These are the best banks for expats in the Netherlands

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:

  1. Functionality in English, especially when it comes to their mobile banking apps.
  2. 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 – the best bank for newcomers

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.

ProsCons
βœ… easy to sign up for (even without BSN)
βœ… packed with useful features
πŸ‘Ž no physical branches
βœ… all in English (and other languages)
βœ… direct debit notifications stop you overstaying your free trialsπŸ‘Ž some customers do not like the app’s newest update
βœ… highest interest rate for savings in the Netherlands

Revolut – the best bank for money geeks

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 β€” 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.

ProsCons
βœ… large range of investment optionsπŸ‘Ž card for Standard account takes up to nine days to arrive
βœ… can hold up to 24 currencies in one accountπŸ‘Ž no face-to-face service
βœ… free ATM withdrawalsπŸ‘Ž charges fee for converting currencies on the weekend

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!

ProsCons
βœ…  app is easy to use and available in EnglishπŸ‘Ž not all information is available in English
βœ… has physical branchesπŸ‘Ž solid, but no extra “wow” features
βœ… free for students and childrenπŸ‘Ž minuscule interest rates for savings

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.

ProsCons
βœ…  all information available in EnglishπŸ‘Ž limited app options
βœ… has physical branches
βœ… cheapest traditional bank in EnglishπŸ‘Ž very low interest rates for savings
βœ… free for students

Other banks in the Netherlands

You might be wondering why we chose to highlight these banks in particular β€” 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.


Interest rates for savings accounts in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, interest rates for savings are pretty low β€” 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.

Raisin β€” A free online saving’s platform for residents of the Netherlands

If you’re looking for a banking option that allows you to manage your savings while living in the Netherlands, then Raisin may be a great service for you! This online savings platform allows Dutch residents to store and manage their savings in banks across the EU β€” all for free and from the comfort of your own home!

Not only is it free to set up an account with Raisin, but they also make use of some of the EU’s best deposit rates β€” meaning you can dodge the Netherlands’ extremely low interest rates and actually get rewarded for your saving abilities. πŸ’ͺ πŸ’Ά

In fact, Raisin will not only allow your savings to gradually grow, they will get you off to a flying start with a gift of up to €100 when you sign up for a free deposit savings account or term deposit!

If you’d like to know more about their services you can check out our article on what they can do for you as an international in the Netherlands. Convinced? Then head on over to Raisin and hit that sign up button below!

Frequently asked questions about banking in the Netherlands

This can vary from bank to bank a little bit β€” 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.

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 β€” 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

A Visa card being accepted in the Netherlands? A miracle. Image: energepic.com/Pexels

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

Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.

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