French Bank Restrictions Abroad

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Kate
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French Bank Restrictions Abroad

Post by Kate » Thu 12 Apr 2018 21:20

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my husband and live in Ceret in France. We have a bank account with Credit Agricole. We like to travel abroad to visit family in the UK or Australia or in our camper van to Morocco to escape the harsh winters in Northern Europe and because it is cheaper for us to live in Morocco for three months whilst there. So far we have not had a problem with banks as both my husband and I have a bank card each for our joint account with two full lifetime pensions and salaries going into the bank. However, the day before we left my husband had a slight nick in his card and told the bank that he would like a new card on his return. The lady took the bank card from him, examined it and promptly put it in a shredder telling him that a new card would arrive in three weeks time. That of course was too late as we had to be in Marrakech within the week to meet friends from the airport there.
We left with only my card between us. We saw no problem with this as we expected to use this card for drawing cash with as required. Unfortunately, in Morocco, petrol stations, motorways, campsites and most shopping is with cash only, including restaurants. They do not have the machinery to take cards. Only one or two large supermarkets such as Carrefour in Marrakech do. No doubt smart hotels also. Anything and everything else is cash only. Including repairs to cars and motorhomes.
We needed a small repair to our Motorhome and fully expected to take cash from distributor to pay for this but the bank had put a limit of (they said) 500 euros a week. This would have been sufficient but the distributors kept telling us that insufficient funds were there even to draw out 50 euros. What could we do? We are in our eighties with several thousand in the bank and unable to draw out even a modest amount. We telephoned the bank to be answered by young ladies telling us that there was nothing they could do as we had used our allowance of 300 euros cash a week when we had not touched most of this. We were told by the bank to take our card to a supermarket for cash but this was not possible in Morocco either as it may be in the UK. We were &horrified. First, we had not asked for my husbands card to be taken from him until our return, second, the bank knew we were going for a three month stay, third, why can we not access our money as needs be as required? We are not stupid, we understand caution with finances but sometimes, when it is urgent we should be allowed access to funds if necessary. Especially when the money is in the bank and plenty of it. We can no longer feel that we can travel the world if the bank imposes such strict rules on us for such a modest amount. Occasionally we may need to spend more than 300 euros cash a week, rarely and only if the money is there to be spent. I remember placing £10,000 in my account to buy a sewing machine in England with it. I went to England and bought a machine for only £2000 instead but my card would not allow me to spend more than 300 euros per week. I had to phone head office for Credit Agricole to allow them to pay the money required to the shop in England. What a nightmare.
What can be done to give us, the client, more control over our spending when abroad? Especially in more third world countries where payment by card is not possible. Does the bank have to control us pensioners or any one else on what we can or cannot spend whilst traveling? In this modern age has technical advancement become detrimental to our personal freedom?
What it does mean though is that however much you may save in a bank for a lifetimes trip or simply to visit family is only allowed at so much a week according to what the bank decides and not relevant to the amount of cash you may have put aside for such a journey.
My husband and I are still in Morocco hanging around waiting for us to be able to withdraw funds from our bank account and pay our campsite in cash with sufficient cash so that we can pay out to travel home with and no indication from our bank as to how long this will take.

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Post by Allan » Thu 12 Apr 2018 22:38

If you have access to the internet and on-line banking you could send yourself money via Western Union as well as checking what has been withdrawn from your account.

To most English people, French banks seem like relics of the 19th century but you should be aware that the weekly limit imposed on you for use of your own money is determined by the type of card that you have. So the more you pay them, the higher the limit.

Crédit Agricole state on their website that the limits can be changed by agreement with your bank adviser.

When we first moved to France, we tried to furnish a house and constantly ran up against silly limits. I phoned the bank and gave the manager a bollocking and got the impression that was something that French bank managers were not used to.

If you still have connections to the UK, you could probably get a card from there that can be used in any currency.

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Post by martyn94 » Sat 14 Apr 2018 15:34

A lot of Brits, including me, have been inconvenienced by the fact that carte bleu doesn’t work like UK debit cards: your proposed transactions are not referred to your issuing bank to be tested against your current balance. The bank just gives some pre-determined limits to the Carte Bleu system (daily, weekly, monthly) and delegates approval/refusal to them. So it makes no difference that CA knew that you were going away unless you expressly ask them for higher limits as Allan suggests.

There are other things you could consider. Some banks do issue cards which check each transaction with your bank - a carte à autorisation automatique - including CA apparently (“L’ Autre Carteâ€￾). Secondly, some banks give more generous limits than others, notably the online-only banks (eg Boursorama, ING, Fortuneo....). I moved my own account partly for that reason. Thirdly, you could supplement your normal card with a freestanding pre-paid card (carte prépayé). You “loadâ€￾ them with credit before you go, either by cash or by transfer from your normal bank: you then use it until the money runs out or you reload. Because they are not attached to a bank account, you can get them in many places: your maison de la presse or tabac probably does them. Finally, a wodge of cash does no harm: I have a few hundred in US dollar bills (left over from a holiday in Burma when ATMs were almost unheard of there): I tuck it into my bra, when I remember, if going somewhere exotic.

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polremy
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Post by polremy » Sat 14 Apr 2018 21:36

Wow! Are you a LADY, Martyn?
Never would have believed it.

martyn94
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Post by martyn94 » Sat 14 Apr 2018 22:44

polremy wrote:Wow! Are you a LADY, Martyn?
Never would have believed it.
Only on my good days. I was thinking of an Australian female friend (of a certain age, and with a forte poitrine, as they say) who keeps her credit cards in her bra. Her rummaging around for them, in a crowded restaurant, is a sight to be seen.

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Post by russell » Sun 15 Apr 2018 10:06

polremy wrote:Wow! Are you a LADY, Martyn?
Never would have believed it.
No, he just cross dresses when going to certain exotic places :lol:

Russell

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Post by Sus » Mon 23 Apr 2018 06:38

I am sorry to read about your experience but not surprised. I travel a lot on my own for work to remote places and I lost track of how many times, I had money refused despite sufficient funds in the account or the different tactics of banks to prevent you getting access. My UK bank, Santander, wants to know every time I am abroad...
It seems to me that banks still think we all lead very regular lives in one country with predictable spending habits, anything outside of that gets them in a right state.
As somebody else suggested, your best bet to get out of your current situation might be to wire money to yourself via Western Union. For longer term, my solution is to have accounts with different banks in different countries, I dont travel with less than 3 cards and so far I have always had at least one working. My husband has also opened an account with TransferWise, you get an account with £ and €, together with a debit card. You can transfer funds between the currencies at a good exchange rate and so far he is very happy with how it works.
Do hope that you manage to get hold of funds soon and enjoy the rest of your holiday!

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