For the last four years, my husband has been getting pay slips to order REKA checks from his company at a discount of 20%. REKA checks can be used to pay for holidays in Switzerland and have been around for decades.
But like most things during our first few years here, my expat brain could handle only so much stimulation, and so the REKA check stuff would get recycled with all of the other mail that wasn't absolutely necessary to figure out.
But now, after being here for almost four years, I have energy to figure out some new stuff. So when the REKA info arrived a couple of weeks ago, I actually ordered CHF 500 worth of REKA checks, which meant I got them for CHF 400 with the 20% discount. After receiving the checks in the mail, I went directly to the train station to buy overnight train tickets to Lake Bled and used them all up in one big payment. And they worked so great, the very next day, I ordered another CHF 400 worth.
So here's what you do if you get REKA stuff from your company: take the pay slip to the bank and pay it. About a week later, the mailman will ring your bell and you'll sign to receive your checks. If you order CHF 500 worth, you'll get one envelope with CHF 300 (all in CHF 10 denominations) and two envelopes, each with two CHF 50 denominations.
REKA has a website that shows all the places you can use REKA checks, but this website, like many Swiss websites, has much to be desired and almost never functions properly. So here's all you need to know:
You can use REKA checks for anything SBB/CFF/FFS. And that should be all you need to make them worth it. You can use the checks for buying local train tickets in the automated machines. You can use to checks to buy a ticket to Paris. You can use the checks to pay for an entire SBB vacation. And you can use them to buy your GA or half-price card.
If your company doesn't give you REKA checks at a discount, you can also buy them at COOP, but this is not such a great deal as you will only get a benefit of 3% (what a typical Swiss discount!). But still, if you're buying a GA or something pricey, it's an option if you want to save a bit of money.
If anyone has experience with REKA checks or just wants to comment on how to save money in Switzerland, please leave a comment.