Credit Cards in the Netherlands
The use of credit cards in the Netherlands is not as well established as elsewhere with most payments being made by cash, debit cards 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 the Netherlands then it could 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.
If you apply for a credit card in the Netherlands, the card issuer will likely run a background credit check on the Bureau Kredietregistratie (BKR) credit register.
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. Many cards come with a contactless payment option for transactions under €25.
Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit cards in the Dutch retail space; American Express tends to be accepted only by major retailers who have an international client base.
You will not find a wide array of rewards-type credit cards on the Dutch market, except for American Express Flying Blue and Membership Rewards cards. There are no 0% foreign exchange (forex) fee cards for payments outside the eurozone.
In general most people will pay the full balance of their card 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 the Netherlands that may be worth considering for expats and internationals:
Dutch Bank Credit Cards
If living in Holland it is important to open a bank account in order to function financially. Most banks will offer clients the possibility to apply for a credit card.
1. ABN Amro Credit Cards - ABN Amro has a very good banking service for expats with much information available in English. If you choose to bank with ABN Amro then its branded Mastercard credit card offerings (issued by ICS, International Card Services) will probably be an easy option.
The ABN Amro Credit Card has an initial monthly credit limit is €2,500, though this can be increased. The annual fee is €22 but it can also be bundled into various ABN Amro bank account packages. To qualify for the standard card you must be earning at least €1,150 net per month.
The ABN Amro Gold Card has a higher €5,000 monthly credit limit and costs €55 annually. It requires a minimum monthly net income of €1,250. An additional card costs €26 per year.
The ABN Amro Student Credit Card costs €14 per year and gives a credit limit of €500 (for a monthly income of less then €500) or €1,000 (for monthly incomes higher than €500).
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 the Netherlands. Forex fees for non-euro payments are charged at 2%.
2. ING Credit Cards - Major retail bank ING also offers its own branded Mastercards. There are 3 cards available with ING banking packages - Creditcard, PlatinumCard and Student Creditcard.
The ING Creditcard costs €17.40 per year with a credit limit of between €1,000 and €5,000. An extra card costs €13.20 per year.
The ING PlatinumCard costs €48 per year (extra card €27.60 per year) with a credit limit of between €1,000 and €20,000. Either card requires a minimum monthly income of €650 to be paid into your ING account.
The ING Student CreditCard costs €12.50 per year with credit limit of €1,000.
ING charges a forex fee of 1.75% for non-Euro payments.
3. Rabobank Credit Cards - Major Dutch retail bank Rabobank has its own branded "RaboCard" Mastercards - which are included in various banking packages.
The standard RaboCard has a monthly credit limit of €1,000. The Rabo GoldCard has a €2,500 to €10,000 credit limit and is also available as a Visa. Forex fees for non-euro payments on Rabo cards are 2%.
4. ASN Credit Card - Ethical bank ASN (part of Volksbank group) offers a branded Visa credit card issued by ICS which costs €20 per year. A credit limit of up to €2,500 is available depending on your income. Each time you use the card ASN will make a donation of 0.25% to a sustainable project. Forex fees for non-euro payments are 2%.
5. SNS Bank Credit Card - SNS Bank (also part of Volksbank group) offers a branded Mastercard which costs €15.75 per year or €11.25 for student account holders. A credit limit from €500 to €5,000 is available, depending on income.
6. KNAB Credit Cards - Online bank KNAB (part of Aegon Group) offers account package holders the option of having a KNAB Visa Credit Card or an American Express Green Card (see below). The KNAB Visa is freely included in the standard banking package which costs €5 per month. The Amex Green Card is free the first year, then costs €65 per year - however the fee is waived if you spend a minimum of €1,500 on the card over the year. Forex fees for non-euro payments on KNAB credit cards are 2.5%.
7. Van Lanschot Credit Cards - This private Dutch bank with a focus on high net-worth indivduals and professionals also offers branded Mastercard (Van Lanschot Creditcard Gold, €45 per year) and American Express (Green, Gold and Platinum) credit cards.
American Express Cards in the Netherlands
American Express (AMEX) is active in the Dutch card market though as mentioned earlier, its cards are not as widely accepted in Europe as Visa or Mastercard. American Express offers charge cards which must be paid off every month. Forex fees for non-euro payments on its Dutch cards are 2.3%. Regretably, the American Express Netherlands website is in Dutch only!
8. American Express Cards - AMEX has a number of card options for Dutch residents which when used can earn points on their in-house reward program called Membership Rewards (MR). This is a very flexible program with many different partners, particularly in the travel and airline sector. You can transfer your Membership Reward points into the available program of your choice.
