The Best Bank Accounts in France in just one more click
Compare the best options on the market and choose the one which best adapts to your day to day needs.
Our Rating: 9.5/10
Best Overall Bank for non-French speakers
✔️ Great for choosing to invest your money sustainably
✔️ Excellent money management features
✔️ Really worth it if you go for the higher tiers that aren’t free
✔️ Choice of Mastercard and Maestro debit cards, as well as a Mastercard credit card
Bunq Bank Review
Bunq is another one of the up-and-coming digital banks. Founded in 2015, this Dutch Bank is similar to N26 with its 3 tiers of accounts (Travel, Premium, and SuperGreen) and helpful English interface and support.
Besides online banking, it has extra unique features in creating sub-accounts and budgeting.
It automates a lot of things like its auto-save feature that rounds up payments to the nearest euro and deposits that money into specific sub-accounts. Or other things like automatic payment of invoices via scanning, making life a lot easier for you.
You also have the choice of having up to 3 cards of Maestro and Mastercard Debit cards, as well as a Mastercard credit card.
But what really sets apart from the rest is the “Freedom of Choice” in allowing you to choose if and how your money is invested.
Unlike other traditional big banks that might invest in funds and industries that might conduct unsustainable practices, with Bunq you can have more say in where your money is invested.
If you go for the highest tier of the SuperGreen card, on top of its advanced money management features, you also make the world greener by planting a tree every time you spend €100.
Bunq is a great option for those who want advanced features in the management of your money and how it is used sustainably. It also has some of the best ratings in customer service and satisfaction
It is worth noting the downside that if you use the most basic free Travel Card plan, the number of features you have access to is really restricted. There are even fees for services such as a €0.99 fee for ATM withdrawals using the basic Travel Card plan.
So, to really bring out the best of Bunq and its free great features, you will need to upgrade to one of the higher tiers and have to pay a monthly fee.
Also, Bunq will generally provide you with a Dutch IBAN which may cause some issues when signing up to register for certain things like a phone or internet plan.
But, the law states that French businesses must accept any valid IBANs from an EU country. So if you encounter any problems or issues inputting your IBAN in an online form, a quick call or email will usually solve your problems.
Our Rating: 9.1/10
Best Bank for Freelancers, Startups and SMBs
✔️ A huge offering of services to ensure all your business payment needs are met
✔️ Low cost
✔️ Can integrate seamlessly with accounting software
✔️ Great customer satisfaction
Qonto Bank Review
Qonto is a digital neobank specialized in offering business accounts ideal for self-employed freelancers and small businesses so that they can manage their transactions and expenses with a modern simplified interface with minimal costs.
The account itself comes along with a massive range of functionalities where you can manage multiple user accounts and customize permission levels for your partners and employees.
It offers various methods for you to handle your customer and supplier payments, ensuring your business activities are not slowed down in any way.
Also, it integrates seamlessly with various accounting software, making bookkeeping and tax reconciliation super simplified.
Qonto makes this all easy to set up, with a sign-up process that is super short and simplified, making it one of the best business bank accounts for freelancers and small businesses.
Qonto Bottom Line:
Given its comprehensive list of features to serve all your needs, in combination with its reputation for great customer service, Qonto is definitely by far the best choice in France for anyone who wants to set up an account for their activities so that their business transactions and management flow with simple ease and convenience.
Our Rating: 8.9/10
Best free digital bank for non-French speakers
✔️ Best mobile app interface
✔️ Multi-lingual support
✔️ Excellent free base account
✔️ Zero fee transactions
✔️ Excellent benefits for higher-tier accounts
N26 Bank Review
One of the real upcoming giants in the digital world of banking is N26. Launched in 2015, it now has a full European Banking license, operating in 25 markets worldwide with over 5 million customers.
Your money is safe as can be in this digital bank since it is supervised by the Financial Markets Regulator. This means that clients’ funds are guaranteed up to €100,000 by the Deposit Protection Fund.
