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French banks in 2019: list of traditional and online banks

With so many banks in France today, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your own. But which are these banks, what exactly do they have to offer, and how do they compare to one another? This guide presents a complete list of banks in France, both online and traditional, to help you find the best French bank for your needs and budget.

  • To sum things up
  • In France, you have the choice between traditional banks, online banks and digital banks.
  • The French bank you choose will depend on your needs and budget.
  • Some banks also have offers tailored to certain profiles: minors, students, workers...

Which French bank should I choose?

The answer is: it depends on your needs and your situation. You will find below a selection of the banks we recommend in France overall, then a rundown of the best banks depending on your status.

Banks in France: our selection

We have compiled down below a list of banks in France which offer good offers and perks for non-French people.

Just be aware that certain French banks aren't particularly adapted to foreigners. Indeed, some will require you to be a French resident, to already have a French IBAN, and some won't provide their services or customer service in English.

Selection of the best online banks for foeigners in France (valid as of June 2019)
Name of the bank
Conditions to open an account
Price of the card
Advantages
How to sign up

Logo N26

N26

Provide ID

No income / deposit requirements

Classic Card: Free

Black Card: €9.90/month*

 100% online-based

 Great for travelling abroad

Sign up to N26

HSBC

HSBC

Provide ID and a French address

No income / deposit requirements

Visa Classic:

from €45/year*

 Offers services and customer

service in English

Sign up to HSBC

Logo Société Générale

Société Générale

Provide ID and a French address

No income or deposit requirements

Visa or Mastercard:

from €45/year*

 Offers accounts for students*

 Available for non-residents*

Sign up to Société Générale

Logo LCL

LCL

Provide ID and a French address

No income or deposit requirement

Visa or Mastercard:

from €45/year*

 100% online

 Offers accounts for students*

Sign up to LCL

Logo Boursorama

Boursorama

Provide ID, a French address and a French IBAN or an EU IBAN

Minimum €300 deposit

Free*

 No fees for opening the account

 Comes with a €80 welcome offer*

Sign up to Boursorama

*conditions apply.

Choosing a French bank: comparing the important criterias

Every bank is different and will have its own advantages to offer, but this makes it difficult to compare French banks and say that one is definitely better than another.

The bank right for you will be the one performing better on the criterias important to you, which we present below.

Choosing a French bank: the income requirements

This is the first thing to do! Indeed, all online French banking offers, even the most enticing ones, can be subject to more or less constraining eligibility conditions. These can take the form of a minimum monthly income, which you have to prove your earn upon opening French account. In some cases, you may replace this condition by a minimum amount of savings placed in your account.

Because of this, first and foremost, check that you meet the income and deposit conditions of your bank of choice, and that they will suit you on the long term.

Choosing a French bank: the credit cards

bank card

While most online banks claim that their credit card is free of charge, the card is actually often submitted to a minimum use (usually at least 1 to 3 transactions per month), without which fees are charged (usually around €3 to €5 per month), So make sure you are aware of these possible conditions beforehand and that they will correspond to the use you expected to have.

More information about bank cards in France in this other article.

Choosing a French bank: the services included

Not all banks provide the same range of services and products. Indeed, some of the more recent banks don't yet offer life insurance, mortgage solutions, consumer credits or savings accounts for instance. So just make sure the bank you wish to sign up to will be able to provide you with the features that matter to you.

Choosing a French bank: the welcome offers

Finally, it might be interesting to compare the welcome bonuses banks online have to offer.

Most offer on average €80 to open an account, but some such as Monabanq offer up to €200 (although it will pay you €10 per month until the full bonus sum is paid as opposed to all in one go).

Choosing the French bank for your profile

The next criteria to consider is your status, including age, income and professional situation.

The best French banks for minors

banks for minors

In France, under 18s are allowed to hold a bank account, as long as they get approval from their legal representative.

 Boursorama Bank's Kador offer stands out. It is dedicated to 12 to 17 year olds, online-based and has no overdraft authorized. It comes with a free Visa Classic card, SMS notifications, contactless payment and more. Note that you have to first be a Boursorama customer, as a parent, to set your child up to this offer.

 The Monabanq's 16-18 year old youth account is free to open and comes with a €1/month Visa Classic card. Free services include transactions in the Eurozone, digital slips for cashing cheques and depositing them in a CIC agency.

The best French banks for students

card student

Because they often have only limited incomes, student will tend to look for a bank with basic services, with lower fees and without minimum income requirements.

 Monabanq is a good option. It grants its clients a current account for €2/month, with no income requirements, and a Visa Classic card.

