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France - Debit Cards

Carte Bleue
If you wish to use plastic to pay for something and have the funds drawn from your French bank account you will need to apply for a Carte Bleue (CB). Your bank will charge you about €30 for the first one and less for a second card. This is not a credit card, it is a debit card. Anything you pay for or any cash you withdraw from an ATM machine with your Carte Bleue is immediately debited from your account. It is possible to have the debits made once each month to help manage your monthly cash-flow. You will need to arrange this with your bank.

When you sign up for your card you can choose between immediate debit (debit card) or full payment at the end of the month. You cannot generally take credit beyond the end of the month, although some banks are now offering a type of credit system..

There are different types of Carte Bleue which permit different levels of cash withdrawal and spending e.g. a Gold card provides higher levels. Your bank will advise, which type you are entitled to have.

You will be issued with a PIN number for your Carte Bleue. The pin is not just for cash withdrawals but also for paying for goods and services where you will be asked to tap in your PIN to authorise the payment, no signature is needed with this system. The CB is almost universal in France; you can pay for just about everything including train and metro tickets, petrol, toll on the highways, internet and telephone payments etc. Most shops and many restaurants are becoming equipped with the terminal connections to accept CB but you will still find some small shops and restaurants that will only accept cash or cheques.

With a Carte Bleue you can withdraw cash from any ATM (guichet automatique) but the amounts you can withdraw and the associated charges will vary depending on your bank and the agreements they have with other bank networks.

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