French vocabulary about Banking

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When moving to France, the administrative procedures can sometimes be daunting. However, by mastering the basic French lexicon, everything becomes much simpler! It’s true that the French are fond of acronyms, abbreviations and technical words, but after all it’s just vocabulary to master, isn’t it?
Here are the ones that deal with the bank!

1- Before going to the bank
In France, you will find many banking brands including les banques en ligne, in other words, banks exclusively available on the internet!

Once you have read the terms and conditions of the banks and found yours, bring the following documents:

  • Une pièce d’identité: permis de conduire, passeport ou carte d’identité. (driver’s license, passport or identity card)
  • Un justificatif de domicile de moins de 3 mois (Proof of address less than 3 months old):
    facture EDF, facture de téléphone, quittance de loyer (electricity bill, telephone bill, rent receipt)

2- At the bank: terms and expressions in French
Pour ouvrir un compte bancaire, vous devez prendre rendez-vous avec un conseiller bancaire. (To open a bank account, you must make an appointment with a bank adviser.)

You will be able to open un compte courant (current account): this type of account is intended to make your everyday life easier. It is different from un compte d’épargne (savings accounts). Opening this type of account entitles you to payment methods:

  • La Carte Bancaire: The bank card is a universal payment method. It allows you to make online payments, purchases by card and withdrawals from les guichets automatiques (ATMs).
    Good to know: the French also call this card, in everyday language, la carte bleue, surprising, isn’t it? In fact, when this means of payment started in France, banking establishments chose the color blue in reference to the jersey of the French Rugby team! Moreover, the initials CB correspond to both Carte Bancaire and Carte Bleue.
  • Le chéquier (checkbook): This is a very French method of payment! The checkbook is a notebook made up of several checks. On these little pieces of paper are the name of the bank, the beneficiary (the person who receives the payment), the amount in numbers and in words, the date, the place, and your signature. A check can only be cashed at French banking establishments. It can only be drawn up in euros. Finally, it has a validity date of one year!

3- Managing your accounts
Most of the time, your bank will offer you an online management solution. You will just need un identifiant (username) and un mot de passe (password). Thus, you can placer un ordre (a bank order)
such as un virement (a bank transfer) and setting up les prélèvements automatiques (direct debits). Note that the latter mode is the preferred method for making monthly payments.

Among the accounts that will be offered to you, know that in addition to le compte bancaire (bank account), the LEP and the Livret A are appreciated by the French: more than 65 million Livret A are opened in France! It is one of the most profitable comptes d’épargne (savings accounts) in the French banking landscape.

When leaving France, make an appointment to close down your account!

Are you interested in French for business or for work? Feel free to contact us to see how you can be more comfortable using French in work-related situations.

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