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Cash & ATMs in France: All on cash, cards, fees, limits, exchange

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France, a country synonymous with elegance and culture, offers a mosaic of experiences from the chic boulevards of Paris to the lavender fields of Provence, and from the vineyards of Bordeaux to the glamorous shores of the French Riviera. The allure of its art, cuisine, and history beckons travellers from around the globe. Navigating the financial landscape is key to a seamless journey, so understanding the local currency and cash along with ATMs in France and accepted payment options is essential. This guide will provide you with the financial insights needed to savour the charm and sophistication of France with ease and confidence.

Cash or card?

Cards are making things simpler for lots of travelers, with 65%-75% of spending done sans cash.

Cash for:

Public buses
Tips and gratuities in many places
Small purchases
Street food vendors
Local markets and bazaars

Card for:

Tailoring services
Fancy sit-down restaurants
Food from local restaurants, even some sit-down restaurants
Expensive tour operators
Many hostels and budget hotels
Local taxis
Car rentals
Shopping in malls and branded stores
Entry fees for major tourist attractions and theme parks
Good looking coffee shops
Many tour operators
Online bookings for hotels, flights, and tours
Local trains
Upmarket hotels
Spas
Street shopping
Professional pre-paid taxi booking services (such as Uber, Lyft, etc.)

So where to get cash in France?

There are 3 main ways to get the cash in France. They are:

ATMs, or
Currency exchange
Money Transfer & local pick-up

Find ATMs in France at…

France features an extensive network of more than 46,000 ATMs, making cash access convenient in both cities and towns. However, if you’re exploring off-the-beaten-path places, ATMs may be hard to come by. You’re likely to find ATMs at major airports, market areas, tourist-friendly streets, and near banks.

These are the places where it will be difficult to find ATMs:

Small airports
Islands
Regional bus stops
Interior of the villages
In small towns, off the main streets
Religious places
Remote resorts and retreats

Popular banks with ATMs in France

BNP Paribas
Credit Agricole
Societe Generale
Credit Mutuel
Banque Postale
Credit Du Nord
Credit Cooperatif
CIC

There are other banks with ATMs that also accept international debit and credit cards.

Some international banks also have their ATMs in France, namely: HSBC

Global ATM alliance: Global ATM Alliance is a partnership among many banks in the world to allow its customers to withdraw cash from all partner banks abroad without any ATM fee. Many banks in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America are part of the Global ATM Alliance, including Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and others. BNP Paribas (BNL) in France is part of this network.

Where to find currency exchanges?

You can exchange cash in France at:

Authorised currency exchange centres: Found in tourist destinations, ensure they have an authorisation certificate and ask for identification. Local brands are preferred in France.
Banks: Convert your currency to Euro at bank branches, especially for currencies like US dollars, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. A commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction is standard.
Hotels and airports: Both offer currency exchange services, but rates are often less favorable. Some larger hotels may offer rates similar to banks.
Tips:

Avoid airport exchanges for better rates.
Stay away from the black market to avoid scams.
Use new notes for better rates or lower fees.
For US dollars, larger bills typically receive higher rates.

Accepted currencies:
France mainly accepts its local currency Euros (EUR or €). Note denominations are € 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500. Other currencies are not usually accepted.
US Dollar: Not usually accepted
Pound: Not accepted

Know the ATMs in France

Foreign debit and credit cards usage: Absolutely, in France, ATMs are quite open to cards from abroad.

Types of cards at ATMs: ATMs in France will mainly accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Amex cards. Don’t expect ATMs in Greece to usually accept JCB, UnionPay, Diners, Discover or RuPay cards.

Types of cards to swipe: For most swiping transactions, Visa and Mastercard are your best bet. Amex and other cards might find limited acceptance here and there.

Opening hours: ATMs nearly always guarantee 24-hour, seven-day service. Independent ATMs ensure constant availability, contrasting with bank-internal ATMs, which may follow more conventional working hours.

Workings and functionalities of the ATMs: France’s ATM network is very much modern, offering machines similar to those found in countries like the US and India. Do keep in mind, however, to collect your card after transactions, as it could be taken into the machine.

