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Banking in the Netherlands


Banking in the Netherlands is a topic that you have to address when living here. Some people like it, some people hate it, but do not panic, below I cover some of the basics. How to open a bank account, packages and cheapest options. Credit cards vs Maestro. PayPal vs iDeal . Those are some of the peculiarities that you should be aware of and I will explain.

Opening a bank account

To open a bank account you need to have a BSN (citizen number) and an official address in Netherlands. Some banks require a Dutch phone number, some banks you need to have an appointment to open your bank account. In some cases you can do some ‘magic’ to overcome limitations. I will talk about that later.

There are special ways of opening a bank account without a BSN. However, that requires to have a Dutch link, for instance by family members. If you are residing in Netherlands you need a BSN, therefore, you should not worry about that.

My personal experience

When I went to my local ABN-AMRO branch they told me that I had to wait two weeks to have a suitable appointment. On the other hand, when I visited ING, they opened a bank account for me immediately. However, they asked me to have a Dutch cellphone number, as they would not register a bank account with my foreign SIMcard, to prevent money laundering and fraud. That explanation is a bit absurd, provided that government’s DigiD allows registration with foreign phone numbers, but anyways. Once I got my phone number, the process was quite straightforward. I walked out of the bank with my account open, a debit card and money in my account. Basically, you get a temporary maestro debit card that you can use immediately, and you can use their in-office ATM to withdraw from your foreign bank account and then insert it as cash in your new account. One or two weeks later you will get your new debit card at home.

Tip! You can bypass easily the Dutch SIM requirement either getting a free Lyca’s SIMs or borrowing a phone.

Just give me a summary

I cannot tell you what is best but what I liked most. The free savings account from bunq is a must, the flexibility of revolut is impressive. If you want to keep “Dutch” banks, keep ABN Amro they are on the cheapest side and unlike others they will be happy to interact in english with you. If you are looking for higher interest then check Raisin and investing in the netherlands page .

Cards in Netherlands: Maestro, VPay or… nothing? The quirks of iDeal

While in almost any other country of Europe you can pay with Visa and Mastercard (specially debit), in Netherlands things are different. Often you are forced to use Maestro or VPay. Other debit cards are not supported and forget about credit cards. In 2020 it started changing slightly, and places like the train tickets you can pay with a normal Visa.

However, if you go to less mainstream places, like food cafés, bars, etc. be sure that you have a Maestro or someone next to you with one. It is very unpleasant to find too late that you cannot pay the food in the canteen or you are forced to use an ATM to withdraw money and pay in the supermarket.

Also, if you want to pay something online you will most likely have to use iDeal . It operates like a bank transfer, but it only works with Dutch banks. Fortunately, this has been changing, and several pages also allow payments with credit card or even PayPal. BEWARE: iDeal transactions are non-revocable. Unlike credit cards, if something goes wrong during an iDeal operation the money can be in the limbo. Recently I had that experience, and I had to wait from July to November to receive the money back in my account (I had to ping iDeal customer service for them to put pressure in payment platform, who kept my money without sending it to seller).

Getting a credit card in the Netherlands

The same as it is not common to use credit cards in the Netherlands, it is also not common to get them in the bank. Typically you need to request them “extra” in your bank. Which somehow makes me wonder what is first, if the chicken or the egg.

Remember! Borrowing money costs money. It is not advisable to buy with credit, it is better to pay everything at the end of the month!

I checked multiple options. The “easier” option is always your bank, but precisely because of that, they are the options with less benefits.

If you have a car or rent a car often a very interesting option is ANWB visa silver card . For 35€/year (plus 15.50€ of ANWB membership) you get a VISA with a limit up to 5000€, purchases are insured for 270 days and it includes an extra insurance of 750€ towards the franchise of rental cars.

Standard Dutch banking packages

Watch out! In January 2023 Dutch banks are increasing prices and charging more for features that before were free! Don’t look at actual fees but future fees.

Unlike other countries, in Netherlands most banks work with packages. You pay a monthly fee and you get a package including account, debit card, online banking, credit card… Depending on package price you get different services.

The minimum package in different banks (ING, ABN, Rabobank…) costs you around 3€ each month. It provides a bank account, a maestro card, online banking, iDeal payment and an app. To use the debit card you will likely not have to pay any fee, except if you use it in a different currency or in a foreign ATM. In that case you will have to pay some fees (1.2%-2%) plus 2€-4€ for ATM. That is still cheaper than standard Dutch currency conversion in physical window which has a spread over 10% (armed robbery compared with 0.5% of other countries).

