The Principality of Liechtenstein is a mere 25 kilometers long, wedged between Austria and Switzerland. It has traditionally been known as a tax haven, making it a financial centre despite its diminutive size.
Whether you’re going to Liechtenstein to work, or just to satisfy your curiosity with a city break, you’re going to need some cash to make the most of it. ATMs are a handy way to withdraw local currency while you’re in Liechtenstein, as long as you avoid common pitfalls and unnecessary fees. Here’s all you need to know about ATMs in Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein uses the Swiss franc (CHF) as currency, and although euros are often accepted in shops, the exchange rates on offer are likely to be poor. Withdrawing CHF as you need it is probably better than spending your euro cash.
If you’re in one of the towns or cities you’ll find a bank pretty easily in the commercial centre - otherwise, find a convenient ATM by using one of the following ATM locators:
You can use most major credit and debit cards in stores and restaurants in towns and tourist areas in Liechtenstein. When it comes to ATMs you’ll struggle to find one which accepts Amex or Discover cards, so if these are your main card providers it’s best to carry cash with you.
However, whatever your preferred card, if the purpose of your visit is to get into the countryside, then it’s worth carrying cash. The more rural you are, the less chance you have of finding a store or restaurant which will take cards.
Wherever you are, find an ATM on the same network as your card, using one of the following locators:
Bank cards issued in Liechtenstein, as in most of the rest of Europe, have chip and pin technology, with a 4 digit PIN code. To use an ATM in Liechtenstein, you’ll need a PIN code, but cards with chip and pin technology from other European countries, the UK or Australia, for example, are widely accepted.
If you have an American magnetic stripe card and don’t usually require a PIN, you can have a PIN issued by your bank before you travel.
If your home bank has a cash withdrawal limit then that’ll dictate what you can withdraw from ATMs in Liechtenstein.
Otherwise, the ATM provider’s rules will apply. Expect limits per transaction and also daily limits for withdrawals. If you’re not sure of the maximum you can take out, check with the bank which operates the ATM.
Using a bank card abroad is convenient and easy but your holiday could be ruined if your home bank’s fraud department limits or blocks your card, because they’ve identified a change in the spending pattern. They do this for your safety, but it can be extremely frustrating.
Avoid issues when you travel, by letting your bank know your plans in advance. Just call into your local branch or look for an online form, which is usually available by logging into your online banking.
Bank ATMs in Liechtenstein may charge a fee per withdrawal, depending on where your card was issued, and through which bank. It’s worth taking time to understand all the likely fees, so you can get the best deal possible.
A common, and costly, issue for travellers is something called Dynamic currency conversion (DCC). This is where you’re asked if you want to pay for your transaction in your home currency as opposed to the local currency, CHF. It’s packaged up as a service - you can see the cost in your home currency so you don’t need to worry about the exchange rates.
However, there’s a catch. DCC transactions often don’t use the real, mid-market rate - the one you’ll find if you google it. By choosing to pay in your home currency, you give the foreign bank or ATM provider permission to decide the exchange rate for you. They can mark up the rate and pocket the difference as their profit. Pay in the local currency instead, and you’ll almost always get a fairer rate on the exchange.
Check the fees your own bank charges for overseas ATM withdrawals, before you go. They’re different for every account, but you can find everything you need in your terms and conditions document, which is usually available online.
You might find that you’re also charged by the local provider when you use ATMs in Liechtenstein. This could be a flat fee or a percentage of the total amount you withdraw and depends on the bank or ATM provider you choose. ATMs are usually free to holders of local cards, or sometimes those issued in Switzerland.
Even if you can’t entirely avoid ATM fees in Liechtenstein, you can at least reduce them with a few simple tricks.
If you bank with a global brand or a bank with a presence in Switzerland, you might find that your home bank works in partnership with an institution in Liechtenstein to offer free or cheap international cash withdrawals to their customers overseas. Ask before you go, and always choose an ATM run by a partner bank to benefit.
Not all bank cards are made equal. If you have several bank accounts, you’ll find that each has its own charging structure for international cash withdrawals, and some are much cheaper than others. Do some research in advance, so you can use the one which will leave you with the most cash in your pocket to enjoy your trip.
Foreign currency credit card cash advances are usually an expensive choice, and best avoided.
Often the worst deals on ATMs are to be found in tourist locations, pubs, nightclubs and other places with a captive audience. Don’t assume all the fees are the same - in fact, some ATM providers will charge more for their service, especially if they know you’ll be having too much of a good time to bother reading the fee structure.
Remember our friend DCC? If you’re asked whether you want to pay in your home currency, just say no. Choosing the local currency is always the smarter choice. Otherwise, you could be hit with high fees and poor exchange rates because of DCC.
TransferWise offers a different, convenient and cheap way to get the cash you need for your trip to Liechtenstein. You’ll get your cash converted using the real, mid-market exchange rate, with just a transparent fixed fee, which is set out upfront.
If you have a bank account in Liechtenstein, or know someone who does, you can transfer money between accounts ahead of time, and withdraw CHF from ATMs during your stay. Some Swiss issued bank accounts also offer fee-free cash withdrawal in Liechtenstein, so if you have an account with a Swiss bank you might also find that this could help you to avoid unnecessary ATM fees.
Alternatively, you might be able to benefit even more with a borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise. You can keep your cash in Swiss francs, or any one of dozens of different currencies, with no monthly account fee to pay. You also get a handy debit card, to use directly in shops and restaurants, so you don’t have to carry too much cash about with you.
Avoid DCC, and ATMs are a convenient and - usually - fairly priced way to get the cash you need for a visit to Liechtenstein. Alternatively, use TransferWise, to send money to a local account, or spend using your borderless multi-currency account card, and avoid ATMs altogether.
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