In Switzerland, banks do rent out safe deposit boxes for valuables. I am thinking of storing a small fraction of my assets there as cash. To diversify my portfolio, in addition to a savings account at a bank, I own crypto, precious metals and stocks.

My savings account is already not earning any interest and the hurdles for negative interest rates are getting lower every quarter.

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    Safe deposit boxes aren’t safe (2009) — "when Philip Poniz opened Box 105 at his local Wells Fargo, he discovered it was empty — and that he was totally unprotected by federal law." That was in the US. Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 10:17
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    Note that it's always a good idea to keep some cash at home (but that's typically for extended "power out" emergencies; in Switzerland, that might be a giant blizzard).
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 13:58

2 Answers 2


The disadvantages are cost, zero interest for your savings and inflation. As you already noticed, with negative interest rates there is a crossover point where it is cheaper to lock up cash than keep it on your savings account.
You might get into trouble with anti money laundering regulation when you take a large sum of physical cash and deposit it into a bank account again at some time in the future.

Additionally, there is the risk of governments seizing the contents of such boxes. The deposit box might also become temporarily unavailable in case the banking system has a meltdown and bank closing. We are talking about catastrophic cases which are rather unlikely and no worse than money in a banking account, but you might still want to consider this to avoid a false sense of security. This also applies to precious metals.

In general, keeping cash - no matter whether physical or in a bank account - is a rather bad investment due to low interest rates. So unless you need this (e.g. as the down payment for a home in the near future) you should consider to invest it properly

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    From the "bank closing" perspective: Switzerland has a deposit insurance scheme guaranteeing savings up to a certain limit should a bank fail, but I suspect this will only apply to "normal" deposits rather than the contents of safe-deposit boxes. So you do lose a certain amount of protection in some circumstances, Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 8:40
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    note: in sensible countries (not the USA) "anti-money-laundering regulation" exists to find out whether you are laundering money, not to assume it, so you may expect to get your cash back after that, but maybe not without a lengthy court process. They can't just go "oh, big deposit, yoink, that's mine now." Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 8:56
  • @user253751 Where can I read more about the US situation described in your comment?
    – Flux
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 6:00
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I'm ignoring the saving money vs. investing discussion.

Yes, limits for negative interest are getting lower year after year. I doubt that negative interest will be charged under CHF 100'000 in the near future by most banks (exceptions already exist, but you can avoid them). If you get multiple savings accounts from different banks, you can evade those negative interests easily. Another advantage of this approach is the better deposit insurance which is up to CHF 100'000 per customer per bank.

If you choose among the few banks that still pay a little bit of interest, you get at least a little bit of reward and you avoid the risk/costs of deposit boxes.

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