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Travel money guide: France

An insider’s guide: The best ways to take, save and spend travel money in France.

France was one of the first countries to merge into the Eurozone and the euro has been the national currency of France since 1999.

If you’re heading to France, you can use debit cards, travel cards or credit cards to spend in more places than not. However, choosing the right travel money product is an important part of planning your trip – it could relieve stress and the fees that are tacked on to your bank account at the end.

Which option is right for your next trip?

Compare travel cards for France

Rates last updated February 24th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
0% of transaction value
$0
$10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
Enjoy 40000
bonus miles after you spend on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum
2%
of transaction value
$0
The Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers multiple perks, including one of the lowest available APRs on the market.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
0% of transaction value
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
0% of transaction value
$0
Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    How much should I budget to travel to France?

    Paris is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and prices can rise according to the number of tourists and the destination’s reputation. For example, Bordeaux is a rich city and famous for its wine and lesser known cities such as Lille are a little cheaper — but only marginally.

    ParisBudgetMid-rangeExpensive
    to-sleep$25–$40
    per night
    2-star hotel
    $75–$150 per night
    5-star hotel
    $600–$800+ per night
    francediningFalafel sandwich (rue des Rosiers, Le Marais)
    $5
    Coffee with croissant/ pastry
    $8
    Lunch at a mid range restaurant
    $20–$25 per dish
    Michelin star restaurant
    $75+ per dish
    to-seeFree museum day on the first Sunday of every monthAdmission to the Louvre
    $18
    VIP seating and dinner at the Moulin Rouge
    $500

    *Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

    Exchange rate history

    Euros are a stable currency, so don’t expect the rate to change too much when you’re in France. If you believe it’s going to get more expensive to purchase euros, you can lock in a rate with a travel card or traveler’s checks.

    USD to EUR for the last 10 days

    Feb 14 Feb 15 Feb 16 Feb 17 Feb 18 Feb 19 Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 23
    1 USD = 0.8020 Inverse: 1.2468 0.7998 Inverse: 1.2503 0.8060 Inverse: 1.2408 0.8060 Inverse: 1.2407 0.8057 Inverse: 1.2412 0.8064 Inverse: 1.2400 0.8107 Inverse: 1.2336 0.8143 Inverse: 1.2281 0.8113 Inverse: 1.2327 0.8133 Inverse: 1.2296

    USD to EUR for the last 10 months

    Apr 2017 May 2017 Jun 2017 Jul 2017 Aug 2017 Sep 2017 Oct 2017 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 Jan 2018
    1 USD = 0.9204 Inverse: 1.0865 0.8943 Inverse: 1.1182 0.8942 Inverse: 1.1183 0.8524 Inverse: 1.1732 0.8386 Inverse: 1.1925 0.8384 Inverse: 1.1927 0.8503 Inverse: 1.1760 0.8438 Inverse: 1.1851 0.8430 Inverse: 1.1862 0.8159 Inverse: 1.2256
    Did you know?

    If you’re using a credit card or debit card for purchases and ATM withdrawals, you’ll get the Visa, Mastercard or American Express foreign exchange rate. This is pretty close to the interbank rate and a little better than the travel card foreign exchange rate.

    How to send money to France
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    Which to take: travel credit card, debit card or credit card?

    Most retailers and merchants are credit card and debit card friendly. Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere, but American Express and Diners Club cards can be used in fewer places.

    When making payments, some merchants may have a spending minimum — 10 euros for example. However, if you’re making a contactless payment, you can get away with purchases of just a couple of euros using your card.
    How to use a credit card in France

    Travel money optionProsCons
    Travel prepaid cards
    • Hold different currencies
    • Save on currency conversion fees
    • ATM fees
    • Reload fees
    • Card issue fees
    • Inactivity fees
    Debit cards
    • Security with chip and PIN
    • Direct access to own money
    • Widely used in France
    • ATM fees
    • Finding an ATM in your banking network may be difficult
    Credit cards
    • Widely accepted in France
    • Waived currency conversion fees
    • Cash advance fees
    Traveler’s checks
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    • Becoming a phased out travel money option
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • Higher risk of theft

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    Using travel cards, debit cards, credit cards and other options in France

    Using a travel prepaid card

    These travel cards allow you to load dollars and lock in a rate when you convert the funds to euros — letting you spend without paying the 3% currency conversion fee. You can hold different currencies on these cards at the same time, which is handy if you’re heading to the UK.

    Although you’re saving on currency conversion, you may be subject to ATM fees, reload fees, card issue fees and inactivity fees.

    • Tip: You get two cards when you apply for one of these accounts, so store the second card somewhere safe to be used as a backup.

    Using a debit card

    Equipped with a chip, secured with a PIN, and providing direct access to your own money, debit cards get the gold for convenience when it comes to travel money in France. Look for a checking account that doesn’t charge for currency conversion or international ATM withdrawals.

    • Tip: Banks in France won’t charge you to make a withdrawal, so you can withdraw euros and make over the counter purchases for roughly the same price as you would back home — and in some cases, it can be even cheaper.

    Using a credit card

    Pick a travel friendly credit card if you’re looking to apply for an additional line of credit for your trip to France. Look for a card that waives foreign transaction fees and offers travel features like complimentary international travel insurance and complimentary purchase protection insurance that some high-end cards may offer – like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.

    Using a traveler’s checks

    Don’t bother with traveler’s checks — they’re expensive and inconvenient. There’s a commission when you cash traveler’s checks and you’ll wait in long lines at the bank.

