There are differences in banking between the UK and France; what are the key questions you need to ask to ensure you choose the right account?
Opening a French bank account is an important step if you are moving to France or buying a holiday home. There are some key differences in banking between the UK and France, so choosing the right bank to suit your needs may seem tricky.
To make the decision easier we have put together this brief guide of the top six questions to consider before opening a French bank account, together with tips on how to select the right account.
What Are the Differences Between Banking in the UK and France?
There are many things that are reassuringly similar. France has a well-established banking network, with banks that offer a wide range of financial services and products.
However, it is fair to say there are some key differences, too.
In the UK, the use of credit cards is far more widespread – as of January 2021, there were 63 million in use, with up to 300 million card transactions every month. In France, debit cards – called a Carte Bancaire – are generally preferred, with the money deducted straight away from your account. For those on a budget or who plan their finances carefully, there are cards that allow you to defer payment until the end of the month.
It is worth noting that in France there are stricter limits on spending whilst shopping – regardless of the balance in your account. So, if you are planning to buy significant items, say for a house renovation or another project it is worth letting your bank know in advance.
Finally, cheques remain popular in France. You can still use cheques to pay artisans and for a wide variety of other services… and in the supermarket, too!
Six Questions To Help You Choose A French Bank Account To Meet Your Needs
If you are legally resident in France you do have the right to open a French bank account. Even if you are a non-French resident – say you have a second home in France – there also options open to you.
Let us consider the six key questions you need to consider before opening your French bank account:
1. How easy is to open an account?
This is especially important if you are not resident in France. You do not want to spend time visiting a branch carrying large amounts of paperwork. Instead, it is far better to open your account with a bank which makes it easy – and enables you to do this online. Of course, you will need to provide proof of identity, proof of address, details of your tax status and a sum to deposit (these requirements will vary). Nevertheless, doing this online is less time consuming and more straightforward.
2. What type of account do I need?
Decide whether you wish to open an individual or a joint bank account. If you have a business in France, there are similarly requirements for separate accounts; so bear this in mind.
3. How can I access my account?
On a practical note, cash machines to withdraw your money are generally easy to find in, even in smaller French villages. Still, there are many other reasons why you may need to contact your bank, so ease of access is crucial. The solution? Opening a bank account which allows you to use its services 24/7 – regardless of where you live in France.
4. How secure is my money?
Like the UK, there are strict legal protections for French banking customers within certain limits – so do not worry.
Still, it is useful to check out the small print – especially if the bank is new to the financial services scene. It’s important to trust your bank and its experience is a factor.
5. What other financial services can I access?
Banking is not just about having a bank card or a cheque book. You may need to borrow money with a loan, wish to open a savings account, pay bills, require advice on money management. Think about what other services your bank can offer.
6. How easy is it to communicate with my bank?
It can be frustrating if you are not fluent in French and need to communicate with your bank. Therefore, it is a good idea to make certain that your bank allows you to contact them in English, whether this is by phone or email.
Ready to Open Your French Bank Account?
If you would like to open a French bank account, CA Britline is the place to go. As long as you are over 18, resident in the UK, France or Ireland and own or plan to buy a property in France you can open a Britline account. The English-speaking bilingual team can help you to create your bank account online in 6 Easy Steps.
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