Our English-speaking advisors are available:

09 87 67 37 93 Free callback

How to Open An Online Bank Account in France in 2019

Online banks have flourished on the French banking market over the past years. They offer the benefit of charging very low bank fees, allowing you to save up to €250 per year. This guide will help shed light on these banks, to help you choose the one right for your needs and budget.

  • To sum things up
  • There are 6 main online banks in France, all with cheap bank cards and attrative welcome offers.
  • Most online banks are actually subsidiaries of traditional French banks.
  • Although they offer many benefits, you should be aware of the drawbacks and fees linked to online accounts.
  • Opening a French online account is quick and easy, but you do need to meet certain requirements.

List of the top French online banks in 2019

What are the main online banks in France, and what do they have to offer? The answers are in the table below.

Note that you need to already have a French IBAN before opening an online account in France. What's more, you will have to provide proof of ID, proof of French address and in some cases, a proof of French income. Boursorama Banque is the only online bank that accepts customers who are not fiscally resided in France and without any proof of French income ; this bank also accepts EU IBANs. Keep this all in mind as you read on and before you consider signing up to an offer.

Selection of the top online banks in France (vaild as of May 2019)
Bank Bank card price Why choose this bank? Welcome offer* How to sign up

Logo Boursorama Banque

Boursorama Banque

Free
(conditions apply)
  • A comprehensive banking offer
  • Awarded the title of "cheapest bank" in France
  • Comes with a Welcome offer without income requirements
  • Accepts customers that are not fiscally resided in France if they have an EU IBAN.
€80

Sign up to Boursorama

Logo Monabanq

Monabanq

€2/month
  • Awarded Customer Service of the Year Prize in 2018 and 2019
  • No income requirement (even for the Visa Premier)
  • Cheques can be deposited in CIC branches
Up to €120

Sign up to Monabanq

Logo ING Direct

ING

Free
(conditions apply)

  • Comes with a mortgage offer
  • Includes a Gold MasterCard without income conditions
€80

Sign up to ING

Logo BforBank

BforBank

Free
(conditions apply)
  • Has a wide range of banking products and services
€80

Sign up to BforBank

Logo Hello Bank

Hello Bank!

Free
  • 100% mobile-based
  • Connected to the BNP Paribas network
€80

Sign up to Hello Bank!

Logo Fortuneo Banque

Fortuneo Banque

Free
(conditions apply)
  • First bank to be going on the stock market
  • Has a mortgage offer
€80

Sign up to Fortuneo

*conditions apply.

Online banks: main characteristics

Below are some key points that will help you understand what bank accounts are and how they operate.

What exactly is an online bank account?

An online bank is a bank with an entirely Internet-based mode of operation. All processes and actions, such as opening or closing an account, contact the customer service, obtain a mortgage, are done directly on the bank's website.

These banks are also very focused around customer service, more so than traditional banks. Indeed, their advisors are available to contact by internet or by telephone, to help clients deal with their various queries.

Thanks to this modus operandi, online banking companies avoid a lot of structural costs, and are thus able to save a lot of money. This is how they are able to offer their particularly attractive rates.

What services do online banks typically have to offer?

Maybe one of the weakest aspects of online banking: the amount of offers and services they provide (although these are progressively expanding overtime).

You will always, at the very least, get access to both a current account and an associated credit card, either Visa or Mastercard depending on the bank.

Other services soften included are life insurance, savings plans, consumer and real estate loans, once again varying from one bank to another.

To whom do online banks belong to?

Online banks are very often subsidiaries of a traditional French banking group, which is a reassuring factor for clients as this keeps them protected in regards to a potential solvency and the security of their accounts.

However, the flip side of this means that online banks often have limited leeway and limits in terms of independence.

Traditional Banks and their subsidiary online banks
Online bank Traditional bank operating it

Logo Boursorama Banque

Boursorama Banque

Société Générale

Logo ING Direct

ING

The ING Group

Logo Fortuneo Banque

Fortuneo

Crédit Mutuel Arkéa

Logo Monabanq

Monabanq

Crédit Mutuel

Logo Hello Bank

Hello Bank!

BNP Paribas

Logo BforBank

BforBank

Crédit Agricole

Logo Eko by CA

Eko

Crédit Agricole

 Mon banquier en ligne

Monbanquierenligne

Caisse d’Épargne

How safe are online bank accounts?

