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Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport -- Buying Train Tickets (Beware of Change)

I arrived today at Amsterdam Airport and followed Rick's advice about buying train tickets -- in my case into Amsterdam's Centraal Station. Rick recommends using the "Train Tickets and Services" counter in Schiphzl Plaza on the ground floor just past the Burger King. Rick says this agency accepts US credit cards. UNFORTUNATELY NO MORE. Beware: They now only accept credit cards with pins. Also, they raised their fee from 0.50 Euro per ticket to 1.00 Euro per ticket. For the cheap 4.10 Euro ticket from the airport into Amsterdam's Centraal Station, this represents a 25% fee -- a rip off in my book. I have no good alternative suggestions. I guess if you have coins, you could use a ticket kiosk.

As an editorial comment, I have been in Europe now for 10 days and have noticed that a majority of the places that deal with tourists have compensated for the high dollar, by raising their prices in Euros. This is at palaces, museums, and now ticket agencies. I think this is a form of greed, and they do it because they can.

Posted by
16894 posts

Thanks, Anthony. Looks like the train station info has been updated in the new Amsterdam & the Netherlands edition that just hit shelves here, too late for your trip.

Posted by
1840 posts

I have this to say. We have been through the ticket buying process at Schiphol and have always used cash which you get from the ATM on the floor above, near the center of the terminal and the tourist information desk. We have had to problems. If there is a user fee, what option do you have? Walk?

I don't know why the expectations of really lower prices at tourist places, just because the dollar-euro is lower than it has been in a while, exist. These people have to make a living. They have to turn on the heat and air conditioning. They have to pay employees. If you expect to go to Europe on five dollars a day you should have gone forty years ago.

Posted by
23464 posts

......have noticed that a majority of the places that deal with tourists have compensated for the high dollar, by raising their prices in Euros.

That is nuts !! The prices may be higher but it has absolutely nothing to do with the stronger dollar. A Euro is a Euro is a Euro to anyone on that side of the big water. They are not exchange their euro for dollars. If they were running their business on dollars and exchanging their euro for dollars then it would make sense to raise prices in euro because they want more dollars. But they don't so that statement makes no sense. Enjoy the advantage of a near one to one exchange. Haven't seen that in years. Sort like complaining that my beer class is half empty instead of half full.

The service fee has always been there if you want to use a live person. If you don't like it, use the ticket machine. In the grand scheme of travel, and extra .5 euro is not going to make a lot of difference to most people. If that is your worse rip off, you have had a wonderful trip. Enjoy the rest of it.

Posted by
16088 posts

I'll have to agree with Frank here. From what I'm reading, increase in prices appear to have a great deal more to do with cutbacks in subsidies to museums, palaces and the like than "greed". Austerity measures have become necessary in many places in Europe just as they have here in the U.S. There have been a number of articles in the news lately about European and U.S. museums who have sold or may be forced to sell parts of their collections to cover the shortfalls.

Very old, very large structures are also incredibly expensive to maintain, and increasingly heavy crowds of tourists take their toll. I guess I figure if my feet and breath are adding to the general wear-and-tear, I'm happy to chip in a little extra needed to keep them in good repair for future generations.

We're heading to Europe next month, and the exchange rate (euro) is more favorable than it has been for years so the glass is over half full here as well!

Posted by
59 posts

have to agree with others that say you are offbase here....an increase of .5 Euro and you are crying ripoff?...maybe traveling isn't for you..because you are gonna get far more surprises than .5 Euro during your travels....

Posted by
9033 posts

I have lived in Germany for over 28 years and every year they raise the prices on public transportation. Pretty sure the Netherlands does the same. Entry fees to museums, galleries, etc, also raise their prices as do restaurants. Tell me this doesn't happen in the US? It is normal and has zip to do with the dollar/euro rate. It has nothing to do with greed. Do you get a raise each year? Does your company not ever raise prices?

