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I am going to Paris/France for a trimester program (3 months). The organizers sent an email that said the following.

Make sure that you have a credit card to withdraw cash in France. If you have any issue with this point ou can also create an online bank account before you arrive or get a rechargeable credit card (Nickel, Wise, N26,…).

I have an SBI GLOBAL card (https://sbi.co.in/web/personal-banking/cards/debit-card/sbi-global-international-debit-car). Is that convenient for transactions in France?

If not, how does one get "rechargeable credit card"?

Note : I do not have to pay rent. The accommodation is provided by the institute. They are going to give/deposit some honorarium per month to cover food and other expenses. To give that money, they asked for "rechargeable credit card".

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    I never have withdrawn cash on a credit card in France, and am unlikely to do so. Spending on a credit card and withdrawing cash on a debit card is perfectly normal. It sounds rather like a terminology issue but it's not an obvious mistranslation ("credit card" = "carte de crédit", "debit card" = "carte de débit" or "carte bancaire") Feb 23, 2023 at 9:07
  • So, what would you like to suggest as an answer for this.. @ChrisH-UK Feb 23, 2023 at 9:12
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    @FranckDernoncourt they call it trimester, in which multiple conferences will take place.. Feb 23, 2023 at 9:36
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    Historically, French people quite commonly refer to any bank card as "carte de crédit", whether it's a debit or credit card. (In fact, many would find the expression "carte de débit" weird, although the terminology is changing officially.) In fact, many people still use "Carte Bleue".
    – Bruno
    Feb 23, 2023 at 18:02
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    You don't need a credit card for withdrawing money and neither should you use credit card for that. What you need is a debit card that works in France - any Visa or Maestro brand should do. Mar 1, 2023 at 6:59

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In France, N26 or Revolut issue (virtual) debit cards. The organizers called them “credit cards” because they have MasterCard branding and that they are accepted everywhere where credit cards are (including online and abroad), which isn't necessarily the case for other debit cards. Other than that, they really work like debit cards, all transactions must be authorized online and you need to have a positive balance on your account for a transaction to go through so you need to put money on it beforehand (that's what they mean with “rechargeable”). You can also use them to withdraw cash (with some restrictions) and won't incur the fees and interest you would on a pure credit card.

There is a lot of confusion around the credit / debit card terminology in France because separate credit cards are not that common. Many people just have a single card issued by their bank that works in the way I just described or maybe with payments delayed until the end of the month (“débit différé”). Conversely, there are no shops that would take debit cards but not MasterCard or Visa-branded credit cards. So everybody uses “carte bancaire” and “carte de crédit” or simply “carte” or even “carte bleue” interchangeably and you shouldn't read too much into it.

The other implication is that even though they work like a bank account with a debit card, it's not really a full bank account, hence the somewhat confusing “rechargeable credit card” (incidentally, I think N26 is actually a bank).

That said, I am not sure this solves your problem: Signing up with Revolut and N26 in France involves claiming that you are a tax resident and probably uploading a residence permit. Opening a bank account theoretically ought to be possible for non-residents but traditional banks won't be easy to deal with from abroad and leading online banks typically require a pre-existing account with another French bank, proof of address, your last tax return, etc. Transferring money from a bank account in another currency will also probably incur fees.

The only advice I can give is that you should really look into what's available in the place where you are based (India?) rather than take advice from the organizers or try to open an account in France. The most difficult thing will be getting this honorarium transferred to your account, though. I am guessing they expect an IBAN and I don't know where to get that easily if you are not a resident.

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  • The paragraph about being able to open a bank account is probably the biggest and most practical problem. It's probably not worth the administrative hassle for just 3 months, if it's even possible. An account in Revolut India might be a more viable option, but it currently says "Join the waiting list" as opposed to "obtenir un compte gratuit" on the French site
    – Bruno
    Feb 23, 2023 at 18:09
  • I will confirm with my bank today to see how much do they really charge and if there would be any issues with using it in France... Feb 24, 2023 at 2:44
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    Overall getting a wise borderless account as also specified by organizers may be the easiest, as it'd provide a SEPA account without fees, and as they have a larger set of countries they accept users from. They also have a card available in some countries, but unfortunately India is not one of them, so they'd have to transfer the money you get to your own bank account in India.
    – ave
    Feb 24, 2023 at 9:07
  • @ave I think the organizers' advice is worthless, they suggest opening an account in France and that's not very practical (haven't tried Wise but it would be impossible with N26 which they mention as well). But since Wise is also available in India and offers many ways to put money on the account, it could be a great option for the OP to receive money. Only option to do anything with it would be transferring it to OP's bank account in India, right? What would the fees for that be?
    – Relaxed
    Feb 24, 2023 at 23:18
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I have an SBI GLOBAL card (https://sbi.co.in/web/personal-banking/cards/debit-card/sbi-global-international-debit-car). Is that convenient for transactions in France?

Yes, but they'll take fees. FYI: What's the cheapest way of paying by card abroad? 

