While the Netherlands is not a large country, there is a great selection of banks available. The majority of them are aimed at Dutch citizen, but some banks also offer excellent English service. The major banks are:
Opening a private bank account
Opening a private bank account is usually very easy. Just walk into your nearest branch or make an appointment by phone or online. A representative will process your details and open an account for you. It will take a few days until you receive your bank card in the mail. Most banks charge a small monthly fee for your account, which may include access to a credit card from your bank. Most shops and supermarkets only accept debit cards. Dutch banks issue Maestro debit cards and Visa or Mastercard credit cards.
You will need the following documentation to open a bank account:
- Your citizen service number (BSN)
- A valid form of ID (passport or ID card)
- Proof of address (e.g. a rental contract)
- Residence permit (if you have one)
Opening a business account
The procedure for opening a business account is very similar. Additionally, you will need to bring your Chamber of Commerce registration and possibly a record of your turnover. The business banking packages can differ per bank. Make sure you have read all terms and conditions so you are aware of any extra charges.
When you register for a bank account, you will receive an IBAN. This is an International Bank Account Number that identifies your account, so you can receive and make (inter)national transactions. The number will be printed on your banking card.
Internet banking in the Netherlands
Most of the financial affairs are handled through online banking in the Netherlands. It is a very safe way of banking that you can do via your phone or laptop, with added security measures. This way, you can handle almost any transaction on your own. Please be aware that not all banks may offer these services in English. When you open your bank account, you may ask the clerk to show you how to use internet banking and the banking app. A quick lesson will get you started on handling your banking affairs, even when the interface is in Dutch.
Card reader and mobile banking
Some banks will give you a card reader specifically for your banking affairs when you open an account. This card reader is not interchangeable, but linked to your specific bank. By placing your ATM card in the card reader, you will be able to verify your identity online to log into your banking account. Here, you will also be able to set up mobile banking. Other banks send a text message to your phone as verification method for online payments.
By installing an app from your bank on your phone, you will be able to immediately access your financial information. Most banks will allow you to protect your banking app with a passcode before you get to see any sensitive information. When making any transactions on your mobile phone, some banks will allow you to do so with the passcode you have set up for your account. This is not necessarily the same as the pin code from your banking card, but a code you handpick. Other banks will require that you use your card reader in addition to your phone when you process any digital payments.
Online purchases with iDeal and PayPal
Many Dutch web shops offer different payment methods when you order something. The most common and easiest way to pay is through iDeal. This online payment method allows you to use your bank account. You use your card reader for your banking environment, or your mobile banking app, to safely pay for goods.
For international web shops, you may consider creating a PayPal account. This international payment method is directly linked to your bank account, so you will not have to share any sensitive information with web shops.
Two other common ways of paying for online purchases is by credit card, if you have one, or through Afterpay. Be mindful that when you use the latter, you will need to pay for your order within fourteen days or you will be charged a fee and warning.
The majority of Dutch banks will be able to offer you a credit card, if you meet the minimum amount of income per months. A bank may ask you for the last three months of statements that show your salary payments, or a copy of your employment contract. Your monthly income will determine the limit on your credit card, and your available credit may be limited when you are a student. Many shops, supermarkets and restaurants only accept debit cards as credit cards are often only used by Dutch people travelling abroad.
Many of these credit cards work like a charge card. At the end of the month, the total amount of payments on your credit card will be deducted from your bank account. If you want a different payment plan, you may be subject to a higher interest rate. You can also get a credit card directly from an international party such as Mastercard, Visa or American Express. Be mindful that this will open a line of credit for you.
Loans, BKR and credit rating
If you are in need of extra money, there is the option to get a loan from a bank or a credit agency. Be aware that this will affect your credit rating. Bureau Krediet Registratie (Bureau Credit Registration, BKR), the authority on credit registrations, will keep track of your credit rating. If you take out a loan, or do not make the payments you are supposed to make, this will affect your BKR rating. In the long run, this may affect your ability to sign up for a mobile phone contract or to apply for a mortgage. There are several parties that will offer assistance to internationals on credit related matters; make sure you are well informed before you commit to anything.