How does an OV chip card work
The OV chip card is a payment method used in public transport. Instead of buying tickets for every trip you make, you now have one card as your primary payment method. This method may be the first time for you, which is why we are here to help.
OV Chip Card variants
There are two types of OV chip cards, both with advantages and disadvantages. Here are the differences:
Anonymous (blue) OV
You can share an anonymous OV chip card with as many people as you like. However, you cannot link travel products or subscriptions to this OV card, which means this card is intended for people that don’t travel too much. An anonymous OV costs €7.50.
Anonymous OV chip cards are valid for five years, after which you need to purchase a new one. You can buy an anonymous OV card at:
- Sales devices in stations
- Various newsagents (such as Primera)
- Various supermarkets (such as Albert Heijn)
- At certain Bruna shops
- OV shop, the Chipbizz webshop
- Public transport company’s counter at central stations
If you are unsure if these pick-up points are near you, you can use the service point finder from OV. Type in your postal code, and see if there are any pick-up points in your region.
The card is only for checking in, out, or loading credit. If stolen, you cannot block your anonymous OV chip card, and the money on the card will not be refunded.
Personal (yellow) OV
A personal OV chip card is linked to your personal account, which means only the registered person can use it. There are no extra costs for having a personal OV card, which means as long as you don’t need to share a card, you should buy a personal one. A personal OV is also valid for five years.
Personal OV cards have many conveniences that anonymous OV chip cards lack. Firstly, personal OV cards can have travel products on them. Personal OV cards can also be reloaded with a specific amount automatically. Automatic reloading eliminates the hassle of reloading your card every time it is empty.
The reload automatically happens when the money on your card goes below a certain amount (€10, €20, or €50). You can request this at Mijn OV-chip.
To sign up for a personal OV chip card, you’ll need to have a digital photo, and IDEAL (PayPal if you have a Belgian, German, or Luxembourg address). Follow the steps described on the site.
If you don’t want to, or can’t purchase an OV chip card online, you can get a written application at the counter of public transport companies at your nearest station. You need to pay a €3 fee for this.
If your card ever gets stolen, you can block it via your ‘My OV-chip’ account. We recommend making an account right after you have received your OV, as there are many convenient functions you can make use of with your account.
A replacement card costs €11.
Checking in and out is a straightforward process. Every train station has a check-in/out scanner near all the platforms. You’ll only have to tap the card in front of the scanner until there is a beep. From then on, you are checked-in or out. The money will automatically be withdrawn from your card when you check-out
All busses have a check-in/out machine in the bus near all the entrances. When you board, hold the card in front of the scanner until you hear a beep. Do the same when you check out.
One thing to remember is that when you check-in, you’ll be checked in for the next hour. Waiting for more than an hour will invalidate your check-in, which means that you will be travelling illegally.
Forgetting to check-out can cost a lot. If you forget to check-out, you can use your Mijn OV account to check-out at the right place.
Loading money onto your card is straightforward. There are yellow or pink/blue ticket machines located at central stations where you can load money onto your card.
Scan your card at the reader, and follow the instructions on the touchscreen, pay via your debit card. Additionally, there are service points where it is possible to add credit onto your card.
When you check-in, a fixed tariff will be deducted from your card. This fixed tariff is not influenced by which kind of OV chip card you have.
As a rule of thumb, try to have at least €16 loaded onto your OV chip card when you take the train because you can legally have a debt of € 4’s on your OV. We wouldn’t recommend it for trips that cost more than € 20, as you will get below the €4 debt limit when you check-out.
For bus travel, you can have any amount, as long as it’s above €0, but we advise to have at least €4 on your card to avoid any check-in/check-out problems.
Travel products are subscriptions you can add to your personal OV chipcard, They are meant for travellers that travel a lot, or on specific times. Travel products are different per public transport company because these companies only sell them.
No travel product work for every kind of public transport, which means that it is essential to know which transport companies you travel with. The most popular transport companies are NS, Arriva and Qbuzz. On their respective sites, you can find all the information about which travel product fits you.
Public transport isn’t the only usage of the OV system; you can also rent a bike with it. With your OV you can rent an OV bike at OV bike rental centres.
Just walk in, pick a bike, an employee will scan your card, and from then on, it’s rented to you. You do need to have a personal account (yellow OV card) and subscription. Without a subscription, you cannot rent a bike. We recommend making an account beforehand, as the activation can take up to 30 minutes.
You can rent 2 OV bikes at the same time.
A subscription costs €0.01 per year, which is almost free. However, there is a rental cost. The rental fees depend on the length of your rental.
For the first 24 hours, it will cost €3,85. Renting it for 72 hours will cost you €7,70, only double the cost for a single day. For every day after the third day you will get a penalty of €5. It is prohibited to rent an OV bike longer than three days, which is why there is a penalty. When you’ve rented the bike for more than three weeks, you will have to pay a fixed price of €250 and hand it over to the shop you rented it from.
There are also special costs if you can’t take care of the bike. Losing the keys to the bike will cost you €20. Losing your bike, while you still have the keys, will cost €50, while losing both will net you €250.
You will also have to pay for the repair if there is any major damage done to the bike during your rental period. Returning the bike to a different spot from where you rented it from will cost you an extra €10.