It’s a fact: the French easily leave their traditional bank to turn to an online bank. These establishments represented more than a third of all account openings in 2023. Internet finance has been growing exponentially in recent years for all types of banking products.
Our comparison of online banks gives you an overview of the players involved. We have only taken into account institutions that offer a complete alternative to traditional banks. They offer at least a current account, a card, a savings account, investment and loans. Neo-banks can be found here.
Comparative: the best online bank 2023
The market leader, Boursorama Banque, crossed the threshold of 4 million customers in mid-2022. The Societe Generale group’s online bank is experiencing phenomenal growth with an offer that is just as impressive. The competition is struggling to resist: its runner-up ING announced at the end of 2021 that it was closing its activity in France. Since then, he has transferred some of his clients’ accounts to Boursorama Banque.
Just behind Boursorama Banque, we find the subsidiary of BNP Paribas: Hello bank!. The latter is positioned with two complementary offers that are on the rise (Hello One and Hello Prime). Otherwise, among the best online banks, we also find Monabanq, BforBank and to a lesser extent Orange Bank. In the end, the market is relatively small.
Among the key players, we also note the presence of Fortuneo Banque. The latter also has a complete offer with all everyday banking products. It should reach one million customers in 2023. Like Boursorama Banque, it has enjoyed strong popularity for its stock market products.
For this online banking comparison, the table summarizes the services of each banking institution. This ranges from current account, bank card, savings, stock market and credits to the welcome bonus. Depending on the profile and needs of each customer, the best online bank can therefore change. The fact remains that some banks stand out overall for their offer.
Online banking, a strong trend
More than 10 million customers in France
Online banking has gained popularity and visibility with the French public over the past few years. According to figures from the regulator (ACPR), these establishments recorded more than 1.3 million customers in 2018. Growth has accelerated over time: in 2022, Boursorama alone recruited more than 1.4 million clients !
In total, online banking would have convinced more than 10 million customers, or more than 15% of the French population. This figure does not include neo-banks which are considered as payment solutions. N26 alone already has more than 2 million customers in France. Revolut has crossed one million users. The Nickel Account reached 3 million customers at the start of 2023.
Ranking of the best online bank in 2023:
- Boursorama Bank
- Hello bank!
- Fortuneo Bank
- Orange Bank
- Fortuneo Bank
- My French Bank
ING no longer appears in this comparative ranking of the best online bank in 2023. The Dutch giant has thrown in the towel on the French market. It thus leaves the way open to players such as Boursorama Banque, Hello bank!, Fortuneo or Monabanq. Orange Bank is struggling, the telecom group would like to get rid of it. ING customers were invited to transfer their account to Boursorama Banque, which a large number of customers did.
Switch to an online bank
The loyalty of the French to their historic bank is eroding. They no longer hesitate to change banks to find a better online bank like one of those in our comparison. According to the consulting firm Bain, 5% of French people changed banks in 2018, twice as many as in 2014. In 2023, the trend will be even stronger.
This figure should increase further in the years to come because the French are less emotionally attached to their bank. If loyalty has long been an asset of retail banks, the French are tired of paying too much. Often the high costs are not justified or not transparent. In an exchange with Presse-citron, Paul de Leusse, the CEO of Orange Bank summed up the situation: “it is irritating to see a bank levy fees for reasons that we do not understand”.
This tendency to switch banks benefits online banking. The younger generation is logically more sensitive to online banks and is less loyal to the original banking establishments. In 2018, 7% of 25 to 34 year olds changed banks and online banking is the gabothered by these changes. In 2023, the situation will be the same.
In addition, the pandemic has favored remote banking management. The French are now used to managing their accounts remotely without having to contact their physical bank advisor. For this reason, they can also more easily turn to online banking. This was the downside of the latter (although it has much better telephone customer support than a traditional bank), it is no longer an obstacle.
