Payments during the 2024 Olympics

With your tickets for the 2024 Olympics booked, you are now in the process of preparing your trip to France. How can I change currency into euros? What is the maximum amount of money I can have on arrival in the European Union? Which bank cards are accepted in France? All the information on payments during the 2024 Olympic Games in this article.

 

As in all the countries of the euro zone, you pay in France in euros. One euro is divided into one hundred cents. The euro symbol is €.

There are

  • 8 euro coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1 and 2 euros.
  • 7 banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros, each of which has a different size and a dominant colour.

Beware, in France, bitcoin, or more generally cryptocurrency, is not recognised as an official currency.

Yes, euro notes and coins are always accepted by a trader unless:

  •  The euro banknotes and/or coins are in poor condition,
  •  They are counterfeit money,
  •  The number of coins used is too large (more than 50 coins for a single payment),
  •  The trader cannot give you change,
  •  Technical or security reasons make it necessary (e.g. night shops, parking meters).

Please note! As a foreign tourist, you cannot pay more than €15,000 in cash to a French trader for purchases for your personal needs. Between private individuals, there is no limit on cash payments, but a written document may be useful, or even essential, for payments over €1,500.

10 000 €. This amount can be cash (banknotes, coins), cheques, travellers' cheques, money orders, promissory notes, gold or prepaid cards. Above €10,000, you must make a declaration to the customs service.

Be careful! Travelling with cash is risky: if it is lost or stolen, it will be difficult to recover. Travel insurance does not usually cover the loss of cash.

There are four ways of obtaining euros:

  • withdraw euros from an ATM using your international payment or withdrawal card. Please note that your bank may apply a maximum withdrawal limit and charges may be added.
  • Getting euros using a mobile application. This possibility is offered by some banking networks. In order to make the withdrawal, it is necessary to connect to a mobile application specific to your bank, to indicate the desired amount and to validate the operation according to a security procedure (verification code by sms for example), finally it will be necessary to enter the code received on the ATM to finalise the operation.
  • Exchange your foreign currency into euros at a local bank or exchange office(bureau de change) on presentation of an identity document and account information or a bank card. This is not free of charge, an exchange fee will be capplied. Withdrawal limits may be set by the change office for security reasons. When the amount required is large, the branch may ask you to make an appointment and charge you for the service.

Watch out for the exchange rate! Every day, a reference rate is published by the Banque de France based on the operations carried out on the foreign exchange market. The exchange rate may differ from one bank to another.

Good to know: Thebureaux de change are subject to very specific regulations in France. Before starting their activity, change offices must obtain an authorisation issued by the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution, which checks that the company meets the following obligations:

-  be registered in the French companies register ;

-  provide evidence either of paid-up capital or of a guarantee from a credit institution, finance company or insurance company for an amount at least equal to a sum set by an order of the Minister for the Economy;

-  Its directors and beneficial owners must prove that they are of good repute and competent, under conditions defined by decree and in accordance with procedures laid down by an order of the Minister for the Economy, etc.

Therefore, all manual foreign exchange transactions are immediately recorded on a slip, one copy of which is given to the customer and another retained by the manual changer. This slip indicates the nature of the transaction, the currency or currencies involved, the sums changed and the rates applied. The slips are time-stamped and numbered in chronological order.

Manual money changers keep a record of their transactions. In addition, money changers are subject to due diligence and reporting obligations in the context of the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. For this reason, additional documents or information may be requested from customers.

 

For further information, while in France, contact ABE Infoservice on 34.14 or consult the Banque de France website.

  • Withdrawing euros from a merchant with sufficient funds on hand and using a bank card.

Do not confuse a cash-in-shop with cash back!

Cash-in-shop is a cash withdrawal or deposit at a retailer's cash desk, with no obligation to buy, which is made from the customer's account. In addition, banks may set minimum and maximum withdrawal or deposit limits. Cash back is a cash withdrawal at a retailer's cash desk that is debited from the customer's account in addition to a credit card purchase. For example, for a purchase of €20, you may be debited €50 by credit card and the merchant will return €30 in cash. The cash back service should not be confused with the practice, of the same name, used in particular in online commerce and consisting of offering discounts to the consumer after the purchase of an item, via a refund, which is called cashback.

Merchants offering cashback or cash-in-shop services must display, in a visible and legible manner, in the vicinity of payment terminals or the place of collection, an indication of whether the service is free or not and, where applicable, the fees and commissions charged, including all taxes. This practice is highly regulated in France. Each trader decides whether to offer this service or not.  It can only be provided by the retailer at the request of the customer, who must express his or her wish to withdraw cash by this means before paying at the cash desk. The minimum purchase amount by bank card is €1 and the maximum amount that can be issued by the merchant is €60. Retailers can choose whether or not to charge for this service. Before using cash back, ask the seller whether there is a charge for this service and how much it is.

International payment cards (Visa, Mastercard or American Express) are accepted to pay for your foreign currency purchases directly at the merchant.

The trader may refuse payment by credit card or only certain cards, provided that the customers are informed in advance and in an apparent manner by means of marking, labelling or display. Furthermore, if the trader accepts credit cards, it might be under conditions: Example: "Payment by credit card from 1 euro".

Good to know: Taxi drivers are required to accept payment by card.

Payment cards are mainly of 3 kinds:

  • Debit cards (immediate debit cards): transactions are debited from the account immediately (at the latest within 48 hours).
  • Credit cards (deferred debit cards and cards linked to revolving credit): transactions are debited from the account at a later date, with or without interest. In the case of a deferred debit card, transactions are accumulated and debited on the date specified in the contract (usually at the end of the month).
  • Prepaid cards (also known as "reloadable/rechargeable cards" or "gift cards"): these cards provide a specific amount of money.

