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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I just wanted to share my experience with setting up a bank account, in the hopes that it might help someone looking for similar information. I was caught in the "need a bank account to deposit income / need income to open a bank account" Catch-22 that I've heard described here frequently. I spent two weeks waiting for my appointment at La Banque Postale, where I opened up a Livret-A (the only account they'd give me without a regular income), only to then realize that the Livret-A is essentially worthless for my needs. (No debit card, limited ability to transfer from other accounts, etc.)

I was about to start trapsing around to BNP, CA, etc., when a friend recommended looking into N26, which is a new Internet/app-only bank based in Germany, but serving all of Europe. I was pretty skeptical -- it feels unnervingly "millennial" -- but I looked into it and realized that it would serve my purposes very well: easy transferring (they partner with TransferWise), great exchange rates (they waive the 1.7% fee when withdrawing foreign currency), Mastercard with free debit/withdrawals, etc. There are two levels (Standard/free and "Black"/5.90 per month, with the latter providing various insurance benefits and a few extras). The nice thing is that I had the account set up in about 10 minutes. (You do it online, then there's a kind of weird identity check done via your phone's video, where they take your picture and your passport's picture.)

I realize I sound like I'm shilling for them, which isn't my intent. It won't be for everyone, for sure; especially those with complicated banking needs, or those who prefer a local branch to deal with service issues. It seems that most of their patrons are satisfied with the service, but there are a few reviews which suggest they don't have their customer-service issues completely ironed out. (It's a new bank, started within the past year or two.)

I just wanted to post this here because, so far, I've been really happy with the service, and the whole process was a lot easier than what I've heard described in this forum with respect to French banks. Maybe it will help. Seems at least worth it to take a look, if you're running into these same problems.
 

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I'll be curious to hear how the online banking works out for you. Do they give you RIBs that can be used in France? That seems to be one of the crucial bank functions - for things like renting an apartment or making payments to various vendors and agencies. But if they can do that, you may be in good shape.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'll be curious to hear how the online banking works out for you. Do they give you RIBs that can be used in France? That seems to be one of the crucial bank functions - for things like renting an apartment or making payments to various vendors and agencies. But if they can do that, you may be in good shape.
Cheers,
Bev
Yep, easy to download an RIB from the website. The IBAN is German, but (hopefully?) this won't be an issue. A test transfer from a French friend's account seemed to go through easily.

If it ends up being a hassle, or if I encounter any troubling issues, I'll update this post.

EDIT: bhamham, just saw your post above. I hadn't considered the implications of having a German IBAN, we'll see how it goes.
 

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It's a german IBAN number, some French merchants/utilities require a FR number for direct debits and other transactions. Just saying it could be a problem for some.
I agree with bhamham. N26 worked well for us the first year when we leased a house that included the utilities in the monthly rent. It was easy to make a transfer from N26 into the landlord's French bank account. Once we bought a house and started paying the utilities ourselves, no one would accept the German IBAN. We were told that the French merchants were "supposed to" accept any other EU bank IBAN but they still were not able to.
To remedy that we went to the CA branch at the end of our street where we easily opened an account. When we told the counselor that we didn't speak very good French she countered with "On the contrary, you speak excellent French" pointing to the pile of documents we had brought with us to set up the new account. ;)
 
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