When you move to the Netherlands as an expat, one important part of the set-up process is deciding which bank you’ll choose for your accounts. But there are so many to choose from!
There’ll be many factors that influence your decision, from extra features to bank’s accessibility in English. To save you time, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the best banks for expats in the Netherlands.
All the banks in our list below tick off two important boxes:
- Functionality in English, especially when it comes to their mobile banking apps.
- A Maestro card option, because credit cards aren’t widely accepted in the Netherlands.
Ready to find the best bank accounts for expats in the Netherlands? Let’s jump in!
bunq is a fully online bank, which means there are no physical branches you can go into. Even better, it’s also a green bank, invests ethically, and has heaps of great features to make handling your money easier, like accessing two accounts with one card, auto-roundup to help you save, and salary sorting to make budgeting a breeze.
One of the best features of bunq is that you don’t need your BSN (citizen service number) to sign up (normally you won’t receive this number for a few weeks after your arrival). Instead, you can sign up and use your bank account for up to 90 days, then provide your BSN when it arrives. This is the only bank we’ve found that has this feature, and it’s dead handy.
|✅ easy to sign up for (even without BSN)
✅ packed with useful features
✅ all in English (and other languages)
✅ direct debit notifications stop you overstaying your free trials
✅ highest interest rate for savings in the Netherlands
|👎 no physical branches
👎 some customers do not like the app’s newest update
|Get your bunq account|
N26 is another fully digital bank, and it’s particularly great if you travel quite a bit — as many of us expats do. You can keep a close eye on your payments in the app on your phone, which is handy if you sometimes get a bit too carried away buying souvenirs when you’re abroad. While N26 comes with a debit Mastercard, as a customer in the Netherlands you can order a Maestro card free that will work in all Dutch shops.
If you lose your card, you can cancel it straight away from the app, and you can also easily transfer money to another person’s bank account. Furthermore, you get free payments in any currency, which is also great for travellers.
|✅ can easily track and manage spending
✅ all payments completed in one working day
✅ no international conversion charges
|👎 limited to five free ATM withdrawals per month in euros
👎 free account charges €1 for foreign currency withdrawals
|Sign up for N26|
Revolut is the best bank for expats who are interested in the ins-and-outs of money. Like bunq and N26, Revolut is also a digital bank, but it’s more geared towards people who want to invest their money — although it also functions perfectly as a regular bank account, of course.
It allows you to invest easily in cryptocurrency or gold, and you also get some awesome detailed spending analytics alongside that.
|✅ large range of investment options
✅ can hold up to 24 currencies in one account
✅ free ATM withdrawals
|👎 card for Standard account takes up to nine days to arrive
👎 no face-to-face service
👎 charges fee for converting currencies on the weekend
|Get a Revolut account|
ING – the best traditional Dutch bank for expats
ING is one of the largest Dutch banks, very recognisable from a distance because literally everything associated with it is orange. Its mobile app is available in English, as is the majority of its website. They have physical branches, and in my experience are very helpful there if you have any sort of problem or question.
You can also get a MasterCard credit card if you choose to request one. Their student account is free for five years, as well, which is pretty nice!
|✅ app is easy to use and available in English
✅ has physical branches
✅ free for students and children
|👎 not all information is available in English
👎 solid, but no extra “wow” features
👎 minuscule interest rates for savings
|Sign up for ING|
ABN Amro – the best bank for English-speaking expats
ABN Amro is another big Dutch bank that’s popular with expats. They’re the only “traditional” Dutch bank with all information available in English. If you’ve only just moved here and aren’t comfortable in Dutch, then this is a great bank to start an account with.
They also have physical branches, so you can put your questions to a person face-to-face if that’s important for you. They also have a free student option, just like ING.
|✅ all information available in English
✅ has physical branches
✅ cheapest traditional bank in English
✅ free for students
|👎 limited app options
👎 very low interest rates for savings
|Start banking with ABN Amro|
Other banks in the Netherlands
You might be wondering why we chose to highlight these banks in particular — after all, there are plenty of other banks in the Netherlands, such as Rabobank, ASN, Triodos, and SNS.
Our main reason for not doing a full section on these is their lack of English-language options. For something as important as banking, it can be crucial to have information available in a language you understand. But, if you’ve been here a while, or you aren’t afraid of doing some Google Translate work, then any of these other banks are worth looking into.
Frequently asked questions about banking in the Netherlands
How do I open a bank account in the Netherlands?
This can vary from bank to bank a little bit — particularly when you compare online banks to the brick-and-mortar variety. But there are some documents that you’re always going to need:
- A passport, or some other form of government-issued ID
- Your BSN (if you don’t have it yet, some banks, like bunq, will allow you to open an account anyway so long as you supply the BSN within a certain period of time);
- Proof of address (such as a rental contract)
- A residency permit (if applicable)
If you’re setting up an account at a “traditional” bank, then you can just wander in and set up your bank account then and there. You’ll get your bank card in the mail a few days later. It’s a very similar process with an online bank, except you send scans of these documents through the app, wait for them to be approved, and then you’re ready to go.
What do I need a bank account for in the Netherlands?
It’s pretty impossible to do anything in the Netherlands without a bank account. You’ll need it for paying rent, bills, getting a phone contract, a public transport account — all the usual stuff. Furthermore, the Netherlands is fast-becoming a pretty cashless society. Grocery stores like Albert Heijn generally refuse credit cards, as well, so getting a bank account in the Netherlands is definitely a must-do if you’re moving here.