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2024, official shops and competition venues only accept Visa cards. Visa is the official partner of the International Olympic Committee. Therefore, you won’t be able to buy official merchandising in the shops or buy a snack during a competition with a Mastercard or an American Express card.

However, it will be possible to get a temporary Visa card for free, valid for the whole duration of the Games and until the end of 2024 in France. You can choose between a physical card or a prepaid digital card, connected to your smartphone. The physical card will be available on Olympic sites at counters run by Visa, whereas the digital card, launched in June, will be available from a mobile application on the user’s phone. Both cards allow to charge up to 150 euros.

Cash payment is also possible and you will find around 60 ATMs near the competition venues.

If none of these means of payment suits you and you would rather buy official merchandise from the Games online, beware counterfeiting!

In France, the maximum amount for a contactless payment is €50 per transaction.

It allows you to pay more quickly at the checkout. To pay for your purchase, most often you don't need to type in your PIN code, just hold your bank card up to the merchant's terminal.

The maximum cumulative amount of contactless purchases for a given period (per day, week or month) as well as the maximum number of consecutive transactions authorised without contact are set by your bank (never exceeding €150 for the former and 5 transactions for the latter).

You immediately need to cancel your card. To do so:

  • Contact your bank advisor;
  • Use the dedicated opposition number mentioned on your bank's website;
  • Call the special interbank server number provided by your bank. This service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and directs your call to your bank's opposition centre.

The French number is 0892 705 705 (Rate: €0.35 per minute + call charge).

  • Temporarily block your card from your online customer area.

You must also very quickly lodge a complaint with the police or the gendarmerie if the opposition is justified by the theft of the card.

Tips to avoid the inconvenience of losing or stealing your identity documents:

  • only keep your papers with you if absolutely necessary. Information on identity checks in France can be found in this article Identity check | Service-public.fr
  • keep a separate double-sided photocopy or scan them and send them to your own e-mail address. If they are lost or stolen, they can be retrieved from the internet, which will make it easier to apply for a renewal of these documents.

If you (your bank account) are from a euro area country, surcharges are not allowed. Your bank must charge you the same fees as for withdrawals in your country of residence.

Please note! If you withdraw money from an independent cash dispenser (a machine not linked to a bank), you may be charged a fee for using the machine. You should be informed of this fee before withdrawing money, either by a display on the screen, a sticker on the machine etc. Please note that the fee charged to a foreign customer cannot be higher than the fee charged for a national withdrawal.

Advice:

  • Check with your bank: some banks do not charge any fees if you withdraw at a local partner bank.
  • Paying by card may be more attractive than withdrawing in euros, as there is a fixed fee for withdrawing in euros, plus a commission.
  • When you withdraw money from an ATM, a fixed fee is charged, as well as a percentage of the amount withdrawn, so it is better to withdraw a large sum at once if you can keep your cash safe.

In principle, it is possible to pay with your smartphone or connected watch in all shops in France that offer contactless payment by bank card. Don't hesitate to ask the seller before making your purchase. Restrictions may sometimes apply to watches. 
If you use a virtual wallet (such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal, Alipay, etc.), you should be able to use it in France to pay for your purchases. Look for the contactless payment symbol near the checkout.

 

Yes, it is perfectly possible to ask your bank to send a transfer in euros, for example to pay for accommodation.

If it is not a SEPA transfer (payment in euros in the 27 EU Member states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or the Vatican), exchange and transfer charges will be applied, according to the rates set out in the account agreement.

Yes, provided that the trader has informed the customers in advance, in an apparent manner by means of marking, labelling, display or any other suitable method. Signs at the entrance to a shop or on checkouts are therefore allowed if they are visible.

If the trader accepts the cheque, it may be under conditions, such as a minimum purchase amount or require proof of identity. However, beware of discriminatory commercial practices! For example, it is forbidden to refuse to pay for purchases by cheque based on the bank or the customer’s place of residence being located in another country of the EU. 

No. It is forbidden for any trader to overcharge the consumer depending on the means of payment used (cheque, bank card, etc.).

Any breach of this prohibition shoulf be reported to the DGCCRF on the Signal Conso plateform.

On the other hand, a trader is authorised to offer a discount to the consumer for the use of a given means of payment, after having informed the customer in advance.

If someone wants to hand you an ink-covered banknote, do not accept it.

It is probably a stolen note that has been stained by an anti-theft banknote neutralisation device, also known as intelligent banknote neutralisation systems (IBNS), which are activated when criminals break into a safe containing cash that may be in an automated teller machine (ATM) or a cash-in-transit vehicle, for example. These systems render stolen notes unusable and worthless, reducing the risk of retailers, banks and other traders who regularly handle cash falling victim to this crime.

Also always check the cash coins your are handed to verify that they are euro coins including for the cents.

  • First, contact the trader (shopkeeper, bank branch, exchange office, etc.) in writing. Retain proof of your correspondence.
  • If this effort proves unsuccessful, proceed as follows:

If you live in France, you can receive assistance from a consumers’ association, whose contact information is available on the DGCCRF’s website. You can also report your problem with the hotel operator or the rental property owner on the SignalConso platform.

- If you live in another EU Member State, Iceland or Norway, the European Consumer Centre for your country can assist you. Visit the ECC Network website for its contact information.

- If you live in a non-EU country, contact the embassy or consulate of your country in France or report your dispute on the websiteeconsumer.gov, via the complaint form or contact the members of consumersinternational.org.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.