The standard card is the American Express Green Card (€66, free the first year) which offers a standard bonus of 5,000 MR points (on first €500 spend within 3 months). Occasionally the bonus can be as high as 20,000 points. 1 MR point is earned for each €1 spend. You require a gross annual income of €23,000.
The American Express Gold Card (€198, €99 first year) comes with a welcome bonuses of 20,000 points (on first €500 spend within 3 months). It also includes 2 lounge entry passes which can be used at 500 airports lounges worldwide. 1.2 MR points are earned for each €1 spend. You require a gross annual income of €36,000.
The American Express Platinum Card (€702, €351 first year) is a high-end card with many travel privileges including 20,000 bonus points (on first €500 spend within 3 months), comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access. 1.5 MR points are earned for each €1 spend. You require a gross annual income of €60,000.
The base American Express Blue Card (€48) does not offer any rewards points.
9. KLM Flying Blue American Express Cards - These could be useful for those who fly regularly with KLM/Air France and are members of the Flying Blue frequent flyer scheme. The cards are offered with Flying Blue Award Mile bonuses given on the first €500 spend in 3 months. Higher bonuses can be on offer occasionally.
The Flying Blue Entry Card (€35 per year) features a 2,500 mile welcome bonus and an earning rate of 0.5 miles per €1 spend. You require a gross annual income of €23,000.
The Flying Blue Silver Card (€75, free first year) comes with a standard welcome bonus 5,000 Flying Blue miles and 2 qualifying flights for elite status. The card's earning rates are 0.8 miles per €1 spend and 1 mile per €1 spend at KLM/Air France. You require a gross annual income of €23,000.
The Flying Blue Gold Card (€170, €85 first year) offers 10,000 bonus miles and 4 qualifying flights for elite status. The card's earning rates are 1 mile per €1 spend and 1.5 miles (award and level) per €1 spend at KLM/Air France. You require a gross annual income of €23,000.
The top-of-the-range Flying Blue Platinum Card (€600, first year €300) comes with 20,000 bonus miles, comprehensive travel insurance and 8 qualifying flights for elite status. The card's earning rates are 1.5 miles per €1 spend and 2 miles (award and level) per €1 spend at KLM/Air France. You require a gross annual income of €60,000.
Visa and Mastercard (Generic Cards)
ICS (International Card Services) offers the choice of generic Visa and Mastercards. You will require a net monthly salary of €1,150 for the standard cards or €1,250 for the Gold, Platinum and Black cards. Non-euro forex charges are 2% for the standard cards and 1.5% for the Gold, Platinum and Black cards.
10.Visa World Cards - The standard Visa World Card (€36.50, free first year) has a credit limit of €2,500. The Visa World Card Gold (€55, first year €36.50) has a credit limit of €5,000. The Visa World Card Platinum (€154, first year €77) comes with a €10,000 credit limit.
11.Mastercards - The standard Mastercard Classic Card (€20, free first year) has a credit limit of €2,500. The Mastercard Gold Card (€32.50, first year €20) has a credit limit of €5,000. The Mastercard Black Card (€204) comes with up to €25,000 credit limit, travel insurance and airport lounge access. Non-euro forex charges are 2% for the standard card and 1.5% for the Gold and Platinum cards.
Other Branded Credit Cards
12. Bijenkorf Cards - Bijenkorf is a major Dutch department store and has its Privilege Membership rewards scheme for frequent shoppers. It offers De Bijenkorf Card, a branded Mastercard issued by ICS which costs €16.50 per year. There are 3 possible levels depending on spend - Silver (entry), Diamond (minimum €2,500 annual store spend) and Black Diamond (minimum €10,000 annual store spend). These earn Privilege Membership points on spending at the following rates - 1, 1.4 and 2 points (respectively) per €1 in Bijenkorf and 1 point per €5 spend elsewhere. 500 points is worth €12.50 of Bijenkorf store credit. Card holders are also offered various discounts and closed shopping evenings. Forex fees for non-euro payments are 2%. The Bijenkorf program does have some limited English info online, otherwise ask in-store.
13. 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). It offers members a standard ANWB Visa Card (€14.50) with a credit limits of €2,500 or the ANWB Gold Visa Card (€37.50, first year €18.75) with a credit limit of €5,000. The cards are issued by ICS meaning a required net monthly salary of €1,150 for the standard card or €1,250 for the Gold card. Non-euro forex charges are 2% for the standard card and 1.5% for the Gold.
Note: Credit card 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"! Terms and conditions can change.