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ATMs in France: Fees, Cards & Getting Cash in France

Nov 23, 2022
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No country receives more tourists annually than France. Over 89 million visitors per year enjoy the country's meticulous cuisine, its unmatched art collections, and its iconic cities.

While French vendors and restaurants are moving quickly toward cashless payments, like much of Europe, cash will still come in handy if you want to leave a tip to your server (5 to 10% is common) or if you want to purchase local produce at your neighbourhood market.

Monito's guide to ATMs in France will help you find the best ATMs to use in Paris and in France, what fees you may be charged, and what debit cards and credit cards you can use to avoid some unnecessary charges.

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When travelling to France, we recommend using a smart money app and debit card like Revolut to convert from your home currency into Euros. That way, you can skip the high ATM fees and pay straight with your card at extremely low fees!✨ Get three months of Revolut Premium for free when you sign up with our exclusive link below:

Jarrod Suda Montmartre streets Paris France at night

How to Find ATMs in France

ATMs — called distributeur automatique de billets (or DABs) — in French can be found at airports, post offices, or banks in cities and towns across the country.

The easiest way to find machines that accept your foreign debit cards and credit cards in France is to use an online ATM locator for Maestro and Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. (Most credit cards in France will work so long as you have a 4-digit PIN code.)

Let’s explore the main French cash machine providers below:

French Banks

BNP Paribas is the only French bank that currently participates in the Global ATM Alliance, which is a network of banks that waive international ATM access fees.

For free ATM withdrawals in France, find a participating BNP Paribas ATM branch here:

Free ATMs in Paris and in France

While BNP Paribas is your best bet, other banks in France do not generally charge fees for ATM withdrawals either. To find ATMs in Paris and in other parts of France, see these locators:

La Poste — The French Post Office Bank

Post office ATMs in France, like French banks, do not charge withdrawal fees. Have a look at locations here:

Jarrod Suda Eiffel Tower Paris France

What Are the ATM Fees in France?

When you withdraw (retrait in French) cash from ATMs in France, you should not be charged by the French bank or the French post office. However, you can still be charged other sneaky fees. Before we learn how to avoid ATM fees, let's first walk through what they are.

ATM fees in France will come in any combination of the following three ways: 

  1. Basic cash withdrawal fee
  2. Currency Conversion Fee, or ‘Exchange Rate Margin
  3. Dynamic currency conversion fee

1 — Cash Withdrawal Fee

As stated earlier, you should not be charged this fee if you withdraw Euros from a bank, like BNP Paribas, or from a French post office.

However, if you withdraw from a private ATM operator, such as Euronet, then you will be charged this fee.

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Avoid Euronet ATMs in France

Euronet is a widespread private ATM operator that sets up convenient but expensive ATMs in airports, city centres, and areas that attract many tourists.

Plan your ATM withdrawals in France ahead of time by searching for banks and post offices that waive cash withdrawal fees.

2 — Currency Conversion Fee, or ‘Exchange Rate Margin’

This hidden fee applies when travellers spend with non-local currency (i.e. using your debit card linked to your British bank).

At any given time, there is a so-called “mid-market exchange rate” — this is the real exchange rate that you can see on Google. The local provider — who is taking your pounds, for example, and giving you back Euros — will rarely use this rate. Instead, they may do the math at a rate of 1% or 3% higher than the market rate. They’ll keep the difference

Many French ATMs at banks or the post office will exchange your currency at an exchange rate 1% weaker than the real mid-market rate. Euronet will often exchange your currency at an even weaker rate.

3 — Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

A DCC is a special kind of currency conversion fee that allows you to complete a transaction in your home billing currency instead of the local currency — and this fee is always optional.

When making a purchase at a local merchant, this fee will be charged by a card company like Visa or Mastercard. When withdrawing from an ATM, this fee is charged by the ATM operator.

The exchange rate they will charge is not only higher than the market rate but is also often significantly worse than a traditional bank’s exchange rate (we’ve seen margins of up to 8% and 10%).

