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Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

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Bangkok, Thailand
posts: 193
reviews: 85
Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

We've just returned from a couple of days in Amsterdam, we had good time.

I ask this question more out of interest than need, my wife purchased some perfume in a pop up shop next to C&A, probably about €200, she wanted to pay by credit card but both her Amex and Visa cards, from Thailand, were "declined", she paid in cash.

When we got home we contacted our banks and both advised that there had been no request for authorisation from the Dutch bank.

When we attempted to book Thalys tickets online, the cards were also declined, again our banks confirmed that there had been no request for payment. We did manage to book the Thalys tickets by calling the call centre based in France, but this meant paying a surcharge.

The cards worked without a hitch in Paris and the UK.

Does anybody know if this is the norm in Holland, or we just constantly unlucky?

Haarlem, The...
posts: 1,221
reviews: 167
1. Re: Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

Credit cards are not a common method of payment in the Netherlands. There are many Dutch without one and many that have one but only use it for internet payments or vacations abroad.

Not sure what the problem with your card was. Does it have a chip or only a magnetic strip?

Bangkok, Thailand
posts: 193
reviews: 85
2. Re: Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

Mine have magnetic strips, there are no chipped cards in Thailand yet.

I did notice that most people were paying with cards in this shop, but I only saw people entering PIN numbers, and indeed my request to purchase train tickets via the Thalys Dutch website was also declined.

As I say my banks both said that there was no request was made for authorisation from Holland, it was no big deal as we had sufficient cash on us for this impulse purchase, but I would have thought that Dutch shops would have been more geared up for tourists and their cards, Paris and the UK are, as I found out to my cost.

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 7,201
reviews: 54
3. Re: Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

It must have been the missing chip.

A friend of mine from Hawaii had the same issue: in the Netherlands she was not able to pay for train tickets (even at the counter where they accept credit cards) or things in many shops with her US credit card without a chip, or take money out of ATMs. In Germany and other countries she was able to use it just fine.

The chip was introduced after many many skimming crimes through manipulated ATMs and payment machines in shops.

I guess the payment situation is different in every country. In the USA it's different than the Dutch are used to, paying by debit card is rare. In Laos the amount you can take out of an ATM is very low or your card won't work, but you can use Thai baht. Most of those things can be looked up beforehand.

Of course tourists might think it could be made more friendly for them but the chip is a safety measure that was needed here... and on top of that credit card payments are a very expensive method for the shop owners.

Good to hear you had a back-up plan with cash and that you enjoyed your holiday.

Edited: 7:46 am, October 06, 2013
Amsterdam
posts: 1,298
reviews: 67
4. Re: Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

Were the cards swiped and declined by the point-of-sale device? I mean: did you see them swiped? The more secure chip-and-PIN is the norm for credit cards here, and some retailers choose not to accept swipe-and-sign transactions although their point-of-sales devices are able to process them.

Of course a retailer will prefer you to pay with cash, as you did. Most locals pay with Dutch chip-and-PIN debit cards, which costs the retailer a (small) flat fee, not a fat percentage of the transaction. So it is generally only high-margin (often tourist) retailers which have built a credit-card fee into their pricing.

I would suggest threatening to walk away as a tactic to discover whether you are dealing with a a "can't do" or a "won't do" situation.

Mr Other

http://mrothers.blogspot.nl

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 1
reviews: 18
5. Re: Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

Yeah unfortunately VISA and Mastercard are not widely accepted in the Netherlands. They mainly use Cirrus/Maestro, which is a debit subdivision of Mastercard. VISA/Mastercard are associated with credit cards, which locals generally dislike. Unfortunately the VISA debit cards as seen in many countries don't exist in NL yet.

BTW As someone living abroad but with lots of family in the Netherlands, I tend to buy a lot of gifts for them online on Dutch websites. A lot of Dutch online shops only accept credit cards if they are with a Dutch bank. How silly is that.

Edited: 5:46 am, October 07, 2013
6. Re: Declined credit cards in Amsterdam

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