A full range of products
The best online bank is the one that brings the most answers to its customers – at the best price. Beyond the current account, it is necessary to take into account the banking products of the offer which make it possible to make online banking its main account. Banks like Hello bank!, Monabanq, Fortuneo or Boursorama have a range of products similar to that of a network bank. There are bank cards, life insurance, savings, stock market, mortgage or consumer loan.
It is interesting to see that the millions of online banking customers have not all subscribed to the current account. For now, there are more than 10 million current accounts online, out of a total of 80 million bank accounts in France. Some French people have chosen to focus on other products with a digital bank.
Over the past few years, online establishments have recorded tremendous growth to the detriment of traditional banks. Still according to the Bain study, the best online banks in our comparison have taken on around 14% more customers over the last 3 years. Some have done better, such as Boursorama Banque, which went from 700,000 to 4.4 million customers between 2016 and early 2023.
Criteria for choosing an online bank
Why choose an internet bank?
Online banking presents itself as a serious alternative to traditional network banks. In the majority of establishments on the Internet, there are product ranges as complete as in basic banks, at a lower cost. Moreover, most online banks have a free offer. Boursorama Banque explained in 2018 that 53% of its customers paid no bank charges.
If you are tired of paying too many fees, and if you want a bank in your pocket, online banking is the solution. Today, 6 million French people have succumbed to offers on the internet, and this trend is strengthening over time.
What is the best online bank?
Every customer has different needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all best online bank. Nevertheless, some banks stand out for their global offer, for the aggressiveness of their prices and for their customer support. In our comparison of online banks, you can find out which ones rank best on certain criteria.
Over the years, these online banks have evolved – and they are still evolving. To cope with the arrival of neo-banks, many have redesigned their offer. This is the case of Hello bank!, ING, Boursorama Banque or even Fortuneo which arrived with unconditional and free options.
What parameters to take into account in your choice?
If so many people decide to take the plunge and go to a better online bank like those in the comparison, it is because they offer a level of service to match. All this goes beyond the fears of a dematerialized relationship. Among the advantages of an online bank, we can mention the free life operations such as account management or deposits.
Then, the easy management of the account, the quality of the banking products offered and the adapted customer support are 3 strong arguments which contribute to the success and development of online banking. Below in our comparative guide to the best online bank, the essential points to consider when looking to start a new establishment.
Are online banks free?
As you can see above in this online banking comparison table, most online banks are indeed free. Zero euro account fees, €0 card fees and €0 fees for day-to-day transactions. It is therefore logically more than half of the customers of these establishments have no bank charges in the year: their online bank is therefore really free.
While a traditional bank takes an average of €200 in bank charges per year from its customers, online banking is therefore already a revolution at this level. And it is not satisfied with just a basic offer, since certain establishments like Hello bank!, BforBank or even Boursorama Banque offer a premium bank card (Visa Premier) free of charge to itscustomers, subject to monthly income. It should however be remembered that the best online bank is free for those who can prove a minimum level of monthly income or a savings deposit.
In some cases, bank customers still have access to branches and physical ATMs to make deposits (checks or cash), transfers or view their account directly. All of this, again, for free. This is the case, for example, with Hello bank! which offers access to the 2,000 BNP Paribas branches across France.
Often considered the best online bank in the comparisons, Monabanq offers access to CIC distributors (to make deposits and transfers from them) across France to its customers, but it asks for a monthly fee (admittedly very low, but suddenly it is not free). The particularity of Monabanq is that it does not require any income condition.
What products are offered in these banks?
The best online bank model like the ones we’ve shown you in the comparison above is interesting because it’s very similar to a basic network bank – and therefore stands out from all the fintech news. which are often specialized in a single fairly technical banking product (international transfers with Transferwise, mobile payment, payments abroad with Revolut).
Indeed, most French online banks offer a range of banking products similar to those found in a traditional bank: current account, bank card, mortgages and consumer loans, savings account, stock market, life insurance or insurance. In the majority of cases, the remuneration of all savings solutions offered by online banks is higher than that of traditional banks. Similarly, credits in general have more advantageous rates on the internet. All these banking products are accessible via the customer area, on the internet. Few traditional banks have managed to offer the management of all their products online today.
