The Netherlands is one of 13 European countries that uses the Euro — whether we want to or not (many Dutch people are nostalgic for the Guilder, not in the least because the Euro appears to have made lots of stuff more expensive)
Best Place To Exchange Your Money
While you can exchange your money for Euros at any bank, the best place to do so is GWK Travelex. (Note: in most countries the company is known as Travelex. In Holland it is GWK Travelex. GWK stands for the Dutch name, ‘Grens Wissel Kantoor‘ which literally means ‘Border Exchange Office.’)
Click the GWK logo on the right for their English-language websites, where among other things you will find a listing of current exchange rates, as well as a currency converter. (Change to your own country or language at the top of the page).
There is a GWK Travelex branch inside the main hall at Schiphol Airport.
Another convenient office is located inside Amsterdam’s Central Station. Look for it inside the most westward passage tunnel, amongst the shops and close to the front entrance of the station. Another location is among the shops near the eastward exit.
GWK Travelex also has a branch at Leidseplein, right across from Amsterdam American Hotel.
What To Avoid
- Bureaux de change / Independent money changers
Throughout central Amsterdam you will encounter many independent ‘bureaux de change,’ ‘cash changers,’ ‘currency exchangers,’ and so on — usually nothing more than holes-in-the-wall. Avoid them no matter what their ads say.
Their ‘No Commission’ promises usually mean you get a disadvantageous exchange rate — or they are good only if you purchase foreign currency rather than exchange foreign currency for Euros.
NOTE: A favorite trick (scam, really) is to hand you a map of the city along with your exchanged currency. When you later check your receipt it turns out they charged you €7,95 or more for the largely worthless map.
- Exchange Services at Hotels
If you’d let them, hotels will charge you to breathe. Exchanging your money at a hotel ensures that you get less money than you would get at a GWK Bank.
- Helpful People on the Street
Idiotic as it may sound, some tourists really need to be told this: Exchange your currency at a legitimate bank. Not at a bar, in a coffeeshop, or on the street.
- Fake Police Officers
In recent years there have been many instances in which tourists were approach by people who — to them — looked and acted like police officers. The ‘officers’ — often from East-European countries, and dressed in uniforms obtained via the Internet — claim that they want to alert the tourists about the existence of fake Euros. They offer (or demand) to check their wallets, and then apply an exchange trick — after which the tourists are left with no money, or a bunch of fake Euros. Real cops will not ask to see your money.
What To Do
- Use ATMs
You’ll find them everywhere, but the ones inside banks are the safest. Many tobacco shops (which often double as post offices) also have an ATM, either inside or outside. You can also find ATM machines inside many supermarkets.
- Use Traveler Checks
That way you do not have to walk around with large amounts of cash. Too, traveler checks are insured. That said, while GWK Travelex still issues and accepts travelers checks, most banks have stopped accepting them years ago.
- Pay Attention
Pay attention to your surroundings. Watch those who watch you. Put your money away while you are still inside the bank.
Use a money belt.
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