Money For Members

What you can expect to pay in charges to your French bank

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 21 Oct, 2022 Updated Fri 21 Oct 2022 16:31 CEST
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(Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)

'Free banking' is a rare exception rather than the norm in France. Here, we explain the charges that you can expect from your French bank.


French bank charges are a topic almost guaranteed not to set pulses racing, but with a range of fees regularly charged, it's worth knowing what to expect.

Account maintenance fees

This is the annual fee to simply have an account with a French bank - it doesn't cover things like a bank card or chequebook, never mind any extra services.

Those account maintenance fees for regularly used current accounts have jumped nearly 180 percent in a decade - from an average of €7.24 per year at the end of 2012 to €20.23 per year in June 2022, according to a report from the observatoire des tarifs bancaires (OTB), an official body linked to the Banque de France.


Over the same period, the OTB noted the number of banks - its study looked at the accounts offered by 101 network banks and eight online banks - offering ‘free’ current accounts had fallen from 45 to 11.

The high street banks generally charge between €12 and €36 for day-to-day running of an account, while two establishments list their fees at €71.80 per year.

Fundamentally, the rule is if you want to open a bank account in France, you’ll just have to accept that there will be charges. 

Other charges

On top of the account maintenance fee, it's also common for banks to charge for certain services, particularly anything involving international banking, which foreigners in France are more likely to use.

Here are some of the services that are likely to attract a fee;

  • Authorised overdraft;
  • Annual fee for an international deferred debit payment card;
  • Annual fee for an international payment card with immediate debit;
  • Annual payment card fee with systematic authorisation;

It's not uncommon for foreigners in France to need to carry out international banking transfers, either transferring money between their own accounts in different countries or receiving money from their home country.

These usually attract a fee, but Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) payments - or those made within the eurozone - are usually cheaper than non-SEPA transfers. Among the things you can be charged for are;


  • Cost of an occasional SEPA/non-SEPA transfer carried out in a branch / or internet;
  • Fees for setting up a SEPA direct debit mandate;
  • Charges per payment of a SEPA Direct Debit;

French banks were slower to move into the world of online banking than many others, but these days most have at least some online services on offer. Again, however, you're likely to be charged for them;

  • Subscription to remote banking services (internet);
  • Subscription to a product that provides account status alerts via SMS;
  • Payment card with systematic authorisation (CPAS);

Some banks - although not all - also charge you to use the ATM of one of their rivals when you need cash;

  • Charges for cash withdrawals at an ATM of another bank;
  • Number of 'free withdrawals' per month from an ATM of another bank;

There are also some random extras including insurance, and you should definitely expect your bank to periodically try and sell you products such as life insurance or home insurance. You don't have to buy them.

  • Intervention commission (including unauthorised overdraft etc);
  • Contribution to insurance for loss or theft of means of payment.

You can compare a range of tariffs at banks in your departement on the government’s tarif bancaires comparison site here.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has reached an agreement with the country’s banks to limit the increase in bank fees in 2023. "Some French banks will freeze their banking fees throughout 2023 on very common services, such as bank cards," he said in September. 

How much

The OTB said a basic account package at a French high street bank - bank card, account management, account transfers, chequebook - would cost an average of €92.71.

A study by banking comparison site Panorabanques early in 2022, however, put the same average costs at €219.90 per year.

Online banks

If you're looking for a lower-fee option it might be worth checking out online banks.

In its study of bank charges, the OTB found that six of the 11 banks to continue offering at least some free bank account management services are online banks, while online banks that did charge fees were routinely cheaper.

While some people prefer to have a 'bricks and mortar' bank where they can visit a branch if necessary, online banks tend to offer simplified services and cheaper fees, while the online banks that offer accounts in multiple currencies - such as pounds and euros or dollars and euros - can be particularly useful for foreigners in France.

However you should be careful that the bank you chose has a banking licence in the countries you are using it in, otherwise you could struggle to recover your money in case of fraud or hacking.

You can read expert tips from a financial adviser HERE.




The Local 2022/10/21 16:31

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