Is the customer support of these banks responsive?
The great fear of many French people when they migrate to a better online bank like the one in our comparison is the fear of losing the customer relationship with their advisor. In reality, it is ultimately very different. The awards obtained by the Monabanq bank in 2018, 2019 and 2020 as “Customer Service of the Year” illustrate that these establishments now offer a much more constructive and intelligent relationship than in many traditional establishments. Due to the fear of the dematerialized and non-physical relationship, online banks have therefore worked on their customer support.
This support is accessible by many means, and over very extended hours (in most cases, until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. on weekdays, and 6 p.m. on Saturdays). It is also important to emphasize the responsiveness of these best online banks, which respond in a few minutes thanks to customer support based in France and where each of the advisers is specialized in a banking product: you therefore have the best advice on each of the products. Conversely, you can sometimes wait a few days for your traditional bank adviser to answer your questions, sometimes with a lack of knowledge.
How are they structured?
Subsidiaries of banking groups
In this comparison of the best online bank, all players are owned by established banking groups. The latter have a solid reputation and have no difficulty in finding financing. It also implies that your money is safe in a digital bank. However, this is not the case for neo-banks, which cannot put forward this argument. It is also a good way to benefit from the expertise of a group, in particular on certain support functions.
For example, Boursorama Banque is a subsidiary of the French group Société Générale, Hello bank! from the BNP Paribas network, Monabanq from the Crédit Mutuel CIC group, Fortuneo Banque from the Arkea group and BforBank from the Crédit Agricole group. However, online banking offers are different from those seen in traditional banks.
The groups advance the high cost of agencies as a reason that justifies the fees of traditional banks. Conversely, the online banks in this comparison do not have a physical presence (apart from Hello bank! which relies on the network of BNP Paribas branches and Monabanq which benefits from Crédit Mutuel ATMs), which explains why the costs are lower. On average, a customer in an online bank saves 200 euros in fees per year.
With a dematerialized model, customers are the winners. While traditional banks encourage their customers touse dematerialized interfaces for budget management (on computer or smartphone), they are converging on online banks. There remains the price, which does not converge. That’s why they lose customers.
Online banks: welcome bonuses in 2023
Advantages of choosing an internet bank
The best online bank is perceived to be free. The customer will not pay any fees for the maintenance of the account, the card and the transactions of everyday life. There is just Monabanq which asks for a subscription from €3 per month with its Pratiq+ account. The subsidiary of the Crédit Mutuel group overhauled its offer in 2020 with 3 coherent formulas.
At Boursorama Banque, about two-thirds of customers pay no fees. On average overall in 2021, customers paid 7.79 euros in fees. It is for this reason that it was voted “least expensive bank” for the 15th consecutive year in December 2022. Others like the best online banks Hello bank! or Fortuneo keep the same promise of free in their offer.
With the free online banking presented in our comparison, you should know that institutions sometimes have trouble achieving financial balance. The support of their parent company is essential to continue to grow and finance growth. The managing director of Boursorama Banque, Benoit Grisoni, confided to us that it could “be immediately profitable if they stop the acquisition costs”.
The first online bank in France knows no stoppage: it registers 100,000 new customers per month in 2022. It crossed 4 million customers during the summer of 2022 and it should exceed 5 million in the first quarter of the year. year 2023. Very quickly, it should converge towards the number of customers of more traditional banks such as BNP Paribas or Société Générale.
Online banking can retain customers on products where the margins are higher. Credits can be a godsend for these establishments in the long term. Unfortunately, the population on the web is still not very sensitive to these products. Indeed, only 10% of online banking customers have taken out a loan. And yet, online establishments are much more competitive on loans than network banks.
If online banks today are willing to concede so much effort (and even lose money on customer acquisition), it is because they want to get ahead of new banking services. who are emerging. If the neo-banks are direct rivals, it could be that the tech giants (GAFA) are getting on board soon. Free launched on the payment of professionals during the month of September 2022: it could one day develop for individuals.
