Readers’ tips: Which bank offers the best account for foreigners in France?

Readers' tips: Which bank offers the best account for foreigners in France?
Each week The Local asks its readers to share their tips about various aspects of living in France. This week we asked their opinion on which bank offers the best account for foreigners living in France. Here's what they had to say.
Which bank offers the best account for foreigners living in France?
Our readers chose Britline, a branch of Credit Agricole Normandie, as the bank account of choice for foreigners in France.    
What is Britline?
Britline is an online English speaking French Banking service for people resident in France, the UK and Ireland. 
Its slogan is “French banking, English thinking” and the idea is to simplify banking in France for people who would rather not deal with their financial affairs in French. 
Britline's headquarters is in Caen in Normandy and was founded in 1999.
The majority of its customer service agents are British and many of its 60,000 clients are based in the areas most popular with Brits in France, such as Brittany, Normandy and the south west, according to a Britline spokesperson. 
Unlike some other French bank accounts you can open an account with Britline online before arriving in France. 
Photo: Screenshot/Britline website
Why is it so popular?
Britline clients said that the staff were helpful, that they appreciated being able to deal with their French finances in English and said the bank's services were of a high standard. 
Brian Smith, a client of Britline who lives in Normandy, told The Local: “Britline deals with a lot of UK people and I've found them very helpful on all banking issues.
“They have got very good staff and good insurance rates and can cover all your needs. They also have some good savings accounts. Most staff speak English and are very knowledgeable.”
Another Britline client also stressed how important it had been for her and her husband to be able to set up an account with a bank with an English service.
“My husband, who had a career in finance but whose French language skills were limited, chose Britline,” Jan Tapp said. 
“Britline called us in the UK to set up our accounts, spoke very good English, answered all of our questions and all has gone well since,” Jan Tapp said, adding that she and her husband have also organised their insurance through Britline and “have had no problems at all in the last four years”.
However Ms. Tapp also noted a possible downside for some which is that if you have an account through Britline with Credit Agricole you can't go into a CA bank to talk to someone, you have to speak to Britline over the phone.
Were any other bank accounts recommended?
For several American readers, BNP Paribas was the bank of choice due to its partnership with Bank of America which means a lot of perks for anyone with a BofA account back home. 
Claire Rush who lives in Paris said: “For Americans, BNP has a partnership with Bank of America. If you have the latter back in the states, that means no foreign ATM withdrawal fees when you use your BofA debit card at ATMs in France (and vice versa).
“As far as opening French accounts, I have Credit Cooperatif, a 'socially conscious' bank. I like their philosophy — they’re partners w/ NGOs like Médecins du Monde and the customer service is decent. But there aren't too many branches and I’ve had trouble using my card for online purchases.”
Another BNP Paribas client from the US also highlighted the convenience of the connection with BofA. 
“I use BNP for the partnership with BofA and they made it relatively simple to open an account, which was often not the case at other banks,” said Jim Lockard, who lives between the US and France. 
And any banks readers recommended avoiding?
One reader advised steering clear of Boursarama Banque, a subsidiary of Societe Generale. 
“Do not use Boursorama Banque at all! Terrible/ no customer service and they made a huge mistake with my account,” one reader told The Local. 
If you would like to ask The Local's readers a question to hear their tips on life in France, email us at [email protected]

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Member comments

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  1. After 25 years in France I found that La Banque Postale is the best for service and services. The charges are much less than any other bank and there is an overdraft without any interest if repaid within 30 days which is helpful if you are waiting for money to be paid into your account. As there is a Post Office in nearly every town and often villages have a Post Office service once a week usually on market day, it is easy to pop in for advice etc.

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