French Bank vs UK International Banking

So we’ve taken the plunge and are going to move to Nantes this year (see English / French Couple with kids - should we take the plunge? for initial discussions) but I have a question about banking.

From past experience dealing with my French wifes bank, they seem a little “different” to UK banks (i.e. online banking seems a bit behind and there appear to be charges for things I take for granted in the UK). I currently bank with Barclays in the UK and they have an International account option that just requires a certain balance to remain charge free and i’d receive credit/debit cards and online banking etc. I’ve been told that this account appears as normal to French institutions (I have my doubts about that knowing the highly bureaucratic nature of the French system but that is yet to be confirmed !) and they offer both Euro and Sterling account options.

There are lots of older questions on these boards about which bank to choose etc so I was wondering what the latest advice is on a UK person moving semi-permanently / permanently to France - a national bank or international bank account ?

I wouldn’t consider being a resident in a country without having a local bank account. As far as online banking is concerned I have accounts with Banque Populaire in France and Barclays in the UK and find my online banking through BP streets ahead of the Barclays system.

We have good banking service from Credit Agricole (including internet). Everything runs without a hitch.
Soc Gen (Villeneuve branch) were totally dis-organised so we dropped them.

I agree with David that a local bank account is a good thing to have.
We are still in UK at present so have maintained UK accounts as well.

I agree with David and Ray, I prefer a local bank for day to day banking (money in/money out/setting up direct debits/asking questions etc) - and our Credit Agricole puts a lot back into the community by way of sponsoring local amenities and events, so it seems right to use them. Also like David I find my online banking with CA slicker and more user-friendly than my online banking with the Halifax.
Yes French banking is different in some ways and yes you may have to pay more bank charges, but is it really the end of the world to have to pay for a service? The only reason it seems so outrageous to incoming Brits is because they’re used to “free” banking in the UK. In reality, are you even going to notice a few euros a month being deducted for account fees?

Hi Ian…

As the others suggest…get a local bank…for your everyday use and paying Utilities etc etc… one that is handy for you…

You can keep your UK one too.

We use Credit Agricole, branch in the next village… and they have excellent on-line banking… and we have their Debit Card.
We still have UK bank, also offering internet banking…and their UK Debit Card… by this means… we are totally flexible…:wink:

You will see from other Topics… that the choice is up to you… but do remember that ALL bank accounts (wherever) must be declared on your French Income Tax Form…

HSBC France - brilliant!

And for the more adventurous:

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Hi, A few of you mention Credit Agricole, and how good their on-line banking is.
Am I missing a trick here?
We’ve had an account with CA Sud-Med for over 10 years, and the only online that is possible is moving money between current & deposit accounts, and ordering cheque books! Hopeless.
I would like to be able to pay all the utilities, taxe d’habitation etc by direct transfer, as I do with internet banking in the UK.
I must be doing something stupid, please advise.

Have you talked to your bank? I bank with Banque Populaire and pay all my utility bills, taxes, membership subscriptions (in three countries) insurance etc. using my online banking App. It’s brilliant, it puts the Barclays one to shame.

Hi Richard…

CA is great, with more and more facilities coming on-line… but why don’t you use Direct Debit… for the bills that have to be paid, whether you like them or not… eg Utilities, Taxe Foncière, Taxe d’Hab etc…so easy to set up… and the companies always tell you in advance… before they deduct the money… :grinning:

“Mes factures par SEPAmail” now shows in the personal webpage…this is internet banking that allows you to agree bills over the internet and authorise their payment. I would suggest you chat with your CA Branch.

Hi Stella,
Thanks for this, v helpful, will talk to my branch.

Thanks David, will talk to my branch. Appreciate your help.

Some local tradesmen will only accept cheques so a local bank account is needed IMHO. I use LCL all works fine and I have and personal banker who if needs be can correspond with me in English. I hold my account in their Champs Elysee branch for that reason.

Thanks all,

Have opened a Société Générale account and managed to get a good deal on a card that comes with loads of extras for free for the first year. Will also keep my UK account around too.


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Glad you’ve got sorted… and over the next 12 months you can decide which freebies are worth continuing with…and you can cancel the ones you don’t want before the Bank starts charging for them…:wink: