When embarking on a journey or setting up a new life in a foreign country, one of the first and most crucial aspects to get acquainted with is the nation’s currency. For those venturing into the Netherlands—whether as tourists, students, or expats—the Dutch currency system might initially seem unfamiliar.
This guide aims to demystify the Dutch currency, providing a straightforward understanding of its history, denominations, and practical usage.
- The official currency of the Netherlands is the Euro (€).
- The Netherlands has a robust digital payment infrastructure. Leveraging platforms like iDEAL and Tikkie can simplify many of your daily transactions.
- Dutch ATMs are user-friendly and offer multilingual services. However, always be aware of potential fees when using foreign bank cards.
- If you’re in the Netherlands for an extended period, consider opening a local bank account. It offers numerous benefits and can simplify your financial activities.
- Keeping a pulse on the exchange rates, banking norms, and digital advancements can save you money and potential hassles.
History and Basics of the Dutch Currency
Diving into the Dutch currency system requires a brief journey through time. Like many aspects of a nation, currency tells a story of evolution, economic shifts, and regional collaborations.
From the Dutch Guilder to the Euro
Before the Euro took its place, the Dutch Guilder (often referred to in Dutch as “Gulden”) served as the Netherlands’ official currency for many centuries. The word ‘Guilder’ originates from the Dutch term “golden”, indicating that the coin was originally made of gold.
However, with globalization and the drive for a more unified Europe, the Netherlands, along with several other European countries, transitioned to the Euro (€) in 2002. This was a monumental shift, aligning the nation with the broader European economic vision and allowing for easier trade and transactions across borders.
The Euro in the Netherlands
Today, the Euro stands as the official currency of the Netherlands. It’s subdivided into 100 smaller units known as cents. As part of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 of the 27 European Union (EU) member states, the Netherlands shares its currency with many of its neighbors. This shared currency not only simplifies trade and tourism but also strengthens economic ties among member countries.
Banknotes and Coins
Engaging in any financial transaction in the Netherlands means you’ll be either handing over or receiving banknotes and coins. Here’s what you need to know about them:
The Euro banknotes come in various denominations, making them suitable for a range of financial needs, from small purchases to substantial ones. These are the denominations you can expect:
|Predominantly grey, Features an image of Classical architecture.
|With a dominant red hue, Displays Romanesque architecture
|Comes in a vibrant blue shade, Features Gothic architecture
|Radiates a warm orange glow, Represents the Renaissance architectural era
|A green banknote, Displays Baroque and Rococo architecture
|With a yellow-brown tint, Showcases 19th-century iron and glass architecture
|Purple, With Modern 20th-century architecture
Note: Issuance ceased in 2018 but is still legal tender.
Each of these banknotes, apart from their distinct colors and architectural images, also contains numerous security features like holograms, watermarks, and security threads, ensuring their authenticity.
Coins are vital for smaller transactions, such as paying for parking or using a vending machine. Euro coins have a unique design: one side is common to all Euro coins across the Eurozone, featuring a map of Europe. The other side is country-specific, showcasing national symbols. In the case of the Netherlands, the national side of the coins displays a portrait of King Willem-Alexander.
The common denominations for coins are:
|1, 2, and 5 cents
|10, 20, and 50 cents
|Gold-colored, Slightly larger than their copper counterparts
|€1 and €2
|€1 coin is silver with a gold edge
€2 coin features a gold outer circle with a silver center
It’s advisable for newcomers to carry a mix of both banknotes and coins, especially when traveling through towns and rural areas where card or digital payments might not always be an option.
Using Currency in the Netherlands
Here’s what you need to know about utilizing the Dutch currency efficiently during your stay:
Accepted Methods of Payment
While the world is rapidly moving towards digital payments, cash remains widely accepted across the Netherlands. Small businesses, local markets, or certain tourist attractions might prefer or only accept cash payments.
Debit and Credit Cards
The Dutch banking system predominantly uses cards with chip and pin. Most shops, restaurants, and other businesses accept major international credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. However, always check for card acceptance signs at the entrance or inquire before making a purchase.
