The use of credit cards in Netherlands is not as common as elsewhere with most payments being made by cash, debit cards ("pin pass") or via internet banking.
The thrifty Dutch have much less of a consumer debt culture than say US, UK or Australia and many shops in Holland still do not accept credit card payments.
However, if you are living and working in Netherlands then it will be useful to get a credit card - especially if you need to travel frequently. A credit card is pretty much essential for international hotel and car rental bookings. In addition, paying for flights and online purchases with a credit card gives you more consumer protection than other payment methods.
Dutch credit cards use the chip and pin system for making payments in retail outlets - you have to input a pin number rather than just sign a sales slip.
In general Dutch people pay the balance of their card in full by direct debit every month. Installment payments can be arranged but you will be charged interest costs.
Let's take a quick look at the various credit cards available in Netherlands that may be worth considering:
ABN AMRO Credit Cards
If you are banking with ABN AMRO then their branded Mastercard will probably be the easiest option. ABN AMRO has a very good banking service for expats with much info available in English.
To qualify for their Mastercard you must be earning at least €1,150 net per month. The initial monthly credit limit is €2,500, though this can be increased. The annual fee for the ABN AMRO credit card is €20 but it can also be bundled into various ABN AMRO bank account packages.
The ABN AMRO Gold Card has a higher €5,000 monthly credit limit and costs €50 annually. An additional card costs €25 per year. It requires a minimum monthly net income of €1,250.
ABN AMRO provides a paper credit card statement every month and you can also check transactions online. PIN codes can be changed at any ABN AMRO ATM in Netherlands. There are no forex fees on the card, as far as we can tell, though the bank sets the exchange rate.
Rabobank Credit Cards
Major Dutch retail bank Rabobank issues its own branded "RaboCard" Mastercards - which are included in various banking packages. The standard RaboCard has a monthly credit limit of €2,500. The Rabo BaseCard has a lower €1,000 limit, suitable for students. The Rabo GoldCard has a €10,000 credit limit and is also available as a Visa. Forex fees on Rabo cards are 1.5%.
3. ING Credit Cards
Major retail bank ING also offers their own branded Mastercards. There are 3 cards available - standard, student and platinum.
The standard credit card costs
€20 per year with a credit limit of up to €5,000.
The student card costs €12.50 per year with credit limit of €1,000.
The platinum card costs €45.50 per year with credit limit of up to €25,000.
Like ABN AMRO and Rabo, ING offers various bank account packages which include credit cards.
ING charges a forex fee of 1.35% for non-Euro transactions.
4. Visa World Cards
The Visa World Card Gold and Visa World Card Platinum cards have higher credit limits (a base of €5,000 but you can request this to be raised). Annual fees are Gold €55 (€36.50 first year) and Platinum €155 (€77 first year). Platinum cardholders have access to a medical and legal referral service helpline.
For the standard card, forex fees outside the Eurozone are 1.85% in the EU and 2% elsewhere. For the Gold and Platinum these charges are 0.95% and 1.25%, respectively.
KLM Flying Blue American Express Cards
This could be useful for those who fly regularly with KLM/Air France and are members of the Flying Blue frequent flyer scheme. The Silver card comes with 2,500 Flying Blue Miles bonus after first use, and 0.8 miles are earned per euro spend. The fee is €75 per year, waived the first year.
There are also Gold and Platinum Cards with 10,000 and 20,000 bonus miles, respectively. They have higher miles earning rates and cost €140 and a hefty €570 per year. Forex fees on this card are 2.3%.
For more details see KLM Flying Blue American Express Card
6. American Express Cards
Amex has a number of other card options for Dutch residents which can earn "Membership Rewards" points. This is a very flexible program with many different partners, particularly in the travel and airline sector.
The standard cards are Green Card (€65) and Gold Card (€150). The American Express Platinum Card is a high end card with many travel privileges including comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access. Minimum yearly income required is €70k and the card costs €700 annually. AMEX forex fees are 2.3%.
Note that American Express cards are not as widely accepted in Europe as Visa or Mastercard.
Bijenkorf is a major Dutch department store selling branded articles. They offer Bijenkorf Mastercards (various membership levels) which earn points on spending - 1 point per €1 in Bijenkorf and 1 point per €2 spend elsewhere. These points can be redeemed for items at Bijenkorf. They also offer card holders various discounts and closed shopping evenings. Forex fees are 1.85%.
8. ANWB Credit Cards
ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club) is the main motoring association of the Netherlands (like AA, RAC in the UK or AAA in the US). They offer members a standard ANWB Visa and/or an ANWB Mastercard with credit limits of €2,500 each, both which cost €12 per year. For the Visa card, forex fees outside the Eurozone are 1.85% in the EU and 2% elsewhere; the Mastercard has forex fee of 1.85%.
The ANWB Visa Gold card has a higher credit limit of €5,000 and an annual fee of €27.50 per year. Forex charges are 0.95% (in EU but outside Eurozone) and 1.25% elsewhere.
See also: Opening a Bank Account in Netherlands
Note: Credit cards names above are registered trademarks. You should pay your credit cards balance in full every month. As the Dutch say "Let op! Geld lenen kost geld" which basically means "borrowing money costs money"!