The long story short: always choose to pay in the local currency. In the case of France, this is Euros (EUR).

dcc dynamic currency conversion

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Avoid Currency Conversion Fees With Wise

A reliable option for avoiding currency conversion fees is to open a multi-currency account and get yourself a travel card. Withdraw up to 200 £/€ per month without being charged ATM usage fees.

Plus, by loading Euros onto your Wise Multi-Currency Card prior to your trip to Italy, vendors and merchants will assume you have a local bank account when you present your card. The machine will never apply exchange rate margins nor will it ask you to do a dynamic currency conversion.

3 Tips When Using an ATM in France

ATM fees can be confusing to understand especially if communicated by a machine in a foreign language. To keep your travels as stress-free as possible, we have three simple tips for you to keep in mind before you handle transactions in cash.

Jarrod Suda Uzès market near Nîmes France

Tip #1: Pay in the Local Currency (€) When Withdrawing Cash in France

As stated before — pay in the local currency () and avoid paying in your home currency. 

If you've traveled frequently enough, then you'll be familiar with paying at a store, restaurant, or ATM, and being presented with a choice. Pay with the local currency or your home currency. If you chose to give your home currency to French merchants or to ATMs, then they will apply the dynamic currency conversion (DCC) to convert that into Euros.

This percentage is almost always higher than the exchange rate that they would apply if you had paid in the local currency (€).

Merchants are often unaware of what a DCC even is, as the profit margin will go into the pockets of the ATM operator or your card company. Be aware that you don't need to be traveling abroad to encounter DCC fees. You can often find them when shopping online or even when making PayPal payments.

Companies that offer multi-currency card services also include Revolut, Monzo, and Monese, which operate across most of the globe and in the world's most used currencies. Be sure to check out our reviews to discover whether these services might make sense for you for your next trip abroad.

Jarrod Suda Nice France coast

Tip #2: Don’t Use Bureaux de Change as an Alternative

Bureaux de change kiosks, whether at airports or in city centers, will charge any combination of fixed fees, poor exchange rates, or commission. We once found that Travelex Champs-Élysées, bureaux de change in Paris, charged a 16.6% margin when exchanging 500 US dollars into Euros, for example. 

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ATMs often remain a better option than bureaux de change to obtain cash. Even still, French ATMs will apply exchange rate margins to your cash withdrawals. This is why we recommend using a travel card to get cash. They are built to avoid currency conversion fees.

If you want to have cash in hand prior to your arrival, then we recommend ordering currencies online before your trip. This is still a better option to bureaux de change at the airport. To find the best currency exchange provider in your home country, use Monito's travel card travel page.

Tip #3: Don't Use a Traditional Card To Pay in Foreign Currency or Withdraw Cash in France

Just because you have a bank that waives foreign ATM fees does not mean that it also waives exchange rate margins. Plan ahead by getting a travel card.

There are usually three types of travel cards: prepaid travel cards, debit travel cards, and credit travel cards.

Types of Travel Cards

  • Prepaid Cards: With prepaid travel cards like Travelex, you can load the card with your home currency via a bank transfer.
  • Debit Cards: Innovative digital banks like Wise or N26 offer travel debit cards. They will convert your money using the real exchange rate for a one-time fee for the service. You will then be able to manage your current balance from their mobile apps. With your multi-currency cards, you can pay in the local currency like a local.
  • Credit Cards: You can also find credit cards made for international payments offering good exchange rates and low fees to withdraw money abroad. Capital One, for example, is one of the only companies in the United States that charges 0% international transaction fees when spending with their cards. However, you will pay interest on your ATM withdrawals each day until you pay them back — so try to avoid withdrawing cash with credit cards.
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Consider a Travel Card with N26

With an N26 account and their debit Mastercard, you get three ATM withdrawals in the Eurozone for free per month — plus never get hit with foreign card transaction fees.

For US residents, Juno's debit card will not only give you free ATM withdrawals within its network but will send one ATM fee reimbursement per month too. This reimbursement policy applies outside of the US. With no foreign card transaction fees, Juno is a cost-effective way to travel.

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