If you prefer to use ‘ethical banks’, Netherlands provides good options, like Triodos or ASN . While they may be more pleasing due to their ethical nature, their conditions for clients are similar to other banks.

Nowadays with the fintech kicking strong, you can also check online banks like Knab or Bunq , however, they may be more expensive than traditional banks. On the other hand, their applications are often superior.

Best FREE alternatives (July 2023):

Watch out! A new player, Openbank entered in the online banking business. A subsidiary from Banco Santander that offers you free bank account and free debit card. However, due to past experiences with them I decided not to use their services. They were extremely spammy and annoying. Also, they give you a Spanish IBAN.

Revolut logo

One option that is kicking strong is Revolut. You can get a free account and several interesting options absolutely for free. Their App is very good, they have an excellent support and the security options on the prepayed card are great: You can block the card depending on location, and depending on use (ATM, contactless, stripe and online). You can also freeze the card if you want to disable it for some time. On the other hand, the amount of ATM operations (and cash amounts) are somewhat limited in the free package (200€ or 5x/mo), but you will have zero currency exchange fees up to 1000€ in your account.

Recently they started charging for debit cards and their shipping fee. On the other hand, now they also provide Maestro cards and iDeal payment.

They got their banking license by the end of 2018, and you will get a Lithuania IBAN. Their downside is that some users complain of having their accounts blocked. So far, I did not have any problem except a couple of card payment rejections. For me two key advantages for daily use are that you can ‘top up’ your account with a credit/debit card and you can do automatic transfers. And for travelling, you get no currency exchange fees. And do not worry, when you are in Netherlands it is also possible to request a Maestro card. Basically, it has a long list of benefits… and all of them for free. Update August 2019: Their VISA card was a bliss in India, and the possibility of freezing/unfreezing the card immediately through the app is great to use it in questionable places. They are always innovating and adding products, and honestly, it is one of my preferred options. Update: now you also have virtual “self destructible” cards for online purchases, so your main card is not compromised. Update June 2022: Recently I received a notification from Revolut that they will be moving my “payment provider account” to a fully qualified “european bank account”. That means that from July, Revolut will also join the club of the 100.000€ guaraanteed.

Bonus: every now and then they do some promotion, like inviting you to Metal for free. Sometimes registering from this link gives you a free debit card.

N26 logo

Another option that is becoming quite popular lately is N26, currently one of the best online banks. With them you will get a German IBAN abnd a virtual card. If you want a physical card you will have to pay 10€. Their app works perfectly, although it is a bit more basic than Revolut’s app. If your address is in Netherlands, you can also ask for a free Maestro card. Their free package gives you 3 ATM operations each month within Europe. If you do more than 3 operations, you have to pay a fee of 2€ per operation. Like in Revolut, if you opt for one of their premium accounts, the conditions are better, but they don’t come for free.

Beware that even if they point that being resident in a European country is enough to open an account that is not 100% true. You will need to verify your account first, and that procedure depends both of your country of residence and nationality. Check the details here as it may be that you cannot open an account. For instance, if you are Iranian, you can only open an account if you are residing in Germany.

N26 has a deal with TransferWise, which makes sending money (currency) cheaper than traditional banking options. Usually, if you want to use TransferWise with lowest fees you should do a transfer to them first, send the reference number, etc. a bit of a hassle. The advantage of doing this with N26 is that you do it directly from N26 app and automatically get the lowest TransferWise fee. How to do it? You have the TransferWise help here , and you can open your N26 account from here .

Saving accounts, at July-2023

With the increasing interest rates banks are starting to pay you for having savings. ING is paying up to 1%. ABN Amro is paying 1.2%. CentralBeheer has the RentePlus savings-only account paying 1.5%. So far the best one is Bunq with their Easy Savings account giving 2.46% interest.

Both ING and ABN Amro require a normal bank account (payment) to use their savings account, therefore you need >3000€ to actually have any overall positive return. In that sense CentralBeheer and Bunq are much better, as they are completely free alternatives. My experience so far is much better with Bunq , I found CentralBeheer app clunky, losing access to my account during 2 weeks because of a “technical error” on their side. With Bunq you will need to go through some extra steps of personal identification after opening the account online, that is a normal thing to prevent fraud and money laundering. Just make sure that you provide on time what they request.

raisin logo

Recently a new player appeared in Europe: Raisin . They are a savings account broker that enable you to open bank deposits in different european banks. For instance, you could open a savings account in CKV (Belgium) at 2.45%, or you could open a 1 year deposit in Klarna (Sweden) at 4%.

