How to make the most of your French bank account

If you are new to French banking or looking to learn more, this article will help you use your account with ease. 

In France, there are many similarities to banking in the UK – and some differences, too. Understanding how French banking works for day-to-day living can help you to get the best from your bank account whilst avoiding some of the pitfalls.

French Bank cards

In France, there are limits associated to bank cards whether for withdrawing cash, making card purchases or contactless payments. These limits vary depending on the type of bank card that you have. 

The good news is that you can adjust the limits according to your needs and your situation. It is important to discuss this with your bank when getting the card or if your circumstances change. 

It is also important to note that credit cards do not exist in France in the same way as you are used to in the UK. What you may see as a French resident is a deferred payment card. This type of card offers the advantage of all card transactions being grouped together for a single payment at the end of the month.

Contactless payment systems (paiement sans contact) are prevalent throughout France like the UK. The limit per transaction is 50€, after 150€ spent on contactless payments you will need to enter your PIN for security reasons. 

What is a RIB and why is it useful?

A RIB (Relevé d'Identité Bancaire) is an extremely valuable document providing information about your bank and personal details. In the UK you only need your bank sort code and account number. The RIB is considered the official document to confirm your bank details and you will be asked to provide this often. 

For example, when you set up a direct debit (e.g. for your electricity) you can send your RIB directly to the company with the signed direct debit mandate and they will arrange your payment. 

Similarly, you will need your RIB for setting up your tax payments on the government website (taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation, income tax, etc.). Of course, it is also useful for people transferring money to you. You can download your RIB via your online bank account or app.

Using cheques and online payments

Cheques are still used for paying for many goods and services in France. 

However, unlike in the UK there is no cheque guarantee card. Some shops may ask you for a form of ID such as a passport. Most artisans (electricians, plumbers etc.) will take payment by cheque and bank transfer.

Final tips!

  • Some companies may offer an option to pay for their products and services in instalments (e.g. four payments).
  • Carefully choosing your account can save you money. For example, some types of cards have the added benefit of travel insurance … particularly beneficial if you and family travel frequently. This could save you taking out separate and expensive travel insurance policies.

Opening your bank account with CA Britline

Contact us at CA Britline if you wish to open a French bank account with us. Our friendly team of bilingual English-speaking advisors can assist and help you with all of your daily banking needs in France. Your advisor will guide you to finding the account that best suits your requirements and help you make the most of your account in France.

We look forward to banking with you!


Image used is provided by Getty Images.
First published: 20th December 2023