 Boursorama's Welcome offer is another good option, as it is free to open, and has no income or minimum deposit requirements. It comes with Visa Classic card which remains free so long as it is used for at least one payment/month (if not, they will be charged €5/month), as well as innovative services for students to easily manage their budget, customise notifications, store documents...

The best French banks for workers

bank for worker

For an average employee, online banks in France often proves more advantageous than network banks. A trio stands out for this user profile: Boursorama, Fortuneo and ING Direct.

 Boursorama's Welcome offer does not impose minimum income or deposit requirements. The Visa Classic card which comes with it is free, so long as you use it to make at least one payment per month (otherwise you will be charged €5/month).

 On another hand, Fortuneo's offer includes a current account and a bank card free of charge. Just note that a €1,200 monthly net income is required for a standard MasterCard, and €1,800 for a premium Gold MasterCard.

 Finally, ING Direct offers a free and advantageous customisable Gold MasterCard, but requires a minimum monthly payment of €1,200. To avoid this, the customer can place €5,000 in savings on her or his ING account.

The best French banks for a professional

professional

Online banks are starting to become interested for professionals.

 Boursorama Banque is one of them, with a €9/month offer including a Visa Premier card and a "Livret Pro". You can customise overdrafts to up to €4,000, and subscribe to a Boursorama Protection Pro insurance, too.

 Monabanq offers an €7/month account for auto-entrepreneurs. 100% online-based, there are no income requirements to open this professional account, but you will need to place €150 upon opening the account. You can get a Visa Classic card for €1/month, or a Visa Premier card for €3/month.

List of the traditional banks in France

bank-france

Traditional French banks occupy a central place in the French banking landscape. Their importance can be accounted for by the density of bank branches across France.

Indeed, for instance, the BPCE has over 37,261 branches, equivalent to 5.49 branches per 1,000 inhabitants. In addition, more than 80% of the French market is shared between Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas, BPCE and Société Générale.

Bare in mind that, out of all the traditional banks below, HSBC France is the only bank to offer its services in English, and will provide customer service in English - making it a great option for you if you aren't comfortable with communicating in French yet.

The main French Traditional Banks (non-exhaustive, valid as of 2019)
Logo Bank name Number of clients in France (2019)
CIC The CIC 6.9 million
Crédit Agricole The Crédit Agricole 28.3 million
BNP Paribas The BNP Paribas 7.4 million
Société Générale The Société Générale 11.5 million
Crédit du Nord The Crédit du Nord 2 million
Banque Populaire The Banque Populaire 9.6 million
La Caisse d'Epargne The Caisse d'Épargne 20.6 million
Crédit Mutuel The Crédit Mutuel 12.8 million
LCL LCL 6.3 million
HSBC HSBC France 850,000
Allianz Banque Allianz Banque 156,000
Banque Postale The Banque Postale 10.7 million

The CIC

CIC

The CIC (Crédit Industriel et Commercial) was born in 1859 on the initiative of Napoleon III, which makes it the oldest bank in France. It was repurchased by the Crédit Mutuel in 1998 and today boasts 2,000 agencies nationwide.

Today, it offers banking and insurance services for private individuals, as well as being a private bank and a financing bank, which also carries out stock market activities and capital development.

The Crédit Agricole

CA

The Crédit Agricole is another one of the oldest banks in France. Created in 1894, it was originally designed for the agricultural world, but has evolve at lot since.

Indeed, it has now become an international bank, offering banking solutions as well as financial products such as credit repurchase.

The BNP Paribas

bnp

The BNP Paribas was founded in 1966, following the merge of two French banks. Present in 75 countries, the BNP has over 30 million clients and is one of the major French banking establishments on the market.

It is today the biggest French bank as well as the largest in Europe and the fifth largest worldwide. This bank provides a large range of financial products, of which investment in real estate.

The Société Générale

Societe Generale

Created back in 1864, the Société Genérale is present worldwide and operates in 76 countries.

It not only is a bank for private individuals, but also specialises in private financing and investments and also manages assets and title deeds in France.

The Crédit du Nord

Credit du Nord

Part of the Société Générale group, the Crédit du Nord is actually made up of 8 banks: the Société Marseillaise de Crédit, the Kolb, Courtois, Nuger, Laydernier, Tarneaud and Rhône-Alpes banks, and the Crédit du Nord.

It has 900 agencies across France and manages the accounts of 2 million clients in France.

The Banque Populaire

BP

Born back in 1878, the Banque Populaire has branches all across France, with its name changing slightly depending on the region (such as the Banque Populaire du Sud in France or the Banque Populaire Bourgogne in Burgundy...). Tariffs and offers also vary from one region to another.

