Everything you need to know about the 3rd pillar A


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Enjoying your old age, securing your financial future and fulfilling your deepest desires - who doesn't want to make the most of life, including retirement, while enjoying immediate tax benefits? By investing in Pillar 3A, you can make this wish come true. Here, you'll find the answers to the main concerns regarding this topic.

What is Pillar 3A?

In Switzerland, Pillar 3A is a component of the private pension system. In principle, the Swiss pension system is based on these three pillars:
  • 1st pillar: state pension provision (AHV / IV)
  • 2nd pillar: occupational pension provision (pension fund or BVG)
  • 3rd pillar: private pension provision, which includes Pillar 3A and Pillar 3B.
It is recommended to save in the 3rd pillar to maintain a customary standard of living in retirement. The third pillar is made up of pillar 3A as well as pillar 3B.

What are the benefits of pillar 3A?

With Pillar 3A, you decide for yourself how much to contribute monthly, or annually, when you open the 3rd pillar.
  • Taxation: You save tax-wise, since you deduct the amount from the deposit on your tax return.
  • Amount of savings: you decide for yourself how much you want to save within a defined limit. Even the smallest amounts can be useful.
  • Early withdrawal: In certain exceptional cases - particularly when financing a home - it is possible to withdraw money from Pillar 3A.
  • Retirement: You can withdraw Pillar 3A funds up to 5 years before your retirement age.

What is the maximum deductible amount for 2024 on a 3rd Pillar A?

For the year 2024, deductible ceiling is 7,056 francs for an employed person and 35,280 francs for a self-employed person.

How can I reduce my tax bill with Pillar 3A?

By making pension contributions to Pillar 3A, you benefit from certain tax privileges. In fact, your pension contributions can be deducted in full from your income tax (IR), up to the authorized ceiling. You will receive annual proof of payment, which you can enclose with your tax return.
To take advantage of the savings over the current tax period, make sure you have paid the desired amount into your third pillar before mid-December.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that you will be taxed all at once when withdrawing money from Pillar 3A.
In contrast, Pillar 3B does not normally provide for any tax privileges, except in the case where the person resides on the cantons of Geneva or Fribourg.
However, and unlike Pillar 3A, you will not be subject to taxation when withdrawing your saved capital .

At what age should you open a 3rd Pillar A?

Generally speaking, for your pension provision, it's best to start saving in a Pillar 3A as early as possible. To do this, you need to be employed in Switzerland, and your income must be subject to AHV.

What type of 3A product is best for me?

Banks and insurers can offer different options linked to a 3A pillar:

Interest-bearing 3A account:

With an interest-bearing 3a account, you earn slightly more interest on your balance than you would on a conventional bank savings account.

Guaranteed-rate 3A pillar

While part of the contribution is earmarked for risk cover, the savings portion of the cover generates a fixed return and is therefore used to prepare for retirement. Some insurers also offer savings contracts that provide for premium waiver only.

Fund-linked Pillar 3A

The savings portion of the premium is invested in funds in the hope of a better return. Some policies also provide for the payment of a minimum amount at maturity.

What is pure risk 3rd pillar A?

This insurance is designed to cover the risk associated with incapacity and/or possible death. It does not constitute real savings, and consequently its premiums are reduced. Note that this is not a pension product, so you won't have any capital when you retire.

How to choose between the different 3A pillars?

Selecting the best 3A product will depend on your situation, as well as the risks and amounts you wish to cover.
If you just want to save without paying tax and don't want to be covered by insurance, a bank formula is more than sufficient. You can adjust the payments you make to your bank to suit your financial situation at any time, however, in this case, you will be entirely responsible for managing your savings.
For you, an insurance solution has the advantage of enabling you to cope with a possible loss of income in the event of incapacity for work and, if necessary, to cover your next of kin following a death. Note that with a 3A pension plan, you are committed for the long term and obliged to pay the contributions.

When will I be able to make Pillar 3A withdrawals?

