We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

Fuerteventura
Destination Expert
for Fuerteventura, Paros, Sifnos
Level Contributor
4,054 posts
960 reviews
Save Topic
Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

I travel to NL frequently and I always travel in The Netherlands by train. I hate the system for buying tickets which is so much of a hassle for foreigners.

In normal countries you go to a ticket office/counter. You ask for a ticket to your destination and you pay using Visa or Mastercard or cash and there is no hassle or no extra charge. In the Netherlands you go to a ticket counter and they charge you for buying your ticket there!!!! You try to insert a Visa card or a MasterCard into the machine and they won’t accept it!!! Only at Schiphol, Amsterdam airport, they say, and even then you have to pay a surcharge. So you have to pay in cash and pay a surcharge to be told that they do not accept Visa or MasterCard.

OK, you say. You do not need to go to a counter and pay this ridiculous surcharge. There are lots of machines where you can buy tickets. Great – but for a foreigner without a Maestro card or the local NL card there is a big problem. The machines do not accept Visa, MasterCard, and can you believe it nor do they accept cash in the form of Euro bank notes!!!! It is just unbelievable. There is one way out. There are a very few machines that accept coins. In the past I have hoarded coins from across Europe and fed 30 to 50 Euros in coins into one of these machines. But it gets heavy carrying around 100 Euros in coins.

I queried this incredibly stupid system 4 years ago with Netherlands Railways and I was told that Visa and MasterCard would soon be introduced.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
57,535 posts
200 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

Absolutely agree! Have to side with NS that having machines accept banknotes would be too far (risk of burglary) but just credit card acceptance at a much wider scale than now, and maybe even with less or no surcharge, wouldn't be too much to ask.

Sorry on behalf of the tourists-loving Dutch for this tourists-disliking national shame company ;-)

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Haarlem, The...
Level Contributor
1,720 posts
314 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

I agree that it is annoying. I think the reason they don't accept bills is because of vandalism. They want everyone to pay by card they say. They should at least have the machines in the tourist centres accept credit cards.

Port Townsend...
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
Level Contributor
10,137 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

Entirely accurate and yet does not deter me from trying to spend as much time in The Netherlands as I possibly can. Nor does it keep me from getting about using what really is quite a good transportation system.

Winter Haven...
Level Contributor
10,283 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

Try to look on a brighter side:

- The ticket counters are the normal price, the machines just offer a discount.

- Holland is the normal country, all others are just further along with customer service.

- Don't even try going into a bank and looking for someone to help you.

:-)

Anderson, Indiana
Level Contributor
1,178 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

Can you buy online?

Port Townsend...
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
Level Contributor
10,137 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

You can't buy online without a Dutch bank account, nor is there any advantage to doing so.

London, United...
Level Contributor
45 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

The ticket machines in Centraal and Schiphol both accepted my Mastercard and Visa credit cards each day when I was over earlier this month for various journeys - the monthly statements and dispensed tickets bear this out

They don't accept visa debit cards however but this is not unique to them in Amsterdam though (maybe it's just my debit card though :(

Amsterdam, The...
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
41,039 posts
79 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

OP I feel your pain and your description is fairly accurate. Whilst I love this country I really think that some of the companies that transport millions of tourists every year need to take along hard f*cking look at themselves and get with the 21st century.

NS and NSHISPEED are a joke when it comes to ease of ticket buying. It's only about 2 years since they actually remembered that there were people outside of NL who wanted to visit this fine country and dained to open a phone line that people could call from out side. This is a company that sells INTERNATIONAL train tickets!!

Then they had the chance to redeem themselves with the OV card which meant that everything could go electronic but instead of making the OV cards free or only €2 or something they decided that for a small piece of plastic which you can load money on they would fleece you for €7.50 and for something that actually needed no admin. So instead if people using it they (and as we advise tourists here) have held on to using paper tickets as they are cheaper.

Sometimes I wish I had a gun which recognised incompetence and fired automatically.

Ramsgate, United...
Level Contributor
6 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

Netherlands has always been a difficult place to use cards or to transfer money.

Bank machines will give you cash and that is the way to go. Rarely will you get acceptance of international debit or credit cards anywhere but petrol stations and hotels.

Maestro seems to be accepted but I suspect that it is only Dutch Maestro.

Accept the situation and use cash. You need to put your mind back some 20 years to get into the habit of having enough cash with you.

Belgium has similar problems with cards and money transfers.

Solves the problem of having too much personal debt and I think that is where the system wins.

Amsterdam
Level Contributor
863 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Buying rail tickets in NL is a real pain for foreigners

I don't have much to add to what has already been said, but just an acknowledgement: yes, this is bad.

Sorry!