What does N26 offer and how do its different tiers work?
N26 offers “zero exchange fees on card payments in any currency” which is really useful for any of you who like to travel.
Since the bank account comes along with a free Mastercard Debit card (and an optional Maestro Card), your ability to pay should be accepted pretty much everywhere.
The sign-up process is short and can be easily be done completely in English, as well as French, Italian, German and Spanish. Which is a huge bonus over other banks if you struggle with Italian.
It’s important to note that you will need some form of EU/EFTA residence to open an account.
To give you a quick rundown on the 3 tiers N26 offers, here it goes.
The Basic N26 Bank account
The standard N26 bank account, with all its basic functions, is free and doesn’t charge any opening or maintenance fees at all.
With it, you can gain access to a French IBAN and its online mobile banking with a super easy-to-use app. And make unlimited payments in any currency anywhere in the world with your card or phone. Also, you can withdraw cash for free from ATMs up to 3 times per month.
The interface is honestly great, along with fantastic customer support to help you with everything.
You can even set up 2 sub-accounts with features to help you budget and manage your money to meet your financial goals.
It also uses artificial intelligence to “automatically categorize your spending”. So you can see the total amount you’re spending in each category. You can even create your own #tags categories – “#gifts # friends #eatingout, you name it.”
N26 also makes it pretty simple and easy to use in exporting your transaction information and downloading it as a CSV or PDF file to make your tax returns and invoicing easier.
For higher levels of features, you can upgrade to an N26 You account for €9.90 per month.
This increases your free cash withdrawals in the Eurozone to 5 times per month. Also, you now can have unlimited free ATM cash withdrawals worldwide in any currency outside the Eurozone. You also get some extra-poppy debit card colors to choose from.
N26 You gives you a whole travel insurance package to protect you with Medical insurance, Trip insurance, Flight insurance and Luggage coverage.
This definitely helps for people who like to travel by giving you peace of mind that you’re covered against any unpleasant surprises.
If you thought you weren’t insured enough, it also provides Mobility insurance for shared vehicles, covering you for damages of up to €20,000. There’s also Winter sport insurance in case of accidents on trips to the mountains.
N26 You also increases the number of sub-accounts you can create. From the basic 2 to up to 10 sub-accounts so that you can better organize your money and save for different goals and projects.
Finally, N26 You grants you premium partner offers and discounts with world-class brands. Which is a huge bonus for those who like to buy things from those partners anyways.
You might even end up saving more through the discounts than what you actually pay in the monthly fee. So, this is definitely a great option to consider.
Then, if you want to upgrade to the highest level of N26 Metal for €16,90 per month, you get to choose from 3 metallic shades to get a stainless steel Debit card.
Now on top of the N26 You benefits, your Eurozone withdrawals increase to 8 per month. Also, you’re given Car rental insurance for your rental care hires away from home of up to €20,000 as well as Phone insurance of up to €1,000 against theft and damages if the event and phone are eligible.
N26 Metal expands on the previous offers and discounts with their partners to bring Metal customers “access benefits and bespoke rewards” to complement your everyday, “from hard-to-find tickets, VIP passes to private events, unique workshops and memorable days out”.
You’re also given a dedicated priority phone line so you can call them to sort out any questions you have immediately.
Whilst some people might think N26 Metal is a bit ‘extra’ for most normal people above the N26 You, given the relatively cheap price tag versus the benefits, its actually a very attractive bank account tier to go for.
Of course, which one of the 3 tiers of accounts best fits you personally is up to you decide.
If you want the most basic version there is, the standard N26 account works best.
For more dedicated features, offers and support for those who might like to travel with extra perks and benefits, N26 You and N26 Metal are definitely the best for you.
N26 Bottom line:
N26 is definitely one of the best digital banks to use for foreigners and people who aren’t super comfortable with French.
