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Travel money guide: France

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

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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.

Our picks for traveling to France

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Wise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Wise Multi-currency

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5

Travel 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.

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.

These are your options for spending money in France

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.

Pros
  • Widely accepted in France
  • Waived currency conversion fees
Cons
  • Cash advance fees

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.
Pros
  • Security with chip and PIN
  • Direct access to own money
  • Widely used in France
Cons
  • ATM fees
  • Finding an ATM in your banking network may be difficult

Using a prepaid travel 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.
Pros
  • Hold different currencies
  • Save on currency conversion fees
Cons
  • ATM fees
  • Reload fees
  • Card issue fees
  • Inactivity fees

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.

Pros
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
Cons
  • Higher risk of theft

Using 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.

Pros
  • Acceptance
  • Security
Cons
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Becoming a phased out travel money option

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95

Up to $1,250 signup bonus

Earn a massive signup bonus of 100,000 points with this popular travel card. That's worth up to $1,250!
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on all other purchases
$250

Rose Gold is Back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
$695

New Platinum Exclusive Offer

One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $7,000 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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France currency

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

5 Euro banknote10 Euro banknote20 Euro banknote
50 Euro banknote100 Euro banknote

The main banks in France are:

  • BNP Paribas
  • Credit Agricole
  • BPCE
  • Societe Generale
  • Groupe Credit Mutuel
  • Credit Cooperatif
  • La Banque Postale
  • Credit du Nord
  • AXA Banque
  • Banque Palatine

Buying currency 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.

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.

Live Rate

= 0.8469

Refreshing in: 60s | Tue, Jul 27, 01:54PM GMT

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.
Find ATMs in France

Cash pickup services in France

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 74.062 INR 73,767 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour USD 1.99 72.946 INR 72,801 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 72.76 INR 72,178 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 72.574 INR 71,122 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How much should I budget to travel in 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. All prices are in US dollars.

BudgetMid-rangeExpensive
Accommodation$25–$40
per night
2-star hotel
$75–$150 per night
5-star hotel
$600–$800+ per night
MealsFalafel 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
ActivitiesFree 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.

Case study: Jacob's experience

Jacob profile photo
Jacob

Interview with Jacob about spending travel money in France

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.

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.

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