Banking in the Netherlands
An important factor in relocating to the Netherlands is how the local Dutch financial, banking system works. For many internationals the lack of credit card acceptance surprises for instance. Or, the fact that so much banking is in fact done online or via automatic debit. The answers to these, and many other bank, payment related issues can be found in the questions below.
What is the currency in the Netherlands?
The monetary currency of the Netherlands is the euro, and Eurozone countries share the same euro bank notes and coins. There are seven bank note denominations (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros) and eight coins denominations (1 and 2 euros and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents). In the Netherlands, very few establishments will accept the 500 euro note and most small shops including supermarkets will not accept 100 and 200 euro notes and coins of 1 and 2 cents notes either. If you pay cash, the amount will be rounded off to the nearest 5 cents, e.g. €10.13 will become €10.15 while €10.12 will become €10.10. If you pay with your bank card you will pay the exact amount.
Can you explain the numbering conventions used in the Netherlands?
The Dutch method of punctuating numbers and decimals is exactly opposite to the English system. Therefore, for example, twenty-five euros and fifty euro-cents would be written as €25,50 and five thousand two hundred euros would be shown as €5.200. Round figures are written with a comma and a dash after the number: e.g.15 euros is €15,-.
How can I open a bank account?
To manage your day-to-day finances, you will need a current or payment account called a betaalrekening in Dutch. Before opening a bank account, you need to be a legal resident of the Netherlands. You should register yourself with the municipality where you reside to make your stay legal (please have a look at our ‘First three months in the Netherlands‘ https://access-nl.org/relocating-to-netherlands/first-three-months/formalities/ for more information). As soon as you have completed your registration and have been given your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number), you can go to any bank of your choice to open a bank account.
The major retail banks in the Netherlands having their websites in English are ABN AMRO and ING Bank (limited information in English). Others in Dutch are Rabobank and SNS.
What are the requirements to open up a bank account?
You are advised to check with the local branch of your chosen bank for their specific requirements. The usual requirements are:
- proof of identity (passport or identity card)
- official proof of address, such as a tenancy agreement
- your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number).
- proof of your income, unless you are only opening a spaarrekening (savings account). Your contract of employment or three consecutive pay slips will be accepted by most banks as proof.
A valid phone number (preferably a Dutch number) for communication purposes if you are staying for more than four months. As a new client, the bank may wish to check your credit history. Hence, the bank may instigate a credit check and register you with the Bureau Krediet Registratie – BKR (Central Credit Registration Agency).
What are the accounts and services offered by banks?
The types of accounts offered are:
- Betaalrekening (current account)
- Spaarrekening (savings account)
- Vreemde valuta rekening (foreign currency account)
Other services that banks may offer include:
- debit (PIN) and credit cards
- internet banking (internetbankieren), also on your phone
- investments (beleggingen)
- private banking (requirements can differ per bank)
- insurance (verzekering)
- loans (leningen)
- mortgages (hypotheken)
- fixed-term deposits (spaardeposito’s)
- life insurance (levensverzekering)
How does a current account operate?
The betaalrekening (current account) is used for day-to-day banking activities, such as depositing or withdrawing money. Your salary is normally paid by your employer via electronic transfer into your current account. You can also use this account for paying for goods and services by direct debit or bank transfer. You normally do not earn any interest on a current account; however, most banks will charge a fee for its administration.
The current account operates from the day it is opened. After opening a current account, the bank will normally provide you with a debit card (PIN card) and an electronic identifier for use with secure internetbankieren (internet banking).
When your debit card is ready for collection, the bank will either send it to you by post or notify you when it is ready. For the latter, you will have to go to the banking personnel, presenting your passport or other acceptable identification document. Your PIN (Personal Identification Number) code will be sent to you separately by post. This is a personal four-digit number needed to access your bank account using the electronic identifier for internet banking, to check your balance and withdraw cash from a pinautomaat (bank cash machine or ATM) or to pay using your card for goods and services in shops and restaurants. The bank will expect you to memorise your PIN number, which must not be divulged to any other person. If you find it hard to remember your PIN number, you can change it at your bank’s cash machine.
How do I use my bank PIN card?
When you open an account with the bank, they will give you options regarding types of bank cards. The basic debit card (bankpas, betaalpas or pinpas) is used for withdrawing cash and for paying for goods and services in shops and restaurants. At the kassa (check-out points) in most shops in the Netherlands you will see a small numeric keypad. To pay with your debit card, insert the card and enter your PIN code (Personal Identification Number). The amount that you have spent will be debited from your account immediately. When making payments of €25 or less, you can simply hold the card against the reader to pay – rather than inserting a card into the chip and PIN machine and entering a PIN code. In just a few seconds, the payment will be completed and the lights on the reader will illuminate, confirming that the transaction has been approved. For higher amounts you can also use the contactless payment feature, but you will have to enter your pin code.
