Fockink OV-Chipkaarts, hoe werken ze?
August 25, 2010 12:56 PM   Subscribe

How can I best use the OV-Chipkaart on my upcoming trip through the Netherlands?

I'm trying to find clear, English, tourist-focussed but not necessarily Amsterdam-specific information on the OV-Chipkaart, but Google (and Google Translate) are failing me.

I'm taking a trip through the Netherlands next month with parents and sibling to see some places of historical significance to my family. We'll be spending a few days each in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn, Aalten, and Utrecht, with side-trips to Rotterdam and Den Haag from Utrecht.

When I was in Amsterdam last year they were just rolling out the OV Chipkaart system. It seems that it is so new that a lot of English online info hasn't been updated (e.g. still refers to Strippenkart) so it's hard to find reliable, current English information. I'm trying to figure out the following:

1) Should I buy an anonymous or disposable Chipkaart? I see that Anonymous costs €7.50 but can be reloaded whereas disposable are free but cannot be reloaded. Is the initial cost refundable, like the London Oystercard?

2) Is OV Chipkaart accepted on busses in Apeldoorn or Aalten?

3) Are Strippenkaarts still accepted anywhere - I have a kaart with a couple of unstamped rides in my wallet that would be nice to use. I know it's no longer valid in Amsterdam.

4) Are non-residents allowed to purchase and use the Korting (discount) card? My mom speaks Dutch and will have a Dutch mailing address if needed. It looks like it's €55 for a year, but given the amount of travel we're doing it would save us a lot of $ just in the time we're there.

Any other Netherlands rail-travel tips?
posted by Gortuk to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1) The disposable ones are single-use only, so you don't want those (they're really expensive per ride, that way). So you'll be wanting to buy a reloadable one if you decide to go that route. The initial cost isn't refundable. (What was once a very nice nationally integrated transport payment system is currently a dog's breakfast of different payment systems in different cities, so it is really hard to know what would be the best way for you to go if you'll be going from place to place. Strippenkaartjes remain cheaper and easier in my opinion, and you can't forget to check out, so it might be good to stick with these where you can ... YMMV.)

2) I'm sorry, I don't know - some bus companies accept the cards and others don't, so I think it depends on the route. Connexxion buses take OV-chipkaarts, I do know that.

3) Strippenkaarts can still be used in some, if not most, cities, though I'm afraid I don't know which ones (Amsterdammer here).

4) Anyone can buy a Voordeelurenkaart, you don't need to be Dutch, so that will be fine. You can buy one at the station and they'll give you a paper slip you can use immediately, so you'll be good to go right from arrival.

The actual Voordeelurenkaart, once you get it, includes a chip so it doubles as an OV-chipkaart, though if you're not here for long chances are you won't receive it in time for it to be any good. Likewise with using the chipkaart for train rides - if you want to get the discount you need to have the Voordeelurenkaart with chip, otherwise you can use your Voordeelurenkaart and just buy paper tickets.

Hope that makes a bit of sense, don't hesitate to ask for clarification if it doesn't!
posted by rubbish bin night at 1:24 PM on August 25, 2010

Best answer: You mean moederneukende* OV chipkaart? You'll have to put some money in the account, at the pink machines in train stations, and some Albert Heijn supermarkets. I suppose you can use a credit card for that. Then you check in at the start of the journey, and checkout at the end. Ticket price is calculated, and subtracted from your balance. I might be possible to get a negative balance. The pink scanners are usually located before you enter the platform, or in the tunnel.

Traveling is supposed to be cheaper for bus, tram, and metro. I don't know whether it makes a difference for traveling by train. OV chipkaart is not accepted on the regional railroad near Aalten. You'll have to buy a separate ticket for the last stretch, or you get a ticket for the whole trip.

The voordeelurenkaart (off-peak discount) is a 40% discount for up to 4 people. The break-even point is 137.50, and Amsterdam-Aalten is 80 for four people. Side trips probably add up to more that 137.50. Plus, you can use it as a one-traveller-Chipkaart in Amsterdam.

