What Is An OV-chipkaart? Best choice between Anonymous And Personal

What is the OV-chipkaart?

The OV-chipkaart is a card for the public transportation in the Netherlands. With that you can access most of the trains, metro’s, buses and trams in the Netherlands, and in some cases also rent bycicles. It is very simple to use: you scan it to check in, and you scan it again to check out. This way, your departure and destinations are known and you are charged for the route you have made (and you can see the amount on the display at the check-out).

It is very flexible and convenient (you do not need to get physical tickets before jumping on the bus/train) and allows you to save money (it will cost you way less in some cases). For example, traveling by bus with an OV-chipkaart you will pay only the route you are covering. Otherwise, when buying a ticket, you will pay for the whole itinerary of the bus. And that can be a significant difference!
There are two forms of the OV-chipkaart: the anonymous and the personal one.

Anonymous and personal OV-chipkaart
Anonymous (blue) and personal (yellow) OV-chipkaart

Minimum amount

You will need a minimum amount of money to be able to check in on the public transportation. Such amount varies with the mean of transport:

  • Trains: 20 euro
    (Different conditions hold in case you have some subscriptions)
  • buses: 4 euro

Anonymous OV-chipkaart (blue)

Personal OV-chipkaart (yellow)

  • as the name says, it’s personal: you request it, there is personal information on it (name, surname, date of birth, photo), and you are the only person that can use it
  • cost: 7.50 euro
  • validity: 5 years
  • you can load products (e.g. subscriptions and discounts)
  • it’s possible to activate automatic reload to be sure you are never without credit
  • you are allowed to rent bikes (OV-fiets) for very advantageous prices
  • link it to an account and manage subscriptions, check expenses (also for declarations, e.g. if you need it for work)
  • in case of loss/theft, you can block it via your account (MijnOV-chip)
  • after expiry date, you can renew it (cost 7.50 euro)
  • forgot to check out? Declare it and claim your refund!
  • apply for a personal OV-chipkaart (you will need a digital picture of yourself and you will need to pay with iDEAL)

Should I get one?

Yes, you should. If you plan to use public transportation, even not that frequently, then it is a good idea to get an OV-chipkaart. I think that there are really few cases in which I would suggest not to buy one (i.e., if you are living abroad and visiting often a relative/friend in the Netherlands who may own one and borrow it to you as guest – if you do not use public transportation at all). Also if you use only trains to visit places in your free time, then maybe exploiting the discounts for train tickets will do the job for you.
These may all be good reasons, but for 7.50 euros I would still get one if I were you. Then you would feel more flexible.

Anonymous or personal?

If you live in the Netherlands (also for a limited amount of time), then my personal advice would be to get a personal OV-chipkaart – unless you seriously plan to share it with others.
It comes with many more options and services. Think of having subscriptions (ie. discounts) or declaring the expenses to your employer, or when your card is lost. just compare the bullet list for the anonymous and the personal OV-chipkaart!

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