Looking for advice on opening a french bank account,I’m looking for a standard account uk transfers,paying bills by direct debit etc,any advice would be appreciated
We have 2 accounts - one with Britline which is an English speaking part of Credit Agricole - this we use for savings and also have a current account with them.
We also have Revolut which we tend to use for day to day banking and currency transfers.
I have been very happy with La Banque Postale and also Caisse d’Epargne.
To a degree banking is still more personal here and in my experience it depends on your ‘conseiller’ or relationship manager. In my case for example I had a great service from my initial manager with C d’E who was then promoted to another branch and the replacement was atrocious. I could never get a response or any help. I was about to close accounts when I decided to complain to the area manager. My pleas were heard and my conseiller changed, since when the level of service has returned to the standard I had previously enjoyed. For that year or so in the middle you would not have believed that it was the same organization.
For currency transactions I use ‘Currencies Direct’.
Banque Populaire for French traditional banking requirements, DD’s for utilities &tc. Debit card and cheque book (still necessary for some things in France such as paying the MT). Fees circa 20€/quarter. Very rarely go in the branch these days as we use our Revolut account € cards for day to day shopping and currency transfers.
Local Credit Agricole branch which I haven’t been into for probably 2-3 years now. Do everything via that account online, which works absolutely fine. My state pension is paid into that in euros (better rate than I can get as an individual). And all weekly shopping etc comes out of that. OH has his own C/A a/c out of which come all our standing orders.
NB: If there are two of you in the household it can be a good idea to have two accounts. When someone dies their bank account is frozen and it can take time to sort out. We know of widows who never thought to have their own account who found they could not get any money.
In addition, we have both kept accounts open in the UK - same reason, never know what the future holds and friends who have closed their UK a/cs and then gone back to the UK have struggled to open new a/cs because they have no credit record.
We both have debit cards with Credit Agricole and cheque books (rarely use these days, though places like small nurseries etc only take cash or cheque). OH has a second (gold) debit card with Credit Agricole (it means his monthly fee is higher) which gives him a higher credit limit - useful for large purchases. NB your bank will probably set a monthly ceiling on what you can spend/ take out (yes I know it’s your account, but the banks don’t like their customers going overdrawn or taking credit).
We don’t have credit cards in France but have managed (for the moment) to keep our UK Barclaycards with our French addresses. I use this very occasionally in France if I get cashflow problems at the end of the month - don’t like doing so as the exchange rate is lousy.
Use UK bank card when buying something from Amazon UK, but post-Brexit, that probably will only happen very rarely.
Also use Transferwise (OH uses Currency Fair) for forex transactions from our UK accounts and moving euros within Europe. We get good rates for small amounts - typically we’re only moving around £500 at a time just to top up our French accounts.
Sorry, this is a bit long winded but it’s worth bearing in mind the total picture, especially if you still have income or pensions in the UK.
without a facility, it’s not only frowned upon and expensive, it’s illegal to issue a cheque without the funds in place and since French banks accounts are only permitted on approval by the Banque de France, you could find yourself being refused an account if transgressed too often.
Although my wife and I both have our own savings accounts, our joint account name is in the format “M or MME SURNAME” (rather than and) so that when one of us dies the survivor can still access the account.
BTW we are changing the names on all insurance policies and utility contracts to joint for the same reason.
I highly recommend CA’s Britline and (Transfer)Wise.
Ditto everything you say Sue, except we do have one joint account.!
I haven’t been into my Caisse d’Epargne branch myself either for about twelve years…mainly because it’s around 900 kms away.
apologies for not replying to posts sooner but I am unfortunately still working in the uk and only get online as and when, thanks for all the positive responses I’ve got plenty to go at,as my french is very poor do they all have an english text option on the websites also I have heard HSBC operate in france has anyone used them
@ratman If you try Britline (run by Credit Agricole) you’ll find it is a completely English-speaking service, which is why a lot of second home owners use it. The website is in English and most of the advisors are anglophones.
Yep, I have HSBC in UK and France, they have an English speaking service in France but it’s one of those premium phone number situations, if you need something urgent, otherwise translated emails work. Have you considered where your nearest branch is?
thanks for all the input,looking like we will be using Britline,never really thought about going into an actual bank bearing in mind that my own bank is pushing for online transactions rather than face to face,will have a look on google maps and see what branches are in Limoges
Do consider having a facility such as Revolut or Transferwise to help with currency exchange as a minimum - to run alongside your traditional bank as they handle transfers at much better rates.
Thanks Mat, w e are thinking of using transferwise also
There is an HSBC in Limoges so if you went down that route you could at least use that.