Swiss Cash

At home it’s the debit card that gets me through most of my routine purchases – grocery store, Target, coffee, eating out. Here, it’s more of a cash thing. The other morning I bought a cup of tea at the Migros for CHF 3 and used a CHF 100 bill to pay for it. The checker did not blink an eye. No need to apologize for breaking a big bill here. When we were out for our hot chocolate, it was always cash. The waitress came by with her huge leather wallet, said the amount and we countered with a higher number by rounding up (for a modest tip). Cash was paid, change was given, all was finished.

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I have almost forgotten how American and Swiss cash are different since I have gotten so used to the CHF. First of all, the smallest bill is CHF 10. The 5 comes in a big honking coin that has a good heft in your hand. There is a CHF 2 as well as a CHF 1 coin. The Franc breaks down into Rappen.

The best part about Rappen are that prices here are always in multiples of 5. No pricing of 4.97 or such. So now, instead of cursing the penny pile-up in the coin purse, we bemoan the 5 Rappen coins, so small.

Then there is the 50 Rappen coin, smaller than an American dime, almost like a 5 Rappen coin. I always have to look carefully to make sure I’ve got the right one, even though the 5 and the 50 are different colors from each other.

There is no equivalent to a quarter. There is a 20 Rappen coin, however.

The US nickel in the middle shows the scale. Top row l to r: CHF 5, then 2, then 1. Bottom row l to r: 50 Rappen, 20, then a 10 and finally the pesky 5.

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The bills are different sizes. The larger the denomination, the larger the bill. And pretty colors, too! The CHF 100 bill features the Swiss artist, Giacometti.

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