2. Which French Bank?

  1. French High Street Banks
  2. International/Offshore Banking
  3. Internet Banks
  4. Conclusion: Which Bank?

2.4. Conclusion: Which French Bank?

There is no simple or clear answer as to what is the best value or most suitable bank in France.

However, the on-line banks now offer a very competitive alternative to the High Street banks, so if you do not need to use one of the main retail banks, you would unquestionably be better off going on-line.

One of the difficulities in making a comparison between the High Street banks is the regional structure that operates in some banks, leading to different offers and types of services in different parts of the country.

In addition, the 'best bank' is always going to be in the eyes of the beholder, for we each have different views of what we want from a bank and how we perceive the services they offer. For some it will be the bank that is cheapest; for others nothing short of a premium rate brand or service will do.

In coming to your decision you need to decide the services that are most important to you and to compare their offers. In particular:

  • How important is a local branch near your home?
  • How satisfied are you with the level of customer service in the bank?
  • How important is a national branch network to you?
  • How important is a bilingual service to you?
  • What does the bank charge for particular services?
  • What levels of interest do they offer on deposit accounts?
  • Will they grant you a mortgage?
  • How good are their on-line facilities?
  • Do they offer overdraft facilities to non-residents?

For non-residents, the most important question may well be do they allow you to open an account? If they do, just how easy is it to do so? That is perhaps where the on-line banks score best, as the formalities are easier with them.

If you wish to compare charges and rates, the French government do provide an on-line service where you can compare the rates offered by different banks, although it is entirely in French and it is not the easiest site to use; some of the terminology is obscure, not all the tariffs for all services are shown and the price comparisons provided are for different individual services. In addition, you would be best to verify the information with the bank you propose to use as some of the rates are negotiable.

The service can be found at Tarifs-bancaires.

You can also read an article published in France Insider in May 2023 about the strenght of French banks, which you can find at How Safe is your Money in a French Bank?.

Next: Opening a French Bank Account

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