Netherlands By Bike
Getting a closer look...
A selection of news and short documentaries on Dutch life, bicycling and historical events.
If you are thinking about a bicycling holiday to the Netherlands, this is the place to start!
Some trips to consider...
Allow us to introduce you to some of our favorite bicycle tour routes.
Here are some bike travel ideas we think you should know about.
It is very difficult to maintain an adequate supply of one euro and two euro coins. They are the most useful denomination and you will find yourself going through them very quickly. In addition to using them for small purchases, you will need them for doing laundry and tipping at restaurants and hotels. We advise you to stockpile them whenever possible.
If you plan to purchase a NS Rail “day card” for your bike, the ticket machines only accept coin (all denominations), so this is a perfect place to get rid of your unused small coins.
Public restrooms, such as those in NS railway stations and shopping malls, require a 50 cent coin, so be sure to keep these on hand.
Avoid accepting 50 Euro bills when possible while making large withdrawals at ATMs. They are difficult to use for most everyday purchases, especially in small towns.
The euro is the official
currency of the Netherlands
€5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500
5, 10, 20 and 50 cent, €1 and €2
The Netherlands does not use the one and two cent euro coins. All cash transactions are rounded to the nearest 5 cents.
You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you are familiar with the Netherlands’ payment system before you arrive. It works great for Dutch citizens but can be a challenge for the tourist, particularly if you come from outside the European Union.
Plan ahead by obtaining credit cards that are chip and pin compliant and do not charge foreign transaction fees. If you plan to use ATMs for cash, consider opening an account with Charles Schwab or another bank that will waive all ATM transaction fees and cover those charged by the point-of-transaction bank. Those fees really add up fast! Although cash is nice to have, it is not always the most convenient payment method.
Smaller cash denominations are appreciated at outdoor markets
Consider purchasing some Euro starter cash from your bank in the USA. Although you may pay a slightly higher rate, it's comforting to have cash on hand the moment you arrive.
Always use a bank-run ATM to be safe!
The Dutch have done an amazing job of automating most of their financial transactions. They have embraced the internet and smart devices to conduct most of their banking and payments. The traditional walk-in bank as we know it in North America is rare in the Netherlands, as most transactions are now completed at ATMs or online.
Advance preparation can help you save money when acquiring cash. You’ll want to be selective about both the card you use at an ATM and which ATM you employ. We recommend using an ATM card from Charles Schwab or a bank or savings and loan that covers all fees charged for the cash withdrawal transaction. In other words, the card issuer does not charge a fee for getting cash, and if the point-of-transaction ATM does, Schwab will cover those fees, too.
Avoid Euronet ATM's
You should also be careful about which ATM you use. You may see lots of Euronet ATMs, particularly around the city center, but you might want to avoid using them. They are aimed mostly at tourists and will cost you more. Amsterdam is in the process of limiting the number of Euronet ATMs, citing them for charging hefty fees and using unfavorable exchange rates. Instead, look for an ATM offered by one of the Dutch banks, which are less expensive.
Until relatively recently, credit cards in the United States relied solely on magnetic stripes and signatures for security and payment verifications. Meanwhile, the Netherlands and certain other countries had cards that incorporated a chip and assigned a personal identification number (PIN) with their cards. Because of these different features, their credit card readers were unable to work with U.S. credit cards.
Although many U.S. credit and debit cards are finally being issued with chips, almost all still require signatures rather than PINs for verification. Even when these cards offer PINs, they usually still require a signature for verification. Some businesses in the Netherlands are able to work with chip and signature cards, but many still don’t. It is not unusual to see the sign “Hier Alleen Pinnen”, meaning “here you can only pin”, in shop windows.
Look for this sign in store or restaurant windows. No cash accepted. Pin credit card only.
Fortunately, there are a few sources of true Chip and Pin cards in the U.S. For travel to the Netherlands, you want to identify one with a PIN as the preferred verification method, versus one with a signature verification method. The United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU), the State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU), and a few others offer these cards, but unless you or someone in your family works for those organizations, you will be required to jump through a few hoops to acquire them.
We were able to acquire our true Chip and Pin cards from First Tech Federal Credit Union with relative ease. They have a long list of eligible employers that would qualify you for their card, but even if you don’t have that connection, you can qualify if you become a member of the Financial Fitness Association for a small fee ($8). Their cards feature no foreign transaction fee, all but one charge no annual fee, and they all are PIN-priority, so the Dutch credit card machines will accept them.
If purchasing a new bike in the Netherlands, you'll pay a 21% VAT tax up front which is fully refundable, but only if you work with a bike shop that is authorized to refund your full VAT directly back to you. We recommend that you only work with a bike dealer that offers this service and that you do not attempt to go it alone in trying to recover your VAT.
Assuming that you are departing from Schiphol Airport, you must take your boxed bicycle along with your sales receipt to the customs counter located in the Departure terminal. It is very unlikely they will ever ask to look at your bike. Once satisfied, they will stamp your receipt proving your bicycle is leaving the EU and then you can proceed to checking your luggage. Then, email a copy back to your bike shop in order for them to process your refund. Refunds are made by wire transfer directly to your personal bank account.
Customs Tax Free Validation counter
Located in Departure Hall 3, next to check-in gates 29 and 30
Make sure to allow plenty of time before your departure as they typically only have two people working at one time. It can get backed up if too many people (tour groups) show up at once.
We advise that you not use Global Blue to request your bicycle refund as they will keep a major portion for themselves!
They will NOT refund anything unless your bicycle shop is registered with them. If mailing, make copies of all stamped receipts as they will not return them to you even if you are declined.
Save yourself the grief by selecting a
VAT friendly bike shop that will manage your refund for you!
The check, please!"De rekening, alstublieft"Asking for the check...Did you know that you must ask for the check? It is considered rude in the Netherlands for the server to bring your check without you asking for it.When dining in a restaurant in the Netherlands, you may see the phrase “inclusief BTW en service” on your bill, which represents a tax and service charge. Although it is possible your server would receive part of that amount, it might also go to the establishment rather than the server. The good news for restaurant servers in the Netherlands is that their wages are higher than those of American servers. The bad news is that many servers are still only making the minimum wage.
So what does that mean for American customers and how they should calculate a tip? For our own purposes, we have settled on 10% of the bill, or more for especially good service. And to make sure the money goes to the server, pay the tip in cash rather than on your credit card. Your server will appreciate it, and you’ll be adding to the positive perspective Dutch servers have of American customers.
Tipping with a Credit Card
If you plan to tip using your credit card, make sure you tell them how much to add as you hand them your card. They will then thank you for the added amount (tip) and return with a portable payment machine to complete the transaction. If you have a signature based card, they may ask you to follow them to a special terminal to process your credit card. Remember to think ahead... Once the transaction is completed, you can no longer add a tip, so plan to leave cash instead.