Managing Your Money
The currency used in France, and throughout most of EU, is the euro (€). The use of credit cards is slightly less common in France than in the United States, but major bank cards and credit cards (e.g., Visa and MasterCard) are accepted by most larger stores and restaurants in France — with the notable exception of the American Express card, which is rarely accepted. You should always check about payment options, particularly as a minimum purchase may be required to use credit cards (usually €10 or €15).
Important: French cards have an embedded microchip, not a magnetic strip as in the U.S. However, French card reading devices and ATM machines are designed to read U.S. cards.
For shorter stays in France in which all major expenses are paid in advance, it is sometimes possible to use local ATMs to withdraw spending money from a bank account in the U.S. to cover day-to-day expenses. Every bank has a different policy on fees they charge for withdrawing cash from ATMs abroad, so be sure to read the fine print associated with your account or contact your home bank to find out what kind of ATM fees they charge.
Checks are used less and less in France, and very few businesses will accept checks drawn on foreign banks.
Opening a bank account
International students may open a "nonresident" bank account (in euros or another currency) or, if they you are staying in France long enough, a "resident" account (in euros or another currency).
You may wish to ask your bank at home if it maintains ties with a French banking network, which may make it easier for you to open an account (perhaps even before you arrive in France) and transfer funds.
Once you have opened an account, you will get an official bank account information document — or “RIB” (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire) — from the bank that includes your account number and other important details. This information will allow you to make deposits to or withdrawals from your account — for example, direct deposit of your wages/scholarship or automatic bill payments.
Opening an account gives you the right to a checkbook and a Carte Blue or debit card at your bank in France. Anything you pay for or any cash you withdraw from an ATM machine with your Carte Bleue is immediately debited from your account.