Banking and Insurance
Since January, 2002, the currency in the Netherlands is the Euro. The Dutch use a comma for a decimal place and a period to seperate thousands, millions, etc.. For example, three euros and fifty cents would look like € 3,50. And three thousand euros would look like € 3.000,00.
Setting up an account
The biggest banks in Holland are ABN-AMRO, RABObank and ING, but you can open an account at any bank you prefer. For an overview, see this link. Once you have chosen a bank, bring your passport, rental agreement, and Burgerservice number (BSN number, comparable to a US social security number) to set up an account with one of the bank reps who sits at a desk. If you don't have a Burgerservice number yet, they may let you open it on the condition that you provide the number within 6 weeks. It's best to set up your bank account after you have been registered for a residence permit and at the Municipality. If enrolled in a university program, it is also helpful to bring with you proof of acceptance to the university. Although setting up an account can sometimes be a frustrating process if you have not received a BSN yet, it is highly recommended as life is made much easier when it comes to buying train tickets, paying bills, and making purchases. Most universities have standing deals with banks, and will help you open the bank account. This is the easiest way to open an account, so please make use of it.
Bank card (Pinpas)
Your bank card will serve as an ATM/debit card (pinpas). ATM (Geldautomaat) machines can be found pretty easily in most cities. Further, there are no additional charges for going to another bank's ATM MAchine when taking out cash, but you can only use your debit card at a different bank once a day and for a limited amount. Internet banking is available through all banks.
The banking system is different than in the U.S, no checks are used. In general, with new accounts that are opened, you are provided with internet banking access and no paperwork is needed. You may still receive the occasional accept-giros, which is a kind of bill/check you sign and then return to your bank in specially provided envelopes. However, most Dutch people now use internet-banking for most purposes, and these accept-giros can also be paid online.
You might decide that you will need to use a credit card while you are here. If you already have at least one in the U.S., you can most likely use it while you are abroad. Note that international fees will most likely be charged. Check the terms and fees with your credit card company before using it. Also, it is important to let your credit card company know when you will be leaving the U.S. so they know your card number is not being used for fraud. The most common American credit cards that can be used in the Netherlands are MasterCard and Visa. Places that may not accept US credit cards are grocery stores, convenient stores, and train stations.
Getting a credit card through a Dutch bank might be the easier route to take if you plan on using it frequently. Most credit cards have an annual fee, and possibly a monthly fee as well, so shop around for your best option. Currently, most banks have a student credit card that has lower fees and a lower credit limit. Additionally, you should expect to verify your monthly income so bring any proving documents or visit the bank to check their requirements.
Credit cards are much less used in The Netherlands. Most people use their debit cards for daily purposes.
For Fulbright grantees: if you already have health coverage, you are expected to maintain it. The U.S. Department of State offers "secondary insurance" to cover costs that your primary policy does not. If you don't have coverage, or if your insurance policy does not cover you during your time abroad, the Dept. of State health insurance will offer full coverage. This insurance will be valid only for the grantee, and only for the time period indicated on the Fulbright grant authorization. Some grantees take out a supplemental policy either in the U.S. or in The Netherlands. If you choose to do so in The Netherlands, there are two policies that are usually used for this. These are the international student insurance passport and AON insurance. They can both also be used by non-students. Their costs are approximately €45 per person per month and offers medical coverage, legal assistance, accident insurance, third party liability insurance, and coverage for luggage. See the links below.
Personal Liability/"Legal Responsibility" Insurance (WA Verzekering)
This is not required, though most Dutch people carry this insurance. It costs about €40 per family per year, and covers you for damage that you incur and are responsible for, e.g. if you cause someone else to have an accident.
Personal Property/"Fire and Theft" Insurance (Inboedel-verzekering)
While your landlord's insurance will cover his or her furniture, etc. your belongings are not protected. This insurance can cost between €50 and €150 per year, depending on the value of your possessions. Both Liability and Property Insurances can be purchased at many banks when you set up your bank account.
Other types of insurance that can be purchased in The Netherlands include: Glass, Legal Aid, Motor Vehicle, Passengers Accident, Hospitalization, Travel, and Funeral insurances.