Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, April 21, 2007

French Bank Charges

Grumble, grumble

Just received a bank statement from La Banque Postale (aka, La Poste, whom we bank with) and see that we've been charged our annual debit card fees of €24.50 for the first card and €12.25 for the second card.

The story of how we ended up with banking with La Poste (the French Post Office) is a long one (summary is that I felt at the time that they had the cheapest banking fees) and the story of actually managing to open an account was an even longer one (which I will get around to regaling on the Blog at some stage), but since we've been with them all in all it's been a fairly trouble free banking existence. I've even managed to get one of the bank cards replaced after it stopped working and successfully sorted out issues like forgetting my online pin number and having to get it reset.

All in all things have gone fairly trouble free and we're fairly happy with them.

Of course we don't use the account all that much, really for spending money when we holiday in France and for paying the regular insurance, electricity, water, council tax, etc bills through. When we opened the account we decided to have a cash/debit card each and so of course we get charged two sets of card fees (with the second one at 50% reduction).

For English readers who don't have a French bank account it may come as a surprise to talk about paying charges for having a bank account, but in France it's just a way of life (taxes are of course the third love of the French after Wine and Bureaucracy). All bank accounts levy charges for the service they offer which vary on whether you want a debit or credit card, whether you want remote access to the account by telephone, minitel or internet, and by what kinds of service they offer you (you pay more for accounts with higher cash withdrawal limits for instance).

As I said we went for the cheapest bank and also the cheapest type of account (limits of only €500 cash withdrawal or debit card spending per week). As well as the annual card fees (which have slowly crept up from €33 for the two cards in 2004) we also pay what I think is an annual account fee which was €4 for 2006.

Of course in the UK we can still benefit from free banking but with all the talk of banks being forced to reduce their overdraft fees I'm sure we'll see annual fees like this being imposed soon on our side of La Manche ...



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