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I have an anonymous OV-chipkaart (Dutch public transport electronic card). I don't have a Dutch banking card. (In other words, I'm a foreigner who goes to the Netherlands occasionally.) What are my options to recharge the OV-chipkaart, either with cash (ideally banknotes) or with a credit card?

Would getting a nominative card enable me to recharge it through the website without a Dutch banking card?

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You can now recharge your OV Chipkaart using VISA, Mastercard or American Express creditcards at almost any NS Ticket machine, and with no extra charge! There was a charge in the past of 0,50 euro but that has been dropped.

Source: I'm Dutch, also here (English): https://www.ns.nl/en/customer-service/payment/problems-when-paying-online.html

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If only need a "OV-chipkaart" for the train, you don't actually need one. You can just order the train tickets online and print at home on paper.

If you need it for the buses, metro, and tram, you indeed need to charge it. Personally I have a OV-chipkaart which is connected to my train reduction card. For about 50 euros per year, you get 40% discount on all train journey outside peak hours. This reduction card does also contain an OV-chipkaart, which you can upload at train stations. At the main stations you can charge with major credit cards. You need to look for the yellow/blue automatic vending machines, that contain large touch screens. I am not sure if they accept all OV-chipkaarts, or only those connected to a NS-reduction card.

According to the OV chipkaart website, they offer online charging. It is a bit of hassle though. First you need to buy credit online, then you need to find the closest "charging device" to load your credit to your personal card. Since the English page is only partially translated, here is a dictionary to understand the website.

Profiteer van het gemak van reizen op saldo

Profit from the ease of traveling with credit (Ease? Yeah right)

Aan het begin van uw reis checkt u in, aan het einde checkt u uit

At the beginning of your journey you check in, at the end you check out

De reiskosten worden automatisch berekend en van het saldo van uw OV-chipkaart afgeschreven

The cost of your journey will be charged to your card

Het toegestane saldo op uw OV-chipkaart bedraagt maximaal €150

You can charge up to €150

Bestellen = Order

If you have the time, could you please file a complaint about the lack of a proper translation?

I just checked with a foreign friend. The OV charging machines accept V-pay and maestro.

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Would getting a nominative card enable me to recharge it through the website without a Dutch banking card?

No it wouldn't. Last time I've checked, online payments were done via IDEAL, which only works with Dutch banks. Also it's really crappy solution, where you pay on-line, but then you actually have to find physical terminal to put the credit on the card.

There are many types of chip-card recharging machines, some of them in theory do accept VISA and MasterCard credit cards (although my personal experience trying non-Dutch VISA credit card was negative).

UPDATE: Seems that this has improved lately, in many places foreign cards with EMV chip seem to work in the Netherlands.

Generally speaking whole OV-chipkaart system is total mess. It's also not very clear which products you can put on which type of cards (some allow you to get both GVB and NS credit, some don't).

Safest way is to go to one of GVB's information centers, but unfortunately that means waiting in queue (very long queue in case of the one near Amsterdam Centraal).

  • 1
    the terminals accept v-pay and maestro. These are debit card version from mastercard and visa. It worked for foreign maestro though – user141 May 2 '12 at 14:59
  • @Andra: where these chip equipped cards? – vartec May 2 '12 at 19:33
  • all Dutch Maestro terminals have now been replaced (or should have been) with chip reading terminals. The stripe readers are being phased out, many readers that still feature them will have them disabled. – jwenting May 3 '12 at 9:05
  • I just went to Centraal. There, they have two kinds of machines, the yellow ones (PIN only) and the blue ones, which accept cash (only up to EUR20) and credit cards. – Ricardo Pardini May 25 '15 at 19:34
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all info should be here: https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/?taal=en but since the company in charge of this system is incapable of getting anything right, I'm not surprised the English translation is lacking.

In short it seems you can recharge it at certain ticket offices. My guess is the ticket offices at the bigger train stations are your best bet.

Other than that, all the options require the use of an ATM card. So if your ATM card is accepted in the Netherlands, you should be able to recharge your card at the OV-Chipcard machines.

Another option is to buy a (precharged) anonymous card.