    Paying with cash in France

    You can use your card in France for most things, but if you want to shop at the street markets, you’ll need cash — ATMs are typically onsite. Places like Porte de Clignancourt and Les Puces de Montreuil in Paris have some amazing deals for things you never thought you’d find.

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    Currency in France

    The euro comes in the denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.

    ECB_5_euro_banknotes10euro
    20euro50euro
    100euro200euro
    500euro

    ATMs in France

    ATMs are everywhere in France. Ask for a banque électronique if you need directions from a local — though you really won’t have to look far to find a machine.

    Some key information to know if you’re using an ATM in France:

    • Bank ATMs don’t charge a local ATM operator fee.
    • If you’re using a Visa or Mastercard you shouldn’t have a problem. Check with your card provider if you’ll be using a different brand.
    • You’ll be able to pick a language for the ATM.
    • You get to pick the denominations you want.
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    Interview with Jacob about spending travel money in France

    jacob

    Jacob spends a bit of time in Paris. Last time he was in France, he spent two and a half months in Paris and few weeks traveling to some of the smaller cities in the North of France.

    What cards did you take with you?

    Why did you take these cards with you?

    He signed up for the Barclaycard to get the 40,000 point sign up bonus. On top of that, the card has no foreign transaction fees and is part of the Global ATM alliance. He used the card to pay for his flights to score complimentary travel insurance.

    The Discover Bank Debit Card is his day-to-day card and he used it to make over the counter purchases and ATM withdrawals because it waives both the foreign transaction and international ATM fee.

    Did you withdraw from ATMs?

    He used his Discover card to withdraw cash from ATMs in France because he could avoid the fee.

    Were there any places where you had trouble using your cards?

    Jacob says he didn’t have a problem using his card throughout France, although he spent the majority of his time in Paris. He said that some places make you spend over 20 euros if you want to use your card. However, if the business accepts contactless payment, you can use your card for small purchases.

    What’s your recommendation for the best form of travel money to take to France?

    Jacob says a credit card is a must. He also suggests it’s worth including a debit card that doesn’t charge for currency conversion or international ATM fees.

    Do you have any travel money tips for France?

    • Coffee. Coffee gets more expensive or cheaper (espresso) based on the location of the cafe. You pay for the view, not the coffee.
    • Tipping. Tipping is not expected and should be given as a way of saying thanks for good service – rounding up to the nearest euro is appreciated.
    • Metro tickets. If you’re using the Metro in Paris, buy bulk (packs of 10 or 20 tickets at a time) for a discount.
    • Summer prices. France becomes much more expensive during tourist season, especially the price of accommodation.
    • Free museums. The first Sunday of every month is free museum day in Paris. Wake up early – it’s very popular.
    • Street food. Head to Rue des Rosiers, Le Marais for a one of the best falafel sandwiches in the world — and for about five euros.

    Buying euros in the US

    Euros are a major international currency, you can buy euros at banks, exchange offices, at the airport – the list goes on. You will get a better deal if you wait to buy euros in France, even better if you make an ATM withdrawal using a no ATM fee and no foreign transaction fee debit or travel card.

    If you want some cash in your pocket when you land, compare the following foreign cash providers.

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    Take a combination of travel money products to get the most from your travel budget. A credit card is a great way to make large purchases, while using a travel card or a debit card is better for smaller everyday expenses and cash withdrawals.

    Give yourself a couple of different ways to access your travel budget in case something happens to one of your cards, as it can take you a couple of days to recieve an emergency replacement card from your bank or lender.

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    Get travel insurance quotes for your vacation in France

    Details Features
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Travel with a smile - protect your trip cost, your medical expenses, & your belongings.
    • Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expenses up to $250,000
    • Trip Cancellation – 100% of Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption – up to 150% of Trip Cost
    • Political Evacuation - $20,000
    • Lost, Stolen or Damaged Baggage – up to $2,500
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation – up to $1 million
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    TravelEx's most comprehensive protection plan for the comprehensive traveler. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip Cancellation - 100% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption - 150% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Delay - $1000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $100,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight’s Essential travel insurance package can be broken down into three critical parts: Trip Cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance, and baggage insurance.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Medical Expenses - $15,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $150,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects Cover - $750
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Get affordable cover for the essentials of options with STA's mid-level cover policy. This option will still provide up to $1500 in luggage cover and up to $100,000 in medical cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - 100% of trip cost insured up to $10,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $1,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $500
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    As the name implies, the Preferred package provides coverage for most trips and vacations.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Accident & Medical Expenses - $50,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $500,000
    • Accidental Death and Dismemberment - $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Cancel For Any reason upgrade available with the Travel Max plan. Cancel for any reason - no questions asked.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • 100% cover if delayed to departure and loose at least 30%
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Provides customizable coverage for specific losses. Cover can be tailored to provide a balance between the basic essentials and premium cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $1 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $500
    • Travel Delay - $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Provides quality cover for a range of benefits with higher cover limits. Premium plan is perfect for travellers with health concerns looking for total protective cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $2 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $1,000
    • Travel Delay - $200/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Provides option to choose between different levels of flight insurance protection.
    • Flight Accident AD&D - Up to $1 Million
    • Baggage - $2,000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $2,500
    • Medical Evacuation / Repatriation - $25,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Get premiere cover for a whole range of options with STA's premium policy. This option will still provide up to $100,000 in medical expense cover and up to $3,000 in cancellation cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - $3,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $2,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance makes sure you are covered incase your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $500,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    If you frequently travel abroad and want extra coverage in case you get sick, injured, or need to cancel your trip, Allianz International Travel Insurance is the perfect solution.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $1,000,000
    Go to site More info
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