More and more French banks are offering rechargeable bank cards, with aren't associated to a bank account. These new cards are more accessible than standard ones, and come with quite a few advantages. Find out below what banks in France offer credit cards without an account, how they work, and how you can easily sign up to such an account in France.
- To sum things
- It is very easy and quick to get a bank card without an account in France.
- These types of cards are provided by neobanks.
- They are prepaid cards, meaning you will have to reload them every so often.
- While these cards are very interesting and accessible, they don't enable you to get access to all the banking products and services that a "traditional" card and bank offer.
Can I really get a French bank card without a bank account?
Yes! An increasing number of French banks - especially online banks - are making this possible. This is can be life-saving for those who aren't able to own a banking account, as having a card can in itself allow you to make payments online and in stores, such as for students under 18 or those subject to prohibited banking.
But even though these accountless cards were originally created to help these people, they are becoming increasingly popular with other users, who just want to have another means of payment or want to avoid going overdraft.
It is important to note that, unlike standard bank cards, a card without an account won't give you access to the range of services which require a bank account, such as taking out a loan, ordering a cheque book, life insurance, etc. It is actually a prepaid card, similar to a virtual wallet that you purchase and then reload.
One of the big advantages of this card is that it is far easier to obtain than a standard card. Indeed, it doesn't require you to meet any income conditions, you don't have to keep a certain amount of revenues on it, and you can decide completely freely how much money you want to credit it with. What's more, these cards make you far less at risk of fraud, as they aren't associated to an account and that the balance is capped.
List of banks offering cards without an account
You aren't at a shortage of choice when it comes to choosing a French bank card without an account. Below are just a few of the banks in France which offer these cards, along with their services and advantages.
NB: The prices and conditions down below are valid as of May 2019.
N26 and its free prepaid card
The Berlin-based startup N26 is a leading company in the fintech realm. What sets N26 apart from traditional banks is the ease with which you can get your bank card and manage your finances, via an app. Through this app, you can access all your transactions in real time, block your card in just one click, change its cap, transfer money...
Although your N26 bank card will come with a bank account, it has all the advantages of a bank card without an account :
- Subscribing to an N26 offer is easy and quick, and is done completely online. You'll only need to provide an ID, an address and an email address.
- The conditions to subscribe to N26 are flexible and are only the following:
- Being aged over 18.
- Being a resident from 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)
- There is no overdraft.
- A free bank card is accessible with the Standard offer.
Just note that, since N26 is an entirely online-based bank, you will not be able to receive cheques or make cash deposits on your card (this is only possible via transfer).
Personal N26 cards
You can choose between 3 offers for private individuals and 2 offers for professionals. All N26 cards offer 5 free euro withdrawals every month (then €2 per withdrawal beyond that), and all transfers by card are free whatever the currency. There are 3 personal cards, with different prices depending on the services they include.
|Card||N26 classique||N26 Black||N26 Metal|
|More info||Further information||Further information||Further information|
with premium Allianz insurance
(accidents, illness, theft...)
with premium Allianz insurance
and a concierge service
|Contract Period||Contract-Free||12 months||12 months|
|Payments by card||Free||Free||Free|
|Cash withdrawals||5 free withdrawals / month||5 free withdrawals / month||5 free withdrawals / month|
Fees for foreign
|1,7 % of the withdrawn amount||Free||Free|
Business N26 cards
The N26 Business cards were designed to help auto entrepreneurs and self-employed people have a card dedicated to their activity. These 2 cards also include 5 free withdrawals in euros per month (then €2 per withdrawal). All purchases made with these cards come with 0.1% cashback and include some level of insurance, as detailed below.
Revolut and its free prepaid card
The British company Revolut appeared in 2015 and is one of the best-known online bank of its type. It specialises in transfers from one currency to another, which typically induce very high fees when done through traditional banks.
The Revolut account thus operates like a digital, multi-currency wallet, which you can access via the Revolut app. This app also allows you to make transactions in any currency, free of charge.
