Get your finances sorted out early and you’ll feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Daily life in a new country is so much more manageable once you have a bank card in your pocket! Fortunately, setting up a bank account in the Netherlands is straightforward, so you should be good to go in no time.There is no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a bank in the Netherlands. The four largest and most common are ABN AMRO, ING, Rabobank and SNS Bank. Do some research online, and then head to a branch when you’re ready to open your account.
ABN AMRO is a popular choice, with plenty of branches throughout the country. It is the third-largest bank in the Netherlands, and right now the Dutch state is its major shareholder.
A large incentive for banking with ABN AMRO is the tailored services it offers to expats. Service and support are available in English, 24 hours a day. Online and mobile banking are also available in English and you will have access to a personal advisor to discuss your banking needs. What’s more, they will explain to you how the Dutch do their banking and take out insurance, and can even help you find a place to live.
In a nutshell, if you’re an expat, ABN AMRO are well set up to go the extra mile in getting you on board as a customer and helping you navigate banking in a new country as seamlessly as possible. Check out account options on their website.
This bank may sound familiar to you, as ING is a major global financial institution. What you may not have realized is that it was founded in the Netherlands, more than two centuries ago. ING – once Internationale Nederlanden Groep – is the largest Dutch retail bank, and if you come prepared, you should be able to open an account at one of their branches within 20 minutes.
Most of ING’s online content and services are in Dutch. However, there is enough information available in English to get you started. There is an English version of the ING mobile banking app for smartphones and tablets, to help you take care of your finances on-the-go. However, the online banking services are only available in Dutch. To bridge this, ING provides manuals about how to use their online banking services in six languages – including English.
Rabobank is the second-largest bank in the Netherlands, and has its roots in cooperative finance. It is well-represented, with branches and ATMs across the Netherlands, and has a presence in more than 40 countries worldwide. Rabobank has very little information available in English online, so to set up an account you will need to visit a local branch.
SNS Bank is part of the de Volksbank (the people’s bank) family, and is the fourth-largest bank in the country. It is a no-frills bank for the working person, and prides itself on being customer-oriented and accessible. That said, it is significantly less accessible for expats, as it has no English language version of its website. However, there are around 200 SNS branches across the country, so if you have enough mastery of the Dutch language to make use of their services, this may be a good option for you.
It is worth noting that all the main banks have special packages available for students, so if you are moving to the Netherlands to study then be sure to ask around for the best deal.
What Documents Do I Need?
Sadly, you’ll always need to deal with a lot of paperwork to start your new life! To open a new account, either in person or online, you will need:
– Proof of identity: A passport or national identity card are best, as drivers’ licenses are not always accepted.
– Proof of address: For example, a rental contract, mortgage document or recent utility bill with your name and address.
– Your citizen service number (BSN): This is the number that is given to you when you register with the municipality you live in.
Depending on what type of account you are opening, you may need additional documentation. For example, you may also need to provide proof of income in the form of an employment contract, pay slips or similar.
Specific requirements will vary from bank to bank, so it pays to do your research to find out which documents the bank you are interested in will need. As this is not readily available online in English for most banks, your best bet is to call customer service in advance of visiting a branch so that you can come prepared. This will speed up the process and make setting up your account as easy as it can be.
Saving And Spending
It is standard to have a current count for your day-to-day transactions, a savings account and a credit card. You will have to pay monthly fees, which vary depending on your chosen accounts.
When you set your new bank account up, you will receive your debit card and PIN in separate letters in the post. You have to activate the card before you can use it.
As well as using cash, you can make purchases by swiping a debit card or inserting a chip card and entering a four-digit PIN. Your card may also be set up for contactless payment, which means you can make purchases of up to €25 without entering your PIN.
Your card will allow international transactions. Withdrawing Euros is generally free, but you will likely be charged for foreign currency transactions. If you traveling outside of Europe, be sure to notify your bank so that your card is not blocked.
Using your bank’s ATMs is free. If you use a different bank’s ATM, you will be charged a small fee.
Credit cards are becoming more common in the Netherlands, but they are not used as frequently as you may be used to. It will be expensive to use cheques in the Netherlands, so they are best avoided.
Bills are generally paid by direct debit or online bank transfer. This often happens using acceptgiro, where you pay online using a special reference number.
Major banks in the Netherlands
Have you opened a bank account in the Netherlands recently? What recommendations do you have for people about to do the same? Share your thoughts in the comments below!