Consumers in the United States can purchase Swiss francs from most major banks to spend or invest as they see fit. Or, they can buy Swiss francs as a currency investment with an exchange-traded fund. Foreign currency investments can produce profits, but they also carry the risk of losses due to the potential value growth of the U.S. dollar compared to the franc.
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Buy Francs from Banks
The majority of large U.S. banks will sell foreign currency to account holders, who can then either place the money in one of those bank accounts or keep the physical money to use during a trip to Switzerland. Banks also can inform customers of the currency exchange rate. Bank rules vary concerning foreign currency exchanges. Bank of America, for example, allows account holders to order up to 1,000 U.S. dollars of exchanged Francs for mail delivery, with larger transactions having to take place at a banking center. When you go to your bank, ask to see the teller who handles currency exchanges. If you don't have an account at a major bank, consider opening one because the non-banking methods of cash exchange -- including airport kiosks and foreign automated teller machines -- come with high fees.
Buy Francs for investment
Foreign currency exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, provide investors an alternative to simply buying Francs and sticking the money in a bank account for long-term safekeeping. For example, the Currency Shares brokerage firm sells an ETF under the name Swiss Franc Trust. The ETF tracks the performance of the Franc compared to the U.S. dollar. To purchase an ETF, call your preferred broker or visit its website to set up an account. Do research beforehand on the broker's minimum deposit requirements and the fees for ETF trading. Fees typically range from nothing to $45, depending on the broker.