Although most of us are more concerned about whether we can afford the seventh unnecessary item in our shopping basket than about our payment method when we eventually get to the till, there are still some things that are good to know about paying in the Netherlands.
As the Netherlands is a modern country, it is possible and common to live cashless, with debit contactless payments and online bank transfers.
The Netherlands is one of the 19 EU countries to use the euro, which is convenient for travelling. Although you can pay with cash at the tills in most supermarkets and shops, self-checkout machines do not take cash.
Certain services such as public transport in some cities or university services do not take cash either.
Dutch Alert: “Alleen pinnen” means “card only”
Debit cards, in particular the brand Maestro, owned by Mastercard, are the most popular payment method in the Netherlands.
Be careful that Maestro is accepted almost everywhere, whereas credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard are not. For safety, it is better to always have some cash at hand if you don’t have a debit card yet.
Online banks such as Revolut offer Maestro cards, but check first, some online banks such as Bunq only offer Mastercards or Visa.
Credit Cards are mostly used for online purchases. In fact, if you make payments on a non-dutch website, it may not be possible to pay with a debit card. For this reason, some people may prefer to have both a credit and a debit card.
Many stores such as Albert Hijn, Coop and small shops may not accept credit cards.
iDEAL is an online payment security system used for debit cards in the Netherlands, similar in concept to PayPal.
This system is QR code-based. If you purchase from a computer, the QR code which shows up on your computer screen can be scanned and allows you to validate the transaction on the mobile app. When purchasing from a smartphone, you are directed to the app. Simply follow the instructions, authorize the purchase and when you successfully complete the transaction, you will be redirected to the merchant site.
Direct debit is mostly used by service-providers and allows the company or individual to debit your account automatically. This system is used for monthly bills such as insurance, water, gas, or electricity. Beware that for rent, some landlords do not directly debit your account and you must transfer rent yourself. Nevertheless, with many banks you can set up an automatic bank transfer every month.
Tikkie is an app that allows people to send each-other bills via WhatsApp messages. This is typically used amongst friends, family members or housemates when splitting costs such as dinners, shopping, or coffees, and can be used with all Dutch banks.
Fun fact: receiving a Tikkie of 0,36€ ? That’s normal, this app is taken very seriously in the Netherlands. 🙂
Most banks have similar functions in their mobile app, which work just the same as Tikkie, but might have fewer functions.
PayPal is used in the Netherlands, but not as widely as iDEAL. It’s functions are online payments on websites such as Amazon or MediaMarkt.
Alipay is available in the Netherlands, but only in a limited number of stores, notably Asian supermarkets.
Gift cards are sold in most large retail stores amongst a wide range of merchants such as IKEA, MediaMarkt, Bol, Spotify, WehKamp, Zara, Nike, KLM and H&M. They can usually be used in stores and online.