If you’ve been living in the Netherlands for a while, you may recognize this scenario – you realize you only have one minute left to catch your train, so you start running, prepared to scan your anonymous OV-chipkaart at the OV-gate. The doors don't open, however. Instead, you just hear an annoying sound, telling you that you have insufficient funds. With the Netherlands’ new travel addition, those days are history. But, what is OV-Pay?
Before OV-Pay (and Student Mobility, but more on that later…), public transport and train travelers in the Netherlands had two main options: an anonymous or a personal OV-Chipkaart. Without being tied to anyone by name, the anonymous, blue card can be used until the money on it runs out, after which it can be recharged with more funds.
There are several issues with this option, however: First if you lose your card, there’s no way to recover the money that you loaded onto it. Second, you need to have a minimum of 20 euros on the card at all times if you intend to travel by train, even if the fare between the two destinations only costs a couple of euros. This means you’ll be recharging your card to maintain this balance very often if you regularly hop on trains.
Meanwhile, the personal OV-Chipkaart, which includes the traveler’s name and picture, allows for subscriptions of so-called ‘travel products’. For example, if someone commutes between two Dutch cities every work day, or uses trains exclusively on the weekend, they could choose to pay a monthly subscription to charge this product onto their card. Then, they could travel freely from destination A to B, or on the weekend. You can also connect your OV to a Dutch bank account to auto-renew the balance on the card, meaning you'll never have to worry about the 20 euro minimum again.
OV-Pay is the newest addition to the OV-Chipkaart lineup, except it doesn’t actually require a travel card. Rather, people can pay for their train or public transport expenses using their debit or credit cards (contactless only), as well as Apple Pay or Google Wallet on their phones.
You simply check in and out in much the same way you would with an anonymous OV-Chipkaart. The benefit is that, as money is already in your bank account, you won’t have to go out of your way to load more funds onto an external card, making travel more efficient and flexible. You just have to be careful that you check in and out with the same bank card, provided you own multiple. If you use two separate cards, you’ll be charged for your trip twice.
In principle, this is just like paying for your groceries using a contactless card or mobile payment app. You simply hold it against the OV-gates or poles to check in, wait for the confirmation beep, hop on your transport of choice and check out again upon your arrival.
Requiring no registration, OV-Pay supports most major bank cards, provided that they are compatible with contactless payment. Here’s a quick overview:
That depends on your own travel needs. If you’re someone who only takes the tram in your Dutch city a couple of times per year, or hop on a train solely to go to the airport, then OV-Pay is a great option for you. It requires no previous planning on your end, and you can simply use your bank card to get around on those rare public transport days.
However, most international students studying in the Netherlands take trains, trams, metros and busses a little bit more frequently. After all, you’re in a new country with many exciting cities, cultural experiences and nature spots that you definitely won’t want to miss out on. Have you really lived abroad if you only know the city you studied in?
If you, too, want to experience all of the gems – both mainstream and hidden – that the Netherlands has to offer, then there’s no better transport option than our Student Mobility Card. It gives you all the benefits of a personal OV-Chipkaart, all while being tailored exactly to fit the needs of (international) students just like yourself.
For those sightseeing trips, you’ll be given a great discount of 15% on train travel during off-peak hours and weekends. We also get that you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you have sufficient money on your account. You plan your trips, we’ll help you get there. By connecting the payment method of your choice – including international credit cards – to your (parent's) card you’ll be able to hop on and off trains, trams, busses, metros, ferries and even NS bikes as you please.
The best part? When buying a Student Mobility Card, you’ll also get a digital ISIC student ID. This opens up a wide array of possibilities for things you can do both inside and outside of the Netherlands. Your ISIC card grants you all kinds of discounts for everything from computer software and museums to restaurants and Apple products.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a Student Mobility Card and an ISIC ID all in one and get ready to discover all corners of the Netherlands.
After seeing the posters everywhere, you were probably wondering: What is OV-Pay? Now that we’ve cleared that up, you can figure out what public transport situation is best for you – OV-Pay, a personal OV-Chipkaart or our Student Mobility Card.
If you'd like to know more about public transport in the Netherlands, then check out our in-depth blog post here.