  • 3
    There's a recharge point locator, but as far as I can tell (I don't speak Dutch, I can only decipher it or read automated translations), it only has a way to look for places that accept cash (mostly offices of GVB and the like at main NS stations) and a way to look for places that accept Dutch banking cards. I have a credit card that works in ATMs, but not in a lot of Dutch machines such as NS/GVB ticket machines. Nor can I tell if a personal card would broaden my options. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 15 '11 at 23:36
  • Well, I'm from the Netherlands so reading the stuff is not the problem. The recharge locater helps you out only if your bankcard is accepted by the machines. A personal (=non anonymous) card allows you to buy a subscription or special product from the various transport companies. But those usually require you to pay by bank transfer. If I where you, I would not bother with the personalised cards. – Jacco Jul 16 '11 at 9:37
  • I just check the website of GVB (the company that manages the public transport in Amsterdam) and it states that you should be able to pay with a credit card and/or cash at any of recharge points (located in (tobacco) shops or super markets). – Ivo Flipse Oct 26 '11 at 7:35
  • With the OV-chipcard there tends to be a difference between 'should' and 'will'. Nevertheless, supermarkets and tobacco shops are probably a tourists best bet. – Jacco Oct 26 '11 at 8:00
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Yes, you absolutely can. I have done this many times. Just find one of those yellow machines and you can recharge the card there with your debit or credit card. There is a €0.50 surcharge for using a credit card though.

You can find these at the train stations, the one I specifically used was at Amsterdam Central.

All my card are EMV enabled and require a PIN, and using a non-EMV card is a hit-and-miss affair.

I have also used my card to add balance to the OV card at the ticket counter without issue, where they will also happily accept cash. There is a €0.50 surcharge if you pay at the ticket counter, whether by card or cash.

  • I've done cash at the ticket counter in a number of stations (Schiphol airport, Den Haag CS...). As I usually have euro banknotes already, it also has the advantage of avoiding paying a fee for using my card abroad. As far as I can tell, the €0.50 surcharge is only for buying a ticket at the counter, I don't seem to get charged it for topping up. – djr Oct 2 '16 at 9:22
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Recharging OV-chipkaart with credit cards is possible only at several major stations - Amsterdam Centraal, Schiphol, Rotterdam Centraal, Utrecht Centraal and likely Eindhoven Centraal (not sure for the latter). All the rest of the vending machines accept only debit cards, but not all types - i.e. Maestro is welcome but my MasterCard is rejected. As this is the only debit card type my bank issues, my only alternative is to go to a ticket counter and pay cash. It seems OK, BUT there are ticket desks only at bigger stations and most of them work from 7:00 till 19:00. At small unattended stations as well as anywhere else in NL there is no other way to recharge your OV-chipkaart (unless you have Dutch bank account, I still haven't got one). Living in Vlissingen I face this problem every time I need to load my chipkaart. I need to go to Roosendaal, the nearest station with tickets counter, 75 km away. As railways employee I travel by train for free, but I waste at least 2:30 h forwards-backwards.

  • The situation has changed. In 2016 I was able to recharge my OV-chipkaart in small NS stations with an ordinary non-Dutch card (but it's a French card, so I think it's a debit card, not a credit card, but it definitely isn't a Dutch card, and wasn't accepted a few years back, even in Amsterdam Centraal, I had to go to the tourist office back then). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 8 '16 at 12:06
  • All new ticket machines accept credit cards and those are on most or all stations by now. Maybe your credit card has limitations but most credit cards are accepted on almost all ticket machines, also to charge OV chip cards. – Willeke Nov 8 '16 at 16:49
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At NS stations, you can also charge by coins.

  • @Willeke: Thanks for the point! In fact, I can post comments (obviously!). The thing is IMO this is a right and enough answer that is not mentioned in other answers or comments. – Farshid Zaker Jan 16 '17 at 0:55
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The machines only accept maestro and the website only accepts Dutch banks. I've bought a card no problem but being able to top it up is another matter!

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    Where was this? Earlier this year I successfully topped up an OV-chipkaart with a Mastercard (non-Maestro) at an NS machine. There was a ¢50 cent surcharge but at least it worked, unlike a few years ago. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 30 '16 at 17:37
  • My experience was that US card was accepted by machines at major train stations; and not at minor stations or (with one exception) bus stops. – Andrew Lazarus Sep 30 '16 at 19:39
  • My UK friend does usually top up his OV card with his UK (Santander) bank card. So surely not only Dutch cards. The ticket machines are being replaced by a newer version, some of the old ones are still around and those might accept fewer cards. But on both small and big stations you can find the newer kind. – Willeke Oct 1 '16 at 9:19

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