Main Bank Guide for Expat
The Netherlands has weathered the storm of the global financial meltdown reasonably well and most of the major players are still standing. ABN Amro, ING, and Rabobank are the biggest and most prevalent banks in Amsterdam.
Also present are Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG), Fortis Bank, SNS Bank and DSB Bank.
Bank Websites (in English where possible):
- ABN Amro http://www.abnamro.nl/en/index.html
- ING http://www.ing.nl
- Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) http://www.bng.nl
- SNS Bank http://www.snsbank.nl
- DSB Bank http://www.dsbbank.nl
Almost everyone who works in a bank speaks some English. However, ABN Amro and ING staff in the city centre are more accustomed to English speaking customers than some of the other banks (ABN Amro even has an expat service, see their website for details). As with any other service or procedure, making the effort to at least open the conversation in Dutch will be appreciated, particularly by older people.
Business hours vary hugely even among branches of the same bank. Generally speaking most branches will be open 9:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday. Many branches in the city centre open for a few hours on Saturday morning and some are open later on Thursday evenings. Monday mornings many banks only open their doors after lunch. These days almost all banks operate customer service and telephone banking services that will often open from 8:30 am to 8pm (check the individual websites for more details).
As mentioned above, the Dutch banking system is quite solid. Security is high and there are a great many measures in place against identity theft. Perhaps due to the high standards demanded by the population, the banks are also very efficient. Transfers and checks are processed quickly, remedying a problem is a very smooth process in most cases, and customer service is usually thorough and helpful.
Internet banking is available from all of the banks named above. It is generally a very well evolved system with ample security checks. Part of the security process that is less common in some other countries is the ‘e-dentifier’, a card reader that helps the log in process and ensures that accessing your account is only possible with your ATM card, PIN number, and e-dentifier (other details may be required depending on the bank). ING does not use an ‘e-identifier’, instead before a transaction takes place, it sends a text message to your mobile phone with a code called TAN-code. Most banks allow you to pay bills, transfer money (international transfers are also possible), and view your accounts status online.
Before making any decisions on the bank that suits you better, you should consider if there is an English internet banking service. ING currently provides e-banking only in dutch language; it is not impossible, but not always extremely convenient, to navigate. ABN/AMRO, on the other hand, has an English option for foreigners.
International Money Transfers
All of the larger banks offer easy international transfers. Transferring money within the European Union is an easier process as banking systems are fairly well integrated. For transfers further afield you may be required to pay a fee (these start at about €10 and go up to €30 depending on the receiver country). In all cases you will need an International Bank Account Number (IBAN), Bank Identifier Code number (BIC) and/or SWIFT number. These are generally available on your account statements or can be easily requested from the sending and receiving banks.
International sending services like Western Union are in abundance in the area around the the Dam. See http://www.westernunion.nl for more details on their locations.
ATMs are in abundance in Amsterdam city centre. Rarely will you need to walk more than a few blocks before you see one. But once you leave the canal ring they become a little harder to find. Most large supermarkets have an ATM inside and they are generally to be found in the vicinity of most post offices too. Unlike many (perhaps most) other European countries it is not common to find ATMs out of order. You can use an ATM of a different bank once per day with no charge.