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  • Thank you. Can you also consider the other part of the question "If not, how does one get "rechargeable credit card"? " Feb 23, 2023 at 9:40
  • @PraphullaKoushik agreed with Chris' comment. Feb 23, 2023 at 9:50
  • Looking at point two of the answer you linked - would (if it is an option) opening an Euro account in OP's bank in India and attaching a card to that be the most convenient then? Mostly because, since the card is in Euro, they can be sure they incur the exchange fee only once. No clue if it is feasible though.
    – jaskij
    Feb 24, 2023 at 0:38
  • @jaskij if convenient = minimizing fees, no ideas, I don't know the Indian market. Feb 24, 2023 at 0:51
  • I will confirm with my bank today to see how much do they really charge and if there would be any issues with using it in France... Feb 24, 2023 at 2:44
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A "rechargeable credit card" doesn't exist (at least here in France), any credit / debit card is sufficient to pay whatever you need.

As suggested, you can get a debit card on Revolut, Wise or others, without opening a "real" bank account (and so, avoid the long-windedness of administrative processes). It's not advised to use your national card, as you will have fees, as pointed by other users.

Please note that in France, you may pay by debit card everywhere, except for very small amounts (generally < 5€, but it may varies).

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    I think "rechargeable credit card" may not have been the best way to qualify what I understood. I have used N26 in the past for example, and all it does is it's an online bank with which you have a debit card. You can use it as a bank, or merely as a mean of having a cheap way to pay in foreign currency, by "recharging"/wiring money into it from your real bank whenever you need it.
    – Clockwork
    Feb 23, 2023 at 17:51
  • I will confirm with my bank today to see how much do they really charge and if there would be any issues with using it in France... Feb 24, 2023 at 2:44
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Your card should work just fine if you have Mastercard or Visa logo on the card, like the pictures on the bank website suggests.

It works in practice so that when you use your card in your home country, it uses your domestic network to handle and process the transactions. But when you use it abroad, it will use the Mastercard/Visa international network.

However, it might still be beneficial for you to get rechargeable card. There indeed exists 3 types of cards: debit, credit, and recharged (pre-paid) cards.

Pre-paid cards are somewhere between debit and credit cards. You won't need a bank account with prepaid card. So they are not exactly like debit cards. But you won't need a loan decision either, like you do when applying for credit cards.

Potential benefit for having such a card is currency conversion rates and smaller fees. I have pre-paid Visa card from Wise (ex Transferwise). It works anywhere where Visa cards are accepted and Wise specializes in cheap currency conversions. So it depends how big cut your bank takes from conversions and in fees. For me using Wise abroad is slightly cheaper. Of course Wise takes a small fee when you transfer money into the account.

If you decide to get a pre-paid card, get it before you travel, like your organizer suggests. You won't be able to open an account in French bank or branch easily.

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  • I will confirm with my bank today to see how much do they really charge and if there would be any issues with using it in France... Feb 24, 2023 at 2:44
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If not, how does one get "rechargeable credit card"?

N26, Nickel and Wise will give you a debit card with an IBAN, which makes it comparable to a regular bank account, I suspect a botched translation here

some academic conference for 3 months

If you are going to France for three months, I'd very much recommend opening a French account and wiring (be wary of fees, though) money from your Indian account into the French one instead of using your Indian one.

N26 and Revolut are usual ways to get a debit card fast with low fees

It will be way more practical for you (if you rent an accommodation and need to wire the rent...) and for anyone that needs to receive the money (no exchange rate shenanigans on their side)

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    I do not have to pay rent. The accommodation is provided by the institute. They are going to give/deposit some honorarium per month to cover food and other expenses. To give that money, they asked for "rechargeable credit card". Feb 23, 2023 at 10:53
  • They likely want you to have a bank account @PraphullaKoushik Feb 23, 2023 at 11:00
  • @NicolasFormichella surely in that case they'd ask for a bank account, not just a means of withdrawing cash. In particular their suggestion of using a credit card suggests that they're not going to be depositing anything Feb 23, 2023 at 11:36
  • @ChrisH-UK They are, see the comment, In France, all of the cards mentionned are bank accounts but more basic with less requirements than a traditionnal account in a bank (except N26 which is a bank) Feb 23, 2023 at 11:45
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    @NicolasFormichella the products listed may be, but they're suggested as alternatives for those who don't already have credit cards: "Make sure that you have a credit card to withdraw cash in France... ou [sic] can also create an online bank account" Feb 23, 2023 at 12:01
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Actual credit cards virtually don't exist in France, what we call « carte de crédit » is actually a debit card, and it's very likely the people who wrote the message didn't know it and just translated literally what they meant. So your card being seemingly a debit card, if it does work in France and allows you to withdraw cash, you can totally keep it and there's no need to get another card. If it's not accepted, then you can search for « néo-banques » on Internet which are just going to send you a card without really checking everything about you like traditional banks usually do, the downside being that you'll have little to no support.

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