This article will take you through some fundamental money matters you need to learn about, as a newcomer to the Netherlands. Managing your money in Holland may not differ drastically from what you are used to in your country of origin. However, there may well be a few unfamiliar practices, and definitely a few unfamiliar Dutch terms, that will take some getting used to! The basics of how and where to bank your cash, and pay for goods and services, can be found on this page.
Exchanging money in NL
You wont get far without having some cash of the correct currency, when you first set foot in the Netherlands. So, when you arrive, you may need to exchange some of your money for Euros. There are several places where you can do this:
- A bank: This is the most common place to exchange money in the Netherlands. Some of the most popular and widely distributed banks in the Netherlands are: ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank
2. A ‘GWK exchange office‘: You will be able to find these at railway stations, airports, and other areas that are frequented by tourists. International students are charged less than regular customers. Therefore, remember to bring your student card with you if you have one.
3. Another type of exchange office. You are most likely to find these in heavily touristed areas of the Netherlands. Their charges could be higher, so try to find a GWK or a bank if you can.
It is important to to be aware that there is no informal market for currency exchange in the Netherlands. So, anyone who approaches you on the street and offers to change your money will probably be a thief or con artist!
PAYING IN NL
Facing unfamiliar signs and symbols in a Dutch supermarket can be a bit intimidating. It is very important to understand this money matter as an expat, when you do not yet speak the language. If you know what to expect before embarking on your first shopping trip you will learn the ropes faster, and enjoy your first Dutch grocery haul!
Buying Items in Dutch Stores
- Using a bank card has become the most popular payment method in the Netherlands
- If you are unsure whether you can use a bank card in a shop then listen out for, or mention, the words pin, pinpas or pinnen. This is a way of asking whether you can pay by card, and indicating that you wish to
- Having said this, many Dutch stores still do not accept credit cards
- Even shops from which you might buy a large amount of produce or a large object, like an item of furniture, might only take cash payments. Read on to find out how to withdraw and pay with cash
Using a Credit Card in NL
- If you use a Dutch credit card to pay for your products, the money you spend with it will be deducted from your bank account on a monthly basis
- It will either be taken directly from your account, or you will receive an invoice from the credit card company
- Most commercial banks in the Netherlands have an arrangement with MasterCard or VISA. So, if you prefer, you can use one of these cards instead
Bank Transfers and Bills in NL
- Bills are generally paid by bank transfer in the Netherlands
- This is also known as the ‘giro’ system
- When bills are sent, they usually have a yellow ‘acceptgirokaart’ attached to them. It looks like a yellow slip of paper
- In the olden days, you would have had to fill in your account number, sign your name, and send the acceptgirokaart to your bank
- The bank would have deducted the money from your account themselves
- Nowadays, most people pay their bills online
- You simply need to enter your receiver’s name, their bank account number and the ‘acceptgiro’ number in the required spaces
For bills that you have to pay on a regular basis, such as your monthly rent, you can go to the bank and fill in a form known as a ‘machtiging’:
- ‘Machtiging’ translates as ‘authorization’ in English
- It gives the bank permission to transfer a certain amount of money from your account each month, on a specific day
- ‘Machtigingen’ can also be arranged online, if you are using internet banking
- The payment will continue to be made until you order your bank to cancel it
- If you buy something by mail, the order form will sometimes include a ‘machtiging’ for a one-time payment, or an ‘acceptgiro’
- The only pieces of information you need to provide in order to make your purchase are your signature and account number
Paying Online in NL
The two best-known tools for paying online in the Netherlands are PayPal and iDEAL. If you would rather not share your bank account number and card details online, you could use the ‘paysafecard‘. This is for prepaid payments, or pre-paid credit cards.
Withdrawing from ATMs and Paying in Cash
The Dutch word for an ATM or a cash dispenser is a ‘geldautomaat’:
ATMs can be found at every bank, railway station or other public area where people are likely spending money in the Netherlands!
- Nowadays, cash dispensers will accept almost any kind of card
- To find out whether your card will work at an ATM in Holland, check that both your card and the dispenser display the same logo
The Dutch way of punctuating numbers and decimals is exactly the opposite of the English way. The meaning of commas and fullstops is switched:
- So, in the Netherlands, ‘€ 25,25’ means 25 euros and 25 euro-cents
- Likewise, ‘€ 10.000’ means ten thousand euros
- Round figures are written with a comma and a dash
- For example: 15 euros is written as: ‘€ 15,-‘
- So do not worry- your coffee and apple pie did not cost you thousands of pounds!
In order to manage your day-to-day finances in the Netherlands, you will need to select a Dutch bank and open a ‘priverekening’. This is a Dutch current account. Here is what a Dutch bank will offer you:
1. Electronic Banking in NL
- All Dutch banks offer some sort of electronic banking software
- This enables their customers to make payments from the comfort of their own homes
- Almost all banks can provide an English version of this software
- So, when you sign up, just inform your bank that you would prefer an English service
2. Internet Banking in NL
Internet banking is even more popular than electronic banking in the Netherlands. If you opt to use internet banking, you will be assigned unique entry code that will allow you to access your bank accounts online. Via internet banking, you will be able to:
- View the amount of money in your bank account
- See your transactions
- Carry out payments
- Access an overview of your insurances and investments
- Place orders for the buying and selling of shares
All this can be done from anywhere in the world.
3. Mobile Banking in NL
Mobile banking, or ‘m-banking’, allows you to access your bank services through your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. You can use mobile banking to:
- See how much money is in your account
- Make payments
- View your receipts and past payments
- Examine the state of your investments
- Peruse the latest financial and stock market news
- Place orders on the Dutch and American stock markets
Banking hours in NL
In the Netherlands, regular banks are open from Monday to Friday, generally from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Many also open for a couple of hours on one evening of the week. This will usually be the same day that shops in your neighborhood remain open later into the night. It is normally a Thursday or a Friday.
- Learn more about Financial Matters for students in the Netherlands
- ‘Paying It‘: Payroll administration services
Other major Banks in the Netherlands include: