French banking terms

This is a glossary of French banking terms that you can use for banking in France. Read Opening a bank account in France as an American if you don’t have an account yet.

Types of bank accounts in French

Get familiar with the names of the different types of bank accounts in France.

un compte bancaire
bank account
un compte chèque ou compte courant
checking account
un compte épargne
saving account
un compte joint
joined account
un Livret A
French government regulated savings account
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Understand your bank account statements

This French vocabulary can help you make sense of your bank statements.

un chèque en attente de provision
check waiting for funds to be available
un chèque sans provision ou chèque en bois
bounced check (chèque en bois literally means wooden check)
Commission paiement par carte
bank fees on foreign purchase
des frais
des frais de tenue de compte
bank account maintenance fees
des interêts
une opération à venir
upcoming operation
les rejets et impayés
rejected and unpaid
un relevé de compte
bank statement
un prélèvement
debit. In France, most bills are paid by automatic debit. For instance, if you use EDF for electricity, EDF automatically debits your bank account every month.
le solde
un taux d’intérêt
interest rate

What’s SEPA?
SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. SEPA is a payment scheme that allows for transfers, payments and debits in any country inside the zone without fees. Wiring money between 2 countries inside SEPA does not generate extra international fees. The 28 countries inside the EURO zone are part of SEPA. Additional countries are Switzerland, Andorre, Monaco, Saint-Marin and Vatican.

Bank account maintenance in French

Learn French vocabulary you’ll need to manage your French bank account.

approvisionner un compte
to credit an account
un chéquier ou un carnet de chèques
une clôture de compte
closing of a bank account
une convention de compte bancaire
bank account agreement that you sign when you open a bank account in France
le titulaire du compte
account holder
un découvert
un découvert autorisé
authorized overdraft
des agios
interests paid on overdraft
un plafond de paiement
payment limitations
une limite de retrait
withdrawal limitations
un relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB)
bank account ID
verser de l’argent sur un compte
to credit an account
faire opposition
to report that your card is lost or stolen
un versement
un virement

Methods of payment in French

Learn how to tell someone in French how you’re going to pay.

par carte bancaire ou par carte bleue (CB)
by credit card. Most bank cards in France are debit card and the money is taken out of the bank account immediately. If you’re curious about French payment cards, read types of payment cards in France.
par chèque
by check
un code confidentiel ou code personnel
PIN number
par virement
by wire transfer
en liquide
en espèces
en cash
en petites coupures
in smaller bills
un distributeur automatique de billets (DAB)
endosser un chèque
endorse a check
par SEPA
by wire transfer between 2 accounts inside the EURO zone.
un débit différé
deferred payment
un débit immédiat
direct debit
sans contact

French banking terms at your local branch

Familiarize yourself with French banking vocabulary you might need at the bank.

une agence bancaire
bank local branch
en agence
un bordereau de retrait
withdrawal slip
un conseiller bancaire
bank advisor
un chargé de clientèle
account manager
un crédit à la consommation
consumer credit
au guichet
at the counter
open a bank account
ouvrir un compte bancaire
retirer de l’argent
to withdraw money
encaisser un chèque
to deposit a check
un retrait d’espèces
cash withdrawal
un placement financier
financial investment
un prêt
une opération boursière
stock market transaction

Types of banks in French

There are multiple options when time comes to open a bank account and you don’t necessarily have to pick a brick-and-mortar bank.

une banque traditionnelle
regular bank
une néo-banque ou banque mobile
neobank. Revolut is a neobank that can be an interesting choice for expats in France because Revolut now provides French IBANs. Read Opening a Revolut account to check it out.
une banque en ligne
online bank

French banking acronyms

une CB – une carte bancaire
bank card (credit or debit)
un CCP – un compte chèque postal
checking account at La Poste
un DAB – un distributeur automatique de billets
un GAB – un guichet automatique de banque
ATM that offers extra options such as check deposit or account balance checking.
un RIB – un relevé d’identité bancaire
Bank account information
SEPA – single Euro payment area
Because of SEPA, bank payments are free between bank accounts in Europe.

Helpful sentences at the bank

The following sentences will come handy when you go to the bank.

Je voudrais ouvrir un compte courant.
I would like to open a checking account.
Je voudrais déposer un chèque sur mon compte.
I would like to deposit a check.
Je voudrais retirer 200 € sur mon livret A.
I would like to withdraw €200 from my saving account.
Je voudrais prendre rendez-vous avec un conseiller.
I would like to make an appointment with a bank adviser.
Mon paiement par carte bancaire a été refusé.
My card was declined.
Pourriez-vous augmenter ma limite de paiement?
Could you raise my payment maximum limit?
Je voudrais effectuer un virement depuis mon compte chèque.
I would like to wire some money from my checking acount.

Transferring money from your U.S. bank account into your French account can be achieved with a Wise account. Read How to use a Wise account when living abroad to get the details.

Nathalie Nahmani

About Nathalie Nahmani

Nathalie is the creator of ma French Life. She moved back to France after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. She writes practical articles to help expats in France. Nathalie lives with her family in the French Alps near Grenoble.

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