Money in the Netherlands: Banks, ATMs, cards & currency exchange

28.02.17
6 minute read

Whether you’re visiting Holland to take in their infamous tulips or you’re simply there on business, The Netherlands is an important European economic hub.

If you plan on visiting, this financial guide will provide you with all the information you need.

Currency in the Netherlands

A founding member of the Eurozone (EU), the Netherlands official currency is the Euro.

The Euro is currently used across 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.

As such, the Euro will be your main currency in the Netherlands. Paying with Euros is the most cost effective and other currencies are unlikely to be accepted.

Characteristics of the Euro (EUR)

Euro Symbols EUR, €
1 EUR One Euro is made up of 100 cents.
EUR coins Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 Euro pieces. You can expect to use 1 and 2 Euro coins for tips and small purchases daily.
EUR banknotes The Euro is printed in banknotes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euros. 5, 10, and 20 Euro bills are often commonly used in everyday living.

Exchanging Currency

To be prepared upon your arrival, it may be wise to exchange a small amount of money at your local bank before traveling. Money exchange services at the airport are expensive so it wouldn’t hurt to already have enough Euros to buy a few goodies and pay for your taxi from the airport.

Before you start off exchanging your money from one currency to another, familiarise yourself with the mid-market exchange rate (also called interbank rate). The mid-market rate is the one true exchange rate, and it’s the rate that banks use to trade money between themselves. It’s essentially the mid-point at any moment between the rates that banks are buying and selling that particular currency. All exchange rates you’re offered will be based on this one exchange rate, only most exchange services will offer you a poorer exchange rate and pocket the difference. Keep up-to-date on the fluctuating value of your home currency by using an online currency converter.

If you don’t already have cash in your pocket when you arrive, it’s good to know that the best place to exchange currency in the Netherlands is actually at an ATM. As banks in Holland won’t exchange your money unless you have an account there, the second best place is at a money exchange (*Geldwisselkantoor* in Dutch).

The worst places to exchange your money would be airports, hotels, and businesses such as bars, coffee shops or vendors. These places are notorious for charging you exorbitant fees.

ATMs are the primary way to get money in the Netherlands and are, therefore, easy to find. Most travelers report that they get very good or excellent exchange rates at the ATM.

Traveller’s cheques in the Netherlands

Traveller’s cheques hail from a day when ATMs weren’t so common. They were a safe way to carry money in foreign countries as they could only be cashed with valid ID. Today, especially in the Netherlands, the easiest way to obtain cash is by using your debit card or a prepaid debit card at an ATM.

However, if you do decide to carry traveler’s cheques, bear in mind that it may be quite difficult to find a place to cash them. Post offices won’t cash them. The airport will, but the exchange rate will be quite high and you’ll lose quite a bit in the exchange. Though it’s difficult to do, if you manage to find a bank that agrees to cash your traveler’s cheques, exchange rates are often fair.

Using credit and debit cards in the Netherlands

Cards are accepted in most places

Major credit cards and debit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted in the Netherlands at restaurants, hotels, and tourist destinations. Although some small shops may charge a fee of anywhere from 2-6% if you use them. If you only have a credit card, be advised that Dutch supermarkets do not accept them at all, so you’ll need some cash on hand for sure.

Carry some cash, but be aware of pickpockets

Even if you’re in a tourist area where your card is normally accepted, it’s always a good idea to have a small amount cash on you. Be aware, however, that pickpockets are prevalent in major cities such as Amsterdam so don’t carry more cash on you than you plan to spend in a day.

Check on your home bank’s fees before you leave (and let them know you’re travelling)

You may encounter fees from your bank or vendors in Holland if you use credit or debit cards. Check with your bank before you leave for your trip to learn about fees they may charge for international use of your debit or credit card. This will help you determine whether getting cash will be cheaper and how much cash to get at a time.

It’s also a good idea to take the time to notify your bank that you’re traveling to a foreign country. When a bank sees foreign activity on an account, they freeze your credit or debit card until you verify that it’s you. Save the time, hassle and headache for unfreezing your funds while abroad.

ATMs in the Netherlands

ATMs are prevalent in the Netherlands. They are the primary way citizens and tourists alike get cash. You can use global ATM locators to find the nearest one to you.

Visa ATM locator
MasterCard/Maestro ATM locator
Amex ATM locator

Use Dutch-owned ATMs

In general, it’s best to use ATMs owned by Dutch banks as they don’t charge a fee for use of their ATMs (most also have the added plus of offering an English-language menu). However, regardless of Dutch rules, your home bank may charge anyhow. Avoid “independent” ATMs in the Netherlands by looking for Plus, Cirrus, and other major ATM names. Independently-owned ATMs will charge exorbitant fees.

One of the downsides of Dutch ATMs, however, is that they won’t tell you what the exchange rate is. You won’t know until after the transaction or until you return home. Regardless, the good news is that tourists have reported that they received good or excellent exchange rates at Dutch ATMs.

While traveling abroad, be on the lookout for pickpockets looking to take advantage of tourists. As soon as you enter the airport, you’ll see signs warning you of petty theft. Use ATMs in public place and be careful to protect your PIN. Secure the rest of your money in a safe location on your person.

Always choose to be charged in the local currency (EUR)

One final thing to look out for with ATMs (and actually just using your debit or credit card abroad) are offers to be charged in your home currency. When you are offered this ‘service’ - it’s best to politely decline. It’s something called Dynamic Currency Conversion, and it means that you’re authorizing the Dutch entity to choose an exchange rate for you. That rate is normally quite unfavorable, and you’ll end up losing quite a bit in the process. Always choose to be charged in the local currency.

Banks in the Netherlands

You will find plenty of banks in the Netherlands. However, banks in the Netherlands generally no longer handle banknotes. Instead, they manage loans, sell insurance, and some may sell or cash traveler’s cheques. Some banks will exchange your money, but will charge you fees or commission. Banks prefer you use their ATMs.

Many banks are affiliated with banks internationally. Check with your bank to see if they partner with a bank in the Netherlands. If so, you may receive discounted exchange rates or the interbank exchange rate. The interbank exchange rate is the midpoint between the buy and sell rate in the global currency market. Therefore, you may not have to pay more than exactly what your currency is currently worth.

Major Retail Banks in the Netherlands

International Banks Operating in the Netherlands

Alternatively, for simple access to the money you need while you’re abroad - and an even better deal - use TransferWise.

If you have a bank account in the Netherlands, or know someone who does, you can transfer money between bank accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. It's a convenient way to get your cash, with no hidden fees.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more