Generally, you will be able to withdraw Pillar 3A funds when you retire, or at most within five years of retirement (age 64 for women, age 65 for men).
You will be able to recover your savings early if:
  • You wish to acquire or build a home.
  • You are going to move permanently.
  • You plan to become self-employed.
  • You wish to buy back the loss of contribution years from a 2nd pillar pension fund.
  • You are receiving a full disability pension and the risk associated with incapacity
If you choose to continue working beyond the legal retirement age, you will be able to maintain your pension contributions and defer repayment of your funds for up to 5 years.
In the case of the 3rd pillar (Pillar 3B), no withdrawal conditions apply. You can therefore withdraw your funds from the 3B pension product at any time. Should you require further information, one of our experts will contact you to guide you through the process.

What happens to my Pillar 3a assets following my death?

What happens to my Pillar 3a assets following my death? If the insured person dies, the retirement savings sum or the insured death benefit amount is paid directly to his/her spouse or registered partner. In the absence of a declared partner or spouse, entitlement is equal between the persons listed below:
  • Direct descendants
  • Individuals who were principally dependent on the latter
  • Living companions who have lived with the beneficiary without a break for at least the five years prior to his/her death or who are responsible for children resulting from this relationship.
  • Subsequent beneficiaries are both parents, siblings and other persons who are heirs to the insured person.

What is the maximum number of 3a accounts I can have?

In Switzerland, the 3A account limit varies according to your domicile. Some cantonal tax authorities limit it.
However, it's generally permissible - even advisable - to have several accounts. By spreading the withdrawal of your retirement capital over several tax years, you can avoid progressive taxation: the higher the capital withdrawn in the same year, the higher the taxation.
If in doubt, don't hesitate to contact the administration in your canton of residence.

What are the differences between 3rd pillar A and 3rd pillar B?

Pillar 3A: Linked pension provision

Pillar 3A allows you to save during your working life via various products offered by banks or insurance companies.
Characteristics of 3rd pillar A:
  • There is a maximum annual pension contribution limit paid into your account.
  • Lower interest rates than a savings account.
  • Pension contributions paid are tax-deductible.
  • Repayment of pension capital saved under Pillar 3a is strictly regulated.
  • When withdrawing your Pillar 3a savings, you will have to pay an exceptional tax based on your income at the date of withdrawal.

Pillar 3B: Free pension provision

This pension savings plan can take the form of cash, savings accounts, life insurance and investments.
Features include:
  • You can contribute an unlimited amount of annual pension contributions.
  • Accumulated capital must be declared to the tax authorities annually.
  • In general, the amount of pension capital is taxable annually.
  • Withdrawal of capital is permitted at any time.
  • You incur no additional tax when you recover the pension funds saved.

Notable differences between Pillar 3A and Pillar 3B:

3rd Pillar A 3rd Pillar B
Max. payout 7'056 CHF per yearNo cap
Withdrawal of fundsAt legal retirement age OR max. 5 years beforeAs soon as desired
Tax deductions Premiums deducted from taxable income No tax deduction
FlexibilityPayment suspension possible No suspension possible
Minimum monthly payment100 CHF 100 CHF

3rd Pillar A and 3rd Pillar B comparison table:

3rd pillar A 3rd pillar B
Tax reduction Yes No
Premium suspension Yes No
Additional payments possible Yes No

Who can open a 3rd pillar A?

You can open a Pillar 3A if you are in one of the following situations:
  • You are already contributing to the 2nd pillar (BVG)
  • You do not have a BVG (in principle for the self-employed)
  • You live outside Switzerland but work there (in principle cross-border commuters).
  • You receive a daily allowance paid by the Swiss unemployment fund.
  • You benefit from an income for which you contribute to the AVS (old age and survivors' insurance).


In Switzerland, the third pillar A (pillar 3A) is a form of pension savings designed to supplement the benefits of the first 2 pillars. It offers you the possibility of developing a fund for your retirement provision, the financing of your property, death or incapacity provision, as well as the possibility of taking early retirement.
If you need help, get in touch with one of our experts who will guide you free of charge in choosing your 3rd pillar.
Joffrey Maitre
Updated on: 31.01.2024Written by Joffrey MaitreHead of private provision department at Comparea
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