Have you ever noticed that almost all Dutch people refuse to go into debt and are terrified of credit cards? And missing a Tikkie payment is just unheard of. 🤔
In many countries, such as the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., credit card or student debt is extremely normal and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t borrowed money or paid with credit. 💳
Dutch people are not built like that: they will avoid debt like they avoid ketchup on their fries. 👀
What is it?
If you’ve ever been to the Netherlands, or are currently living here, you’ll notice that credit cards aren’t accepted in most places. Often, the only way to pay for stuff is by getting a Dutch debit card.
What’s the story here? Why don’t the Dutch do debt?
Why do they do it?
The Dutch word for debt is schuld, which literally translates to “guilt.” For the Dutch, being in debt is apparently equivalent to doing something bad or wrong. So bedankt to semantics for the Dutch attitude towards debt.
Owning a credit card is not very common in the Netherlands. And for good reason: credit cards cost a bit of money to own. 💸
With annual fees of around €18-€50 per year, it’s no wonder most Dutchies don’t have them. On the other hand, debit cards have extremely low monthly fees of €0-€20. And if you’re a student, having a debit card is free! Mooi!
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Dutchies also have Calvinistic roots which have instilled an idea of moderation and frugality within the culture. Buying stuff with money you don’t have just isn’t gezellig. 🤷🏼♂️
Should you join in?
Ja, natuurlijk! (Yes, of course!) — getting yourself into debt is not wise and simply not the Dutch way.
If you want to doe normaal, it’s best to just stick with the debit card while in the Netherlands and use credit cards just when travelling abroad (like most Dutchies do). 💰✈
What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!
This article was originally published in December 2021, and was fully updated in March 2023 for your reading pleasure.