Banking in France


Banking in France: A Scavenger Hunt for Your Own Money

For me, banking in France is really cheap. I have a checking account and a debit card and I pay €1 for it. I think that's cheap. If I get sick abroad, my debit card takes care of all the bills since I am a French citizen. I won't have to pay and get reimbursed. It has a few benefits. But they stop there. Let me explain to you why.

In France you pay rent by direct deposit. And my landlord lives in Belgium so I have to make an international transfer every month. Why I have to send my money to Belgium, I don't know. Maybe it's because of the taxes. Anyway, normally you can make wire transfers online but since it is international you need to do it in person. Fair enough, no complains here. Except for the fact that the bank isn't open all the time. It's closed Mondays, works half days two days out of the week, and when you walk in, there's always a line. Great news for someone who works all the open hours!

Finally I find twenty minutes to spare, I walk into a bank in Paris only to be told no, they can't do it. What do you mean no? It's the same bank, same name. How is your branch different from the branch in Normandy? I put my best angry face on, nothing. I put my best cry face on, nothing. Customer service is really not important here.

So I call the bank in Normandy, explaining that I have to pay my rent tomorrow and that I can't make it to Normandy. They tell me to hand write a letter and fax it in asking for the transfer. Really, that's all I had to do to pay rent? I got all stressed out when all I has to do was email my banker. Fantastic!

As it turns out, other branches of banks cannot access your account. All they can do is give you money from the ATM or put money in your account. Otherwise you need to go to the branch that you signed up in. The word convenience means nothing to my French bank account. 

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