Bank Choice Advice

Hey all,

I’m with Monzo and have been for a couple of years. I’ve been in France since November, and I’m applying for my carte de séjour in August (got married in Feb).

Paranoid of Monzo deactivating my bank while being here as I’m only spending in France. Looking for a French alternative. Not sure on how Wise/Revolut work etc.


Congratulations on the nuptials.
Re banks, I use Wise and am very happy with them. Just bear in mind Wise is not a bank. Revolut seems to be widely used as well.
Any reason you’re not just opening an account with a French high street bank? Having just turned 60 I’m very aware the younger generation do lots of things differently, such as not getting a landline and having a mobile only.
Is the tendency now among your contemporaries to opt for online banks and give the high street banks a miss?
If I get one more phone call from my so-called “conseillère” trying to flog us assurance vie, I could be tempted to follow your example.

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As a fintech enthusiast I can say that in well over 6 years none of my (many) UK banks have said a word about it. Starling are my main bank and I’m pretty sure they’re well aware at this point but either they don’t care, or as I suspect, having been a very early customer and knowing half the original team to chat to, they just turn a blind eye. But you will likely need an FR IBAN for your health repayments at least (CPAM are the only ones I’m aware of who still insist) so I’d get a Revolut rather than Wise as Rev will get you the FR IBAN whereas as far as I’m aware Wise still have BE. There are various French fintechs that look and feel very similar to Monzo you could look into later if you want a bank that lives on your phone, or things like N26 and Bunq (from Germany and NL) which operated in the UK previously and have both FR IBANs locally and have English apps / customer service if you need it.

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It’s just I have no clue where to start really. I’m used to the UK system of apply online never go into a branch so I’m a bit taken aback by all this bank manager malarkey!

I could always transfer my money to my husband and use his cards?

So best bet you reckon would be get a Revolut in case I need a FR IBAN, then look to either joint account with my husband or move to another fintech?

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You could look at Boursarama -Hellobank or Fortunea - online French banks. More First Direct than Monzo for comparison

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I set up an account with Boursorama and it was all done online. As well as my passport I needed to share a RIB from another account, but they state they accept proof of accounts from banks outside France too - including the UK.

Many of the online banks don’t charge fees, whereas the traditional ones do.

Our account with CA Britline charges modest fees and has been fine (so far). It’s an advantage having access to native or near-native speakers.

But they do do things differently in France! If you’re okay with the occasional “I wasn’t expecting that” moment, you’d be fine with a French bank, should you want one.

My ‘I wasn’t expecting that’ moment was when I found out about my France bank transfer limits. I wanted to transfer 10K. It seems I have a daily 2K transfer limit - I managed to raise this to 3K.

Then I found I had a weekly limit - seems 3K. Then there was a monthly limit - seems 3K!

In the end I managed to move 6K with he intervention of the counsellor, however my emailed queries about the weekly and monthly limits, what they are and how to change them were not responded to.

I just wanted to put some euro’s temporarily in wise to earn some interest - I haven’t moved it back.


Had a similar thing. My card kept on being declined, despite being in the black. Highly embarrassing when it’d happen in the supermarket with a queue of shoppers stood behind me. La Poste didn’t tell me about the limits (withdrawals, card payments, transfers) when I opened the account. I ended up having to go for a ‘premium’ account in order to be able to increase the limits.

Another gotcha moment was when my partner or I made cash deposits and were questioned where the money had come from. This wasn’t a huge amount so it’s not as if it was anti-money laundering stuff or related to our taxes. A French friend told us that he got so annoyed by the same thing that now he makes up stories when they ask him… He tells them he won it playing poker with the bank manager the night before, or it comes from a drug deal he completed the other day, or he’s started pimping out prostitutes, etc… :grin:

And do not try to be too clever with card management in the app…

I have a Revolut card in each car to get around pumps not taking Applepay. One of the cars I took to my local pump where it attracted a troop of boy scouts who were laudably carrying out rubbish cleaning, with lots of oohs and ahs regarding the exhaust note. I exited the car as gracefully as possible and gave the pump my card. Refused. Again. Refused. After the third attempt, I skulked away in embarrassment.

I arrived home to an email from Revolut telling me that someone tried to access my account, and well done me for using the security feature they offer of self blocking the card… :rofl:

The Société Générale fintech, I think it’s called Boursorama, gets good reviews.

There are some very good reviews for Orange’s online bank, but not as consistently high overall as Boursorama. If you go with Orange then they were running incentive deals just to sign up, I seriously considered it as one offer had a good phone tie-up. I am sure those deals will occur again.

As in the UK, phone contracts, insurance, banks are always keeping an eye on cashback sites for, I’d suggest igraal and widilo both get good ratings. But watch out for high minimum accumulation before they allow payout, often good deals though, or possibly ebuyclub.

There are also bank comparison sites around but the ones I came across each appeared to have their own bias probably from a sponsor.

There’s a lot to be said in France for choosing your nearest bricks and mortar branch and banking with them unless your neighbours say they’re horrible. Banking in France is quite unlike in the UK.

Orange Bank has recently closed I think and shifted all existing customers over to Hello Bank.

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I use poulpeo. I saw a comparison which said they have the highest cashback. 10€ minimum payout.
I have a bricks and mortar basic account with Credit Agricole for 2,34€ a month, and the rest I do online with my German bank and Fortuneo (free).

If you arrange a direct debit, you can avoid the limit. I did one for 10,000€ and the CA accepted it.

I reckon best thing for me is to wait till I get the carte de séjour in August and then get a French bank. I’m happy with Monzo so any similar ones recommended will do me. Is there however, any that offer an English app?

My Credit Agricole app is mostly in English. I don’t need it so, but it seems to adapt automatically to my phone’s language.

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