I spent a couple of weeks in the Netherlands recently, and I was surprised that my Italian bank-issued MasterCard credit card was not accepted in a lot of venues. It was almost a 50%-50% chance of being accepted by the POS terminal. This is a chip & pin card with an RFID tag too, and when it worked it also worked by simply touching it on the POS, so I assume it's up to technical standards.

On the other hand the Maestro debit/ATM card issued by the same bank worked effortlessly everywhere (it did not have an RFID tag so I always had to insert it and type the PIN code).

Now, I'm a bit amazed. It's almost 2018, some years ago the EU went through the SEPA harmonization process. The EU payment service directive 1.0 has been in place for several years, and I would assume that credit card liability rules between merchants, banks and customers would be the same all over the EU, and there was reciprocal acceptance.

Instead, it looks like merchants (or banks too?) can "discriminate" credit cards by national origin.

Is this all regular?

  • 1
    Did you try contacting your bank and seeing what they said? It could be you have a defective card. Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 15:31
  • Not sure about the Netherlands, but in the neighbouring countries (Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway), many shops only accept debit cards and to some extent only national debit cards. Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 17:43
  • 2
    I had a hard time using credit cards in the Netherlands. Like a supermarket accepting neither Visa nor Mastercard. In other European countries I had no trouble.
    – ugoren
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 20:06
  • SEPA and any other EU directive have nothing to do with card acceptance! It's a seller's own business whether they accept or not accept any kind of cards.
    – Neusser
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 9:32

3 Answers 3


Many places in the Netherlands only accept debit cards as they usually incur lower merchant fees than credit cards. Using credit cards isn't as popular in the Netherlands as it is in other countries.


Dutch person here. I can confirm that creditcards are rarely accepted. Mostly because of the fees for businesses en we use our debit cards the most (Maestro). This is called "PIN" and is very easy to accept and lower fees.

Some places still need cash but i can not even remember when i had to withdraw some cash from an ATM :-)

Big department stores (like C&A or De Bijenkorf) or tourist areas in/around Amsterdam will accept creditcards (Visa and MasterCard, sometime AMEX). If you want some more info, let me know!


I doubt that this is national discrimination. More likely, it's some sort of glitch with your card. Perhaps there is an issue with the "chip" on it.

I'd suggest calling your credit card issuer, explaining your problem, and asking if replacing the card might make sense, or if they're aware of any other difficulty that could be causing you problems.

If it's larger charges that don't work, and smaller ones that do, perhaps it's an issue of the charges being declined because of your traveling. Ensuring your issuer is aware of your travel will maximize the chances of the charges succeeding, and reduce any suspicion that your card is being used fraudulently by someone else.

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