It’s very simple to use and has the best digital app interface there is. And with the higher tiers, it can offer some of the best packages of perks and services that you would want.
The only possible downside is that since it is fully online and there aren’t any physical branches you can visit in France, you don’t have anyone you can talk to face-to-face to help sort out any questions you might have.
But since they always have online chat support and even a dedicated phone line for Metal customers, you should have no real problems getting your questions sorted out. They are well known for their high customer satisfaction and service.
Our Rating: 8.8/10
Best Traditional bank for expats and non-residents
✔️ Super friendly to non-residents and English speakers
✔️ Access to complex financial services
✔️ Cheap offerings of accounts with great services
✔️ Access to free ATM withdrawals from HSBC ATMs around the whole world
HSBC Bank Review
One of the largest banks in the world, HSBC has an excellent offering of bank account services in France, open to both residents and non-residents.
With an HSBC account, for very low fees, you can gain access to either a Visa or Mastercard debit card depending on the package you choose, guaranteeing you the ability to pay pretty much everywhere in France.
Using their card, you gain access to free ATM cash withdrawals from HSBC ATMs around the whole world. Making things super convenient for you to pick up cash, especially if you like to travel since they are a global bank.
What makes them super attractive for expats is that their support centers in France are also available in English with specialist banking advisors available to help guide you through the whole process of creating a bank account and even settling into France.
They even provide free services of “instant, free French-English translations of key documents from Lingua Custodia” for 3 months which really helps if you’re not super comfortable with French yet.
On top of this, their HSBC mobile banking app is very simple to use and allows you to manage your banking affairs from your phone, keeping you on top of your finances at all times.
HSBC also provides more complex financial services such as business accounts, loans, mortgages, etc. So if you’re looking for a Bank that can also provide you those services so that you have everything in at one bank, then HSBC is a great option.
HSBC Bottom Line:
HSBC is overall a fantastic option for expats and non-residents that want a more traditional bank where you can have access to physical branches, complex financial services, great mobile app, and specialist advice in English.
They’ve won multiple awards for their banking and are known for their great customer support so you shouldn’t ever really come across any problems. They even sometimes offer an €80 bonus for signing up to them.
The only possible downside could be that their bank account, even though is extremely cheap given the service you get, isn’t completely free.
Our Rating: 8.8/10
Best online bank for French speakers and residents
✔️ Excellent Cashback programs
✔️ Great customer service
✔️ Premium Account you can even get for free
✔️ Only for French residents
ING France Bank Review
ING Direct is a famous Dutch online bank with an excellent reputation and is a good contender for being your online bank in France if you are a resident.
An ING bank account gives you a free Mastercard debit granting you an excellent ability to pay across France as well as 5 free ATM withdrawals a month with the base free account.
What makes ING interesting is that its premium account can also be free too if you ensure that your monthly income into the account is above €1,200. If it is below that amount you get charged the normal monthly fee of €5.
So if you meet those requirements, you can essentially get all the benefits of the premium account including unlimited free ATM withdrawals, increased limits on purchases and withdrawals and more.
ING’s mobile app interface is also very well-designed allowing you to access your banking easily via your phone with some nice features to help you manage your money and save via budgeting.
Also, ING has an excellent array of cashback programs so if you make purchases with any of their partners, you’ll definitely be saving quite a lot of money.
ING Bottom Line:
Overall ING is another excellent option as an online bank choice, however, it is only available to French residents. It has a good combo of rates and services at a very low cost (if any), but make sure to read and meet their requirements.
The only possible downside could be that since it is a purely online bank, you won’t find physical branches in order to get help in person and everything has to be done online or over a call.
Things to know about French bank accounts
Just a quick 2 min read about the most common issues we see with our readers:
What is a “Carte Bancaire” and do I need it?
If you’ve arrived in France, then you’ve likely come across someone asking for your “Carte Bancaire” or “Carte Bleue” when you want to pay with a card. Most people who come to France get confused by this.
