Pont Noir

Live Life in Creuse

Opening a bank account
by LindaB • Thu 01 May 2014 19:15
Good evening

I would welcome views on the pros and cons of opening a bank account as a non-resident (house purchase still going through) as opposed to trying to do it when everything is finalised and I am over there! I have to also admit that my French is still extremely basic...

Ideally would like to do it beforehand.

I do expect to be travelling back and forth for at least the first year.

Mar 2014
Re: Opening a bank account
by virtdave • Fri 02 May 2014 01:03
We opened an account when we were in the process of buying our place, and it seemed to make things easier, despite the fact it was with the crummy BNP. French banks have their little ways--not that banks in the USA (or the UK, where we had an account with the Royal Bank of Scotland ages ago) are perfect, but the Crédit Agricole, at least the one in Felletin, has been fine (btw, choose your bank carefully, changing banks is a big PITA). Expect some sneaky little unexpected fees. It's quite handy to have an associated debit card (sometimes, for historical reasons, called a Carte Bleue, tho they're no longer blue)--your charges are deducted from your balance at the end of the month--and almost all tradesmen, even those in the marchés, accept them. It's also handy to use in an ATM (distributeur de billets), to get cash, and in general, you can use it this way without charge in any ATM in the euro zone, not just in France.

Unlike in the USA (don't recall about the UK, it never came up) once you write a check in France, it cannot be cancelled, as I discovered once just after being waaay overcharged by a clever merchant.

Also, letting the utility fees (water, phone, electricity) and taxes be automatically deducted from your bank account can help avoid missing a payment, with the hassle and late fees that entails.
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Sep 2008
Re: Opening a bank account
by ihusker • Fri 02 May 2014 18:49
If your French is not too good ( like mine), Britline is the English speaking dept. of Credit Agricole. I opened an account from the UK prior to my house purchase and, by and large, they have been pretty good. They handle all my direct debits for utilities etc. and they charge 55c per month fees. The staff who are based in Normandy are either English or speak English very well.
Feb 2006
Re: Opening a bank account
by Annik • Sat 03 May 2014 11:10
We have been with Credit Agricole for years, at the Chenerailles brancvh, and find them very good. We also had an account with Societe Generale in Gueret but we closed it.
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Jun 2007
Re: Opening a bank account
by Creusebear • Sat 03 May 2014 13:17
One more thumbs up for the Credit Agricole. We first opened an account with an HSBC branch in our nearest town as we ( mistakenly ) thought we would be able to link better from England. Then the local branch closed and we had to trek over to La Chatre.

Moving banks was relatively straight forward and they handled all the D/Ds. My only complaint was how long it took. They promised it would all be done within a couple of weeks but in fact it dragged on for over two months and I had to make a couple of phone calls to get things moving. Never a word of apology or embarrassment over the delay, apparently "C'est normale!"
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May 2007
Re: Opening a bank account
by virtdave • Sat 03 May 2014 18:07
Nice to see that the Crédit Agricole also works well in other towns...we did have one small issue with them once. We were in Paris, and I wanted to know how much money remained in my account in Felletin, so I went into one of their branches near Montparnasse to ask. I was told they couldn't know, since Felletin was part of a different section than was Paris. I volunteered to pay for a phone call to Felletin, no dice. I then said, "Well, if I wrote you a check for 500 euros, would it be ok?" The clerk typed a bit on her terminal, and said it would. So I asked, "How about a check for 1000 euros?" The clerk got a bit huffy, and said she knew what I was up to, and refused to tell me.....
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Sep 2008
Re: Opening a bank account
by Robjelves • Sat 03 May 2014 20:05
Just another option.. We opened an account with bank populaire as there are quite a few branches local to us.
They have an English speaking gent who travels around and will meet you at a local branch to open an account, we found it very easy apart from the forest of paperwork hey it France they love paperwork.
Here are his detail but it's just personal preference and I suppose word of mouth.
Dec 2013
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