PostFinance international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

6 minute read

PostFinance offers a broad range of ways to make payments and transfer money abroad, through local post offices, online or by completing a request from. If you’re planning on using your PostFinance account to make or receive an international money transfer, it’s a good idea to understand a bit about how these transactions work.

A lot depends on where you’re sending money to, and in what currency. The time it takes to move your money, and what it’ll cost you can vary depending on the details of your transaction. Understanding your options means that you can pick the best service based on your needs, avoiding surprises and unnecessary fees.

Here’s all you need to know about making an international transfer with PostFinance.

How do you make an international bank transfer with PostFinance?

You can make an international money transfer using the Giro international service, as well as transfer cash using the Cash International service, or Western Union. In a small number of countries, you can send money directly to someone’s mobile phone using Mobile Money Transfer - although this is a fairly limited service in terms of the amount you can transfer, and where it can go.

For a regular money transfer using the bank’s Giro international service, you can process your transaction online, in a post office, or by writing to the bank using a specific form.

What do I need in order to make an international money transfer?

The exact information you’re asked for will depend on whether you’re transferring within the SEPA (Single European Payment Area) area, or outside. Wherever your money is headed, if you’re using the Giro international service, you can expect to need the following:

  • The transfer amount and currency
  • The full name of the person you’re sending the money to, as written on the account
  • The recipient’s account number for international payments. If you’re sending money to Europe, you’ll need their IBAN
  • Depending on where your money is being transferred to, you might need the SWIFT/BIC code, or routing number if you’re transferring to the USA

What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?

If you are expecting to receive an international money transfer with PostFinance, you’ll need to give the sender the following:

  • Your full name as it appears on your bank account
  • Your IBAN
  • Your bank name and address
  • Your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code
  • The amount to be transferred - and the currency you’d like to receive. Don’t forget to take into account any charges when you agree on the amount.

You’ll find your IBAN on any bank statement, by logging into the online banking system, or checking with your bank. You can use this helpful tool to find or check your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code.

How long does an international bank transfer with PostFinance take?

If you’re sending money within the SEPA area using the Giro international service, it’ll arrive within 1 working day. Payments to countries outside of the SEPA area can take up to 4 working days to be received.

Is there any way to make a faster transfer for an extra fee?

You can make a Giro International urgent transfer for an additional fee. This usually arrives on the same day as it is processed, although PostFinance states that some delays may occur at the recipient end.

What are the fees?

PostFinance’s normal Giro international transfer rates can vary depending on which country you’re sending the money to and in which currency. It can also depend on whether you set up the transfer online or in a branch. You’ll also have the option to cover the entire costs of the transfer, have the recipient cover them or split the fees involved.

PostFinance International transfer fees table

Before you start, it’s a good plan to understand the fees involved, as there are various differences based on whether you’re transferring online or in a branch.

PostFinance Bank Transaction Fee
Incoming international transfer PostFinance doesn’t list any charges for receipt of international transfers, but the exact terms will depend on the account type you have. Keep in mind however that intermediary banks might levy their own fees along the way.
Outgoing international transfer Payments made online to European accounts in SEPA-compliant banks are free. Payments made to other countries online cost Fr.2. If you’re in a hurry you can pay Fr.12 for an urgent payment.To process payments by standing order it’ll cost you Fr.5, or Fr.15 for an urgent payment.In a post office it’ll cost you Fr.12 to transfer money from your account. If you’re paying in cash it’ll cost Fr.20, however if it’s urgent it’ll be Fr.30. For an urgent payment made using a debit card, the cost will be Fr.22. If you choose to use the Cash International service, it’ll cost between Fr.6-Fr.12, depending on how you set up the transfer. Western Union charges a minimum of Fr.12, with costs rising depending on the amount being transferred.

PostFinance exchange rates

If your transfer will be received in another currency, it’s not only the flat fees which are important. As a sender, you also need to know if the exchange rate used is fair, as this will be one of the factors that decide exactly how much money lands in your recipient’s account.

This can get complicated because although PostFinance can tell you their daily exchange rate, it’s not necessarily PostFinance that sets the exchange rate used in an international transfer. An intermediary bank dealing with the transaction as it moves through the banking system might choose the exchange rate to apply, and this can vary widely from the exchange rate given on Google. In this case, you’re unlikely to find that you’re getting a great deal.

Additional fees from PostFinance

PostFinance will levy additional charges in addition to the usual transfer charges if they don’t receive the full, correct details needed for the transfer - so it’s well worth making sure you get it right the first time. You’ll also find there’s a charge if you need to make any changes to the details or inquire about your transfer after it’s already processed.

You could also find that if your transfer is processed using the SWIFT system, banks other than PostFinance can also add their own flat fees. That’s because using the SWIFT system means that there are often several banks involved in getting your money to the right place, and they can also take a cut from the amount you send in return for helping to process the transaction. This is beyond the control of PostFinance and they might not be able to tell you ahead of time exactly what other fees might be applied.

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

If you’re worried about complex pricing and potential hidden fees, then it’s worth knowing all your options. You might well find that you can get a better deal using a specialist service in international money transfers like TransferWise. TransferWise uses the real exchange rate to process your transfer and adds only a small transparent fee per transaction.

For people who live and work overseas, or who like to travel regularly, a TransferWise borderless account is another useful tool because you can hold your cash in several different currencies and exchange it using the best available rates whenever you need it. If you’re paid in the EU, the UK, the US, or Australia but don’t actually live there, you can receive your salary as a local payment into your borderless account. It’s a great option for remote or freelance workers, because it cuts out international transfers entirely, so there are no extra, hidden fees to worry about.

See for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise.

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

If you have specific questions about your transfer, you can talk to the advisors at PostFinance:

  • Get help in person at a PostFinance branch or a post office
  • PostFinance phone number - 0848 888 710 from within Switzerland, or +41 58 667 99 85 if you’re abroad

International money transfer fees can add up. If you’re one of the many cross border commuters who live and work across Switzerland and the surrounding countries, or even if you just like to take regular foreign trips, you can save yourself some money if you choose a safe, efficient and fairly priced international money transfer service like TransferWise.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more