You can also use the PIN card at a bank cash machine. The withdrawal limit may be lower if the cash machine is not from your own bank and you may incur a service charge. Your PIN card and PIN code are also needed to operate your internetbankieren (internet banking) login device.
What if I want to use my PIN card abroad?
Most banks allow you to use your debit (PIN) card whilst travelling in Europe. However, there is a block to use your card outside of Europe. This action is intended to prevent fraudulent activity. If you wish to use your debit (PIN) card to access cash or make payments whilst travelling to a country outside of Europe, you can change this setting to world. Alternatively, you can use your credit card to pay for goods or services whilst abroad. Normally there is no restriction on where you can use your credit card (as long as the seller accepts credit cards as a method of payment). Please note that you may be charged a fee for withdrawing money from a cash machine abroad using your credit card.
What happens with my money if my bank goes bankrupt?
If your bank goes bankrupt or runs into trouble, you will not lose all your money. This is because there is a guarantee system in place to help account holders: the Deposit Guarantee Scheme .
All banks holding a banking authorisation granted by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) are covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Your money is safe with a maximum of €100,000 per person and per bank. In general this only applies to your current account and your savings account. Investments are usually not covered. Please contact your bank for more information which accounts are covered.
If your bank has its main office in another country, the rules of that country apply when it comes to a Deposit Guarantee Scheme. It is important to check if your bank has a Dutch licence or a licence from another country. You can find an overview of all banks covered by the Dutch Deposit Guarantee Scheme on https://www.dnb.nl/en/supervision/public-register/WFTDG/index.jsp
What is iDeal?
iDEAL offers the possibility to make online payments in a reliable, secure and easy way. Payments can be made by using the mobile banking app or the online banking environment of your own bank. iDEAL is a direct online transfer from your bank account to the bank account of a company.
Can I pay in a shop by using my mobile phone?
Several banks offer the function to pay in shops using your smartphone. The systems used for these mobile payments require a special app that serves as a wallet. This is usually linked to your bank account, which allows your phone to serve as a debit card.
What is PSD2?
The Payment Services Directive (PSD) regulates payment services in the European Economic Area (EEA). Originally introduced in 2007, the revised version that came into force in 2019 is known as PSD2.
The most important changes for consumers are:
- Webshops are allowed to charge additional costs for the payments, but only the costs that the webshop has to make for that payment. An exception has been made for credit cards. In addition it is allowed to charge extra costs to discourage use of inefficient payment methods.
- Access to your banking account by third parties. The bank must give third parties access to your bank account under the condition that you have given permission for that. This third party must have permission from the Dutch banking authority (De Nederlandse Bank) or a banking authority from another EU country. An example of this is a party that offers digital expenditure books. Such a company has direct access to all your banking accounts, even if you have accounts with several banks (if you give this company permission to have access to all your bank accounts). In such a way you can get a complete overview of your income and expenses.
How to exchange foreign money in the Netherlands?
The wisselkoers (exchange rate) is fixed every day and will be posted wherever you exchange money. The rate does not vary from one company to the next, although the charge for exchanging money may differ. The most common place to exchange money is at GWK Travelex offices which can be found in all the major cities throughout the Netherlands (as well as Schiphol Airport). It is not possible to exchange foreign money at banks any more, as most branches do not handle cash other than to replenish their cash machines.
What is an acceptgiro?
Acceptgiro’s (transaction forms) are a widely-accepted method of payment in the Netherlands and have been used by businesses and domestic users for decade. It is based on a paper acceptgiro form, which is made available by a creditor (usually a business), but nowadays it can be used for online banking too.
Bills are generally paid by bank transfer. You receive an invoice and an acceptgiro form from the company concerned, sometimes with the payment details already filled in. You add your signature and fill in the number of your bank account and mail the form back to your bank. You can also drop your acceptgiro directly in the dedicated letterbox at the bank. Most people are now using it via internet banking.
Can I directly invest money in the stock exchange?
If you wish to make an investment, you will have to open a separate investment account. Your bank will normally offer you three different approaches. If you are experienced in making investments, you can simply instruct the bank to buy stocks and shares for you. Alternatively, you can ask the bank for advice before making any investment or you can let the bank make decisions regarding what investments to make on your behalf. This third option is called vermogensbeheer (managed portfolio fund). You will usually be given a choice of various types of managed fund, depending upon how much risk you are willing to take on your initial investment. Needless to say, the higher risk funds may yield larger returns, but normally require a commitment for considerable time (more than 10 years). Depending on the bank, you can directly purchase shares on the Nederlandse effectenbeurzen (Dutch stock exchange) as well as from some overseas markets. Managed funds will typically be managed by the bank’s own fund managers (and include investments in liquid assets, bonds, real estate and shares). The bank will charge a fee for administering your investment portfolio.
What types of loans are available?
