Best Banks for Students in France

If you’re an international student studying in France, you might want to consider opening a bank account to help you manage your finances. However, not all banks are created equal, and some may better suit your needs than others. While France offers a wide variety of banks, we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the best banks for students studying in France.

The best banks for students in France include: 

  • Revolut 
  • Bunq
  • N26 
  • BNP Paribas
  • LCL

Opening a student bank account in France can be effortless and fast or tedious and stressful. Ultimately, it all depends on the bank you decide to go with. Most banks only require your ID and proof of studying or working. Digital banks are the easiest for opening an account while abroad.

In this article, we list the top best banks for international students in France and break down the process of opening a bank account there. 

Bank accounts for international students in France 

1. Revolut

Revolut is a 100% online bank that serves more than two hundred countries. Opening an account in this bank is free and quick hence convenient for your busy school schedule.

Revolut is based in the UK; hence, all its services run in English. Besides the Netherlands and the UK, Revolut is available for everyone residing in EEA countries, Switzerland, Australia, and even in the US.

Revolut is the fastest-growing digital banking system. Saving in this bank is quite profitable as the interest rate stands at 1.67% per year. What’s more, this bank’s headquarters are situated in Londo;n hence all its services are offered in English. 

Being online, this bank allows you to control your finances from the comfort of your home. Whatsmore, their customer service is top notch and converses in English; understanding their terms and conditions is easy.  

Saving in Revolut is fantastic as your money earns an interest of 1.67% annually, which is paid into your account daily. Additionally, transferring money to other Revolut users and adding money to your account is free. 

Revolut also offers: 

  • Free debit card 
  • Free money transfers 
  • Easy top up 
  • Instant transfers 
  • 24/7 customer service  
  • Free money transfers 24/7
  • Free cash withdrawals
  • IBAN (for SEPA transfers)
  • Very user-friendly app in English
  • English service and support

Below are the prices of some Revolut services (as you can see, they mostly don’t exist):

Service Cost 
Opening an accountFree
Multi-currency accountFree
Money transfers Free
Cash withdrawalsFree
Multi-currency payments Free
Adding money Free
Debit cardFree (you pay the delivery fee only) 
Source: revolut.com

2. Bunq

Bunq is an international online bank founded in 2015. This European bank is approved by the French banking system and serves several EU countries, making it trustworthy. Bunq is perfect for international students as it offers its services in English. 

Besides, Bunq is one of the few banks that provides full support in English and allows you to open & manage your account 100% online.

Opening a bank account in Bunq is quick and easy as it doesn’t require any paperwork. You can open three different accounts in this bank; joint, business, and personal. Maintaining a Bunq account will cost you €2.99 per month. This amount will get you an account and one card, either debit or credit. 

Bunq offers a thirty days free trial premium account, giving you a chance to decide if you want to open one or not. It also allows ten free withdrawals every month and offers affordable money transfers through Wise. Other perks of signing up for Bunq include:

  • Free Mastercard and Maestro cards
  • Free transfers 
  • Affordable cash withdrawals
  • IBAN
  • English customer support
  • Simple navigation 
ServiceCharge 
Monthly fee€2.99
International debit cardFree
TransfersFree
Contactless paymentsFree
Cash withdrawals €0.99

3. N26 

N26 is another great bank to open an account as an international student in France as it offers its services in English. Therefore, you won’t have difficulty reading its terms and conditions. Moreover, opening a bank account and getting a card is free in this bank.

The main requirements for getting an account with N26 are to be over eighteen years of age, have a compatible phone, and be a resident or citizen of an N26-supported country (that includes France). You will also get a free debit card shipped to your door after signing up with them. 

Being an online bank, N26 tracks your expenses, making managing your finances easier. Using this bank allows you to make payments through your mobile account, a debit card, and a SEPA transfer; pretty convenient.

N26 also offers: 

  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage and flight covers 
  • Exclusive partner deals 
  • Free debit card
  • Free foreign transaction costs 

That said, below are the charges for various N26 services:

ServicePrice
MaintenanceFree for a standard account 
Payments abroad Free
TransfersFree
ATM withdrawals in France3 to 8 transactions per month are free
ATM withdrawals in France above the limit€2 per transaction
ATM withdrawals abroad 1.70%
Debit card Free 
Source: n26.com

4. BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas is one of the largest traditional banks in France, offering a special account for international students. This account was designed for students under 30 years old who plan to study abroad (outside of France), but it works perfectly fine within France.

