Showing posts with label C. Anonymous OV-Chipcard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label C. Anonymous OV-Chipcard. Show all posts

Jan 13, 2015

What is the OV- Chipcard and Should I Buy One?

OV Chipcard
If you are not a resident of the Netherlands and you are planning on travelling a lot by train then a good option is the anonymous OV-Chipcard. This card costs €7.50 and has no personal details on it (no name or photo for example) so it can be used by anyone! This card needs to be toped up before it can be used. 

Where can I buy the anonymous Ov-Chipcard?

  • At the train station ‘Tickets & Service’ counters or other public transport ticket desks
  • At the NS ticket machines (with the blue sign and white NS logo across the top)
  • Supermarkets (e.g. Albert Heijn) and tobacco shops or stationary shops such as the Bruna. You can check this website to find OV-Chipcard service points throughout the Netherlands. At these points you can purchase the OV-chipcard and also load credit onto a card:
How Do I Use My Anonymous card- IS IT WORTH IT?
The card may look like a great option but remember that this card costs €7.50 so it is only good value if you plan to travel more than 7 or 8 times by train. Remember the supplemental fee for an individual ticket at the vending machine or ticket office is €1. So the card saves you money on these supplemental individual ticket costs only if you plan to travel more than 8 times when you are in the Netherlands or if you plan to avail of ‘samenkorting’. 

1 Activating the OV - Chipcard
The anonymous OV- Chipcard only needs to be activated if you have purchased it from a source OTHER than the NS ticket desk/ticket machine (i.e another public transport operator). You can do that this at the NS ticket machine at the station. So for most tourists arriving in Amsterdam or Eindhoven airport you do not need to activate your OV - Chipcard as you will buy it from the regular NS train station. Just add credit to the card and start using it!

2. Topping up the Card
You can top up your OV- Chipcard with credit using the NS ticket machine. I have a separate blog post about how to use these machines. You can pay at an NS ticket machine with a foreign bank card that has the Maestro logo, a V PAY card or a Dutch bank card. You can pay with coins at some ticket machines but not all. Remember credit cards are usually not accepted (although this is slowly changing) and some credit cards (VISA or MasterCard) can be accepted for an extra fee at some ticket desks (not all!).

3. Fees for using the card
It is free to top up your card. When you travel with the OV-chipcard you are charge a ‘boarding fee’ The minimum boarding fee for travelling with an the anonymous OV-Chipcard is €20 when travelling in NS trains or €10 on Syntus trains and €4 when travelling by tram/metro or bus. This means when you chip in at the main station you are charged €20, and when you check in at the bus or tram station you will be charged €4. If you don’t have this minimum credit in your card you cannot check in. Of course the price of the train journey will not be €20! The price of travel in NS is based per kilometre (roughly 0.84c per kilometre although this varies throughout the country). The money taken from your OV-chipcardd is just a ‘boarding fee’. Once you check out at the end of your journey your train fee will be calculated based on the distance you have travelled and the cost will be debuted leaving the balance in your account. Of course this means that you always need to have a €20 balance on your card to use it! For tourist travel this makes it not such a good deal as you when you finish your journey you will have to go about getting that refund for any cash left over

4. Refunds for credit on the anonymous OV-chipcard
In my opinion this card is a lot of hassle for tourists. First of all you have to buy the card for €7.50 then you have to make sure it is always topped up to a minimum of €20. This means the initial cost is 27.50 before you even board a train! You have to remember all the time to top up your card to a minimum of €20 before you use it. Of course you can top up your card up to a maximum of €150 in one go but I don’t advice this. If you lose your chipcard you have no way of getting a refund. Once you finish your journey there may be credit left on your card and in order to get this back you need to go to the ticket counter to reclaim your balance. They will only refund up to €30 and they charge a €2.50 handling fees.

5. What happens if your card stops working?
This does happen from time to time! It happened to me once and I went to the NS ticket desk. They are not very helpful and told me I had to go online to apply for a replacement or fill out a form to apply for a refund for the amount on the defective card. You can find the eform here: There may be a cost involved in getting a replacement card in the case of loss, theft, change of personal details or a technical defect.