What is the best traditional bank?

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Traditional banks remain very popular in France despite the meteoric rise of online banks and neobanks in recent years. To verify that the first mentioned are still on the level, we compare two French giants, namely SG and LCL. Let’s see which one is doing better in 2023.

It is a new banking duel that we offer you today and this time we are going to do it in the traditional way. On the one hand SG (formerly Société Générale) and on the other LCL (formerly very: Crédit Lyonnais). We had them compete on three key online banking criteria, namely the account opening procedure, card prices and finally the quality of the mobile app.

Société Générale vs LCL: account opening

Like what Boursorama Banque offers, Société Générale offers a more open model for registering and opening accounts from the web platform and even the app, which was not the case a few years ago, when you had to go to a branch to open an account. . with an advisor. Once the subscription form has been completed, you will be asked for the supporting documents that will serve as the first identity verification. The second step, which serves as validation, is more restrictive, since it requires an exchange by videoconference (or a prior appointment at a branch) with a bank advisor. However, this step is exclusive to Sober accounts. Digitally, everything can be done from the bank’s application or website, and by appointment. This is a rather disturbing point that denotes with the rest of the online banks that dispense with this type of interaction.

If opening an LCL account is mainly done in a more traditional way, the bank has been offering accessible online bank accounts for some time. The procedure and customer journey are similar to what can be found in other traditional banks like BNP or SG, for example. You will need to provide some documents in addition to your identity documents, such as a tax notice of less than three months. Once the account is opened, you still have to wait one to two weeks before you receive your card, while some neobanks are much faster in this procedure.

In this round, we do not prefer to give a point since the procedure to register and open an account is identical from one bank to another with the disadvantages of traditional banks.

Société Générale vs LCL: card prices

With its affordable online card offering called Sobrio, Société Générale generally offers the same prices and terms as a traditional online bank. The Visa Evolution card is available from 6.20 euros per month, the Visa Classic card is 6.90 while the VISA Premier card is 13.90 euros per month. We can only advise you to pursue this offer if you intend to make Société Générale your primary banking establishment. Only Kapsul’s offer comes close to what an online bank can offer with a card accessible to only 2 euros per month, but without any real advantages, especially when it comes to managing your money abroad.

capsules Sober (Visa Evolution) Sober (Classic Visa) Sober (Visa Premier)
price €2/ month Between 18 and 24 years old (3 €/month)
Between 25 and 29 years old (€5.76/month)
Over 30 (€7.20/month)
Between 18 and 24 years old (3 €/month)
Between 25 and 29 years old (€6.32/month)
Over 30 (€7.90/month)
Between 18 and 24 years old (13 €/month)
Between 25 and 29 years old (€14.90/month)
Over 30 (€14.90/month)
initial deposit None None None None
debit type immediate debit immediate debit immediate debit immediate debit
Entry conditions None None None None
pay cap €1000 per month €1,300 per month (more than 30 days) €1600 per month (more than 30 days) €3,100 per month (more than 30 days)
Withdrawal Limit €300 per week €300 (more than 7 days) €500 (more than 7 days) €1500 (more than 7 days)
Account opening and closing no fees no fees no fees no fees

On the cost side, it should be noted that the bank does not have an internationally oriented offer. If you plan to travel and make payments abroad, you will need to sign up for an international option in addition to the classic price of the card. Keep in mind, however, that none of these offer an initial deposit request, or even income conditions.

For its part, LCL offers a wide (too wide) range of bank cards. This even extends to the Visa Infinite card, which is only distributed in a few banks. accessible“. The latter is offered at no less than €29.95/month, but in reality it offers few advantages other than a Premium card at Boursorama Banque or BforBank for example, which limits your interest and outside the maximum limits of withdrawals and payments The other cards are like for them.

VISA Cleo LCL VISA Premier LCL Mastercard Platinum + Infinite LCL Visa
price €3.90/month
€1/month for students
€11.90/month €18.75/month €29.95/month
debit type Immediate or deferred debit Immediate or deferred debit Immediate or deferred debit Immediate or deferred debit
Entry conditions none none none none
payments abroad €1.20 + 2.85% of the transaction outside the Euro zone €1.20 + 2.85% of the transaction outside the Euro zone €1.20 + 2.20% of the transaction outside the Euro zone €1.20 + 2.20% of the transaction outside the Euro zone
withdrawals abroad €500/ 3 hours

€3 + 2.80% of the operation outside the Euro zone

Free Free Free
pay cap €2500 /month €15,000/month €12,000 /month €50,000 /month
Withdrawal Limit €500/ 3 days €3,000 / 3jrs €2,000 / 3jrs €3,000 / 3jrs
Account opening and closing no fees no fees no fees no fees

The offer therefore consists of nine cards and different types of accounts, the offer being hardly visible to the naked eye, so it is necessary to look at the services of each account to find the one that best corresponds. We are far from the simplicity advocated by the majority of online banks and neobanks in the market. LCL continues to retain its heritage as a traditional bank and has no intention of opening the door to a more easily accessible offering.

At this point, we prefer SG’s more “online banking” approach with its Sobrio card offering, which generally offers more attractive rates and benefits than LCL.

For more information, you can consult our full opinion on Société Générale.

Société Générale VS LCL: applications

The Société Générale app (available on iOS and Android) is very complete, has many features and above all is visually accurate. We still tend to get a bit lost looking for specific options, but overall it’s a very good banking app. We appreciate, for example, that you act as an aggregator to be able to consult all your accounts from a single application and make transfers more easily.

The home page shows us an indicator that allows a better visualization of the state of your finances at a glance, the latter is also configurable. The app also takes fingerprint opening into account on the security side. Finally, on the mobile payment side, you have to be content with Paylib and Apple Pay (VISA only) where many other online banks have already integrated Google Wallet.

The LCL app finally underwent a major overhaul in 2022 with the adoption of a new version incorporating the bank’s visual codes. We find ourselves there quite easily with an interface modeled on certain neobanks. However, it must be admitted that this only authorizes very few original options besides City Store (tool ofrefund of money). Transfers, limit management, opposition to the card (but without temporary blocking) and checkbook requests are the only options available in addition to the global visualization of your accounts. Also, payments and withdrawals are not charged immediately and require a 24-hour delay before being taken into account.

On the other hand, and this is a good idea, the application includes a chat that allows you to carry out procedures directly with your bank advisor in a safe space. We also have the right to biometric authentication, through a fingerprint sensor or with Face ID on Apple devices. Also, LCL only supports Apple Pay and Paylib to pay for purchases with your smartphone.

On the subject of the app, we really couldn’t decide on a natural winner. The SG app is quite clean and comprehensive, but it lacks a bit of responsiveness, while the LCL app’s interface is better, but lacks advanced features.


From an accounting point of view, it is the SG that wins this duel of banks, in particular thanks to its Sobrio card offer, which has everything from the best online banks on the market. On the other hand, LCL need not be ashamed of the comparison thanks to its finally level application.

Online banks: our comparator

If you want to know more about the online banks available in the French market, do not hesitate to consult our dedicated compactor below.

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