At Remitly, we know that moving to a new country means adjusting every aspect of your day to day life – including how you manage your finances. Getting a bank account in France can be important, even essential, to setting up your new life. The question is, which one should you choose?

This guide provides a quick summary of the points to run through in your mind when you’re looking at where to bank. We’ll also give you our own recommendations on the banks which might be ideal for you.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Bank in France

When you’re comparing and contrasting the bank options in France, it helps to take the following five factors into account.

  • Fees – will you have to pay a recurring fee to maintain your account? Is it more or less than other banks?
  • Ease of set-up – is opening an account with the bank a simple, straightforward process? Can you do it online?
  • Ease of use – does the bank provide instant access to your account and help you track your spending with a user-friendly mobile app?
  • Customer service – can you contact the bank’s customer service team by phone and online, and will they have staff who can speak your native language?
  • Additional features – does the bank have other handy services available, such as savings accounts and overdrafts?

4 Banks to Consider Joining in France

While there are certainly a lot of banks to choose from in France, there are four that have caught our eye as good choices for new arrivals. Let’s take a closer look. 

Société Générale

Why it wins?

Otherwise known as SocGen, Société Générale helpfully caters to its customers’ needs by providing two account options. There’s an economical Kapsul account, which costs €2 per month and comes with access to the bank’s handy mobile app, as well as a cashback scheme which will give you percentage refunds when you make certain purchases with your SocGen card.

Alternatively, you can pay €6.20 a month for the Sobrio account, which comes with an overdraft facility and provides you with your very own personal adviser. Sobrio also lets you make more weekly and monthly payments and cash withdrawals than the Kapsul account. Whichever you go for, you can open your account online, and the bank offers savings accounts and insurance policies if you need those.

La Banque Postale

Why it wins?

As it was founded as a subsidiary of French postal service company La Poste, having an account with La Banque Postale puts thousands of post office contact points at your disposal. But what’s the account itself like? We recommend the fully digital Ma French service, which was launched relatively recently and can be joined in minutes online. The running cost for customers is a modest €2 per month, which includes the current account itself, along with a budget management app.

Ma French is a streamlined, fuss-free account specifically designed to cater to people seeking “autonomy, speed, convenience and independence”, according to the bank. It lacks extras such as an overdraft facility, but La Banque Postale does have a conventional account if you’d like to have a more expansive banking service. Insurance and other financial products are also readily available.

Banque Populaire

Why it wins?

As the name suggests, Banque Populaire has been a popular option with French customers for a very long time (since the 19th Century, in fact). There are a few variations of its Crystal Package account, so you can find the right service to meet your needs. The entry-level account is called Essential Crystal, and it lives up to its billing by providing the essentials like online banking, an overdraft facility and a dedicated advisor. This costs around €6.90, depending on where in France you’re based.

You could pay a few more euros a month for the Crystal Comfort account, which comes with enhanced insurance policies and also won’t charge you any fees for going into the first €500 of an overdraft. There’s even a top-level Premium Crystal account with more perks, including a Platinum debit card. However you’d like to proceed, you can apply online for either of these accounts, and sign up for the Banque Populaire savings account too.

Hello bank!

Why it wins?

With its playful name and fresh, funky feel, Hello bank! may look like an upstart among other banks. But it actually has a big history behind it, being an off-shoot of global banking giant BNP Paribas. Its Hello One account costs nothing in maintenance fees, and the app offers a highly user-friendly way of sorting out your finances and tracking spending. 

While there’s no overdraft with this basic account, you can choose to upgrade to the Hello Prime account, which costs €5 per month and brings extra elements like an overdraft and a “virtual card” you can use before you receive the physical bank card. This account does require a minimum deposit of €1,000 a month, though. Another great thing about Hello bank! is that it has a savings account you can easily manage through the app, and there are real human staff members you can contact by phone. 

How to send money from your bank back home

Once you’ve picked a French bank and successfully created your account, you can send money to your loved ones back home through Remitly. We’re passionate about providing a simple remittance service with a clear fee structure and fair exchange rates, and you can try our service with these easy steps.

  • Create a Remitly account using our website or app
  • Tell us which country you’d like to send money to
  • Pick the money delivery method
  • Tell us a few details about the recipient
  • Make your payment using your debit or credit card

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topics discussed herein. This publication is not a substitute for seeking advice from an applicable specialist or professional. The content in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Remitly or any of its affiliates and should not be relied upon as such. While we strive to keep our posts up to date and accurate, we cannot represent, warrant or otherwise guarantee that the content is accurate, complete or up to date. The information in our blogs should be considered accurate only as of the date of the blog. We disclaim any obligation to supplement or update the information in these blog articles.