Getting a Free Credit Card in France in 2021
Opening a new French bank account means you get a brand new bank card - which sometimes comes with hefty charges, upwards of €240 for Premium cards! If you would rather avoid these fees, this guide has got you covered - find below a list of all the banks in France which offer their cards for free.
- To sum things up
- In France, you can get a free credit card by signing up to an online bank.
- The process is simple, but conditions apply.
- If you struggle to meet the online bank requirements, digital banks are another option to get a free card.
Comparing French banks that offer a free bank card
If you wish to skip the charges incurred by getting a French bank card, your best bet will be to opt for an online bank. Indeed, as these banks are entirely Internet-based, they have far fewer structural costs to pay than traditional banks, and the savings made as a result are reflected in lower charges for their clients. Below is a presentation of the main online banks in France which have made their bank cards free of charge thanks to these savings.
Note that most French online banks only accept customers who are fiscally resided in France and who already have a French IBAN, a French address and a proof of French income. However, you do not need to meet these conditions to open an account at N26, which has the simplest process to open an account for a non-resident. Boursorama Banque also accepts customers who are not fiscally resided in France and without any proof of French income, but you'll need to provide an EU IBAN.
Prices and conditions are valid as of November 2020.
|Online bank & sign up||Welcome offer*||Card & conditions required to obtain the card|
Sign up to N26
Sign up to Boursorama
Sign up to ING
Sign up to BforBank
Sign up to Fortuneo
Sign up to Hello Bank!
*conditions apply - check the bank's website for more information
How to get a free bank card in France via an online bank
Now that we've seen which French banks won't charge you for their cards, let's go into detail about how to obtain the payment device, bank by bank.
Getting a free bank card with Boursorama Banque
Boursorama offers its cards for free and enables you to avoid the minimum revenue condition with the Welcome and Ultim plans. It instead requires that you perform at least one monthly transaction with your Visa card.
- To get the Visa Classic card Welcome Offer: no income requirements, but you need to use the card at least once a month (otherwise you pay a monthly fee of €5).
- To get the Visa Premier card Ultim Offer: no income requirements, but you need to use the card at least once a month (otherwise you pay a monthly fee of €15).
As shown above, Boursorama's offers come with an €80 bonus upon opening the account. Boursorama also welcomes customers who are not fiscally resided in France, which is an exception among French online banks. However, you'll have to provide an EU IBAN and you'll have to reach the customer service at some point to complete your registration. N26 is a solid option to get a free card if you can't meet these requirements and if you want to open your account quickly.
Whichever of the following banks you wish to opt for if there are income requirements to meet you will be asked to provide proof of revenue. So make sure you have the relevant supporting documents at hand when you start the online process of signing up.
Getting a free bank card with ING Direct
The online bank ING Direct provides a Gold MasterCard, free of charge and of any income requirement.
But this said, you still have to abide by certain conditions: either you pay €1,200 into your French current account every month, or you have a balance of €5,000 in your account at least at one point every month.
Getting a free bank card with Fortuneo
The Fortuneo free-of-charge bank cards also come with minimum income conditions, as follows:
- For the standard MasterCard: at least € 1,200 in monthly net income, or an outstanding balance of €5,000
- For the Gold MasterCard: at least € 1,800 in monthly net income, or an outstanding balance of €10,000
- For the World Elite MasterCard: at least €4,000 in monthly net income + a minimum monthly payment of €4,000 into the account.
Note that in order for the card to remain free of charge, you will need to use it to make at least one transaction per month.
Getting a free bank card with BforBank
BforBank provides the Visa Classic and the advantageous Visa Premier card, in addition to a Welcome Offer of up to €150 - one of the highest on the market. This offer can be yours as long as you fulfil the following conditions:
- Proceed to at least 3 transactions by credit card per quarter (if not, you will be charged €6/quarter with a Visa Classic and €9/quarter with a Visa Premier).
- Can prove a monthly net income above €1,600, or above €1,200 in conjunction with an outstanding balance of €10,000.
You can also opt for a Visa Infinite card with BforBank, but it is far from free as it will cost you a yearly fee of €200.
Getting a free bank card with Hello Bank
To benefit from Hello Bank's free Visa cards, you will have to justify the following monthly incomes:
- To get the Visa Electron card: a monthly net income below €1,000
- To get the Visa Classic card: a monthly net income above €1,000
- To get the Visa Premier card: a monthly net income above €1,800
Hello Bank also provides the Visa Infinite card, but for a hefty payment of €240 per year.
How to get a free bank card in France via a digital bank
As we have seen, online banks are sure options to get a free bank card in France. However, this doesn't mean that opening and operating an account with these types of banks is free, and in some cases, as explained above, you will have to meet some burdensome requirements.
These requirements thus make it hard for people who are not French fiscal residents an people with low to no incomes - like young people and students for example - to sign up with such a bank.
This is when digital banks (also known as "neobanks") come into play to save the day. Easy to sign up to, offering free bank cards and void of any income requirements, neobanks are a solid option if you aren't able to meet the requirements set by traditional banks and some online banks.
Getting a free bank card with N26
If you cannot meet the requirements set by standard banks, N26 is a very good alternative.
This German digital-only banking startup, which has operated in France since 2017, provides its standard bank card, the "N26 Classique" free of charge, and access to the N26 app, through which you can manage your finances in real-time and block your card if ever necessary. It will roughly take you 10 minutes to open an account and you'll receive your free bank card by Post in the next 5 business days on average.
To open an N26 account, you'll have to meet the following conditions :
- Provide an ID, a valid email address and a postal address to receive your card.
- Be a resident of a country in which N26 operates (Germany, Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia, the UK, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland).
- Be a major and have a smartphone.
The N26 Black and the N26 Metal, on the other hand, require a monthly payment of between €9.90 and €16.90 per month.
The only drawback with this system is that you won't be able to receive cheques or make cash deposits on your card (this is only possible via transfer) ; you also won't be able to have a hold on your card (to rent a car, pay at the gas pump, etc.).
Getting a free bank card with Revolut
Similarly to N26, Revolut gives you access to a free bank card with no income requirements to meet in return. Note that although the card you go for (Standard, Premium or Metal) is in itself free, you will still be responsible for paying for shipping. While this might feel inconvenient, it isn't an extortionate fee, and will still be significantly less than what you would pay annually with a card from a traditional bank.
Getting a free bank card with Orange Bank
Last but not least, the neobank Orange Bank will also provide you with a free card. Not only is it free, but you can also customise its pin, block and unblock it via the Orange Bank app, authorise its use abroad...
This said, keep in mind though, that you will be required to carry out at least 3 transactions or cash withdrawals every month - failure to respect this will incur a €5 monthly fee.