carte bancaire / de crédit

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Bender, Oct 31, 2006.

  1. Bender Member

    English and Canada
    Good morning everyone!

    Can anyone confirm that "carte de crédite" is not the same as "carte bancaire"? I thought the latter is more along the lines of a "smart card/debit card/maestro card"

    Thanking you in advance.
  2. motus45

    motus45 Senior Member

    Le Mans
    french, france
    in english you have
    1. debit card
    2. credit card
    in french we only have one current card: "carte de crédit" ou "carte bleue"
    it is in fact a debit card. There is no system like credit card, or it isn't really developed. Our "carte bleue" means you immediatly pay what you buy
  3. Bender Member

    English and Canada
    Thanks motus45.

    Can one, then, interchange the terms? Or should I stick to "carte de crédit" since "carte bancaire" may be misleading?

    PS: The term(s) are to be used in Europe
  4. Gez Senior Member

    French (France)
    Carte de crédit, for a start. :)

    Carte Bancaire is a generic name for all cards complying with France's own bank network. They can be cartes de crédit if they're linked to a crédit-revolving account, or cartes de débit if they're used to pay from a normal account. As Motus remarked, though, that nuance is lost to most people because credit cards aren't very widespread.

    So most people do not distinguish really between them, and will just say carte bancaire, or CB. Or even carte bleue, but that's using a brand name instead of the noun (like calling a copy machine a xerox, or a paper tissue a kleenex).

    Carte bancaire isn't really misleading.
  5. alisonp Senior Member

    English - UK
    Things have obviously changed since I was living in France in the 80s (are we talking about France, or does the query relate to Canada, or elsewhere?). In the UK banks offering current accounts tend to issue debit cards, which act as a combined ATM card/general piece of plastic for taking money out of your account/cheque guarantee card (remember cheques? :) ). Credit cards are issued separately, because you have to sign a specific credit card agreement for them, but you can then buy things using your credit card and pay them off later, either usually free within a month or two, or by paying (usually fairly high) interest rates if you haven't paid off the outstanding balance after that time. You can theoretically only get credit on your card up to a certain limit, but I gather that tends to get raised by the c.c. company if you get close to the limit anyway.

    Are you saying there's really not a similar credit card system in France? Do the French really manage to live paying for everything straight off (or perhaps entering into a credit agreement for larger items?)?

    I got very confused when I opened an account over there: I just assumed I *had* to apply for a Carte Bleue to guarantee my cheques, not having realised that it was illegal to bounce a cheque in France so they didn't need to use it for that purpose. I thought it was described to me as a credit card, but I don't remember doing anything with it apart from taking out money from the ATMs, although it was definitely a VISA card. As I say, though, this was 20-odd years ago, and things have obviously changed since then, what with electronic payment having become the norm. Do the French still do all the above sort of transactions on the same card, then?

    (Sorry, I see others have replied while I was preparing this)
  6. Gez Senior Member

    French (France)
    The bank card will debit money from the same account as your cheques. Paying with a CB is sadly not yet the norm, there are plenty of formalities for which you can only pay by cheque. Like for example a security deposit.

    If you spend more than you have, then your account balance becomes red, and while it's perfectly accepted, there's a big interest rate on the money you owe the bank.

    These card+cheque accounts are called comptes courants. They're not comptes-épargnes, so you can't grow interests from them when they're "in the green"; because of that they're also called "comptes non-rémunérés" -- however, in France, contrarily to most other
    countries, cheques are free.

    Credit cards are not much used. They can be found, if you're searching for them, but they're more seen as some gadget for those who already have a lot of money. And as far as I know, the companies behind them are not French, just the local branch of companies such as American Express.
  7. Ian Tenor Senior Member

    English UK
    French Visa cards have as an option débit immédiat or débit différé. In the first case it works like a debit card in that the cash comes out of the account ASAP and in the second you get till the end of the month, though I guess their are other options.

    There is also a Carte Electron which really is a debit card, linked directly into the banks, and the cash comes out out of your account immediately.
  8. alisonp Senior Member

    English - UK
    The immediate or deferred debit thingy sounds like a useful thing to have. The Carte Electron sounds more like UK Switch cards (although I'm not sure whether those still exist - were they taken over by Maestro?). I always assumed that my debit card would take the money from my account immediately, but it takes just as long to clear as a cheque would.

    The lesson to be learned from all of this is that banking systems differ widely from country to country, and if you are opening an account anywhere else you should make sure precisely what is required and what the terms are, and not assume that it will operate the same way as your home account! (When I was in Germany, again a couple of decades ago, and opened an account there, I was horrified to find that they sent me a separate bank statement for every single transaction - and charged me for them all, too! Did they automatically assume that their customers were incapable of keeping track of their finances if they didn't, I wondered.)

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