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Banking in France


The currency in France is the euro (€) which is the same currency used in 16 of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU).  Euro notes are available in denominations of 5,10,20,50,100,200 and 500.  There are eight types of coins 2€, 1€, 50 centimes, 20 centimes, 10 centimes, 5 centimes, 2 centimes and 1 centime.  
Click here for a handy online currency converter  

The French franc is no longer used but in order to help customers make the transition, most shops, receipts and certain bills still display prices in both currencies.
Euro notes and coins may be used throughout the euro zone, however, checks in euros from other countries will be treated as foreign checks and can incur bank service charges.
Opening a Bank Account in France
A checking account (compte chèque) and other types of accounts can be opened at most bank branches or at your local post office (La Poste). 

You will require proof of address (lease, utility bill or phone bill), your passport and a work contract if you have one.   You will be assigned an account manager who will be your personal contact at the bank and will help you with future transactions, loans, line of credit etc. 

Pick a branch that is convenient to your office or home as you will need to use the same branch for all your major transactions.

The amount of the initial deposit and the fees vary according to the different banks but you can usually find the fees posted in the bank lobby.
Internet Banking
You can monitor your bank account online, make transfers and pay bills.  Bank transfers are slow even when you are just moving money between a savings and a checking account (you can expect it to take at least 24 to 48 hours).   

Checkbooks (
chéquier) are provided free of charge.  Use the register to keep track of your checks.  Be careful as it creates a lot of trouble and paperwork if you overdraw your French bank account!  Click here for more information about how to fill out a French check.
Debit & Credit Cards 
Your American credit card will not work in a lot of the machines in France. European debit and credit cards have microchips and require a PIN (Personal Identity Number) whenever used. Certain machines require this type of credit card.

Credit Cards are available in France but most people use the “Carte Bleue” visa debit card.  There is an annual fee for the carte bleu and you can choose between the regular card and the gold card. 
There are two ways to pay your debit card bills:
Instant debit (débit immédiat) where the money is deducted the same time you make the transaction. 
Deferred debit (débit différé) where the total of all purchases made during a month is deducted from your account just once a month.
Things to be aware of:
  •  If you incorrectly enter your PIN code three consecutive times the ATM will keep your card and you will have to visit your local branch to get a new card (I learned this the hard way).
  • ATM cash withdrawals are deducted immediately regardless of the payment method you selected
  • There may be a bank fee if you make over three withdrawals per month in France from a bank chain other than your own.
Banking in France is only one part of your move so click here to return to our section on moving advice