Dan and I made it over a year with only a Dutch bank card, but after a close call at the car rental office, we decided it was time to get a proper credit card. Our bank card is a Maestro card, and while we can use it at the ATM and to make purchases in store and restaurants, it can be very limiting online. Here’s what our process was with Rabobank.
Bank Cards vs. Credit Card
Bank cards and credit cards (from banks at least) operate differently from the ones in the United States. Bank cards can be used like a debit card in person, with a PIN number instead of a signature. But because they are not associated with a credit card brand or number, they cannot be used to make purchases online without iDEAL; a special banking payment method. Annoyingly some services, like car rental agencies, also require a credit card instead of a bank card.
To make up the difference a credit card can be obtained via your bank and can be used both on and offline, typically with a PIN number as well, but are still tied to your bank account. At Rabobank (and probably other Dutch banks), you can choose to have the credit card balance automatically paid each month or you can carry a balance (plus interest). This decision has to be made when you apply for the credit card and can only be changed at the bank itself and well in advance of the end of the month. Not being fans of credit cards to begin with, Dan and I opted to pay off the balance monthly and avoid the extra charges.
Applying for a Card
Obtaining a credit card was fairly simple with Rabobank. Since Dan is the primary wage earner in our family, the bank insisted he be there with ID, a paystub, a copy of his contract, and our lease. The card also had to be in his name rather than mine.
After the bank reassured itself that we had income, a representative ran us through the paperwork in a quick 20 minute meeting. After that it was all over but the waiting. The new card and PIN number were delivered separately several days later in the mail.
Now that we have a credit card, it operates just like a normal Mastercard, except we use a PIN number instead of a signature to ‘sign’ for our purchases. Having 2 cards is a little cumbersome, but that’s how it’s done. Good luck working out your own purchasing options.
Source: Originally written by myself for Maastricht Region: to Live.