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OV-chipkaart: Is it worth it for a 10-Day Trip

I been researching transportation passes in the Netherlands for the last couple of weeks and would like some opinions from locals/frequent travelers to Amsterdam and the Netherlands. My wife and I will be in Amsterdam for 10 days starting at the end of April and through the first week of May. We will be based in Amsterdam and plan to do about four "day trips" trips in our time there. Four day trips may vary but will be similar to Waterland area, Arnhem area, Delft/Hague area, and Keukenhof/Leiden area. Also will try to do a half day in Haarlem if it works out. While in Amsterdam we expect to do a lot of walking with limited use of trams/buses mostly for night travel back to the room or an occasional site far enough to save time. Most of the in Amsterdam public transportation use will be to get to and back from train stations during the day trips. So we will probably be taking about 5-6 roundtrip train rides counting our airport trip. I researched Iamsterdam card and the day tickets (single and multiple) and understand these do not include train fairs. Based on my research I concluded there is no reduced train passes for tourist that would benefit my trip itinerary. So my question is simply whether it is worth picking up the anonymous OV-chipkaart for just the pure convenience of not having to buy 5-6 separate train tickets and quick access to buses/trams. My understanding is that you can purchase the anonymous card, add credit (cash only unless you have a Dutch card), validate at the train station for train travel, then simply swipe at the train station once in and swipe at your destination station on the way out and your done. I assume you similarly swipe some type of reader on buses and trams but have not read anything that confirmed those uses. My understanding is that this works throughout the Netherlands so can be used on any trams or buses used on the day trips. So given that there is no real saving value from the OV-card and that you have to purchase two 7.5 euro cards that are not refundable, I still see this as a possible choice based on the convenience of not having to wait in lines at ticket machines or windows to purchase tickets. Not having to pull out cash to pay buses and trams between destinations. However never having used the transportation systems in the Netherlands I may be way off base with these assumptions. Maybe it is not as time consuming as I'm thinking to just pay as you go or maybe there is another way I have missed. You thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
2081 posts

brian,

heres my take on it.

according to my pedometer, i usually walk about 20 miles a day when im traveling.

So, with that in mind, im will use public transportation when i get tired, usually after a long day.

in my opinion, you know your bodies better than anyone else, how would you like to walk some more after walking all day? Sometimes you may have the energy to do so, but sometimes you may not.

Also, when i spent 3 days in Amsterdam, i bought the 3 day pass. I used it every day too and i also walked alot.

happy trails.

Posted by
227 posts

The 3-day pass that you buy in Amsterdam for public transport on the tram or bus can only be used in Amsterdam and is convenient .That card does NOT work for trains and regional busses . For trains you will need a completely different chip card ; only you can decide what 's best depending on your travels. You can buy an undated train ticket before you travel and stamp it the day you actually travel , but BEFORE boarding the train. That way you have the ticket already instead of wasting time on the day you travel. Make sure - check ! -that you get the Undated ticket .

I live in the Netherlands and am American. I have both the anonymous, for friends, and a personal (picture ID) for me. It is very convenient to have them as it saves waiting in line at all of the stations. But, to use them properly for the train, there must be at least 20 euros on it each time you want to get on the train (4 euro minimum for buses/trams). These are easily reloaded at Kiosks with pin cards (Dutch bank card). You can also do lump sums at the train ticket window and then have enough for all of your trips. Depending on when you travel there can be huge lines for tickets at the counter, other times there are no lines at all.

To buy the individual tickets each time you ride the tram/bus, it is about 4 euros. If you use your card, it will only cost what you use. For example, when you get on a bus/tram, there is an automatic debit of 4 euros on your card. When you get off the bus/tram, it credits back what you did not use (usually +/- 2 euros, but I have had 3.91 credited back before). The train does the same thing, but it takes 20 euros out and then credits back. This is why you need at least 20 euros each time for the train. When you buy your train ticket at a ticket window, you only pay for what you will ride (from point A to B). The tram/bus, you pay 4 euros to the driver and that is the end of it.

You are correct in that it is the same process for the trains and buses/trams. The train ticket scanners are outside the main train areas and the bus/tram scanners are on each individual tram/bus--just scan when you get on and again when you get off. Do be aware that there are train/bus/tram security personnel who double check that you scanned your card. There is a large fine if you did not. This is to prevent "hopping" illegally.

I believe you can buy your train tickets online and then print them out (www.ns.nl is for the trains only), but I am not sure if you can do that from the US ahead of time or not. There are two train ticket levels-- level 2 is economy seating, level 1 is priority seating. Sections are marked accordingly. Very few people pay for the level 1 seating, and there are no assigned seats, first come first serve, just like the buses and trams.