Opening an account with Revolut gives you access to a free British IBAN, through which you can make transfers in over 150 currencies worldwide, at the interbank exchange rate - including crypto-currencies.
You will have to reload your Revolut card via transfers, like with the N26 card. You will see transfers appear in real-time on the app. This app is designed to make managing your finances very easy: transactions are sorted by category (groceries / transport...), by country and by merchant, to help you organise your budget, and you can block or unblock your card instantly via the app.
Converting currencies is free under the equivalent of €5,000 per month, then these are priced at 0.50% of the total transaction - which remains very reasonable compared to the commissions typically fined by bureaux de change or banks.
There are 3 Revolut cards: the Standard, Premium and Metal cards, with prices depending on the services they include. A nice thing to note is that you won't ever be charged for not using your card.
|Withdrawal fees||Free up to €200/month, then 2% of the withdrawn amount||Free up to €400/month, then 2% of the withdrawn amount||Free up to €600/month, then 2% of the withdrawn amount|
|Can be used to exchange crypto-currencies||No||Yes||Yes|
|Comes with insurance (health and travelling)||No||Yes||Yes|
|Includes a concierge service||No||Yes||Yes|
A great advantage with these Revolut cards is that they don't come with a mandatory contract period, meaning they can all be cancelled at anytime.
Nickel and its free prepaid card available at tobacconists'
The French startup Nickel was founded in 2012, and operates thanks to its network of partner tobacconists nationwide. Its offers are accessible for anyone over 12 years of age, regardless of income and deposits. You can open a Nickel account within minutes, in any of the 4,000 online bank's partner tobacconists.
Nickel only offers one standard personal account offer, which can be converted into a premium account for 30 extra euros per year. The basic offer costs 20 € per year and included a French RIB and a credit card accepted all over the world, allowing you to make transfers and to deposit or withdraw cash (through ATMs or any of the partner tobacconists).
However, the Nickel cards don't allow you to go overdraft or to obtain a cheque book, since Nickel doesn't provide a "real" bank account and the cards are in fact prepaid cards. The Nickel cards are also linked to an online customer account, on which all transactions appear in real time, making it easy to manage your budget. You can also receive free alerts by SMS (60 free alerts per year then €1 per 10 SMS) or on your client account.
|Card||Nickel standard||Nickel Chrome|
|Bank transfers||Free within the SEPA zone|
|Cash withdrawal fees||
|Payments made outside the SEPA zone||€1||€0|
|Money deposits or reloading an account by card||2% of the amount deposited or reloaded|
Anytime and its prepaid card with a French RIB
Anytime offers 4 cards: the Solo and Premium cards for private individuals, and the Professional and Entreprise cards for business. They cost respectively €9.50, €19.50, €99 and €249 per month and are all Mastercards. They are accessible to anyone over 18, regardless of income.
The Anytime offers give access to a French RIB, and allow to make transfers and receive them. Note, however, that overdrafts are impossible. All offers come with an online customer account, that allows you to manage your budget, get notified every time a transaction is made on your account and make transfers.
Just note, however, that you cannot deposit cash into your account with Anytime, unlike with a Nickel card.
To reload your Anytime card, you can either:
- Via standard bank transfer: free and available in a 2-3 period
- Via express bank transfer: 3.8% of the transferred amount, done within 2 minutes
Here are the details about the standard Anytime card, the Solo option:
|Standard price||€9.50/month (or €114 per year)|
|Bank transfers in EURO||Free|
|Transfers in GBP, USD, JPY, SGD, AUD, CAD, CHF, DKK, SEK, NOK, PLN||0.70% + €2.5|
|Fees for payments by card outside the Euro zone||1.80% of the amount|
|Activation of the option allowing you to withdraw money from ATMs||€10 (one-time payment)|
|Fees for withdrawing euros||€1.50 per withdrawal|
|Fees for withdrawing other currencies||€1.90 + 1.80% of the withdrawn amount|
*Tariffs as of May 2019