Despite these differences, the Banque Populaire offers a wide variety of financial solutions and products, as well as offering credit repurchase.

The Caisse d'Épargne

Caisse d'epargne

The Caisse d'Épargne is one of the oldest French banks and has 4,000 branches nationwide. It is known for its ability to customise its financial services in order to better meet its clients' expectations.

It serves both private individuals and professionals, and also offers insurance schemes.

The Crédit Mutuel

Credit Mutuel

The Crédit Mutuel opened its first branch in 1882, and is the second largest bank in France in terms of branches with 6,000 agencies across the country. This bank offers standard financial products as well as insurance schemes.

LCL

LCL

LCL is a subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole and was created in 2005. It is focused on offering new digital solutions to its clients, by implementing a 100% online bank and a Facebook-based customer aftercare service.

It also has special offers for students, and a savings and investment services, real estate and consumer loans and insurance schemes.

HSBC

HSBC

HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) is a truly international bank, with over 38 million clients worldwide. Created in Hong Kong in 1865, today it has branches in 67 countries.

The French subsidiary in HSBC France, which is one of the world's largest banking groups. The bank offers a wide variety of activities, with focus on investment, financing and wealth management. HSBC is also present on the stock market with its HSBC Holdings shares.

It provides banking solutions for individuals but also for French companies, enabling them to develop internationally thanks to its strong presence abroad.

Allianz Banque

Allianz

The Allianz bank was created in 1890 and boasts a network of 6,000 branches across France. It puts special focus on its relationship with its clients, as indicated in its slogan "With you from A to Z".

It offers a range of baking services, from consumer credit to home loans, but also credit consolidation solutions. But Allianz is also known for its range of insurance services, and is actually the third largest general insurer in France.

The Banque Postale

Banque Postale

Last but not least, the Banque Postale is a very new French bank, as it first opened in 2006. It was founded by the La Poste group and adopted the slogan "Banque et Citoyenne". Indeed, it is known for being militant against financial exclusion, offering financial products to even the more modest households.

The Banque Postale offers all types of loan repurchase solutions, including repurchase of consumer loans or renegotiation of real estate loans. It also has insurance and savings activities, as well as asset management.

With over 10 million clients and 11 millions bank accounts opened, the Banque Postale has grown incredibly quickly in only a few years and is now one of the major actors on the French banking world.

List of the online banks in France

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 residence and proof of French tax payments / income. Keep this all in mind as you read on and before you consider signing up to an offer.

online-bank

The online banking market emerged in France in the 2000s. It has been undergoing a rapid expansion since 2006, driven by major players such as Boursorama Banque, Monabanq, Fortuneo and ING Direct, which are in fact subsidiaries backed by major traditional banks.

These banks have an entirely Internet-based mode of operation, meaning that all processes (opening or closing an account, contacting the customer service), are done online.

Because of this, online banks don't have as many structural costs to cover as traditional banks, so they make significant savings. Thanks to this, they are able to offer their clients much lower rates and charges.

Below is a list of the major actors on the market.

The main online banks in France (non-exhaustive, valid as of May 2019)
Logo Bank name Number of clients in France (2019)

Logo Monabanq

Monabanq 310,000

Logo ING Direct

ING

1 million

Logo BforBank

BforBank 230,000

Logo Boursorama Banque

Boursorama Banque 1.8 million

Logo Hello Bank

Hello Bank! 400,000

Logo Fortuneo Banque

Fortuneo 450,000

Find out more about online banks and what each of them has to offer in terms of accounts, cards and more in this dedicated article.

List of neobanks in France

The number of French online banks is multiplying still today, as attested by the arrival in 2017 of Orange Bank or Eko by Crédit Agricole. More and more French people are turning towards these new players and opening an account via online banks. In 2018, 15 online banks share 3.5 million French customers.

New online banks should also see the light of day in the coming months, including "Ma French Bank" the online bank La Banque Postale announced for 2019. Below is a list of the major actors on the market.

Great advantages of opting for such a bank are that they won't require you to be a French resident, they won't ask you to detain a French IBAN prior to subscribing, and neither will they ask you for minimum deposits

The main neobanks in France (non-exhaustive, valid as of May 2019)
Logo Bank name Number of clients in France (2019)
Logo Orange Bank
Orange Bank 300,000
Logo N26
N26 600,000
Logo Revolut
Revolut 480,000
Logo Nickel
Nickel 1.2 million
Logo C-zam
C-zam 120,000

Orange Bank

BP

Orange Bank was created following a partnership between the operator Orange and the Groupama group, in 2017. It puts focus on innovation, banking expertise and digital expertise. All its loan and banking services are accessible via a smartphone, on the bank mobile app.