As technology evolves, the adoption of mobile payment methods, like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, has grown in the Netherlands. Many businesses, especially in urban areas, are equipped to handle such transactions.
When you first arrive, you might need to exchange your home currency for Euros. Here’s how you can do it:
Currency exchange booths are available at major Dutch airports. While they offer the convenience of immediate cash, their rates might not be as favorable as city center or independent exchange services.
Banks and Exchange Bureaus are located throughout cities and larger towns, they typically provide more competitive rates than airport kiosks.
Some platforms allow for online currency exchange, offering delivery or local pickup options.
Tips on Carrying Cash
- Safety First: Like anywhere in the world, always be conscious of your surroundings. Use a money belt or hidden pouch when in crowded areas or tourist spots.
- Small Denominations: It’s beneficial to carry smaller banknotes and coins for places where exact change might be needed or appreciated.
- Limit Large Amounts: It’s prudent not to carry large amounts of cash. Utilize your debit or credit card when feasible, and keep a nominal amount of cash for miscellaneous expenses.
ATMs and Banking
The Dutch banking system, with its state-of-the-art technology and customer-centric approach, ensures that both residents and visitors have efficient and secure access to their finances. Let’s delve into the essentials:
Finding and Using ATMs
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are generously scattered across the Netherlands. From city centers, train stations, to shopping malls and even some villages, you’ll likely find an ATM nearby when you need one.
Most ATMs in the Netherlands offer services in multiple languages, including English, making the withdrawal process familiar and accessible for foreigners.
The majority of Dutch ATMs accept international cards bearing the Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, or Maestro logos. Ensure your card has a four-digit pin, as that’s the standard in the Netherlands.
Bank Operating Hours and Services for Tourists and Expats
Dutch banks generally operate from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. Some branches may have extended hours on one weekday evening, and larger cities might have Saturday openings, but it’s best to check in advance.
Apart from regular banking services, many banks provide specialized assistance to tourists and expats, such as setting up accounts, currency exchange, and offering financial advice tailored to foreign nationals.
If you’re planning to stay in the Netherlands for an extended period, consider opening a local bank account. This makes managing finances more straightforward, especially if you’re receiving an income or paying regular bills. Most banks require proof of identity, proof of residence, and sometimes a BSN (Burger Service Nummer) or citizen service number.
Potential Fees for Foreign Bank Cards
Using a foreign bank card at Dutch ATMs may result in additional charges. It’s essential to be aware of any fees your home bank might apply for international withdrawals.
Some banks might charge a percentage of the transaction amount each time you use your card in a foreign country. Checking with your bank in advance can help you make informed decisions about using your card in the Netherlands.
Digital and Mobile Payments
If you’re someone who leans towards cashless convenience, understanding the digital landscape in the Netherlands is crucial. Here’s what you need to know:
Popular Digital Payment Systems in the Netherlands
- iDEAL: A significant player in the Dutch online transaction sphere, iDEAL allows users to make purchases online directly from their bank account. It’s a secure and common method used in many Dutch webshops and services.
- Tikkie: A widely-adopted app in the Netherlands, Tikkie simplifies peer-to-peer payments. Whether you’re splitting the bill at a restaurant or sharing household expenses with roommates, Tikkie comes in handy for quick reimbursements.
Safety and Convenience of Digital Payments
Dutch digital payment systems prioritize user security. Features like two-factor authentication, secure encrypted connections, and transaction notifications ensure that users have a safe experience.
A majority of businesses, both online and offline, accept digital payments. From ordering groceries online to paying for a museum ticket, digital options are usually available.
Technologies like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are becoming more commonplace in the Netherlands. Linked with your bank account or credit card, these mobile wallets allow for contactless payments at point-of-sale terminals.
Many Dutch banks issue debit and credit cards equipped with contactless payment features. For transactions under a certain limit (usually €25), there’s no need to enter a PIN, making checkouts faster and more convenient.