Beware Tipically entities with higher interest rates may have a poorer credit score, and in case of bankruptcy there may be some time to get the money back. According to Raisin’s “short small print”, european banks have 10 days to provide up to 100.000€ per person/bank. Still, better to be safe and stay far from that limit. Also some times the interest difference does not justify it: Klarna 3.95% with AAA rating and BancaProgetto 4.00% and BBB rating.

It is true that with current inflation at +6% any deposit at 1% is losing money, but it is losing less money than having it in the checking account. The only option to get higher return from your savings is to invest it but that comes with some risks that are not suitable for everybody (some very well regarded tech stocks had huge swings in the last year). If you are planning to invest your money (but not trade) I can recommend Degiro . You can find more information about investing and about them in investing in the netherlands page .

You can open your Raisin account from here .

Dutch banks options package detail at July-2023

ING logo

ING only provides the basic packageat 3.15€/month and includes a debit card. If you need a secondary debit card (joint account) you have to add 1.10€, if you want a credit card, extra 19.80€ per year (limit up to 5000€). If you want to withdraw money outside of EU, you will have to pay 2.80€+1.2% for exchange fee.

If you think that the 3.15€/month is too much in exchange for pretty much nothing, they also offer a “low cost” option, in which you can reduce the account cost to 2.70€/month, but then every ATM withdrawal costs 0.80€. (Cost information is only updated for the monthly fee)

They give 1% interest in savings. For that you will be much better off investing in the Netherlands with a Bunq savings account or opening a Raisin account .

ABN-AMRO logo

ABN Amro also removed all the different packages and only has the basic package. It is cheaper than ING at 2.95€/month. With a 1.25% interest in their savings account it is a better deal than ING, and unlike ING, they have full english support.

If you want to invest with them, they have different packages. Of course you have available investing in the Netherlands , etc.

Rabobank logo

Rabobank still preserves their 3 packages :

So far they do not say anything about any raise of fees.

  • Direct package: 2.95€. Bank account and debit card. Extra debit card +1.40€, Credit card +2€. Euro withdrawal in EU is 0.75€.
  • Basic package: 4.45€. Adds a credit card with 1000€ credit limit. Extra debit/credit card +0.75€. Euro withdrawal in EU is 0.75€.
  • Total package: 6.50€. Adds an extra debit card and increases credit limit to 2500€.
SNS logo

SNS has two options:

  • SNS Basis at 2.55€/month, includes account and debit card.
  • SNS Compleet 3.40€/month, includes an extra debit card.

If you want a credit card you have to throw in another 15.75€ a year. Beware of the cost of withdrawing money outside of EU, with a 4€ cost.

Their conditions are pretty interesting, but when I tried to open a bank account with them they asked me to provide a document from the gemeente (cost 17€), therefore I went with ABN that allowed me to do all the process from home.

ASN logo

ASN (the ethical division from SNS) also has a single option of 2.20€/month . It includes account and debit card. Having a second person will be 1.80€. It has the same registration annoyance as SNS.

knab logo

While Knab is the online version of AEGON bank, their fees are not lower than previous physical counterparts. With a fee of 6€ a month it includes debit card, credit card, and “high interest savings”, with a 1.25%. (2.9% for 9 year deposit…).

If you don’t want the credit card, they are clearly inferior to any of the previous options. Before they had some switching promotion that made it interesting for a year or so, but currently they are in the expensive tier.

bunq logo

Bunq is another digital-only bank, with license to operate in the Netherlands. They shuffled completely their accounts, and they jumped on the wagon of offering a “free tier” product, the “EasySavings”, but it is only a savings account. You can go for “EasyBank” at 3€/month or more advanced options up to 18€/month.

In total, there are four packages:

  • EasySavings: only savings account, you can top it up with transfers or from other cards. Free and giving 2.45% interest
  • EasyBank: at 3€/month you get a bank account and a card but to dispose of cash you have to pay 1€ per each time (5x)
  • EasyMoney: at 9€/month which gives you 3 cards, 25 virtual cards and 6 cash disposals per month. This one will behave as a real account, it it has some interesting features like two pins in a single card or the possibility of auto-scanning the tickets to store expenses easily.
  • EasyGreen, at 18€ a month, it adds purchase protection and green CO2 neutral initiative

While it is one of the most expensive options, they also have a lot of advanced options, although the simplified design of the web makes it difficult to see.

Hey! Support the page!

  • If you are interested in opening a bunq account, do it from this link
  • If you are interested in revolut instead, do it from this link
  • And if you prefer N26, use this link instead
  • If you want to have a ANWB visa silver card, use this link link. Now with 25€ gift! Remember that borrowing money costs money!
  • If you are interested in opening a Degiro account, do it from this link
  • If you are interested in opening a Raisin account, do it from this link

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