- What can you expect from your bank?
- Cheques are not commonly used in the Netherlands
- All banks offer credit cards
- Cash machines (ATMs)
All Dutch banks provide a similar range of services to their customers and have established online banking to make life easier. Unlike in some countries, cheques are not commonly used in the Netherlands. Cash machines (ATMs) are widespread, although the Dutch often tend to pay in cash. Watch out as credit/debit cards are not accepted everywhere.
Most banks have a variety of account types. The most easily acquired accounts are: the savings account (Spaarrekening) and the current (checking) account (Betaalrekening). both accounts come with a debit card which enables you to withdraw money from ATMs and to pay in shops and restaurants.
Most bills are paid by transferring money from one bank account to another. This can be done by telephone or via the internet. Paying bills through the Internet has become very popular in the Netherlands.
There is also an option to pay bills automatically by means of an acceptgirokaart (direct debit instruction), often shortened to acceptgiro. It envolves filling out a payment slip with the amount, your name, account number, the payee's name and account number. You then drop it in the mailbox at the bank, or you put it in a freepost envelope provided by your bank and drop it in a regular mailbox. This is a very common way of paying in the Netherlands.
Automatic direct debits are also very common and may be required for certain services (e.g. mobile phone contracts). For an automatic direct debit, you fill out an authorisation (machtigingskaart) in order to instruct the bank to allow company X to withdraw payments from your account on a monthly basis, for instance.
To be eligible for a credit card, you will need a sufficient income. You will pay a yearly fee, and possibly an additional monthly fee for the card. Credit cards are not widely used/accepted in the Netherlands. The Dutch tend to use them for purchases such as renting a car, buying over the internet or when travelling abroad.
Whichever bank you choose, make sure you obtain a bank card which can be used abroad. The Netherlands is a relatively small country and, chances are you will travel to at least one neighbouring country during your stay. Look for the Maestro and Cirrus logos on the card as these networks allow you to withdraw money in most countries. Withdrawing money in other EU countries is free of charge.
ATMs are called geldautomaten or pinautomaten in Dutch. Every reasonable sized town in the Netherlands has a few ATMs and larger cities have many of them. You can use any bank card in most of the ATMs in the Netherlands, regardless which bank they belong to (check with your bank for possible charges). So if you have a Rabobank card, you can also use it in the ING pinautomaat at no extra charge. This is called gastgebruik (guest use), but you can only do this once every 24 hours.