Things to Consider
Digital and mobile payments often rely on a stable internet connection. Ensure your device is connected, especially if you’re using mobile data while on the move.
While most transactions are fee-free, it’s good to check if there are any service charges, especially when using international cards on local digital platforms.
To ensure you’re benefiting from the latest security patches and features, regularly update payment apps on your device.
Tips for Tourists and Expats
Here are some practical tips tailored for newcomers to the Netherlands:
- Carry Multiple Payment Methods
While the Netherlands is modern and many places accept cards, having a combination of cash, credit/debit cards, and digital payment options ensures you’re prepared for all scenarios.
- Familiarize Yourself with Local Apps
Apps like Tikkie, iDEAL, or even the mobile apps of local banks can simplify many daily transactions. It’s worth investing time to understand their functionalities.
- Beware of Pickpockets
Especially in busy tourist spots or crowded public transport. Using anti-theft bags or money belts can keep your money safe.
- Understand the Tipping Culture
Service charge is generally included in your bill at restaurants, cafes, and bars. While tipping isn’t obligatory, leaving some spare change or rounding up to the nearest Euro is a nice gesture for good service.
- Inquire About International Transaction Fees
Before using your foreign card extensively, check with your bank about potential fees on international transactions. Some banks offer travel-friendly options with minimal or no fees.
- Keep Emergency Contact Details
Always have the contact details of your bank handy. In case of a lost or stolen card, you can immediately report and prevent potential misuse.
- Consider Opening a Local Bank Account
If you’re an expat or a student planning to stay for an extended period, a local bank account can offer numerous conveniences. Not only can it reduce transaction fees, but many local services or rental agreements may prefer or require a local bank account.
- Stay Updated on Exchange Rates
For tourists, keeping a close eye on currency exchange rates can help you decide the best time to exchange money, ensuring you get the most out of your currency.
- Check Payment Preferences in Remote Areas
If you’re traveling to less-touristy or remote regions, it’s wise to check in advance if cards are widely accepted or if cash is preferable.
- Keep Small Change
While larger notes are convenient, having coins or smaller denominations can be handy for public transport, local markets, or public restrooms.
Beware of Potential Scams
The Netherlands, renowned for its peaceful towns and trustworthy populace, is generally safe for tourists and expats. However, as with any country, it’s essential to be cautious and aware of potential scams to protect your finances. Here’s a concise guide to some scams you might encounter and how to safeguard against them:
Fake Currency Exchange Kiosks
Some unauthorized exchange booths might offer seemingly attractive rates but could provide you with outdated or counterfeit currency.
Always use authorized banks or established currency exchange bureaus. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Skimming Devices at ATMs
Criminals might attach card-reading devices or cameras to capture your card details and PIN.
Before inserting your card, inspect the ATM for any loose parts or suspicious devices. Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.
A person might drop something, ask for directions, or spill something on you, diverting your attention while an accomplice picks your pocket.
Be cautious of strangers approaching you, especially in crowded areas. Securely fasten your belongings and be wary of unexpected distractions.
Some taxi drivers might take unnecessarily long routes or charge exorbitant rates, especially to unsuspecting tourists.
Use reputable taxi companies or apps like Uber. Before starting your journey, ensure the meter is reset and ask about the estimated fare.
Fake Tickets or Vouchers
Scammers selling bogus tickets to attractions or events at a “discounted” price.
Always purchase tickets from official vendors or websites. Avoid buying from individuals on the street, no matter how appealing the deal might seem.
Phishing Emails or Calls
You might receive calls or emails pretending to be from a bank or official institution, asking for personal or financial information.
Never share personal details over the phone or email. If in doubt, visit the bank or institution in person or call their official number to verify.
Overcharging or Wrong Change
Some unscrupulous vendors might intentionally give incorrect change or inflate prices for tourists.
Familiarize yourself with Dutch currency and always double-check the amount you’ve been given. Keep receipts and politely question discrepancies.