Apple also took its first step into finance with a card via a collaboration with the American Goldman Sachs (Apple Card). This card is specific to US use, but it may one day come to Europe. Finally, Google is present in mobile payments with its Google Pay solution.
Every bank is different
It is difficult to say which is the best online bank of the comparator for a given customer profile. Depending on the needs of each, banks have advantages and disadvantages. According to customer profiles, internet banks do not have the same characteristics, the same price and the same service. You can see in our guide that depending on the income that can be proven, the bank card offer is different.
To help you make your choice, beyond the comparison table above, we have prepared a summary below. This will allow you to know the strengths of each bank. It will allow you to quickly find out what the advantages of each online bank are and what profiles they are targeting. You can look beyond this comparison of online banks on their websites to see what the situation is.
1) Boursorama Bank
If it is considered the best online bank by many French people, it is because Boursorama Banque has managed to offer competitive products for all profiles. With 4.4 million customers to its credit at the start of 2023, the Société Générale group subsidiary is the largest online bank. In December 2022, it was re-elected “the cheapest bank in France” for the 15th year in a row according to a study by Le Monde.
For the past few months, Boursorama Banque has skipped all the eligibility conditions. Its classic formula, Ultim, is accessible to everyone regardless of income. It is free and only withdrawals abroad (beyond the third) will be charged. It includes a current account and above all an unconditional Visa Premier card. In short, for everyday use, it’s everything you can dream of at an unbeatable price.
2) Hello bank!
Hello bank! is one of the best online banks and its new offer has something to seduce. The BNP Paribas group brand divides its offer into two: Hello One and Hello Prime. The first is an unconditional accountand free, which allows you to have a card and all the tools to use your bank on a daily basis. Hello Prime is reserved for premium customers, who prove €1,000 net per month and who will have to pay €5 for this account. It is associated with a card that benefits from the same advantages as a Visa Premier.
If we judge that it deserves its place among the best online banks, it is because Hello bank! offers a wide range of products similar to that found in a neighborhood bank. As such, it is one of the few banks on the internet to offer its customers access to ATMs and BNP Paribas branches to deposit checks and cash. If you handle cash, Hello bank! is ideal. Boursorama Banque cannot boast of doing the same.
3) Fortuneo Bank
Like Boursorama, Fortuneo first found success through its stock market portal. Since then, the establishment has developed very well. With soon a million customers to its credit, it is the second largest online bank in France. Renowned for many banking products (including life insurance), it offers a complete choice for its customers.
Online banking also knows how to be very innovative. You have access to numerous mobile payment solutions, instant transfers as well as real-time monitoring of your accounts on the mobile application and the website.
Monabanq is a subsidiary of the Crédit Mutuel group, and it lists hundreds of thousands of French customers. In April 2020, the online bank overhauled its range of accounts: Pratiq+, Uniq and Uniq+. The first is ideal for day-to-day banking, while the Uniq/Uniq+ formulas are intended to offer a solution for travelers (no fees abroad on payments and withdrawals).
If Monabanq is one of our favorite online banks, it’s because it’s open. By subscribing to it, you do not need to justify a level of income. In return, it requires its customers to pay between €3 and €9 per month to have this account. A Visa Premier card and a Visa Platinum are accessible without income conditions, and against €3 and €9 in additional fees per month. The bank has facilitated its fee schedule, you will not have any bad surprises. Note that Monabanq also opens the CIC counters to allow cash and check deposits.
Finally, we also remind you that Monabanq has been “Elected Customer Service of the Year” for 5 years. If you are afraid of lacking support through an online bank, Monabanq is the most comforting. It is recalled that its basic formula, Pratiq+ at 3 euros per month therefore amounts to a total of 36 euros per year. To give you a point of comparison, the average French person pays 219 euros in bank charges per year in a traditional bank.
