A popular destination for both business and pleasure, over two-thirds of Basel’s 1.2 million visitors arrive in Basel from outside of Switzerland.
Many professionals come to Basel due to its home to the highest density of pharmaceutical, life science and chemical industries in the world. But if you’re there as a tourist you won’t be disappointed either. Basel boasts a magnificent Old Town and some 40 museums. Enough to keep anyone busy.
If you’re coming to Basel from outside Switzerland, you’ll need some Swiss Francs in your pocket. Use this guide to avoiding the scams and finding the best places to exchange your cash in Basel.
Wherever your journey starts, you’ll need to know one thing before exchanging currency: the mid-market rate. This is the ‘real’ exchange rate that banks use when trading currencies between themselves and the same one you can find on Google. Although it fluctuates minute by minute, the mid-market rate is the base point from which you can compare the tourist rates you’re offered when you change your cash to the local currency.
The good news is that finding the mid-market exchange rate is not so difficult. The easiest way is to use an online currency converter. Simply select your currency on the left and Swiss Francs (CHF) on the right and press the button to calculate what the current mid-market exchange rate actually is.
Comparing the exchange rates you find in Basel against the mid-market rates you find online will help you to spot the best deals. To find the fairest deal, though, try to avoid airport and hotel exchange services, which often have poorer rates.
Instead of finding a currency exchange office, it can be just as convenient to withdraw cash from an ATM once you're in Basel. Before you travel, find out if your home bank has any partnerships with banks working in Switzerland as these might waive additional withdrawal fees. Be sure also to let your home bank know you’ll be traveling in order to avoid any issues with using your card overseas.
Avoid another foreign exchange rip-off by making sure you're charged in the local currency when taking out cash abroad. ATMs might ask if you’d like to be charged in your home currency for making a withdrawal, but the smart answer is always no. While being charged in your home currency sounds nice, in reality, you agree to an exchange rate not even presented to you on screen. More often than not, the ATM’s bank gives you a poor rate.
Whether you choose an ATM or an exchange service upon arrival, avoid changing more than you need for your trip. Switching your leftover Francs back to your home currency means you'll be hit by conversion charges twice.
|Currency Bureau||Address||Contact Information||Hours of Operation|
|Travelex - Basel Badischer Bahnhof location||Schwarzwaldallee 200, 4058 Basel||+41 61 692 74 83 or Bahnhof.email@example.com||Mon-Sat 6:30-20:30, Sunday 9:00-17:00|
|Travelex - ARB Basel Autobahn location||Grenzuebergang Weil/Basel A5/A1, 4058 Basel||+41 61 631 05 17 Autobahn.Basel1@travelex.com||Everyday 9:00-17:00|
|International Currency Exchange (ICE)||Mulhouse Airport||+33 (0)3 89 90 13 83 firstname.lastname@example.org||Everyday 7:45-23:00|
|Ria Financial||Elsassertrasse 55,Basel BS||+41 61 321 1158||Mon-Fri 9:00-20:00, Saturday 9:00-18:00|
There are plenty of places to choose from when changing cash in Basel. When choosing an exchange service, it’s good to first understand that the quoted fee is usually not the full extent of what you're truly being charged. Even if the sign says ‘zero commission’, you can be sure there’s a charge hidden in the offered exchange rate.
Alternatively - get an even better deal with low, transparent fees by using Transferwise. If you or a friend have a Swiss (CHF) bank account, you can move money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. Get the currency you need, quickly and easily - giving you more time and money to enjoy your trip to Basel.
You can also open TransferWise’s borderless multi-currency accounts, which allows you to send, receive and manage money in over 40 global currencies. In addition, you can get a linked TransferWise debit Mastercard, which you can use your CHF balance to pay directly for goods and services, and beat ATM fees entirely.
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