Knowing how to act in a local situation in any country you visit is one of the most confusing parts of traveling.
How much should you tip (or should you at all) in certain situations?
What is the acceptable way to pay or split the bill? Are credit cards accepted or only cash?
In this quick guide, I will try to answer all these questions and more about Switzerland.
As a general rule, there is tipping in Switzerland is not an obligation compared to other countries like the USA and Canada.
People are paid a fair wage for the work they provide and tips are not part of that salary (as is common in North America).
That means that tipping takes on another meaning in such situations.
From my experience living in Switzerland for years this is the general rule you can use:
All of these rules are not expected but are good manners if you have good service. It is always helpful to leave a small tip at any shop, cafe, or restaurant if you like the service and they have a tip jar.
Outside of bars and restaurants, the only other places I have tipped is in a taxi. As these guys also work hard for very little money. So please, tip taxi drivers a little bit if you can.
If you are staying in a top-level hotel (4-5 stars) again there is some expectation of a small tip for hotel staff like doormen or bellhops.
Just remember, in Switzerland tipping is not a big part of the culture here and you don’t have to feel bad when you don’t.
In this section, I will cover a few areas from cash to cards, and how to pay in restaurants
Things have moved forward quite fast since the pandemic hit Switzerland, and in most stores, you can expect to be able to use credit cards. This also includes the supermarkets, which were quite slow to get on board. There are few exceptions like in the mountains at a farmer’s shop or a market stall perhaps, but in general most major credit cards are accepted.
The majority of restaurants will also have a machine, usually mobile. So you won’t lose sight of your card while paying (and in any case, credit card copying is far less of a problem here than in other places I have traveled – and had my card copied/stolen and blocked).
Most of the card machines have contactless payments, so look out for the symbol.
American Express is less widely used, but if you earn more points with your card, it’s always worth asking
Most taxis accept credit cards, but don’t rely on it (in any country). Always have cash on hand, and always ask before taking the taxi.
ATMs also accept credit cards, as well as most payment systems for cash withdrawal.
The Swiss have loved cash for a long long time. In fact, having been here for over 20 years, I found many such money-related technologies
So, when traveling around in Switzerland it pays to have ca little ash on you at all times.
You don’t need to travel with a lot of cash, but also keep in mind that crime is a very minor issue here. So carrying 200 CHF or more at a time (as I usually do) is common and rarely an issue (unless alone in an alley at night!).
Pro Tip: If you want to get mixed notes from an ATM try entering a value like 110 or 210 when you
1. Splitting the
2. Waiters carry around big money purses with lots of change to easily help you split the bill or pay on the spot (at your table). Watch them rummage for the exact change in a massive pot of coins!
3. If you want to use a credit card, just let them know when you get the bill (check) as it saves two trips to get the credit card machine! They will then bring it to your table in 90% of cases to pay in front of them.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!