If you’re moving to the Netherlands as an expat to study or work, or just heading there for a city break or short holiday, you’re going to need some cash to make the most of it. If you plan on using ATMs to withdraw local currency while you’re in the Netherlands, here’s all you need to know to avoid common pitfalls, and unnecessary fees.
Finding an ATM will be no problem in towns and cities in the Netherlands - just look in or near bank branches, shopping centres and supermarkets. However, if you’re headed to somewhere more rural it’s always a good idea to take some cash with you, as ATM access could be more limited.
Using an ATM in a bank branch is a smart idea, as there are ‘independent’ ATMs in the Netherlands which charge more than you need to pay. More on that later.
Wherever in the Netherlands you happen to be, you can find a convenient ATM using one of the following ATM locators from large national and regional banks:
You can use any major credit and debit card in stores and restaurants in towns and tourist areas in the Netherlands. It’s worth noting, however, that the Discover card has only ‘moderate’ merchant acceptance, and there are few ATMs which will accept the Discover card. If that’s your only card, you might need to carry cash just in case.
Find a handy ATM on the same network as your card, using one of the following locators:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
Dutch Bank cards have chip and pin technology, with a 4 digit PIN code. That means, to use an ATM in the Netherlands, even if you have an American magnetic stripe card, you’ll need a PIN code. Generally, you can get this easily from your bank before you travel.
Cards issued in other European countries, the UK or Australia, for example, typically have chip and pin technology, and are widely accepted.
The daily cash withdrawal limit set up in your home bank might dictate what you can withdraw from ATMs in the Netherlands.
If you don’t have a limit set on your card usually, then the ATM provider’s rules will apply. These vary between banks, but you can expect limits per transaction. These vary a lot between banks and could be between €250 - €400. You’ll also usually find daily limits for withdrawals.
Using a credit or debit card abroad is a convenient and easy solution for most people. However, it’s helpful to tell your bank before you travel overseas, in case their fraud department limits or blocks your card, because of the change in spending patterns.
Letting your bank know your plans is easy - just call into your local branch or look for an online form, which is usually available by logging into your online banking.
Bank ATMs in the Netherlands tend not to charge a fee per withdrawal. However, there are many ‘independent’ ATMs which do, meaning you could end up paying far more than you have to. Avoid these and the common exchange rate rip-offs like DCC - described below - to get the best deal possible.
Even if the ATM provider doesn’t charge a withdrawal fee, you should be on your guard when withdrawing cash, to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to. The most common issue for travellers is something called dynamic currency conversion (DCC). You might see this anywhere you use your card - in a store, restaurant, or using an ATM. Under DCC, you’ll be asked if you want to pay for your transaction in your home currency as opposed to euros.
The problem is that DCC transactions often don’t use the real, mid-market rate - the one you’ll find if you google it. If you choose to pay in your home currency, the euro exchange rate is decided by the foreign bank or ATM provider, and they can mark up the rate and pocket the difference as their profit. Choose to pay in the local currency instead, and you’ll almost always get a fairer rate on the exchange.
Check the fees levied by your own bank for overseas ATM withdrawals, before you go. They’ll be set out in your terms and conditions document, or you can ask someone in your local branch to help find the information you need.
Most bank ATMs in the Netherlands don’t actually charge per withdrawal. However, there’s no law against withdrawal fees. This means that if you come across an ATM in a convenience store, pub or nightclub, the chances are that it’s run by an independent network, which makes its money by charging unsuspecting customers.
Avoid these ATMs and stick to those in or near banks if you can.
If you have a euro account, you might be able to avoid ATM and currency conversion charges in the Netherlands by sticking to bank ATMs. However, this depends a lot on your home banks policy. If you hold a bank account in a currency other than euros then the chances are you’ll be charged for the conversion.
You can at least reduce - if not entirely avoid - some of the likely ATM fees in the Netherlands with a few simple tricks.
Call your home bank before you leave, and ask if they have any local partner institution in the Netherlands. Often banks form networks to offer free or cheap international cash withdrawals to their customers overseas.
If you have several bank accounts, do some homework before you travel, and find out about overseas ATM fees levied by each of them. Every account will have its own charging structure, and some are much cheaper than others. Use the one which will leave you with the most cash in your pocket to enjoy the Netherlands.
Credit card cash advances using a foreign currency are usually an expensive choice and should be avoided if at all possible.
You could be hit by fees using independent ATMs in tourist locations, pubs, nightclubs and other places with a captive audience. They should declare their fees before you process the transaction, so you can avoid them - and in the towns at least there’s always a bank somewhere nearby.
Don’t forget our friend DCC. If you’re asked whether you want to pay in your home currency, or euros, euros is always the smartest choice. Otherwise, you could be hit with high fees and poor exchange rates because of DCC.
Try TransferWise as a different, convenient and cheap way to get the euros you need for your trip to the Netherlands. TransferWise uses the real, mid-market exchange rate, with just a transparent fixed fee, which is set out upfront.
If you or a friend have a bank account in the Netherlands, you can transfer money between accounts ahead of time, and withdraw euros from ATMs during your stay. As Dutch banks tend not to charge fees themselves, this could mean you dodge ATM charges entirely.
Alternatively, if you travel frequently, or are relocating permanently to the Netherlands, a borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise is a great choice. You can keep your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies, including euros, all at the same time, with no monthly account fee to pay. If you also set up a debit card for the account, you can pay like a local with your euro balance in shops and restaurants, with no need to worry about ATM fees at all.
If you steer clear of DCC, then ATMs are a convenient way to get the euros needed for a visit to the Netherlands, with a fair exchange rate. Alternatively, use TransferWise, to send money to a local account, or spend using your borderless multi-currency account card, and avoid ATMs altogether.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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