We are spending 8 days in the Netherlands. We will take the train from Schiphol to Leeuwarden, then the train to Arnhem, then train to Amsterdam. Also anticipate several bus rides around Leeuwarden and Arnhem, and the tram in Amsterdam. Sounds like an anonymous Chipkaart might be a good deal for us, or at least more efficient. Does that sound right to anyone else?
You should get an OV-Chipkaart (look at this English booklet http://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/afbeeldingen/5434/travellingwiththeovchipkaart) for several reasons. On buses and trams, it is far less expensive to ride than buying on-spot one-way disposable cards (tickets). Far less = 30-70% less depending on the service you are using. Second, it makes it easy to ride all public transportation in the whole country. Far more efficient than scrambling for subway or station train machines that might not accept credit cards or money, just coins, depending on the location. You should definitively buy the cards at the airport, load them with the expected costs of your train journeys + some € 20 for bus rides (you can reload later if you need to).
The biggest downside with the OV Chipkaart is that it's 8 Euro just to get the card. If you think of the card as a 8 Euro souvenir, then the card should come out less expensive, especially if you're using transit regularly.
You might take a look at the week long pass that they have for 31 Euro and then adding a day pass or a single fare for the last day. It's less stress, but it might come out a little more expensive.
I was in the Netherlands in April 2012, and used an Anonymous OV Chipkaart. It worked very well. Things to be aware of: 1. As an American who did not have any chip-and-pin cards and does not have a Dutch bank account, the only practical way to reload it was at the ticket window of a train station. They only take cash, but do take bills (the machines only take coins). And, unlike buying train tickets at the window, there was no penalty (i.e., adding 20 euros to the Chipkaart only cost 20 euros). 2. You must have a minimum balance of 4 euros to ride on city transit and 20 euros to get on an intercity train. 3. You have to remember to check in and out for each ride; this is easy on the trams and buses, as everyone else is doing it, but on the trains, you can miss the card readers if you're not looking for them (distracted running for a train, for instance). The advantage of using this card is that, as Andre said your rides cost much less than other methods. And, within a city they're calculated to the cent (depending on exactly which stop you get on and off). Most of my rides within a city cost about 1.10 euros, and my ride from Delft to the Hague cost 2.04 in one direction, and 1.99 in the other (I used different stops). I have my card as not only a "souvenir" of the trip, but it can be reloaded, if I or a friend of mine goes to the Netherlands before it expires (4-5 years, according to the PDF Andre posted the link to). Here's a link to a TripAdvisor posting about buying the Chipkaart at Schiphol, one of the few (if not the only) places to use a swipe and sign credit card at a machine to buy and load the card. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g188590-c119198/Amsterdam:The-Netherlands:The.Ov.Public.Transportation.Chipkaart.html
The OV Chipkaart can be reloaded with bills or credit card on GVB, HTM and RET machines (respectively, the public transportation companies that operate subway and tram services in Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam) as well.
Many thanks to everyone. I was trying to figure out if the rides would be discounted, but couldn't quite get the info from various websites. This will be our first stop at Schiphol.