The first and most important thing to note about banking in the Netherlands is that many places (including some large supermarkets) will not accept your non-Dutch payment card. Visa and American Express are not accepted by many vendors in general, and most Dutch bank cards use the Maestro payment system. This means that it is vitally important to open a Dutch bank account shortly after your arrival. You'll need to have completed your BRP registration to do this.
Opening a bank account
To open an account, select the bank you'd like and book an appointment. Some banks allow you to open an account online, but many will require you to attend an appointment (and bring your documents) in person.
You'll need to bring the following documents to your appointment:
- 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)
Once you have had your appointment, you will likely receive your bank card and pin number in separate letters, sent to your house. You'll also receive instructions on how to set up online banking, and you may also receive a personal e-dentifier.
Most Dutch banks also offer credit cards, which can be used to pay online if you're buying from a non-Dutch company or website. Please be aware that credit cards can have high interest rates, negatively affect your credit score, and have legal consequences if you don't abide by re-payment terms.
Online payments and transfers
If you wish to transfer money to another account, either in the Netherlands or internationally, you will need the IBAN number associated with the account. This can usually be found in your online banking dashboard, or your bank's app. You may have to use your e-dentifier machine to generate a random security code and provide your identity.
iDeal and online purchases
Almost all Dutch companies with an online shop or presence will utilise iDeal, a bank transfer system. This simplifies the payment process: often requiring you to just scan a QR code with your banking app to make a payment.
Unfortunately, most Dutch bank cards do not have a CVV number, and so paying online by debit card is not an option. You could either take out a credit card from your bank, or open a PayPal account to make international purchases.
Tikkie and repayment
When transferring to another person in the Netherlands (for example, repaying a friend for dinner), it is often easiest to utilise one of the several small transfer services. With the popularity of the phrase ‘going Dutch’ to split the bill, its perhaps unsurprising that Dutch companies have made repaying small amounts to your friends very easy.
Some banks have their own ‘payment request’ feature available in their apps, however you can also download (or use the website) of Tikkie. You will then have the option to share the payment request or Tikkie with people using a messaging app. Tikkie is so popular in the Netherlands that the verb ‘to Tikkie’ has entered popular parlance.
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.