Bank charges in France: A guide for businesses

  1. Inleiding
  2. What are bank charges?
  3. What are the main categories of bank charges?
  4. What types of banking services accrue charges?
  5. What fees are charged for payment issues and account irregularities?
  6. Are there caps on bank charges?
  7. How do you know if you’re being charged?
  8. Are bank charges refundable?
  9. How can you limit bank charges?

It’s important for all businesses and the self-employed to be familiar with bank charges. What are bank charges? How can you have them refunded? How can you avoid them? You’ll find the answers to these questions in the following article, which outlines the main bank charges, the legislation introducing caps on them, and how to limit your charges.

What’s in this article?

  • What are bank charges?
  • What are the main categories of bank charges?
  • What types of banking services accrue charges?
  • What fees are charged for payment issues and account irregularities?
  • Are there caps on bank charges?
  • How do you know if you’re being charged?
  • Are bank charges refundable?
  • How can you limit bank charges?

What are bank charges?

Bank charges cover all amounts charged by banks to their customers. Charges can be either recurring (monthly or annual) or occasional (due to exceptional circumstances such as payment issues).

What are the main categories of bank charges?

According to the shared platform Assurance Banque Epargne Info Service (ABEIS), the two categories of fees commonly charged by banks are those related to:

  • The provision of a service or product
  • Payment issues and bank account irregularities

What types of banking services accrue charges?

Most traditional banks charge account maintenance fees to ensure the smooth running of bank accounts.

Banks can also charge for issuing a bank card, subscribing to remote banking services, subscribing to alerts, withdrawing cash from an ATM belonging to another bank, sending a checkbook, issuing a bank draft, and purchasing insurance.

You can incur charges for withdrawing cash from an ATM and using a bank card abroad, depending on the bank card and bank. According to Orange Bank, the fee for withdrawals outside the eurozone can be up to 4% of the amount. Similarly, the fee for using a bank card abroad can be up to 3% of the amount spent.

Finally, banks can charge transfer and direct debit fees (especially outside the Single Euro Payments Area, or SEPA), as well as foreign exchange fees for international transactions.

Note that some banks do not charge for the above services, while others offer bank cards with free access.

What fees are charged for payment issues and account irregularities?

Intervention fees are charged when a bank has to take action on a bank account due to a payment issue caused by a customer. For example, if you exceed your authorized overdraft limit, you risk paying intervention fees.

In addition, if the bank rejects your check, transfer, or direct debit (e.g., if your account does not have sufficient funds to cover a purchase), you have a payment issue. The bank can therefore charge you a dishonor or payment default fee.

In the event of a third-party administrative seizure (SATD), your bank can also charge you fees.

Note that customers with more than five irregularities or issues per month are considered to be in a vulnerable banking situation.

Are there caps on bank charges?

Each bank is free to set its own rates. However, some charges are capped by French law: this applies to intervention fees, dishonor fees, and fees for an SATD.

According to decree no. 2013-931 of October 17, 2013, intervention fees are legally capped at €8 per transaction and €80 per month, or €4 per transaction and €20 per month for financially vulnerable people who have the special offer for vulnerable customers (OCF). For financially vulnerable people who have not opted for this offer, the cap is set at €25 per month.

The caps for dishonor fees resulting from payment issues are established by decree no. 2007-1611 of November 15, 2007, as amended. The maximum fees vary according to the amount and the payment method:

  • €30 for the rejection of a check for an amount equal to or less than €50
  • €50 for the rejection of a check for an amount greater than €50
  • €20 for an incident resulting from a direct debit or transfer

Finally, third-party notice (ATD) fees are capped at 10% of the amount due or up to €100 per transaction.

How do you know if you’re being charged?

To find out if you’re being charged bank fees, check your bank statement or the bank’s list of fees, which is available at branches and online. You can only be charged the fees listed in the list of fees.

Alternatively, you can contact your bank directly or sign up for bank alerts by text message, email, or post.

Are bank charges refundable?

If you believe your bank has charged you excessive or abnormal fees, you can negotiate with your bank advisor, send a letter to your bank and request a refund, or refer the matter to the bank’s ombudsman. As a last resort, you can take your case to the local court. However, note that this can be very costly and is only recommended in cases involving large sums of money.

How can you limit bank charges?

To reduce or eliminate your bank charges, it’s important to research the bank offers on the market so you can choose the best bank for your needs.

If you can’t afford monthly or annual fees, consider an online bank or a no-fee bank account. Most traditional banks charge account maintenance fees, while some online banks offer this service for free. You can compare the bank rates of all French banks using the tool provided by the French Consultative Committee for the Financial Sector (CCSF).

It’s also possible to negotiate reduced charges with your bank, depending on your financial profile.

Alternatively, Stripe offers a variety of banking services to businesses. With Stripe Issuing, you can create, issue, and distribute customized bank cards to your customers. You can also personalize bank cards with your branding and set your own spending limits. Get started with Stripe to improve your banking experience and keep costs down.

The content in this article is for general information and education purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Stripe does not warrant or guarantee the accurateness, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information in the article. You should seek the advice of a competent attorney or accountant licensed to practice in your jurisdiction for advice on your particular situation.

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