It may at first feel a little scary to sign up to an entirely Internet-based bank, with no physical agencies. But rest assured that online banks are very reliable and are extremely regulated and supervised in France.

Indeed, in order to operate, French online banks need to obtain a certification granted by the ACPR, a French Prudential Control and Resolution Authority. The bank also needs to join and contribute the the FGDR, the Guarantee Fund for Deposits and Resolution, which will ensure that its clients are insured up to €100,000 which is the same as with any traditional bank.

Moreover, as explained above, the majority of these online banks are actually the property of conventional, network banking groups, meaning their risk of going bankrupt is near to null. In terms of transaction and personal data security, it is good to know that sensitive data of this kind is extremely regulated and framed by both French and European laws. This means that, with an online bank, you are no more likely of being subject to fraud (theft, phishing...) than with any other type of bank.

Comparing French online banks Before opting for an online bank, it is crucial to compare the different banks and offers on the market. Online comparing tools can help you find the bank right for your profile, budget and other criteria important to you. You can check out this comprehensive guide of Comparison of French online banks, which goes into detail about all the banks and their services (in French)

Online banks: main benefits and drawbacks

It is important to understand both the positive and negative aspects tied to French online banks, to be able to assess whether this option may be suitable for you.

Pros and cons of holding an online bank account in France

Online banks accounts: the pros

There are many advantages to opting for an online bank.

 For one, as these banks don't have any structural costs to consider, many operations are free and seamless, such as opening of an account or obtaining a credit card, and what's more you will avoid paying maintenance fees.

 In addition, online banks are continuously innovating to attract new customers and better meet their clients expectations, by for instance expanding their services, tailoring their offers to different profiles (professionals, students, minors, travelers, etc.).

 Another perk: the welcome bonuses, set to €80 on average and even up to €200 for some! And what's more, you will often find that saving accounts have very interesting rates, and that life insurance contracts are free of fees.

 Customer service is at the heart of online banking, with advisors always reachable online or via the bank's app to help answer your queries. It is thus no surprise that these banks are regularly awarded prizes for their support team's quality and availability.

Online banks accounts: the cons

On the other hand, there are drawbacks to online accounts which you should be aware of.

 Among the disadvantages of online banking is the reduced range of banking products and services compared to traditional banks.

 Some customers also have an issue with the lack of human contact entailed, while others take issue with the fact you cannot deposit cash or cheques into your account, because of the dematerialised nature of the banks.

 It is important to note that there are barriers to entry set by some banks, such as minimum income, savings or deposit conditions to meet, making them out of reach for anyone with a low income.

 Finally, online banks may start being threatened by digital banks (or "neobanks") which are progressively entering the market, as they are very similar to online banks but provide an even more fluid user experience and don't set any minimum income or deposits.

Online banks pros and cons: summary

To sum things up, here is a summary of the main pros and cons of online banks:

Online banks: pros and cons
Pros
Cons
  • Reduced banking fees
  • Bank card is often free
  • Advantageous Welcome bonuses
  • Readily available customer service
  • No physical agencies
  • Tied to traditional banks
  • Limited range of banking products / services
  • No human contact

Comparing the strong and weak points of French online banks

Below is a rundown of the main benefits and drawbacks linked to the main French online banks.

boursorama
Boursorama Banque
Pros Cons
  • Reduced banking fees
  • A comprehensive range of services: loans, savings, crédit, stock exchange
  • Current account available for professionals
  • Personal loans only available for the bank's clients
  • No physical agencies
ING
ING Direct
Pros Cons
  • No income requirements
  • Loan available for professionals
  • A bank focused on innovation
  • No consumer credit
  • Rates for saving accounts aren't as interesting as for other banks
monabanq
Monabanq
Pros Cons
  • No income requirement
  • Offers tailored to young people
  • Offers tailored to auto-entrepreneurs.
  • No free bank card
  • No mortgage offers.
Fortuneo
Fortuneo
Pros Cons
  • A wide range of services and products
  • Interesting stock exchange offers
  • A savings account for children (the "Livret + Enfant").
  • No consumer credit offers
  • Limited saving account offers.
BforBank
BforBank
Pros Cons
  • Wide range of banking products
  • Interesting welcome offers
  • Comes with an affordable Visa Infinite card
  • High income requirements: at least €1,200 per month
  • No personal advisor
Hello Bank
Hello Bank!
Pros Cons
  • A wide range of bank cards to choose from
  • 100% digital-based.
  • No accounts for professionals
  • No offers for young people

Tariffs set by online banks

Here is all you need to know about online banks fees and tariffs induced by opening and holding a bank account.