The key to this map is: Pink lines - train, Chip and ticket. Green lines - train, only tickets. Pink area - bus/tram/metro, chip and strip. Purple area - only chip. Grey area - only strip.

Concluding: get a voordeelurenkaart at Schiphol train Station, buy train tickets only, and use a chipkaart in Amsterdam/Rotterdam.

Have a good time in the Netherlands!

*It would be very funny to hear someone say that with an English accent. It's a transliteration, not actual Dutch idiom. Pronunciation key in a rap about Amsterdam trams.
posted by Psychnic at 2:44 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just want to say you actually have to set up your Voordeelurenkaart to use it as a prepaid card for train travel (called "reizen op saldo").

It WILL NOT work as such if you don't register for reizen op saldo (and then make an initial deposit of at least 25 euros).

It WILL work as an OV Chipkaart (prepaid card for bus and tram travel in various cities) and as a discount card for the paper tickets you can buy from the ticket machine.

There's more info about registering on their website, but it's all in Dutch:
posted by Skyanth at 8:16 AM on August 26, 2010

Best answer: Ok, to activate your Voordeelurenkaart for prepaid train travel, you either

a. go to a railway company service centre (I don't actually know where they are, but the Amsterdam railway station will have one for sure) and activate it, or

b. you can do it yourself:

1. Go here and fill in your information. It will take an hour for your card to be activated.

2. Then go to a trainstation, hold the card over the reader of a ticket machine and select "ophalen bestelling" (retrieve order) and follow the instructions on screen. Dunno if they will be available in English...
posted by Skyanth at 8:22 AM on August 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses everyone!

So the conclusion is...

Buy personal Chipkaarts with a bit of cash that I can definitely use up before the end of the trip (will save a bit of cash on each train/tram/rail trip, plus it's a cool souvenir and chances are I'll be back sometime in the next 5 years).

I'll keep the Strippenkart in my wallet and break it out if/when we have to take a bus in one of the smaller cities.

Get my folks to buy the Voordeelurenkaart (thanks for the Dutch word) and save $$$.
posted by Gortuk at 1:44 PM on August 27, 2010

Response by poster: Back from my trip, an update if anyone else is using this to plan a future trip....

1) Tried to buy OV Chipkaarts at Schiphol and the man at the counter suggested that this was not a good idea, due to the initial cost, and the fact that if you forget to check out you will be dinged for 20 euros. Maybe they have had other tourist complaints. So we didn't get the cards. We ended up biking or walking a lot of places, and buying a 24-hour transit card in Amsterdam, so it wasn't too much trouble. Strippenkarts were valid pretty much everywhere outside of Amsterdam as well, cost around 1 Euro a ride.

We also learned that our credit cards wouldn't work in most ticket machines. My Visa worked in Amsterdam, but nowhere else in the country. And the machines take coins only, not bills, so we had to plan on getting to the station early every morning to buy paper tickets for our trip. In fact, at the Aalten train station there was no manned ticket counter, no OV Chipkaart service, and we didn't have 64 Euros in coins to pay for our ticket, so with the permission of the station agent we had to get off at the next stop which had a manned counter, and buy our tickets there.

Also, the Chipkaart checkin/checkout system was unreliable. At one station all the machines at the exits were out of order, so my parents had to take 2 elevators up/down to the main platform to find the single checkout machine hidden behind a kiosk on the platform, then hike all the way back to the exit!

2) When my parents landed at Schiphol they talked to one customer service rep who told them they could get the 40% discount card. Then when they went to buy one from the ticket counter, the lady told them that this card was only available to Netherlands residents, not tourists, and wouldn't sell them one. My parents didn't argue this (although it would have saved them a lot of $$$ over their trip) so they ended up paying full price for all their train tickets. I guess the lesson is, if you want a Voordeelurenkaart as a tourist you may have to argue for it, or try a different ticket counter. Or maybe get someone from the Dutch tourist agency to give you written information in advance that you can show to the ticket agent if they have a problem with it.
posted by Gortuk at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2010

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