The Basics of Banking in France

Written by on August 1, 2018 in Banks and Banking, Financial

There may not be huge differences when it comes to banking in France and the UK or other countries, however there maybe  some. Sian Lee-Duclos of CA Britline explains.

Before looking at the general differences, let’s break the myth that many people have that unless you have a French address (main residence or holiday home) you cannot open a bank account in France. This may indeed be the case with some banks, where their policy doesn’t include accounts for non-French address holders. However  at CA Britline, that’s not the case. They offer an English speaking online banking service that’s open to residents of the UK, Ireland and France.

Here is a simple guide to banking and how to avoid the snags and stress that may occur.

Banks in France

The majority of UK banks, no matter at which branch you have opened your account, can provide you with an over-the-counter service and carry out the requested transactions on your account, no matter where you may be in the country.

In France, many banks are co-operative mutual banks which can be regionalised. Credit Agricole is one of these. This means that your account, if held in a branch of Credit Agricole Normandy, cannot be visualised, (and therefore managed) in a region outside Normandy. You will still be able to use each branch to withdraw cash from their ATM’s but any day to day discussions and in-branch management of your account must be carried out with your original branch. This can take some getting used to, especially if you normally do everything over the counter.

Making payments

Cheque books

Cheques are still commonly used in France without a cheque guarantee card. It’s important to have funds in your account to cover the cheque. Postdating a cheque in France isn’t relevant as the beneficiary can pay it in and it will be processed immediately. If this happens and you go overdrawn, you may become what is called Interdit bancaire and may be banned from writing cheques for up to 5 years. This may affect all your French accounts. If it does happen, contact your branch immediately to resolve the matter.

Debit cards

Debit cards in France tend to come with an annual fee (payable monthly or annually). Debit cards are usually classed as Immediate or Deferred debit (all payments being taken on one given date of the month). Not to be confused with a UK Credit card which may have similar facilities.

Debit card limits are built in for withdrawals of cash per week and purchase limits per month. For example standard cards offer withdrawals of 450€ per 7 day rolling period and monthly purchase limits of 2300€. Go over these limits and you’re likely to experience your card being rejected online, in shops and ATMs.

CA Britline offer tailor made debit cards with higher spending limits. You can use them in France, UK, overseas whether that’s inside or outside of the EU, and withdrawals and purchases are fee free.

Banking Fees

From bank to bank and region to region the fees applied may be slightly different. For example at CA Britline fees are the same as any other classic branch of Credit Agricole in Normandy but will not necessarily be the same as a Credit Agricole in Burgundy or other regions.

Every year a fee leaflet is sent to all customers around three months prior to the fees becoming applicable.

Who are CA Britline?

CA Britline are a branch of Credit Agricole Normandy. They’ve been around since 1999 and offer a complete English speaking, online and distance banking service for residents in the UK, Ireland and France.

They have a bilingual British/French team who understand your expectations  when it comes to banking.

The experience of opening a French bank account is made easy from the outset with the ability to apply for your account online and without having to provide a French address.

Much of the support is in English and when you decide a French account is needed and, once your application for an account has been successfully made, you’ll receive a telephone call to take you through how banking with CA Britline works, and how your account needs can be tailored.

CA Britline can provide you with a fully-equipped current account, debit card and chequebook. There are additional services  if you wish to personalise your account.

The account allows the set-up of direct debits or standing orders, and the management of your account can be conducted online. Demos in English are available via to guide you through how this works.

The service also provides Insurance as well as savings accounts, loans and mortgages. And, there’s a bespoke International Transfer service with a dedicated specialist team.

For further information contact CA Britline 00 33 (2)31 55 67 89


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