Is it free to own a French online bank?

Not exactly - holding an online bank is not completely free as some banking transactions still incur fees. This said, contrary to traditional banks, you won't normally be charged for:

  • Your bank card
  • The maintenance of your account
  • Intervention commissions
  • etc.

On the other hand, you might well be charged for the following:

  • Exceeding your authorised overdraft
  • Withdrawing cash outside of the Eurozone
  • Making payments outside of the Eurozone
  • Renewing your bank card before it reaches expiration
  • Resetting your bank card's PIN code

You may also find you have a fee to pay if you don't make a set number transactions a month with your credit card, especially if you are signed up to an account with ING Direct, Boursorama Banque or BforBank.

Prices set by online banks for banking operations

In practice, here are the tariffs charged by the main French online banks:

Online banks: tariffs for the main banking operations
Online bank Price of the bank card Fees for keeping the bank account open Cash withdrawals outside of the bank network Cash withdrawals within the EU Insurance on payment methods Payments by card outside of the EU

Boursorama Banque

Logo Boursorama Banque

Free
(conditions apply)
Free Free Free €0
(for the baseline insurance)
1.95%
of the payment

ING Direct

Logo ING Direct

Free
(conditions apply)

Free Free Free 0€
(for the baseline insurance)
2%
of the payment (minimum amount: €0.50)

Monabanq

Logo Monabanq

€2/month Free Free Free €24
(baseline insurance)
2%
of the payment (and €0 for premium accounts)

Fortuneo

Logo Fortuneo Banque

Free
(conditions apply)
Free Free Free €0
(baseline insurance)
1.98%
of the payment

BforBank

Logo BforBank

Free
(conditions apply)
Free Free Free €24
(baseline insurance)
1.95%
of the payment

Hello Bank

Logo Hello Bank

Free
(conditions apply)
Free Free Free €26.50
(the BNP Paribas standard insurance)
2%
of the payment

How to open an online bank account

Think an online bank might be the right option for you? Read on to find out how to proceed to open your account.

Is it easy to sign up to a French online bank?

Yes, more than ever! The process takes around 10 minutes, during which you need to fill in a registration form and submit supporting documents (ID, income, address...) on your bank of choice's website.

Your file will be reviewed by an advisor within a few days, and if it meets the bank's requirements then you will be set up with a current account (you may have a one-time fee to pay in exchange), and you will receive your associated bank card by mail.

Just take note that you need to own a French (or sometimes EU) IBAN from a traditional bank prior to opening an online bank account.

What if I'm switching to an online-based bank?

online-bank

If you are leaving a conventional bank to sign up to an online bank instead, your new bank will take care of all the banking mobility operations for you free of charge, as stated by French law. This means that your online bank will for instance redirect your transfers (income, direct debits, taxes, etc.)

To proceed to these operations on your behalf, you will be asked to sign a mandate ("mandat de mobilité bancaire"). This will enable your new bank to get in touch with your creditors (your employer, the French benefits system...) or debtors (energy provider, phone provider...) in order to notify them of your bank domiciliation change. All in all, thanks to this free service, everything will be taken care of for you!

Conditions required to open an online bank account

Keep in mind that just like traditional banks, online banks sometimes have a set minimum income you need to meet to open an account. In this case, you will have to provide proof of a monthly income which varies from bank to bank:

  • Hello Bank: €1,000 per month minimum
  • Boursorama Bank: €1,000 per month minimum
  • Fortuneo: €1,200 per month minimum
  • BforBank: €1,600 per month minimum

If these requirements are out of reach for you, consider instead ING Direct, Monabanq or Orange Bank, which don't ask for any minimum income. You can also look into neobanks, such as N26 or Revolut.

Besides, some banks may also require that you make a certain amount payments per month, in order to get a free credit card and/or benefit from the welcome bonus. Always check the bank's T&Cs to make sure you will be able to fulfill these conditions!