Getting an OV Chipkaart (travel card)
If you’re making several journeys on public transport, then sooner or later you’re going to want to get an OV Chipkaart. There’s a surcharge on every paper ticket for the chip in the ticket, so whilst an OV Chipkaart costs a small amount to get, it’s cost effective if you’re making several trips (at the time of writing, the break even point is 15 train tickets or 3 or 4 tram tickets).
OV Chipkaarts come in two varieties, an anonymous version and a personal version. If you don’t have a Dutch address/bank account then the only card you can get is the anonymous version.
Both versions work the same as a ticket. You hold it by a scanner on the platform/tram/bus at the start of your journey. It will then beep once to let you know you’ve checked in. When you finish the journey then you hold it again and it will beep twice to say you’ve checked out. If you swap transportation types or providers during your journey then you need to check out of the first and check into the next. It is easier to be safe and simply check out and back in again each time you transfer.
Anonymous OV Chipkaarts can be bought from the yellow OV ticket machines at train stations. Once you’ve bought your card you can upload it with credit. You can do this with your credit/debit card. In order to check in on the bus/tram you must have a minimum of 4 euro credit on the card. For the train you need a minimum of 20 euros credit on the card to start a journey. If you forget to check out with your card then these are, not coincidentally, also the amounts that you get charged for your journey! (Don’t forget to check out).
You are allowed to let somebody else travel with your anonymous OV Chipkaart (it’s not tied to you). So it’s particularly useful if you have visitors.
If you live in the Netherlands and you’re getting tired of uploading credit to your anonymous OV Chipkaart, then the personal OV Chipkaart is for you. Personal OV Chipkaarts are available here: https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/purchase-an-ov-chipkaart.htm . During the application you will be asked for your details and to upload a photo. Some time later, a card will arrive in the post.
A personal OV Chipkaart can only be used by the owner, but has the advantage that it automatically uploads with credit from your bank account. So you don’t need to worry about topping up credit or having enough credit to start a journey.
With both OV Chipkaarts you can make an account on: https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/explanation-of-ov-chip-account.htm . When you have an account, you can enter your OV Chipkaart(s) number(s) and you are able to see your travel history (as well as claim if you forgot to check out. You can make a limited number of these claims a year).