Best Bank Accounts in France: Our Top Picks

Compare the best options on the market and choose the one which best adapts to your day-to-day needs.

Further Below: Our Guide To Bank Accounts in France, Everything you need to know.

Best Overall Bank for non-French Speakers

Our Rating: 9.5/10 Read Full Review

✔️ 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


Best Bank for Freelancers, Startups and SMBs

Our Rating: 9.3/10 Read Full Review

✔️ 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


Best Free Digital Bank for non-English Speakers

Our Rating: 9.2/10 Read Full Review

✔️ Best mobile app interface
✔️ Multi-lingual support
✔️ Excellent free base account
✔️ Zero fee transactions
✔️ Excellent benefits for higher-tier accounts

Best Traditional Bank for Expats and Non-residents

Our Rating: 8.9/10 Read Full Review

✔️ 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


Best Online Bank for French Speakers and Residents

Our Rating: 8.9/10 Read Full Review

✔️ 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

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.

Wrapping up

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.

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