If you intend to live and work in Amsterdam or anywhere else in the Netherlands then it is absolutely essential that you have a local Dutch bank account.
Generally, bank accounts can be opened once you have an income and a place to live. The best way to open an account is to simply visit a branch near where you live or work.
To open a Dutch current account you will need to bring the following documents with you to the bank in order to satisfy the usual 'know-your-customer' procedures:
Identity Document - A valid passport is always best, alternatively identity cards from certain EU countries can be accepted. If you have a residence permit card you should also bring this.
Your BSN number - When you register in Netherlands you will receive a Burger Service Nummer (citizen service number). This is used both as a fiscal number when dealing with the tax authorities and also as a general identifier for government services and healthcare.
Proof of Address - This could be the rental contract for your house/appartment or a recent utility bill.
Proof of Income - You need to show an employment contract or some recent pay slips.
Now it can be the case that you don't yet have everything in place (eg - you have found a job but not a place to live). This can be frustrating if the bank staff apply the rules to the letter - you may get to experience the "dat kan niet" ("that's not allowed") attitude prevalent amongst some Dutch service personnel! Hopefully you will deal with someone who can show flexibility to get your account sorted - however if you hit a brick wall then try another branch or another bank.
You will find branches of major Dutch banks (see below) in most towns/cities and ATMs (PIN machines) are widely found.
Once you open an account you will get a local debit card (Betaalpas or more commonly known as PIN pas) which can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs (geldautomaat) and make chip and pin payments at retailers.
The card can also be Maestro branded for international transactions - Euro currency withdrawals are generally free but you will be charged for foreign currency transactions.
Expect a monthly charge for running a current account and debit card - this will be around €3-€4 per month. The main banks also offer various packaged accounts which can include other services. Credit cards in Netherlands are slowly becoming more accepted though a number of retailers still won't accept them.
Dutch internet banking is popular and can be easily set up with your account. You will be sent a special card reader or scanner by your bank. An online payment system called iDeal is used by many Dutch online retailers which links securely to your internet banking portal.
Note that due to problems with international fraud, Dutch banks default the debit cards for use only within Europe - you must set it to "worldwide use" using internet banking if you want to make withdrawals outside Europe.
Bills are generally paid online or by direct debit. They can also be paid by filling in an "accept giro" invoice form which you then send to your bank - this is becoming less common with the rise of internet banking.
Note, the Dutch do not use standard cheques - if you deposit a cheque into your account (even if denominated in euros) you will likely be charged a hefty €15-€20 for the privilege.
Dutch Retail Banks - main banking options in Netherlands:
ABN AMRO (abnamro.nl) - Popular Dutch banking giant with branches all over the country. ABN AMRO has a special International Clients division so they are used to dealing with expats and foreigners, especially in the main city branches. In some cases they can open accounts for non-residents who need to do business in the Netherlands.
As a sidenote, the name ABN AMRO originates from 2 Dutch banks which merged in 1991 - ABN bank (Algemene Bank Nederland) and AMRO bank (Amsterdam and Rotterdam Bank). ABN AMRO was purchased by a consortium of Royal Bank of Scotland / Santander / Fortis in 2007. However in 2009 (during the financial crisis) the bank was partly nationalised by the Dutch government along with Fortis Nederland.
ING (ing.nl) - Internationale Nederlanden Groep, a major international banking, insurance and asset management group.
Rabobank (rabobank.nl) - Large, privately owned Dutch bank and financial services group with roots in agricultural finance.
SNS Bank (snsbank.nl) - Samenwerkende Nederlandse Spaarbanken - one of the smaller Dutch retail bank with Amsterdam branches at Bilderdijkstraat 50 and Ceintuurbaan 334. They also have ATM machines located in HEMA shops. In February 2013 its parent company SNS Reaal was nationalised due to heavy property losses.
ASN Bank (asnbank.nl) - Small Dutch bank (part of the nationalised SNS Reaal group) focussed on ethical banking and sustainable investments.
Once your main current account is opened you can then open savings accounts and/or brokerage accounts if you want.
Ethical savings accounts and investments are available with ASN bank and Triodos Bank - some ethical products are not liable for Dutch wealth tax.
F. van Lanschot bank is an independent private bank in Netherlands with a focus on asset management and high net-worth individuals.
Some foreign banks (such as Turkey's Garanti Bank) have a presence in Netherlands and generally cater to immigrant communities. These banks can sometimes offer higher interest rates than the main Dutch banks. However risk appetites have decreased since the credit crisis which saw Icesave (from Iceland) and the DSB bank (Dutch) go under.
Note, Dutch bank deposits are officially "guaranteed" up to €100,000 by the Dutch central bank. If you happen to have more than €100k (eg - savings or proceeds from a house sale) then at least spread it around different banks and consider other international diversification strategies.