High street banks are expensive in France, but BNP Paribas offers this account at no maintenance costs in the first year.

To qualify for this account, you must be under 30, residing in France, and planning to go abroad for a semester or internship.

If you don’t meet these criteria, you can open a “Free spirit” account dedicated to young individuals. You need to be younger than 24 to qualify. The cost of a maintenance account can range from €20 to €85 per month, depending on the options you choose. With a “Free spirit” account, you also get:

  1. Free instant transfers
  2. Online banking

As a student, you can choose between several cards; however, after one year, the following fee will be due:

  • Visa Electron: €32.16
  • Visa Classic: €35.40
  • Visa Premier: €85.20
ServicePrice
MaintenanceFree for a standard account 
Visa Premier cardFree for one year
Money transfers Free
ATM withdrawals in EURFree
ATM withdrawals in non-EUR2.90% + €3 but free in partner banks of the Global Alliance and BNP Paribas Global Network
Payments in EURFree
Debit card Free 
Source: n26.com

This account also includes international health insurance with coverage for up to €200,000.

To open the classic account, you will need:

  • A valid identity document (identity card, passport, residence permit)
  • Original proof of address (or third-party accommodation provider) less than 3 months old; this could be your water, electricity, gas, or landline telephone bill.

For a special international student, you need:

  • Student card
  • Enrollment in a foreign university or internship agreement

Besides that, you must reside n France and go to study or do an internship abroad.

5. LCL 

LCL is a conventional French bank offering a dedicated account for students aged between 18 to 29 years old. Although LCL is a traditional bank, it still allows you to manage your account from the comfort of your home via the LCL My Account App.

Using this app, you can contact customer care, control your credit card, make money transfers, and validate purchases. 

Opening an account in LCL will cost you €2. This amount covers a dedicated 24/7 advisor, an international bank card, and a mobile application. LCL offers a wide range of bank cards like the LCL application and authorized overdraft, thus enabling you to choose one that best suits your needs. 

LCL allows you to open a student bank account directly on the app or website. An LCL student bank account permits access to the LCL Mon Campus benefits, including helping you get and settle into your first apartment, manage your budget, create a CV, and even get an internship abroad. 

LCL offers: 

  • Affordable bank account – €2 per month
  • 5 free cash withdrawals
  • Several bank cards 
  • Saving options
  • English customer service 
  • Easy account opening
  • Get 9% cashback using your LCL bank card 
  • Student perks 

See more on the benefits of a student bank account from LCL.

Keep in mind that after the first year following prices apply:

MasterCard LCL ISIC MasterCard€48
MasterCard Inventive€49
Visa Premier€142

How to open a bank account as a student in France 

It’s not a must for an international student to open a bank account in France. However, having an account in this country makes handling your finances easy, keeps your money safe, and even comes in handy when looking for scholarships.

Moreover, opening a bank account in France is mainly free, aside from charges for extra services. 

Below are steps to follow when opening a bank account in France:

  1. Find the ideal bank: The best banks for international students in France should be easily accessible, affordable, have a wide range of services, and have 24/7 English customer support. 
  1. Prepare your documents: You should get all the required documents ready early for an easy account opening process. Some of them include:
  • Identification documents; a valid passport or ID 
  • Proof of residence, i.e., residence permit 
  • Proof of your accommodation as a student in France, e.g., your utility bill 
  • Proof of being a student in France; student ID or confirmation of enrollment
  1. Contact the bank: You could call the bank’s customer care directly or visit the nearest bank branch to make inquiries and book an appointment. 
  1. Get a translator: If your bank of choice doesn’t have an English customer care, it’s advisable you go with a translator, e.g., an English-speaking French friend. This will help you get through the process smoothly and fast. In case you don’t have one, you could ask to fill out the required documents after getting help understanding what they say. 

After opening the bank account, you’ll be required to sign an agreement document on the institution’s terms and conditions. That said, a bank should explain their reason for rejecting your application in case they do. 

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Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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