Looking after yourself and having fun
I highly recommend you setting up a Dutch bank account whilst you’re out in The Netherlands and to have your income paid directly into it, you’ll get free NL withdrawals and avoid exchange rates. Also some big stores (Albert Heijn) may not accept U.K. cards!
I initially transferred over some savings for my first month to live on prior to the first ‘payday’ (around the 29th usually), but for most of my time I lived off the wages from Philips so having my account and banking app really helped. It just eliminates the transfer steps, time and charges involved with exchanging the money back to pounds and then back to euros again. I also went out with some euros in cash for the first few days before the account was set up, and with some money on my Post Office Travel Card that I set up prior to flying out. However, once I was required to top-up this card I didn’t use it further, as by then I could just use my bank debit card.
The bank I went with, ABN-AMRO, had a small branch on ‘The Strip’ at the HTC so its was very easy to walk in and book an appointment. They were very friendly and informative in this office and are used to setting up accounts for international employees. You’ll need your NL address and passport but can still book an appointment before you’ve received your BSN and then update them once you have one. All banks in NL do require a small payment a month for their service but as an employee of Philips at the HTC this is discounted to only 70 cents with ABN-AMRO.
The details for activating the card will be sent in the post and are very simple to follow. I managed most of my banking and made transfers using the ABN-AMRO app and ABN-AMRO card reader (provided in post), as setting up online banking involved requesting another card. You’ll probably be offered insurance from the bank to cover any damages caused by you (e.g. you crash your bike into a parked car) which costs about 7 euros extra a month. It’s up to you whether you want to get this, none of us did in our year as we believed it was covered in the uni erasmus insurance, but it is worth checking this again – although though we all had our individual tumbles on the bike, there were no damaging or dangerous incidents to others.
Additionally, this bank allows free withdrawals in many European countries (excluding Germany) which was great for the traveling I did. Over the 5 months I did have to transfer over some more money from my British account, in addition to my income from Philip, however I did travel nearly every weekend which all adds up. To help avoid this, I paid in pounds where possible online using my U.K account, where no extra charges were involved e.g. my Disneyland Paris ticket.
As mentioned earlier, before I went out I also got a Post Office Travel card but I hardly used it as I had the Dutch account, but it’s something you may already have and can benefit from. Other sites you might want to check for transferring money are;
Finally, make sure you inform your bank that you’ll be abroad so they know not to cancel it if you ever do use it!