & household goods
Seasonal sales in Switzerland are held in January and June/July so it can be worth the wait to find bargains during these months. Department Stores are a good place to start. Another great place to search for affordable hidden gems is in Zurich's "brokenstubes" or second hand shops. These can be excellent places to find china, glassware, books, furniture and more.
Find more shopping suggestions in the article Shopping in Zurich.
Saving money on travel & transport
Even though petrol is cheaper in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe, using public transport instead of owning a car can save you money. The Swiss public transport system is efficient, reliable, clean and safe. Read more about it in the article Getting around Zurich. Another affordable transport alternative is Mobility car sharing.
SBB/CFF offers several travelcards, supersaver tickets, and saving options for holidays and day trips. The half-price fare card and the junior card provide particularly good value for getting around Switzerland. Learn about more ticket options in the article Swiss Public Transport System.
Saving money on accommodation
As with retail sales, waiting before booking holiday accommodation can pay off. If your plans are flexible, booking accommodation at the last minute through Swiss Hotel Portal or Swiss budget hotels can be worthwhile. Also try searching for budget hotels, restaurants and holiday deals in Switzerland on REKA or considering staying in a hostel.
Supermarkets & loyalty programs
Because of their bulk buying power, prices in supermarkets are can sometimes be lower than in smaller shops. Search for weekly special deals on Aktionis (DE) to save on basic household items. Items that are close to their sell-by date will be marked down. Many larger retailers run points-based loyalty programmes with cash-back vouchers and other offers. Two such programs are the Migros Cumulus card (DE/FR/IT) and the Coop Supercard (DE/FR/IT).
Read more about expenses and prices in Zurich in the article Cost of living in Zurich.
Shopping in countries across the Swiss border helps to save money on groceries, clothing and household goods. The tax-free limit is CHF 300 per person. However, there are some special regulations concerning certain goods for tourist traffic across the border.
Cost saving tip: The VAT (Value-added tax) on items purchased outside of Switzerland can often be reclaimed. Information leaflets are available at customs offices at border crossings. Note: L and G permit holding residents cannot claim VAT.
Online shops like Ricardo (DE/FR), Olx (DE/FR) and ebay.ch (DE) can also be great places to find deals. However, when purchasing items online, make sure to check that they will be shipped from within Switzerland. If not, they will be subject to potentially steep VAT fees.
Save money on phone calls
Comparing prices of products and services
Price comparison sites such as Comparis or Toppreise are useful tools to consult in order to find the best prices on a range of products and services. Einkaufen und Sparen (DE) is a programme to help you receive packages from Germany that do not normally ship here. Weisse Preise (DE) lists products at prices cheaper than abroad.
Air travel bargains
Frequent flyer programmes offer air travel savings and special deals from partners. One commonly used air miles programme in Switzerland is Lufthansa's Miles and More. Easy Jet is another popular choice for cheap air travel. Catch flights from Basel, Geneva and limited flights from Zurich. Also check Vornesitzen (DE) for travel deals.