Banking in France

Banking in France can seem very different to what you are used to. Things are changing and internet banking is becoming more popular, but some of the processes can still seem very dated and not very customer friendly.

Your account will run the same, with direct credits, direct debits, standing orders and so on, so what is different? The first main difference you will see is that you usually pay for your account. In addition to this, you often pay for whatever card you have on the account too. After years of free bank accounts in the UK this can seem very strange to understand. The fee for the card will depend on what card you have, ranging from a basic debit card to a premier debit card. You can chose for your debit card to either go out of your account as you use it, typically a couple of days after you use it or, you can chose for it all to be taken out of your account in one go at the end of the month.

A major difference that most people new to a French bank account aren’t aware of is that there is a limit on your card usage per month. For example, if your card has a limit of 1500 euros per month for purchases made, and you use your card to book a holiday for 1500 euros, you will find that your card won’t work for purchases until the limit refreshes. You can often get around this by requesting a temporary increase from your bank, but if you don’t know there is a limit you could find yourself stuck at a till with your card purchase being declined, a trolley full of shopping and a queue of people tutting behind you!

Banking in FranceMost banks in France have a regional Head Office. If you have an account with one of the regional banks and you go to a different region and want to take out cash, you may find that you will be charged for this. An agency out of your region will not have access to your account and if you want to pay a cheque in for example, you will find it quicker to post the cheque to your own agency yourself! Not only will you have an assigned agency, but also an assigned person. If they are on holiday you can often find that you have to wait until that person is back from holiday before your request is dealt with.

The majority of agencies will not have cashiers and just 2 or 3 staff. Most of the agencies have an ATM and some have an area where you can pay in cheques and small amounts of cash by filling in a paying in slip and putting it in an envelope and into a collection box. You generally only find Banks in main towns have cashiers and a counter service.

If you are applying for finance in France, then you will have a mandatory cooling off period. This can be frustrating if you need to make an urgent purchase. Nearly all loans need to have proof of what you are purchasing sent with the application. There are some circumstances where proof of purchase isn’t needed, but this is the exception rather than the rule. With the knowledge that you can’t get around this, you can plan this delay into your timescale and be prepared by having your quotes/receipts ready for your application.

It’s not all doom and gloom, banking in France is developing. At AXA Banque, if your card purchases are at least 900 euros per quarter, then the fees for the card and accounts are waived. You also receive cashback on your AXA insurance premiums paid by direct debit through the account (applicable on most personal insurance policies). AXA Banque is a national bank so there are no regional restrictions and withdrawals anywhere in the Eurozone are free. This means that even if you pop to Spain, Germany, and Italy for example and draw 200 euros out of an ATM, your account will only be debited with 200 euros, no fees.

The account is also available for non-residents who have a fixed address in France. Being an online account, it is ideal for managing your account from wherever you are. The opening balance is less than 100 euros and the account opening is dealt with by our team of native English speakers at Agence AXA International, a dedicated English speaking agency.

For more information, contact us at agence.international@axa.fr,

Tel: 05 61 07 16 84

Or visit the website: www.axa-in-france.fr

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