Difficult to navigate in the jungle of offers from online banks offering to open an account with a card with systematic authorization.
If all these establishments claim loud and clear the provision of a classic "free" payment card (MasterCard or Visa), this does not mean that their services and their conditions of use are free of charge.
But the commercial battle that these players have been engaged in for years still benefits consumers.
First launched by foreign neobanks landing on the French market −N 26, Revolut -, these “discount” offers with systematic consultation of the balance have become the leading product par excellence for online establishments to conquer new customers.
How it works ?
"The bank card with systematic authorization questions the balance of the account of its customer with each payment to find out if the latter has sufficient funds to authorize the payment", summarizes Laure Prenat, the general manager of the comparator Panorabanques, who analyzed the prices of these cards with systematic authorization.
“They allow the account balance to be updated in real time on the bank's application and the sending of notifications during payments.
This concept is practical for all those who want to avoid any overdraft, but it quickly ran up against a few bugs, with unjustified refusals when paying by card at certain tolls, car parks or even gas stations.
With the proliferation of cards and uses, banks are gradually changing the payment system which becomes "semi-systematic" to no longer block certain transactions when systematic authorization cannot be made (lack of connection, on a market. for example) or that it is necessary to have a minimum amount on the account (at service stations) which is greater than the customer's balance.
A card ... not so free
Vigilance is essential, because all “free” payment card offers often conceal additional costs for account maintenance or monthly contributions.
Panorabanques lists two online banks offering a systematic authorization card subject to monthly payment.
"At Monabanq, depending on the chosen offer, the card will be billed at 2 euros per month (Pratiq offer), 3 euros per month (Pratiq + offer), 6 euros per month (Uniq offer) or 9 euros per month (Uniq + offer) ) for the most upscale offer, ”notes Basile Duval, responsible for the content behind the comparison.
At Orange Bank, the high-end Visa Premium Card offer costs 7.99 euros per month.
By way of comparison, a systematically authorized card from a traditional network bank costs 32 euros per year.
No income condition but use
In return for the free payment card, online banks have long subjected their offers to a condition of income or payment of a minimum sum into the bank account.
Competition requires, this brake is now lifted, and replaced in some by conditions of use.
"Some online banks require you to use your bank card at least once a month, otherwise, fees are applied," said the professional.
Boursorama Banque therefore invoices 5 euros and 15 euros each month to customers of its respective Welcome and Ultim offers in the event that their bank card is not used.
At Fortuneo, the penalty is 3 euros per month in the event of inactivity.
Only two offers are completely free and without conditions: it is Hello One of Hello Bank!
and Essential from ING.
Little or no costs abroad
This is one of the great strengths of these offers: they entail little - if any - costs in the event of payments or withdrawals outside the euro zone.
"Boursorama Banque and Fortuneo have launched their two bank cards Ultim and Fosfo with total free fees on payments and withdrawals abroad," notes Basile Duval.
On the other hand, Boursorama Banque has maintained its fees on withdrawals abroad in its Welcome offer.
Watch out for discovery!
The very principle of systematic authorization aims to avoid any risk of overdraft.
However, in practice, a few rare payments can be made without questioning the balance and it happens that the customer himself needs a one-off overdraft.
This explains why more and more online banks still offer an overdraft, but low.
Fortuneo is one of the most flexible with authorized overdraft of 200 euros to its new clients (more if the client domiciles his income there).
On the other hand, ING (Essential), Hello Bank!
(Hello One) and Monabanq do not grant any overdraft.
Instead, Monabanq offers an overdraft facility (to be settled within 30 days).
Variable insurance guarantees
At Monabanq, death and disability insurance up to 46,000 euros in the event of an accident is included.
Still too often neglected, insurance backed by a systematic authorization payment card can prove to be very useful depending on usage.
In most cases, online banks offer the same guarantees as those of their traditional competitors.
But Internet players are increasingly managing to stand out with free additional insurance included in their offer.
This is well seen to appeal to the globetrotter customer attracted by the free payments outside the euro zone for this type of offer.
When Ultim, its first high-end black card, was released in 2019, Boursorama Banque insisted on the included insurance and assistance, comparable to that of a Premier card (transport delay guarantee, luggage).
The Société Générale subsidiary has even added a “smart delay” guarantee, ie free access to the lounge in the event of a flight delay of more than an hour.
For its part, Fortuneo includes in its Fosfo offer a set of guarantees, including medical and repatriation insurance, hospitalization and legal assistance abroad.
Its coverage remains lower than that of the high-end Gold MasterCard offer from online banking, but the latter is not systematically authorized.
At Monabanq, death and disability insurance up to 46,000 euros in the event of an accident (as with the Ultim offer) is included.
Note that its Uniq + offer even insures in the event of loss or theft of its means of payment.
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On the other hand, ING and Orange Bank segment their guarantees as traditional banks do, depending on the type of card chosen.
The ING Essential basic systematic authorization card thus excludes certain guarantees, exclusively reserved for the high-end Integral offer (theft or loss of medicines, lenses or hearing aids, mountain research costs, medical costs, snow package, etc. accident with a rental vehicle…).
Likewise, the classic Orange Bank Visa card includes the services of an ordinary “blue” card with assistance and repatriation insurance up to 11,000 euros.
While its Visa Premium card offer - always with systematic authorization - offers the international guarantees of a traditional Premier card.