Opening a Bank Account
You can open a bank account in the Netherlands if you are planning to stay for at least one month and have proof of employment in the Netherlands. Furthermore, you officially need to provide your Dutch citizen service number called a BSN, which is issued after registration with the local municipality. However, with Settle Service’s assistance our clients can open a bank account before having obtained their BSN. We make your relocation a stressfree and smooth process!
Settle Service will coordinate and (if agreed) accompany you to the bank to open an account. During the visit to the bank, insurance programmes will also be discussed, so that this part of the relocation is simultaneously covered. Often, we combine this appointment with other appointments such as local registration at the municipality, so that efficiency is fully applied.
As mentioned, during the appointment various types of insurances available are explained, e.g. liability, home contents, etc. While you could purchase insurance from a variety of providers, many find it convenient to get it through their bank. The bank will be more than happy to explain the insurances that fit you, your family, and living situation. Settle Service can assist with many type of insurances, as you can see at our Insurance Services page.
There are several larger and well known banks in the Netherlands. Most of them provide documentation in English, although sometimes limited. There are several account options to choose from. The most commonly used is a package which includes:
- A debit account with debit card;
- A savings account (although current interest rates are well under 1%);
- Option for a 2nd debit card, but will cost somewhat extra per month;
- A credit card for individuals with a net income of at least €1,150 per month (*amount varies per bank). Please note the bank usually requires a few months of regular salary deposits into the account before you are eligible for a credit card;
- Internet banking.
But one can also swing for an extensive package, which includes up to five extra account numbers, which can be used, for example, for a joint account or a separate spouse account number.
Paying money in the Netherlands
Usually most payments in the Netherlands are made by cash or debit card. It’s becoming more common for merchants to allow payment only by debit card (pinning) to avoid theft. You may see a sign “hier alleen pinnen” meaning only pin payments are accepted. In general, credit cards are only accepted in more touristy areas and more expensive shops and restaurants.We strongly advise to always carry a debit card with you.
Contrary to many other countries, credit cards are not commonly accepted in the Netherlands. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants, large department stores and tourist attractions but you often cannot use a them in supermarkets or smaller shops. Cash is still widely used, even for large transactions. But the most common method of payment is ‘pinnen’: the use of a debit card.
With your debit card (regardless of which bank you choose) and PIN code you will be able to withdraw money from all cash machines as well as pay at most shops or restaurants. In the Netherlands this is called “pinnen”.
This works slightly differently to a credit card, although there are similarities. On the counter there will be a pin machine, you enter your debit card into the machine, you will see the amount you need to pay and then you key in your pin code. When you have done so, the display shows “akkoord” or “geslaagd”, meaning the transaction was successful.
There is also the possibility of paying small amounts (up to € 25) without your PIN. If your card is authorized for contactless payment, you will see the small Wifi icon on it. You just hold your debit card above or next to the pin machine and it will automatically deduct the amount from your bank account. Be aware that if you loose your debit card, other people are able to use your card for small amounts as your PIN code is not required.
Online banking is common in the Netherlands. You will generally be given a calculator-sized device when you open an account. You insert your debit card, enter your PIN code and it generates a random code allowing you to access your account. You can pay bills directly or set up direct debits (automatische overschrijving) for regular payments.
Utility companies usually require your IBAN (International Account Number), so they can automatically deduct your monthly payments. Most banks now offer mobile banking apps which make banking fast and user-friendly. For online shopping internet banking is the most common payment method, through iDeal.
An acceptgiro is a yellow payment slip attached to the bottom of an invoice. This method is rapidly being made obsolete by internet banking. There are two methods of payment; you can enter your bank details and signature and ‘post’ it to the bank, or you can pay online. The most common method is the make the payment online, since it’s faster and you do not have to wait for the bank to process the paper payment slip. Don’t forget to fill in the payment reference, this is a 16 digit code.