Once upon a time it was easy to purchase a little yellow ticket at the service desk. You just went to a ticket counter told them your hearts travel desires and for a small booking fee the staff provided you with a little yellow ticket and this was used to travel anytime that on your desired route. Ahh the good old days...........well actually, even with the modernisation of the stations in the Netherlands over the last few years you will be happy to hear that this has not changed too much. You can still buy regular point to point tickets at the train station service desk. Just find the NS Tickets & Service desks (this is usually the counter with the large queue in front of it! If you are at a small station then look for the 7/11 style store called the 'Kiosk' with Tickets & Service sign and you can get information and your ticket.
These days the tickets are printed as single use OV ChipKaarts or Chipcards. Openbaar Vervoer (OV) is the Dutch for public transport. This allows you to check in and out at the barrier gates or at the free standing chip check in card readers when entering or leaving a station. You can’t pre-buy these disposable cards. They must be bought on the day that you travel. Just tell the member of staff where you want to go and they will print the Chipcard. The date (as well as the route) will be printed on the card. To validate this ticket you need to ‘check in’ entering the station and when you arrive at your destination you ‘check out’ when you leave (inchecken en uitchecken). This is not really rocket science but I do get asked a lot how this works so I have created a separate post about this. You can find it here.
Fees for Buying your Ticket at the Service Desk : The disposable chipcards have a €1 supplement when purchasing them at the ticket desk and when buying them from the ticket machines (all hail modern technology!). Remember that there are two types of ticket machines in the stations and the OV - Chipcard can only be purchased from the NS ticket machine with the blue sign and white NS logo across the top. You can read more about these machines and how to use them here.
The staff at the ticket desk can also sell you a ticket or seat reservation for International trains to Belgium, Luxembourg and German but for this service they will charge you a service fee of €3.50 per booking per person (to a max €10.50 per booking). This applies to tickets that do not require seat reservations. If you want a ticket and a seat reservation the service free is a whooping €7.50 per booking per person (to a maximum of €22.50 per booking). These fees exclude credit card fees. Such high international fee booking costs are supposed to drive you to online payment methods but really they probably drive people to the Ryanair website!
The Service Desk only Accepts the Following Payment Methods:
- Bank cards with the Maestro logo
- V PAY card or
- Dutch bank card
- Credit card is ONLY accepted at the major stations (Amsterdam Centraal, Schiphol, Amsterdam Duivendrecht, Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena, Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Amsterdam Zuid, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Arnhem, Maastricht, Groningen, Hengelo, Roosendaal) and at that ONLY VISA or MasterCard are accepted. A credit card transaction fee of €0.50 is applied.
Opening Times of Ticket and Service Desk: If you are depending on making a ticket purchase at the ticket desk then be sure to double check they are still open when you arrive. You can find their opening hours of the major stations ticket desks here smaller stations are generally open during work.