Orange Bank has a lot of perks to offer its clients and future clients. All its offers are straightforward, simple and customisable and you can make transaction via your phone and through SMS. Its bank card is free and customisable, and you will be exempted from account opening fees if you make payments via bank card or phone more than 3 times per month. The Orange Bank loan scheme is also quite advantageous and flexible, and you can cancel it for free within the 6 first months.

Finally, the bank has interesting welcome offers, with additional discounts for Orange and Sosh customers.

Revolut

BP

Probably one of the best-known online banking service, Revolut appeared on the market in 2015. It comes with an app through which you can transfer money internationally, free of charge. It also allows you to make payments abroad without extra charges.

Revolut is very innovation-focused, offering innovative services and allowing for the use of crypto-currency. You can thus sell and purchase Bitcoins and other currencies over the app. Revolut also offers loan solutions, with very attractive rates and the convenience of being unlocked in the space of minutes!

N26

n26

Formerly known as Number26, N26 is a Berlin-based started which appeared in 2013. This online bank operates completely via an app, through which you can carry out and manage all your transactions.

You will get access to 2 types of accounts: the N26 current account and the N26 Black. With the current account, you get a bank card for free, with 5 free withdrawals per month. With the N26 Black account, the associated card gives you access to additional insurance and assistance services, as well as free cash withdrawals in foreign currencies. This card comes at a cost of €9.90 per month, with 5 free monthly withdrawals a 12-month contract.

Finally, the N26 Business account comes with a professional bank card, which offers an interesting 0.1% cashback option on all purchases made with the card.

C-zam

BP

C-zam was created by the Carrefour Banque et Assurance group, as recently as in 2019. It offers an online current account with a Mastercard payment card. This card costs €5 upon opening the account, then €1 per month after that. You won't be charged fees for payments by card made within the Eurozone and abroad.

As for withdrawals, since C-zam is linked to the BNP Paribas, you will be able to get cash out free of charge for BNP ATMs in the Eurozone, but all other withdrawals of euros and other currencies will be charged €1. You can also combine this bank card to your Carrefour supermarket loyalty programme, and get benefits and discounts when you use it for grocery shopping.

The online bank also provides insurance via its C-zam Protection service, which costs €1.50 / month and covers you in case you get your card lost or stolen, and against banking fraud.

Finally, although C-Zam gives you a French RIB, you may want to note that it doesn't offer cheque books, neither will you be able to cash-in cheques.

Nickel

BP

Formerly known as Compte-Nickel, Nickel offers you a Mastercard payment card, a bank card and a French RIB. It is accessible even for people with prohibited banking, but doesn't provide cheque books and nor does it allow overdrafts.

The Nickel bank card enables you to make payments online and in stores, as well as withdraw cash from ATMs for €1/transaction, or for €0.50/transaction in any of Nickel's partner tobacconists. This card can be used abroad, contrary to standard bank cards which often come with systematic authorisation.

Keep in mind that keeping your account open will cost €20 per month.

Ditto Bank

BP

Ditto Bank arrived on the market in 2015. It is particularly adapted to frequent travellers, foreign exchange students and expats. It allows its users to manage an account in multiple currencies and to open several accounts in the currencies they want. Clients can thus open accounts denominated in currencies such as Swiss francs, pounds sterling or US dollars.

The bank also proposes a wide range of products and services, along with a smart MasterCard Gold. Ditto comes with a mobile app for users to manage their accounts in real-time, and make automatic withdrawals and payments in any local currency.

Morning

BP

Created in 2017, Morning is an innovate online bank, allowing its private and professional clients to manage their finances on a completely transparent platform.

It has a lot of products on offers, such as Morning Pay for example, a collaborative account that can be opened in just a few clicks. The opening of this account gives right to a debit card that allows a money exchange between you and your relatives.

With another product, Morning Jump, customers can put funds into their account and set their own deposit cap.

As for Morning Welcome, it is an account which comes with a French IBAN.

Ma French Bank

BP

The La Banque Postale group has announced that is would be releasing its own online bank service mid-2019: Ma French Bank. It will be a 100% digital banking service and will be accessible to anyone, regardless of income.

Opening an account will be quick and easy, and the app that will come with it will allow you to keep live track of your spendings. What's more, there won't be any problem withdrawing money abroad, and Ma French Bank will very likely offer its clients a certain overdraft amount. More to come in Summer 2019!

Qonto

BP

Last but not least, Qonto is a rising startup which specialises in online banking for small and medium-sized businesses in France. It offers 100% online professional bank accounts and a French IBAN.