Mastercard and Visa debit cards in Switzerland: everything you need to know about benefits, special features and fees.

8 December 2021

Mastercard & Visa Debitkarte leicht erklärt | treibauf

More and more banks in Switzerland are now gradually replacing their Maestro and V PAY cards with the new Mastercard and Visa debit cards. But what does this mean for merchants and end customers? Here you will find everything you need to know about the special features of the new debit cards and the differences compared to bank cards or credit cards, as well as what fees merchants in Switzerland can expect to incur for transactions using the new debit card.

Content of the article

    What is a debit card?

    A debit card is a bank card used as a cashless payment method. When making a payment in a shop or restaurant or on the internet, the sum of money is debited directly from the corresponding bank account, unlike a credit card, and transferred to the payee’s account.

    What is the difference between a debit card and a Maestro or V PAY card?

    In contrast to the more familiar Maestro or V PAY card, the new debit cards from Mastercard and Visa offer customers a greater degree of flexibility and payment security.

    Using a Mastercard or Visa debit card, cardholders can, for example:

    • make payments worldwide via online shops
    • withdraw money abroad at significantly lower rates
    • make payments even more easily in shops and restaurants abroad


    Modern security features also offer customers protection against risks, such as their debit card being used by third parties. With its “Zero Liability” pledge, Visa sets the liability limit for cardholders for unauthorised payments at CHF 0.00.

    Find out how the fees for merchants differ here.

    Will the Maestro or V PAY card be replaced by the new debit cards?

    Many large banks in Switzerland, such as Credit Suisse, PostFinance or UBS, began to offer their customers the new Debit Mastercard or Visa Debit in 2021. Some banks will only accept the Maestro and V PAY cards issued to date until the end of 2021. The newly issued Mastercard and Visa debit cards will therefore gradually replace the currently used Maestro and V PAY cards.

    What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

    Unlike a credit card, when you use the Debit Mastercard or Visa Debit, the payment amounts for each transaction are debited directly from the associated bank account. Payments made in brick-and-mortar retail and restaurants or over the internet using the new debit cards from Mastercard and Visa incur lower fees than credit cards.

    How are Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit different?

    Debit MastercardVisa Debit
    • Einsetzbar beim Online-Shopping
    • Weltweit (kontaktlos) bezahlen und Geld abheben
    • Mobiles Bezahlen per Smartphone/ Smartwatch
    GebührenKeine Jahresgebühr
    Kartenzahlung weltweit kostenlos
    • Kostenlose Zahlungen in der Eurozone
    • 1,75% Gebühr bei Zahlungen ausserhalb der Eurozone
    Sicherheit2-Faktor-Authentifizierung im Online-Kauf
    Moderne Sicherheitsfeatures verhindern Fremdnutzung der eigenen Karte
    • „Zero Liability“-Versprechen mit einer Haftungsgrenze von 0 CHF(Schutz vor Fremdnutzung)
    • Visa Token-Technologie

    What fees will merchants incur compared to the Maestro card or credit cards?

    Debit Mastercard vs Maestro card

    Merchants pay a commission of around 0.5% of the sale for payments made using the Mastercard debit card. By contrast, between 0.23 and 0.30% of the respective payment amount is charged for each transaction using a Maestro card.

    In brick-and-mortar retail, merchants clearly feel the effect of the higher fees associated with the new debit card compared to the Maestro card, particularly for transactions involving high amounts. For example, the commission for the Debit Mastercard on a sale totalling CHF 2’600 is about 50 times higher than that of the Maestro card.

    Visa Debit vs V PAY/Maestro card

    With the Visa debit card, the transaction fee for merchants is around 1%, which is also significantly higher than the fees for the V PAY/Maestro card.

    Debit card vs credit card


    For transactions paid for using credit cards (from Mastercard or Visa), the fees for merchants are between 1 and 3% of the sale. Merchants tend to pay lower fees for purchases in online shops paid for using the new Mastercard or Visa debit card, as Maestro and V Pay cards could not be used to pay for online purchases.

    What other consequences do the new debit cards have for merchants?

    The roll-out of the new Mastercard and Visa debit cards poses a number of different challenges for merchants, in addition to the new fee structures.

    During settlement

    In the case of older terminal models, problems may arise when the transaction is being processed if the new cards are not recognised correctly.

    However, upgrading to a newer terminal can quickly become expensive, as integration can involve considerable costs.

    To minimise the costs associated with integrating new card terminals, there is the established software solution Pepper from treibauf, which, as a universal cash register interface, simplifies the process of connecting new terminals to the respective cash register system and reduces the time needed to just a few minutes.

    During processing

    The new fee structures for Mastercard and Visa debit cards make it even more difficult for merchants to keep track of the different commissions and fees for the different EFT options.

    What is needed here is a software that helps controlling and accounting departments to keep track of the payment methods used by customers and the fees that are incurred in the process.

    For example, the Matchbox reconciliation software offered by treibauf does not just automate reconciliation of customer payments with the corresponding amounts paid by the payment processors into the accounts; by processing all important payment data into a clear reconciliation dashboard, users can also benefit from useful information and a greater degree of transparency – providing a key cornerstone for precise controlling and improved decision-making.


    While the new Mastercard and Visa debit cards provide cardholders with more options and benefits, both internationally and online, merchants in brick-and-mortar retail may incur significantly higher fees compared to the Maestro or V PAY Card. On the other hand, the fees for online merchants can be lower compared to credit cards.

    treibauf’s software solutions not only help merchants to integrate new terminals for processing the new debit cards, they also allow them to keep track of the EFT fees they incur.

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