Basically, Carte Bleue is the predecessor to the Carte Bancaire (the current debit payment system in France) yet many may still commonly refer to Carte Bancaire as Carte Bleue.
There is no real difference between them so don’t be alarmed. They are both essentially the most popular French card system.
Is having an Carte Bleue or Carte Bancaire important in France?
Overall it is not super important as most places accept MasterCard or Visa, but some small shops and businesses still work exclusively with the Carte Bancaire system and may ask you for a “Carte Bleue”.
So whilst not completely necessary, it could save you some trouble by having one rather than not having one.
However, most banks will provide you with debit cards that have both Carte Bancaire and Mastercard/Visa functionality so you can make payments both in and outside of France.
How do I open a checking account at these banks or any other bank in France?
Opening a checking account with a bank in France is relatively simple to do and can be done relatively quickly (in 30 minutes or so) if you do their sign-up process in person and even shorter if done online.
Digital Banks like Bunq or N26 offer sign-up processes that are usually much shorter. And they can be done from the comfort of your phone or laptop where you can scan your documents using your webcam or phone camera.
But usually, there are some information or document requirements which may vary from bank to bank. If you follow this list, you should be pretty safe.
Usual requirements for opening checking accounts in France:
- Completed application form with Name, Address, Nationality, Income, etc
- Valid Passport, ID or Visa (if you are opening a joint account with another person, make sure they have their documents too)
- Proof of address or registration (like a utility bill not older than 3 months)
- Initial Deposit (depends on your bank how much they will require as a minimum)
- Proof of income, employment, or enrolment at a French educational institution
Whether you are a French resident or not will also affect what type of current account you can have (“resident” or “non-resident” account) and which banks you can sign up with.
It’s best to check out their websites or speak with them directly to find out. They’re usually very helpful in giving you the information you need.
International online banks like Bunq or N26 usually tend to be the easiest and most open to non-residents, but it’s also worth checking out traditional ones like HSBC.
How to close or change bank accounts in France
Closing or switching bank accounts is pretty simple to do in France as long as you don’t owe the bank any money.
For a traditional bank, you normally have to send a registered termination letter containing your signature to the bank branch of the bank where you have your account based.
If you have a joint account, make sure the names and signatures of all the account holders are contained within the letter.
Or, you can either visit a physical branch or call them and they’re usually very friendly in helping you out in closing your account.
If you want to start a switching procedure, then it is best to contact the new bank you are switching to and they should handle your switching for you.
Make sure to ask that you’re following all the correct requirements and don’t have any fees that you have not paid off yet. But remember that it is illegal for French banks to charge you for the act of closing or switching bank accounts.
Things you have to make sure to do are:
- Get written confirmation in the form of a letter or email that the account has officially been closed
- If you’re switching over to a new account, transfer over all future incoming and outgoing payments such as direct debits, salaries, or standing orders. Usually either the new bank that you’re switching to will take care of this if you ask.
- Make sure you’ve transferred all your money out of the old account and into the new account.
- Let your employer and others who would transfer money to you, know that your old account will no longer work.
So overall you can see, choosing a bank account can be hard at first, but becomes easier if you know what exactly that you want. So try to make a list of the things that are important to you such as language or having physical branches, etc.
Then, try visiting their websites or even physical branches if they have any, to check out the different accounts (if they have more than one) and other products that they offer. You should be able to get a feeling for the banks pretty quickly and which one suits you.
If you feel comfortable with these banks you may even want to get more products from them like savings accounts to earn interest on your money.
Once you’ve developed a relationship with your bank, later on, you might even get a business account, loan or mortgage from them once you develop a bit of credit history that they can evaluate you on.
But don’t worry too much about it if you end up opening an account with a bank which you don’t end up liking later. Banks in France allow you to close an account and switch over to another pretty easily and without a hassle.