ATM names: Words distributeur automatique de billets or distributeur de billets or DAB or ATM or retrait are widely used

PIN type: ATMs in France primarily accept 4-digit PINs. Some ATMs may accept longer PINs, but 4 digits are standard.

Also, many merchants used old machines which require a magnetic stripe on the card and not just a chip-and-pin card.

Language options: French ATMs give you the option of French or English, with some also offering German and Spanish. Should you find the language a barrier, you can use Google Translate’s camera function, but remember, patience is key as translations can vary.

Know the foreign exchanges in France

Foreign debit and credit cards usage: Currency exchanges prefer hard cash for exchange. Visa is accepted at many places, mastercard next. Please be mindful of the fees you will pay if you use your card at a currency exchange.

Opening hours: Cash is the preferred mode of exchange at most currency exchange venues. Visa is accepted in numerous places, followed by Mastercard, but watch out for the fees incurred when using your card.

Languages to interact in: Staff at currency exchanges in France can usually interact in 2 languages– French and English

Exchange names: Exchange centers for currency might be referred to simply as ‘Exchange’, ‘Forex’, ‘Money Exchange’, or ‘Change’.

French ATM withdrawal limits and ATM Fees

Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically do not restrict amount of withdrawal per transaction.

ATM fees: Here’s the good news! In France, French Banks do not charge any ATM fees for foreign card holders, except one bank that has introduced ATM fees for UK card holders post Brexit. Note – Independent ATM operators will charge ATM fees for withdrawal.

Ways to avoid high fees

For ATMs:

Use fee-free ATMs in the country.
Use the ATM Fee Saver app to find fee-free or low-fee ATMs.
Opt for “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” during ATM transactions.
Consider getting fee-free cards from your home country.
For more in-depth insights and alternative methods, check out our detailed article, Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 best ways to save foreign ATM fees.

For currency exchanges:

Avoid no-fee exchange offices at all costs to get money in France – If they say no fee, which means they account for their fee in the exchange rate. Nothing is ever free in currency exchanges
Avoid using credit and debit cards for direct transactions

Ways to find fee-free ATMs in France

Find ATMs without fees in France, along with currency exchange and money transfer options, through the ATM Fee Saver mobile and web application. This app shows the fees and withdrawal limits for foreign cardholders at Franceese ATMs. Additionally, you can calculate the precise fees for your withdrawals. The app also offers navigation to your chosen ATM and encompasses information for 50 countries, including France.

Cash in France and safety

Carrying cash

In top tourist spots in France, it’s not safe to carry a large amount of cash due to pickpocketing and theft. Carry only what you need for the day or a few hours. To keep your cash safe:

Distribute your cash in different pockets or wallets.
Use a safety belt or fanny pack for some of your cash.
Avoid displaying large amounts of cash in public.
Be discreet when making payments.
Keep your wallet in your front pocket if possible.
Hold your belongings tightly in crowded areas.

Safety at ATMs & currency exchanges

ATM safety in France depends on the location, time, and people around the ATM. Nighttime usage in empty streets poses a higher risk of mugging. To minimize risks, use ATMs in secure, well-lit areas and stay aware of your surroundings. For additional safety precautions, check out our travel safety articles.

FAQs

Fee-free ATMs and possible to withdraw cash free of cost?

Yes, most banks in France do not charge any fees to foreign card holders. They are popular and have many ATMs across the country. Use ATM Fee Saver to find those free ATMs. Of course, there might be fees from your bank and also from the ATM if you “accept conversion” offered by that ATM. So hit “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” when the ATM offers you that option, and you will have no extra fees, from the ATM’s side.

Foreign cards from US, UK, India, China, Europe accepted?

Absolutely yes! You can usually use cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries at ATMs in France

Bitcoin ATMs

Yes, there are about 10 Bitcoin ATMs in France.

Foreign banks’s presence in France

Bank of America: Not present
Citbank: Yes, there are a few Citibank ATMs in France.
Barclays: Yes there are a few.
HSBC: No
Standard Chartered: Not present

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