Dutch Quirk #48: Say no to credit cards

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #48: Say no to credit cards

As a newcomer in the Netherlands, it might come as a shock to discover that you can’t buy so much as a frikandelbroodje at your local Albert Heijn with a credit card. 

So, if you’re thinking about whipping out any of these bad boys: MasterCard, AMEX, and Diner’s Club cards, sorry to say, but you’ll have a pretty hard time paying in any Dutch store. 😬

What is it?

Research shows that around 55% of Dutchies currently own a credit card.

READ MORE | The best credit cards for expats in the Netherlands

While that’s more than half of the Dutch population, you won’t see them using those shiny plastic cards for anything more than holidays abroad or shopping at international sites. 

The flatlanders prefer the humble pin card, which actually comes in the form of something called “iDeal”.

If you’ve ever tried to snag a purchase at an online store in the Netherlands, then you’ve likely come across an option to pay with iDeal — and also probably wondered what in tarnation it is. 🤔

READ MORE | Banking in the Netherlands: the complete guide

Basically, iDeal is an online payment system that, upon purchase, takes you directly to your personal banking site.

This method allows you to transfer that moolah in one swoop instead of putting all your tedious, card info in.

So, in other words, it totally outmanoeuvres the use of credit cards, which is why the Dutch love it oh-so very much. 😁

Why do they do it?

Call it what you will: stingy or stubborn, but the Dutch actually have a pretty good reason for why they say “uh-uh” to credit cards.

In short, using their precious pin card is just a whole lot easier and cheaper. 💁

Shop owners in the Netherlands are charged a certain percentage per credit card transaction — and that money can even take about a week to transfer.

While debit card payments aren’t exactly free of charge, they do have a flat rate, and they’re erg snappy when it comes to cash transfers. 💳

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #7: Send a Tikkie for virtually nothing

On top of that, 30% of Dutchies believe that credit cards aren’t exactly the safest and most reliable means of payment.

With a debit card, your transaction data is better protected as it doesn’t go through a third-party source. Instead, it stays between you and your bank.

We could even go as far as to say that the Dutch’s distaste for credit cards has everything to do with their frugal ways.

The Dutch are experts when it comes to saving some bucks, and they learned how to “do without” for a long time. 

So, when given the chance to skimp out on some extra, unnecessary payments, they’ll most certainly take it. If you ask us, we can all learn a thing or two from the Dutch. 🤷

Why is it quirky? 

Simply put, it’s quirky because the whole wide world, from the United States to Timbuktu, accepts credit cards, and the Dutch would rather die than stuff one in their wallets.

READ MORE | Debit and debt free: making sense of going Dutch

You’ll see all Dutchies ride with bicycle helmets and agree that Zwarte Piet is racist before they’ll give in to the credit card industry. 😭

Should you join in? 

All in all, to get a 100% success rate, it’s good to know that your trusty credit card won’t get you very far here. 

Even at the smallest, mom-and-pop shops in the Netherlands, you’ll have a better chance of paying for your goodies with a pin card.

So, say sayonara to your credit card and get yourself a debit card! 💃

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Gaelle Salem
Gaelle Salem
Born and raised on the island of Sint Maarten, Gaelle moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to attend university. Still trying to survive the erratic Dutch wind and rain, she has taken up the hobby of buying a new umbrella every month. You can probably find her in the centre of The Hague appreciating the Dutch architecture with a coffee in one hand and a slice of appeltaart in the other.


  1. Here’s the thing: if you can’t afford to save up for something, you can’t afford to pay off a loan either. Obvious exceptions being a mortgage or college fund, of course.

  2. Close but no cigar, you can use your credit card for in store payment. Just tap it for contactless payment or insert. The merchant pays the increased rate for your payment and as long as you pay of your creditcard bill right away there is no extra consumer cost. Dutch are credit card averse because most are raised not to spend more than we can afford.


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