Keep in mind though that I personally find it very useful to have two checking accounts instead of just one. So that in case there is ever an issue with one, you can still access your money in the other, so you’re not left stranded with no money.
Personally, I’ve become a fan of the online digital banks because of how simple and easy it is to do everything with banks like N26 or Bunq from the comfort of my phone or laptop. But of course, you should only do so if you’re comfortable with doing all your banking online.
On the other hand, online banks tend to not offer more complex financial management services like loans, health insurance or mortgages that you would find at a traditional bank. So if you want some of those more complex products, you might need to look at more traditional banks like HSBC.
But don’t worry. You can easily have a checking account at an online bank and still have other more complex products from other banks.
If you’re arriving in France soon, make sure to sort out your bank account sooner rather than later in case there are any delays, depending on the bank you sign up with. Life will be a lot more difficult if you don’t have one.
In the end, it is up to you and what you need that will decide which is the best bank for you. Hopefully this article will have helped you with it.
Good luck with opening a bank account in France. If you have any questions or want us to write another post on something else too, let us know here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a foreigner or non-resident open a bank account in France?
A person of any nationality can open a bank account in France, but some banks might require at least a residence in France or in the EU/EFTA region depending on the accounts available.
If you are a non-resident, you will only be able to open a non-resident account and you will be usually subject to higher interest rates and might be limited in some services at French banks.
Usually, it tends to be the online banks that are the most open with residence requirements and some even allow residence from pretty much anywhere in the world.
But it is important to check with a bank yourself if they accept your country of residence. You can usually do so on the website or during the sign-up process.
Can I have two bank accounts in France?
Yes, you can have as many bank accounts as you like in France. Just be aware of the extra hassle and possibly extra cost if you go for accounts that charge monthly fees.
Even if you go with a “free” account as the extra one, check that you keep meeting the minimum flow of income if it is required to keep them from charging you a fee. Some banks like ING’s premium account tend to do this, so check in case.
Can I keep my France bank accounts even after I leave France?
Yes, you can keep your French bank accounts even after you leave France but be aware of some changes that might happen with how you handle your account.
Your tax status may change, or some banks may not be able to send you important notifications and PIN numbers if you change to a foreign number.
But these things vary a lot from bank to bank and its best to ask them and they should be happy to help. Overall it’s usually very helpful to keep your account since it might come in handy later.
How long do applications for bank accounts in France take?
Once you’ve booked and arrived at the appointment made at the physical branch, standard traditional banks usually take a day, or a few days at most, to approve and open a new bank account.
They usually tend to take longer than digital banks since they sometimes need to send you documents to your address.
Online digital banks instead usually approve and open your bank account for you within 24 hours if not immediately.
How can I set up an overdraft?
The process to set up an overdraft will depend on the bank itself and will often have very different policies and requirements. Usually, you have to complete an overdraft application form in order to set up the facility for an overdraft in case you might need it.
Digital banks tend to reply and approve/reject your application within a few days or even within the same day.
On the other end, traditional banks can sometimes take weeks to process your application. Be aware that some banks tend to be quite strict with their overdrafts and may require months of credit history before accepting an application.
Banks will also differ in the amount they allow for you to have on your overdraft. Some will allow a fixed amount (such as up to €10,000 for an N26 overdraft) or an amount relative to your average net monthly income (like with ING).
But be careful with your overdraft and make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible to avoid the interest charges (which vary from bank to bank).
What is the minimum age to open a bank account in France?
Usually, banks require a minimum age of 18 in order to open your own bank account, but this can vary from bank to bank in their process and requirements, especially for digital banks.
Normally, banks tend to allow parents or legal guardians to open bank accounts for their children if they are under the age of 18.
Can I open a bank account for my children?
Yes, you can open a bank account for your child if he/she is under the age of 18. Remember that you will need to provide the ID or Passport for both you and your child.
Some banks might require that the parent needs to already have an account with the same bank too.