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Everyone needs a bank account, but not many people take the time to explore their options and make sure they have picked the right one – doing so can save both time and money. This guide will help you understand what to consider when opening a new current account in the Netherlands, as well as compare them across a range of features such as monthly fees, withdrawal limits, ATM charges and more. You will find information on the “big three” (ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank) as well as a range of new digital banks (also known as mobile banks).
Digital banks typically offer a range of extra features from within a single smartphone app or website, allowing you to do all of your banking online without having to ever step into a branch. Make sure to consider this new generation of smartphone-based banking apps when choosing your next bank.
A current account (betaalrekening) is the name for a personal bank account used for day-to-day spending, receiving money, and comes with a bank card (known locally as a “PIN pas”) for using at ATMs (geldautomaat) or shopping online. With a current account, you can receive payments from anyone in the Netherlands, as well as transfers from overseas using your unique IBAN number. You may also send money directly from your bank account to pay others, or for goods and services. A current account is a place where you can save money, but it is not a savings account (sparen). Savings accounts are special accounts which offer higher rates of interest, and typically require you not to spend the money for a certain amount of time.
Current accounts are typically free or very cheap in the Netherlands, however additional services may come at a price.
Where current accounts start to differ between each other is in terms of what additional features and services they offer, such as interest-earning accounts, credit cards or loans, ATM services and international money transfers. These features may or may not come at a cost, and whether or not you need them will depend completely on your personal financial needs. Regardless, it is important to understand what is on offer to you when choosing a bank account, in case your needs change later on.
When opening any new bank account, you need to first consider your needs, expectations, and spending habits before making a decision. Doing so will help ensure that you make the right choice, and will also put you in the right frame of mind to be thinking about your finances. To do so, consider the following:
Do you prefer to do everything online, or do you need a face-to-face human experience every now and then? If digital is your preference, then you may want to consider going with a digital-only bank which is tailored to your needs as a digital native, such as the feature-rich digital bank bunq or expat-friendly N26 smartphone app. Otherwise, you will want to make sure you choose a bank with physical branches, such as ING or Rabobank.
Current accounts are for every-day activities such as spending money, using a debit card, withdrawing money from an ATM, receiving pay, and saving money. However, if you’re looking for an account with one particular purpose, such as to only save money and earn interest, or manage business expenses, then you may want to look at another type of account. For instance, business bank accounts are a legal requirement for businesses in the Netherlands, so make sure you’re on the right track.
One of the biggest differences between banks is what they charge for ATM withdrawals, and despite being in a nearly cashless society in the Netherlands, some of us still need cash frequently. If you think you will need to withdraw money from an ATM frequently, then make sure to compare banks across ATM fees. Keep an eye out for how the fees are charged too, as some banks will give you unlimited free withdrawals, but only from their own ATM network. While others may give you a limited amount of withdrawals, but from any ATM in the country.
Several banks now offer smartphone apps which come with various ways to help you track your spending, and amplify your savings. If these sorts of features are important to you, then make sure to read Finder’s review of each product to get an in-depth look of what each app offers (click the “more info” button in the table). As you would expect, digital banks such as Monese, N26, bunq and Revolut all offer impressive in-app features. Expect to find a breakdown of your expenses by category (eg, food, travel), multiple sub-accounts, and the ability to “round up” transactions to the nearest Euro, depositing the difference into your savings account.
Several banks now offer shared bank accounts to let you manage your finances with one (or more) other people. This can be especially useful for couples or households who frequently need to split bills or share costs. Consider banks such as Monese and Revolut which provide joint accounts easily managed from a single app.
Another big point of difference between current accounts on offer in the Netherlands is how much they charge for overseas spending and overseas ATM withdrawals. Digital banks tend to stand out in this regard, with providers such as Revolut allowing you to hold up to 24 currencies in a single account, competitive exchange rates, and free ATM withdrawals overseas. There’s also an in-built cryptocurrency exchange in case that’s your thing.
Many bank accounts in the Netherlands won’t charge you a monthly fee, which makes them appear as though they are “free”. However, many account features come with a limit, which means if you go over that limit (eg, ATM withdrawals per month) then you will be charged a fee. Whereas a bank with a monthly fee might provide you with unlimited service for certain features, actually making it cheaper in the long-run, depending on your needs.
Regardless of which type of account you choose, make sure to get acquainted with the following fees and features you can expect to find.
In addition to the standard features outlined above, you might also find some of the following features included with your bank account as complimentary, or for an additional fee.
Digital banks, also known as mobile banks, are essentially the new wave of banks tailored to the digital generation. Instead of having a physical branch or office, they are instead managed entirely online through a smartphone app or website. This gives users the ability to manage their finances directly from their pocket, as well as receive a range of insights enabled by financial technology. Mobile banks are often popular with expats, as they are typically quick to sign up for, and have customer support in a range of languages.
You can open a bank account in the Netherlands either in person or online. You will need the following documents to complete the process:
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