A wide range of loan facilities is offered by the Dutch banks. Personal loans (usually for a fixed term and a fixed interest rate during the term of the loan), overdraft facilities and credit loans (the ability to withdraw as much as you need and repay in full whenever you can afford to do so) are typical. They offer varying degrees of flexibility, but it is better to discuss your requirements in detail with your bank before deciding which type of loan will suit you best. Insurance to protect your repayments is available should you become unable to pay due to disability, unemployment, etc. Generally, anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 years who is a resident in the Netherlands and in possession of a residence permit (where applicable) and has proof of a regular income is eligible for a loan. All loan applications are also checked and registered with the Bureau Krediet Registratie – BKR (Central Credit Registration Agency). The loans must be fully repaid before leaving the Netherlands.
Are credit cards issued by banks to all customers?
A credit card is a separate bank card used to effectively pay for goods and services or to access cash using credit from the bank. A bank credit card usually provides customers with the benefits of protection against fraud and can be used worldwide, including for internet purchases. The credit card will have a monthly spending limit and all costs incurred must be repaid within a given time period, if interest charges are to be avoided. There is normally an annual fee charged by the bank for owning a credit card. In the Netherlands, most commercial banks have an arrangement with either MasterCard or VISA. The bank may choose to give you a credit card straight away, or after a certain period of time whilst they establish your spending patterns and that you have a regular source of income.
How easy is it to pay using my credit card in the Netherlands?
Unlike in some other countries such as the US or UK, the facility to pay by credit card in shops, supermarkets and restaurants is less widely available in the Netherlands. This is because the retailer or restaurant is charged a fee by the credit card company. Hence, the Dutch tend to use their credit cards only for internet purchases, high value purchases and whilst travelling abroad to pay for items or to withdraw cash from cash machines.
What is internetbankieren (internet banking) and how to use it?
There has been a huge growth in the use of internetbankieren (internet banking). More than 70% of bank customers use internet banking and all Dutch banks offer this facility. Internet banking provides the benefit of being accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (although some banks may operate with time restrictions).
Not only the traditional banks offer internetbankieren, but there are also some banks without any physical offices that only offer banking via the Internet. Examples are Bunq and Knab. These banks are just as legal as any other Dutch bank.
Not only is internet banking easy for paying your regular monthly bills, but it offers the possibility to monitor and manage your own bank accounts. Transfers into and out of your personal or savings accounts, international transfers, and managing your investments are just a few of the many things you can do online.
In order to access your bank account details online, you will need to log in to your bank’s website using your electronic identifier provided by the bank and your debit (PIN) card. Follow the instructions which appear on the computer screen to log in.
How can I access my bank details using mobile devices?
Most banks now provide an app which can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet. The banking app allows you to access your bank services via the Internet, such as to check your account balance and view your transaction history, as well as conveniently make payments and look up your receipts and payments. You can also find out the status of your investments, inform yourself of the latest financial news and stock market.
Several banks even have an app to pay back small loans very quickly. Tikkie, an initiative from ABNAMRO, is the most popular one. It is a free app for iPhone and Android to send payment requests using WhatsApp or text messages. You only need a smartphone and a Dutch bank account. Recipients don’t need to have the Tikkie app installed themselves.
What if I have lost my bank card or had it stolen?
If you believe that you have lost your PIN card or had it stolen, then visit or call your bank right away. To find the telephone number to report a lost or stolen card, type on the search function of your bank’s website ‘verloren’ or ‘gestolen’. These contact numbers are usually available 24/7.
What is a contactless payment?
Contactless is a payment feature that has been introduced by banks in the Netherlands (as in other countries) on their payment cards. The aim is to make small value purchases quicker and more convenient for both retailers and consumers. The idea is that by using the contactless facility on the debit card, the customer’s payment transaction will be quicker, as no cash needs to change hands and entering a PIN (Personal Identification Number) is not required.
When making payments of €25 or less, you can simply hold the card against the reader to pay – rather than inserting a card into the chip and PIN machine and entering a PIN. In just a few seconds, the payment will be completed and the lights on the reader will illuminate, confirming that the transaction has been approved. For higher amounts you can also use the contactless payment feature, but you will have to enter your pin code.
To use this feature, you should look out for retailers who display this payment reader sign.
What is IBAN?
The IBAN code, which stands for ‘International Bank Account Number’, has been introduced to standardise the identification of bank accounts within the European Union. In the Netherlands, the IBAN reference number consists of your current bank account number preceded by the country code NL, a 2-digit control number and the (abbreviated) name of your bank. For example: NL89-BANK-0123-4567-89.
Are contactless payments secure?
Contactless cards are secured by the same advanced technology that underpins chip and PIN. Although a contactless transaction does not require a PIN to be entered, from time to time the terminal may ask that the cardholder undertake a full contact chip and PIN transaction. This is designed to deter fraudulent use should the card be lost or stolen; each time a PIN is used it re-affirms that the cardholder is in possession of their card.