After living in France for over 1.5 years, it was about time for me to open a bank account. I have been delaying this out of pure laziness. All the money I make goes into my US bank account and then I transfer it to my husband’s French account here using xe.com. Transfers from the USA to France is free and I get better rates than with a bank. I used his ATM card to withdraw money as needed.
This was a great system until I started my auto-entrepreneur business in France and am registered with social security. If my husband ever gets audited, it would look like he is not declaring all of his income when it is actually my income going into his account. So to avoid any confusion, we went to his bank to open an account for me.
When opening this account, I was shocked by several things…
- There is no such thing as a free checking account.
- I can only spend up to 1,000 euros at a time, or 5,000 euros per month (I must call if I want to spend more).
- I have to pay monthly to have a debit card.
- I need to pay monthly for insurance to protect myself in case of fraud or losing my card.
- Cost to replace my debit card is 35 euros (free if I have insurance).
- I can overdraw my account without a fee for up to 70 euros (more if I chose a more expensive account).
- I cannot choose my pin for my debit card.
My US bank account has no monthly fees, I can spend whatever I want as long as the money is in my account, if my card is stolen then I do not pay for fraudulent transactions and they replace lost/stolen cards for free. Without adding insurance, if someone stole my card and went on a shopping spree then I would be completely responsible for the money lost. The bank would not reverse those transactions. And if I lose my card, I would have to pay 35 euros to get a new one. Or, if I decided to buy a new computer for 1,500 euros then I would have to call my bank to allow the transaction to go through. Imagine that! I need permission to spend my own money.
The first time I went to the bank with my husband and found all of this out, I could not sign the contract to open this account. I had to go outside and breathe. We returned several weeks later when the shock wore off. I was afraid I was going with an expensive bank but later found out that it is the same with all major banks. I need a bank account here so I will have to start paying monthly and getting use to all these limitations
I received my login and password to enter my account online. I also went back to the bank a week later to pick up my debit card. Now I just need to take a deep breathe and relax each month when I see those darn monthly charges on my bank statements.
In a few weeks, I will return to add a savings account. I just need a little time to prepare myself for that visit!