The train/tram/bus system is great. You can use their app 9292.nl which will give you bus/tram times and connections. It will also suggest trains if that is a good option, with those connections, so you do not need the ns.nl app unless you are paying online. Just allow a little extra time than what it suggests (it tells how long the walk will take from one connection to the next, with the route, if you want it) for trying to find what you need as you are new to the system.

9292.nl will also give you the price it will cost to make the trip you want, which is nice as you can check before using your card (it states that it is 11.20 euros from Den Haag/the Hague central station to Amsterdam Central, all by train). play with the app. I think you will like it. And it will make your vacation more enjoyable. I hope this was helpful and that I answered your questions.

Posted by
1005 posts

I'm an American who has used the OV-chipkaart in the Netherlands. Here are a few simple rules to see if it will work for you.

1) You will lose 10 euros automatically--7.50 when you buy the card and another 2.50 fee when you "cash out" at the end of your trip.

2) You can only cash out 30 euros at the end of your trip--so if you have more than that on the card, you will also lose that amount.

3) Americans without a chip-and-PIN credit card will have to use coins in a machine or wait in the rail station ticket office line to add money to the account. You must cash out in person at a rail or transit office at the end of your journey (there's one at Schiphol Airport).

4) Figure on saving about 1 euro per ride when you take the tram or the bus, because these journeys are discounted if you use an OV-Chipkaart. So if you take 10 or more tram/bus journeys, you cover the loss from purchasing and cashing out.

5) You avoid the 1 euro surcharge for buying a single train ticket in person, so also figure that you save 1 euro per train trip.

For someone staying two or three days, the math usually doesn't pan out. They should buy day-passes for the Amsterdam buses and trams instead. In your case, I would buy the card, but I would also get a chip-and-PIN credit card before leaving the US for the convenience of topping up without waiting in long lines or carrying lots of coins. Also, monitor your balance carefully so that you don't have more than 30 euros on your card when you cash out.

Posted by
7 posts

Everyone,
Thank you for all the detailed information in response to my question. Happyhomemaker and T, thank you for the extra information regarding OV-chipkaart use and the 9292 website and app. I will definitely check that out. Have a friend who does a lot of European traveling who obtained a chip and pin credit card so I ask him about that also for use abroad. Happy travels all!

Posted by
11263 posts

During my visit to the Netherlands in April 2012, I used the anonymous OV-chipkaart and it worked very well. I spent 4 nights in Amsterdam, 2 nights in Utrecht, and 4 nights in Delft; with daytrips to Leiden and Keukenhof, Rotterdam, and the Hague. I was taking some transit within those cities, but never enough to justify a transit pass for a city.

The OV-chipkaart meant that my transit fares were calculated to the cent, and as said above, they were lower than they would have been buying tickets each time. There was also a great convenience not having to buy separate tickets; I just kept refilling the card at train stations with cash (the only practical way, as I didn't have a chip and pin card). Luckily, I never encountered a long line at stations (since Dutch people do have chip and pin cards, I was usually the only person not using a machine). As long as the card had the needed amount, I just tapped in and tapped out on all trains, trams, and buses - anywhere I went in the country. In my case, I may return during the 5 year validity of the card, so I didn't cash it in, but saved it; since it's the anonymous card, I could also give it to someone else to use.

Here's more information about the card, from TripAdvisor, which I found helpful: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g188590-c119198/Amsterdam:The-Netherlands:The.Ov.Public.Transportation.Chipkaart.html

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for the information and the link Harold. Given the plus and minus I'm going to go the OV card route based on the convenience factor and ease of use. Again thanks to all who took the time to post. Happy Travels!

Posted by
2828 posts

Credit cards (with chip and pin, not necessarily Dutch) are now accepted at many train ticket machines.

Posted by
2048 posts

I will be inAmsterdam in July and planned on just purchasing 2 passes for 96 hours each for 21€ each. this seems simple and can be used all day long....am I missing something. We will be there for 8 days.

Posted by
11263 posts

Fabris: on this forum, it's better to start your own thread. But I'll answer your question since it is related to the original one.

No, you're not missing anything. If you're spending time only in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam-only passes are great. But if you're going to multiple cities, the Anonymous OV-chipkaart works anywhere in the country, on all local city transit (as long as you have at least a €4 credit on the card) and all dometic trains between cities (as long as you have at least €20 credit on the card). You get much lower city transit prices than you do buying single tickets. So, for someone not taking enough Amsterdam transit to justify the multi-day cards, but taking transit in other cities or between cities, the OV-chipkaart is more convenient and/or cheaper than the alternatives.

Posted by
2048 posts

Harold, I don't need to start my own thread since I was commenting on Brianr's question. From the research on Amsterdam I have been doing, it seemed to me you could use the buses or train to get to Haarlem and other parts of the City and Waterland area has their own 10€ bus route.

When asking 'am I missing something" I wanted clarification on the different cards so I don't purchase the wrong one. 5 people can read the same sentence and get 5 different interpretations.

Anyway, thank you for the information and clarification.