How can I set up a business bank account in Holland?
If you’ve moved to the Netherlands and decided to start your own business, you’ll need a business bank account. If you’re a freelancer, strictly speaking, you don’t need a separate bank account, though it can definitely be helpful to keep your work and personal expenditure separate. As a business owner, you’ll need a business bank account.
Banks will have lots of different options for you in this regard, so you can choose what suits you in consultation with them. The documentation you’ll need is a bit more extensive than if you’re just setting up a personal account: you’ll need your KVK number (Chamber of Commerce Number) and potentially also a record of your business’s turnover.
Does the Netherlands use internet banking?
Internet banking is very common in the Netherlands, with most people organising their finances online these days. Online banks, of course, are well set up for this, but brick-and-mortar banks are also ready to serve all your internet banking needs. Most will have apps, and they all have websites where you can see your spending, transfer money, or open new accounts.
What is an IBAN, and where can I find it?
Your IBAN (or International Bank Account Number) is a unique collection of letters and numbers that identifies your bank account worldwide. It’s important whether you’re sending money within the Netherlands, or abroad. It’s usually the same as your bank account number, which you’ll find on your debit card and in your mobile banking app.
What types of bank accounts are there in the Netherlands?
A “current account” is the bank account you’ll start with in the Netherlands, although if you’re a student it might be simply called a student account. If you desire, banks do offer credit cards in the Netherlands, although credit cards aren’t very widely used.
Most banks will also offer you savings accounts free of charge. If you come to the Netherlands with a partner, you might want to open a joint account, which all banks will offer. And some banks will also allow you to set up an account with/for your child. A business account is a similar process, but separate.
What to consider when choosing a bank account in Holland
There are lots of things you should consider when you’re opening up a bank account in the Netherlands. Some of them are purely down to personal preference, but others are things every expat opening a bank account in the Netherlands should be aware of.
Which Dutch banks are ethical?
Something you might be wondering about is whether a bank makes ethical investments. Obviously, ethical is a pretty subjective term, but there are some banks that do markedly better on this than others. bunq, for example, is ethical in both its investments and in its practices as a company. Triodos bank is also pretty good in this regard: they publish the details of all the companies they invest in on their website, so you can check if their actions align with your ethics.
Which Dutch bank offers the best interest rate on your savings?
In the Netherlands, interest rates for savings are pretty low — the upside of that is that the interest rates on loans are also quite low. However, even if it’s not much, it’s worth comparing the interest rates that each bank offers.
You need to be careful when doing this, as some banks will advertise their monthly interest rate, and some their annual one. It’s also worth considering flexibility, and when the interest is paid into your account. You can ask all of this when you go to set up an account at the bank itself or chat to their customer service online. Or, of course, you can do your research yourself beforehand.
Which credit cards are associated with which bank?
Almost all Dutch banks will offer you a credit card so long as you meet several conditions. Most Dutch banks work with Mastercard over Visa, and you’ll also notice that many stores in the Netherlands prefer to take Mastercard over Visa. This all comes down to Dutch cheapness, really: Visa charges stores a higher fee than Mastercard.
Are there any free banks in the Netherlands?
Most banks in the Netherlands will charge you a small fee to have an account with them. Digital banks like bunq will usually give you an account for free, but charge you for your debit card, and for additional features.
If you’re a student, you should be able to get a free bank account with most major banks: ING and ABN AMRO both offer one. You’ll probably still need to pay a fee if you want a credit card, though, or other additional features.
What bank is best if I want to transfer money abroad?
As an expat in the Netherlands, it’s pretty likely that you’ll want to transfer money abroad at some point. You might also need to be able to receive it. Some traditional banks will charge you quite a bit in fees when doing this. Many people choose to transfer money directly via money transfer providers like XE or TransferWise, who offer very competitive rates.
Some Dutch banks have already paired up with one of these transfer providers, and so will offer you low rates that way as well. bunq, for example, works with TransferWise, and that means that you can save up to 3% of each transaction compared with a traditional bank.
Which Dutch banks have a good mobile app?
If you’re someone who likes to know what’s going on in their financial life on a moment-to-moment basis, then choosing a bank with a good app is pretty crucial. Online banks like Revolut, bunq and N26 naturally do well in this category, though bunq’s recent update hasn’t gone down particularly well with users (so that’s something to keep in mind). ING’s app is simple and easy to use, and does everything you’d need it to, but doesn’t provide much in the way of analysis.
How do I pay for things with my phone in the Netherlands?
All banks in the Netherlands are set up for Google and Apple Pay, which means you should easily be able to pay for your coffee or new sweater without having your wallet with you. Most stores in the Netherlands prefer card over cash, especially during the pandemic, so you shouldn’t have any trouble if you decide to travel light.
Banking in the Netherlands as an expat
Choosing the right bank in the Netherlands will make your settling-in process much easier: you’ll have much more fun looking at canals and eating stroopwafel if you don’t have to worry about interest rates or what that scary looking Dutch message in your banking app says. Being an expat in the Netherlands is complicated enough in itself!
The best approach to choosing a bank is to look at what’s important to you, and find the bank that best matches that– and now that you have an overview of the best banks in the Netherlands for expats, you’re ready to do just that.
What has your experience of banking in the Netherlands been? Tell us in the comments below.
Feature Image: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels