The safe at Societe Generale on Boulevard Haussmann
Life in Paris & France,  Money

Your Money in Paris

Journées du Patrimoine the bank vault at Societe GeneraleCredit Cards and Banking

Pay as you go Credit Cards
A pay as you go credit card is available through Travelex.

“Bob” used the Travelex Passport (.73026 EU to $1 US) and was pleased. “Travelex worked out perfectly. Both security and convenience. I would highly recommend it.”

In France there is a central number for all lost or stolen credit cards. Dial: 0892 705 705

Visa card – lost or stolen?

Call direct +33 1-303-967-1096 – Await second dial tone
1-800-847-2911 (within the U.S. or Canada)
0800-90-1179 France (certain fees may be incurred)

Abroad dial: 001 410 581 99 94

Visa “Get Help Now” Instructions

What Rick Steves says about using ATM machines abroad

MasterCard lost or stolen?

Call the following telephone number collect to the United States in the event of an emergency: +33 1-636-722-7111

Toll Free: 0800901387

In the United States:
1-800-MasterCard (1-800-627-8372)

For countries not listed in the MasterCard directory,  call the following telephone number collect to the United States in the event of an emergency:

American Express
“In the event that your American Express Dollar or Euro Charge Card is lost, stolen or damaged, you can call American Express immediately at any time, day or night. Once the loss is reported, your liability for fraudulent use of the Card is limited to US$/€50.
If you Card is lost or stolen please call Customer Services immediately on +44 (0) 1273 868 900

Emergency Card Replacement
We will issue a replacement Card usually within 24 hours. If you are travelling abroad and wish to have a Card sent to you, we can arrange for a replacement Card to be waiting for you at the nearest American Express Travel Service Location or to be delivered to you in person*. (* not all services available at all locations)”

The Anglo-Info Web site carries extensive information on what to do for lost cards and mobile phones in France.

Open a bank account in France

Since 2012 it has become harder to open a bank account in France due to IRS/US Treasury paperwork. Check with each bank.
A reader asked,  “Is it possible to open a bank account there before actually having an address in Paris?

I suggested Bursorama (website only available in French) and HSBC. The other banks such la Poste and BNP Parisbas have websites that are user unfriendly to simply answer this question.

HSBC states on their website, “Whether  you are coming to France to live or work or if you are buying a house there, HSBC can help you settle in. From opening accounts to  establishing international transfers, your English-speaking  Relationship Manager ensures you a smooth transition.”

More money tips from Paris Tourist Office

 Tips on Tipping

Round off. If the bill is whole numbers, add a little something if you feel it was worth it.

Taxis – how much did they add on for the luggage? Was it a nice ride? Shuttles – you paid a price that should include the tip – Do not feel guilty not leaving a tip –

In a restaurant, if you liked the server, add an euro or two. In the taxi, round off. In the shuttle, give an euro or two if the driver was helpful with hints.

In a café if you leave loose change, that is fine; nothing, that is fine because the 15% cover is included in the price. We generally leave about 30 cents or nothing.

I had to change South African Rand into Euros. The Change et Collection office at 1, rue Rouget de Lisle 75001 Paris, gave a very fare rate. The rate of exchange was extremely close to the current internet-published rate. The tiny street is between metro Tuileries and Concorde (closest metro Concorde, exit closest to W.H. Smith, rue Cambon). OANDA is a Web site that I found to check the  rate of exchange for foreign currency.

Where To Change Money

Change et Collection practical information.

Travelex Passport
“Bob” used pleased with the Travelex Cash Passport (.73026 EU to $1 US) . “Travelex worked out perfectly. Both security and convenience. I would highly recommend it.”

ATM help
You can have free ATM usage in France when you have an account with Bank of America.

This hint comes from Frances:
“…if one has an account at Bank of America they can use the ATM without charge. Bank of America in an alliance group with a number of other bank around the world and if you have an account at any one of these banks there is no charge when using them…”

USA Today published a “Your Money” article (a long time ago) about which are the best credit cards to use and avoid fees. This article is no longer available on the Web.

Some highlights:

  • Visa and MasterCard charge a standard 1% fee for foreign purchases. In recent years, many banks have tacked on currency-conversion fees of up to 2%.
  • The lowest currency-conversion fees according to the article are: Capital One (none); Washington Mutual (1%) and American Express (2%).
  • …3% on a credit card is less than using traveler’s checks…and the change currency at a U.S. airport…
  • Use ATMs to acquire foreign currency for tips, taxis and other non-credit card items
  • Do not use your credit card to get cash from ATMs
  • Reject offers from merchants to convert your bill into dollars (i.e., Harrods in London offers this service)
  • I use my credit union debit card at the ATMs and receive a 1% charge. They cut off using the credit union debit cards in place of credit cards long ago after theft problems.

Before going abroad, check out ways to reduce currency-exchange fees“by Sandra Block. If the article is no longer available, place the title in your search engine to find more recent articles on the subject.