Public transport is a great way to get around Amsterdam. But the OV-chipkaart system can be confusing, so here is your guide to using it with ease.
Much like the Oyster card in London, the OV-chipkaart is a means of using public transport safely and efficiently. The cards can be purchased at supermarkets or at ticket machines/service desks on train stations for €7,50. They come in 2 types: personal and anonymous. For those who are visiting The Netherlands for a short time, the anonymous version is best because you can use it straight away. It works on a pay as you go basis, with easy steps to follow:
– Put money on the card. You can ask for help at a service desk at any station, they will convert your cash into money on your card. ONLY at Schiphol airport can you put money on your card at a machine using your creditcard. Other stations do not have this option. Please be advised that a minimum of €20 is required for train travel and a minimum of €4 for trams, buses and subways.
– Make sure the card is activated for train travel. If you charged the card using your creditcard at Schiphol airport, the card is automatically activated for train travel. However, if money was put on at a service desk, you need to activate your card for train travel otherwise you will not be able to check in. Follow these simple steps: Go to NS ticket machine, hold your card in front of the reader, choose “Laden overige producten” and then “Reizen op saldo zonder NS abonnement”, hold your card in front of the reader again and hey presto, you’re good to go. If you cannot see the “Reizen op saldo zonder NS abonnement” button your card is already activated.
– Check in. Hold the card in front of the reader on trams and buses or in front of the check-in poles at train stations. The system works as follows: once you check in, the card takes the maximum amount for you journey (€20 for train travel and €4 for buses, trams and subways) off your card and puts the difference of the actual cost of your trip back on your card when you check out again. Think of it as a deposit which you get back, minus the cost of travel. In short, DO NOT forget to check out otherwise you lose the maximum, and let’s be honest; €20 for a trip from Amsterdam Central station to Schiphol Airport instead of €4 is a bit ridiculous.
–Check out. Really, you do not want to forget to check out. Or, if you want to be really smart and beat the system, check the prices of your journey ahead of time (9292.nl). If it is higher than the deposit, by all means do not check out and save yourself a few euro’s. You can do this up to 12 times and then your card will be blocked. Mind you, this only works on long journeys, so from Amsterdam to Vlissingen (way down south, 24,50) or from Amsterdam to Groningen (way up north, 24,70) for example.
When you leave The Netherlands you can request that the left over money be taken off your card and given to you in cash. Alternatively, you can keep it and use it again next time you’re in the country, or give it to a friend to use. The cards are valid up to 5 years and can be used by several people, just not at the same time.
Get your Amsterdam Travel Ticket here. Valid for 1, 2 or 3 days on metro, tram, ferry and the train to Schiphol.