Cash is king in Europe, so best is to get used to it rather than whine about them not taking your credit cards. Why should they? It only increases prices even more. Credit cards are expensive for small companies, and people here don't earn miles so they prefer to use cash. I know I prefer to use cash and don't even have a credit card. Oddly enough, I have no debt at all.

Posted by
213 posts

I sure don't consider it a rip off when something goes up half a euro or a museum has a fee increase. I don't think I have ever questioned a fee in Europe. If I felt it was too high, I skipped the site. I see you are from Atlanta and you are concerned about a ticket fee increase. Guess you don't attend any of the pro sporting events in your area. They go up $$$ each year so they can pay their players and managers millions in salaries each year. Do you not consider that a much bigger rip off? I have not attended a pro sporting event in years because with ticket prices and vending prices, now that is a rip off in my opinion. Have never felt that way in Europe. You pay for what you enjoy, skip what you can't afford and don't question it.

Posted by
3696 posts

Maybe they are looking at America and deciding greed is good...:)I have always felt the wonderful museums, and historical sites are a bargain considering what you are seeing.... I am also happy that the euro/dollar is closer than it has been in years. For those of us who went when it was its highest this is a real bonus.

Posted by
14580 posts

This year's lopsided exchange rate dollar/Euro is a total reversal of what took place in the summer of 2008. Now the dollar is on top. By this margin the first time in 12 years...about time. If you've been tracking the prices of DB tickets from point A to B for the last 5-6 years, you would notice that they have been going up every year too. Pay the extra Euro, cut back on one Dutch beer. It cost more in France getting from CDG to Paris Nord station on the RER.

Posted by
11613 posts

Terry Kathryn expressed it well: look at what you are getting for your money. One of my favorite museums is San Marco in Firenze; last year it was €4, I wish they would raise the price to compensate for the increased wear and tear by tourists as the museum becomes more popular (partly my fault, I often recommend it).

My local bus company raises fares almost every year, AND cuts back service.

As others suggested, if you feel that you might be ripped off, stay away (from that particular sight, doesn't work so well for transportation).

Posted by
28 posts

The original poster said that Rick Steve's recommends using the "Train Tickets and Services" counter. However, I thought RS swayed against that and said to use the ticket kiosks. Those take credit cards with chip and pin as well as coins, right? I have watched a few Youtube videos on how to use the machine and that is what I saw.

Why would you go to the ticket counter?

Posted by
2033 posts

Unless the line is horrific, I will frequently go to the ticket counter. Mainly because I prefer dealing with human beings than with machines, even if we can't always speak to each other. In Germany, for example, we encountered a plethora of ticket packages/options that were confusing to us, and the counter agents almost unfailingly worked with us for the best deal, best schedule for our needs. Same in Netherlands, Poland, France, etc. ( Now, I do sometimes hang back for a minute and case out the counter for the agent who seems to be smiling more often). I think the kiosks are pretty good and easy to use if you know precisely what you want, but when exploring and discovering new options or deals, give me a person any day.

Posted by
2791 posts

And then of course: Today we went to purchase tickets from Middelburg to Leiden. Must have made 8 tries, most before we caught our bus, and a couple after we got back to the station. The chipped Schwab card had worked fine 30 minutes earlier at the Vlissingen Ferry. Now, every try ended with "technical error". We could not use cash, as the machines only take coins, we did not have 46+ euro in coins. And we could not go to the ticket window as it was never open, in fact there was zero NL help at the station. Luckily, on the last tries the next person helped and had me print out the error report to take on the train ( I made two). All's well that ends well, I suppose, even saved the credit card surcharge onboard, but had the same issue with Belgian Rail and no attendent over the weekend.

Go figure, though - of all the times we have travelled by rail in both countries, this trip was the only time we ever saw a conductor onboard. Not that I believe in going "bandit" as some runners I knew used to refer to jumping into an organized race for free, but really, what else were we supposed to do here?

Posted by
11613 posts

Larry, you are supposed to do what you did: print or screen-shoot the error message, find the conductor and pay on board.