The best banks for non-residents living in France.
We know that moving to a new country means changing every aspect of your daily life, including how you manage your finances. Opening a bank account in France can be important, even essential, to start your new life. The question is, which one should you choose?
This guide provides a quick rundown of the points to run through your mind when looking for where to bank. We’ll also give you our own recommendations on banks that might be right for you.
Key considerations when choosing a bank in France
When comparing and contrasting banking options in France, it’s helpful to keep the following five factors in mind.
Fees: Will you have to pay a recurring fee to maintain your account? Is it higher or lower than that of other banks?
Ease of opening: Is opening a bank account a simple and clear process? Can you do it online?
Ease of use: Does the bank provide instant access to your account and help you track your spending with an easy-to-use mobile app?
Customer service: Can you contact the bank’s customer service team by phone and online, and will they have staff who can speak your native language?
Additional features: Does the bank have other convenient services available, such as savings accounts and overdrafts?
4 banks to consider when joining in France
While there are certainly plenty of banks to choose from in France, there are four that have caught our eye as good options for newcomers. Let’s examine them carefully.
Also known as SocGen, Société Générale kindly meets the needs of its clients by providing two account options. There is a cheap Kapsul account that costs €2 per month. It provides access to the bank’s handy mobile app and offers a cash back scheme that will give you percentage rebates when you make certain purchases with your SocGen card.
Alternatively, you can pay €6.20 a month for the Sobrio account, which provides you with an overdraft service and your own personal advisor. Sober also allows you to make more weekly and monthly payments and cash withdrawals than the Kapsul account. Whatever you choose, you can open your account online and the bank offers savings accounts and insurance policies if you need them.
The Postal Bank
Founded as a subsidiary of the French postal service company La Poste, having an account with La Banque Postale puts thousands of post office contact points at your disposal. But what is the account itself like? We recommend the fully digital Ma French service, which was introduced relatively recently and can be joined online in minutes. Operating expenses for clients are a measly €2 a month, which includes the checking account itself, along with a budget management application.
Ma French is a streamlined, hassle-free account specifically designed to please people looking for “autonomy, speed, convenience, and independence,” according to the bank. It lacks extras like an overdraft service, but La Banque Postale does have a conventional account if you want a more extensive banking service. Insurance and other financial products are also available.
As its name suggests, the Banque Populaire has been a popular choice among French customers for a long time (since the 19th century, in fact). There are a few variants of your Crystal Package account, so you can find the right service to meet your needs. The basic account is called Essential Crystal and it keeps up with your billing by providing the essentials like online banking, an overdraft service and a dedicated advisor. It costs around €6.90, depending on where in France you are.
You could pay a few euros more per month for the Crystal Comfort account, which comes with enhanced insurance policies and also won’t charge you fees for entering the first €500 of an overdraft. There’s even a higher-tier Premium Crystal account with more benefits, including a Platinum Debit Card. However you wish to continue, you can apply for any of these accounts online and sign up for the Banque Populaire savings account as well.
With its fun name and fresh, original feel, Hello Bank! it may seem like an upstart among other banks. But in reality, it has a great story behind it, as it is a subsidiary of the global banking giant BNP Paribas. Your Hello One account has no maintenance fees, and the app is very easy to use so you can get your finances in order and track your spending.
While this basic account doesn’t offer overdrafts, you can choose to upgrade to the Hello Prime account, which costs €5 a month and offers extras like an overdraft and a “virtual card” that you can use before you receive your physical bank card. However, this account requires a minimum deposit of €1000 per month. Another great look from Hello Bank! is that it has a savings account that you can easily manage with the app, and there are people that you can communicate with on the phone.