BforBank also belongs to the best banks on the French market. The subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole group was originally exclusive and demanding on the conditions of its customers: it was necessary to justify €1,600 of income to have an account (which came with a Visa Premier) free. Today, it has significantly lowered its requirements since it only takes €1,200 net to hold an account there.
BforBank is the only bank on the web to offer its customers a Visa Infinite bank card in addition to the Visa Classic and the Visa Premier. If it belongs to the best banks, it is because it also offers a fairly long range of products. Often, it also rewards the opening of products such as savings accounts, life insurance or the stock market with convincing bonuses.
Banking products available
The current account
The current account is the most popular product on the internet. All online banks offer one and so do neo-banks. It is often necessary to hold an account to then access the second part of the products. For example, you will need one to get a savings card or passbook. In some cases, banks offer advantageous conditions on loans if you hold an account there.
In general, the current account is free. On the other hand, it is access to a bank card that will be billed by the bank. Very often the two are correlated, but it is the card that is actually charged. Each online bank has its own conditions for the current account. In some of them, you will have to prove a minimum income to hold an account. At Monabanq, Boursorama Banque or Hello bank!, you can go there without having to justify a level of income.
The credit card
In our comparison of the best online bank, the bank card is a key element of the offer. Depending on the bank, you will benefit from a card on the Visa or Mastercard network. From one to the other, there are few differences. That said, each of these networks offers different levels of bank cards. s – which give more or less benefit. At Visa, there are Classic, Premier, Infinite or Platinum cards. At Mastercard, it’s Standard, Gold or World Elite.
Depending on the level of income that you can justify in the bank, you will receive a more or less premium card. In general, internet banks require an average of €1,000 in income for free access to a Visa Classic (or Mastercard Standard). To obtain a Visa Premier, it will be necessary to justify between 1,600 and 1,800€ of income. Finally, the black card (Infinite or World Elite) is reserved for a very small part of customers, on file.
If you want to know more about credit cards, our bank card comparator here will give you all the elements to consider in your choice. You should also know that online banks have made their mark on neo-banks. In other words, you can take advantage of certain bank cards without commitment and without justifying income.
Savings and the stock market
If you have capital to grow, online banking offers a series of savings or investment solutions. Whether it is the Livret A, life insurance or the stock market, these investments are available at the majority of the establishments in our comparator. They have a range of products equivalent to that of a traditional bank. The only difference is that they are much cheaper, and the fees are known.
For savings, the current market rates mean that the remuneration of passbooks is not very advantageous. On the other hand, the stock market can allow you to generate interesting profits (but beware of the risk). Boursorama Banque has been the most reputable in this area for years. The bank is capitalizing on the stock market news portal to differentiate itself and attract its first audience. Fortuneo Bank does the same.
Loans in an online bank
Credit is starting to grow in online banking. That said, less than 10% of all customers of these establishments succumb to a loan. The main web banks in our comparison offer both options: consumer credit and mortgage. The courses are done 100% online, so you do not have to go to physical appointments.
Again, credit is much more relevant in a digital bank than in a traditional establishment. If you open an account in the bank, you can also take advantage of an even lower interest rate. For large amounts, using a credit broker is a good solution to get the lowest possible rate.
Conclusion: which is the best bank in 2023?
In our bank comparison, there is no single “best online bank” in 2023. Each meets different expectations and needs. It is therefore up to everyone to see which one will best meet their profile. Some establishments stand out overall, such as Hello bank!, Fortuneo, Monabanq and especially Boursorama Banque.
Our favorite is Boursorama Banque and its Ultim card. This is a free CB, unconditional and which is of the Visa Premier type. No other online bank provides you with such a card with such flexibility. Boursorama Banque’s product range is also the most complete and aggressive on the market. Its applications (desktop and mobile) are excellent, as is its customer service.
The table at the top of the page is updated to highlight the offers and formulas of each of the banks. Please still consult the site of each bank to see the prices and all the associated conditions in real time. If online banks tend to keep the same prices (free) throughout the year on daily operations, it is the costs of operations abroad whose price changes.