If you’re traveling from the UK, consider obtaining a Monzo, Starling, or Revolut card. These cards are accepted anywhere Mastercard (Monzo/Starling) or Visa (Revolut) is accepted.
They offer a modern alternative to traditional money exchange services and carrying cash. You can withdraw cash from local ATMs without fees, or make contactless payments. Transactions are converted back to GBP at prevailing exchange rates, typically offering better value compared to traditional exchanges, banks, post offices, or conventional credit cards.
In Amsterdam, these cards are now also accepted for public transport, similar to using an Oyster card in London. You can read more about that in our article here.
Below is a comparison:
|Cash Withdrawal Abroad||Up to £200 fee-free outside the EEA every 30 days. Monzo Plus: Up to £400 fee-free. Monzo Premium: Up to £600 fee-free||No extra fees for withdrawing cash abroad||Up to $200 per month at out-of-network ATMs with no hidden fees|
|Exchange Rate||Mastercard scheme rate||Mastercard rate with no added fees||Interbank exchange rate on weekdays|
|Pricing||Various plans including Monzo Plus and Monzo Premium with different fee structures||Free||Free account available, Revolut Metal at a cost with additional benefits|
|App Features||Real-time spending notifications in local currency and sterling, lock card, ApplePay/Google Pay||Real-time spending notifications in local currency and sterling, lock card, ApplePay/Google Pay||Real-time spending notifications in local currency and sterling, lock card, ApplePay/Google Pay|
Maestro? What’s Maestro?
Maestro, a debit card service by MasterCard, has been prominent in Europe, including Amsterdam, facilitating point-of-sale transactions and ATM withdrawals. However, its prevalence is decreasing with the rise of modern payment systems like Visa and Mastercard.
However, in Amsterdam and parts of the EU, some establishments, like certain Albert Heijn grocery stores for example, still primarily accept Maestro cards or cash, although they usually have a regular checkout for cash payments.
Despite the wider acceptance of Visa or Mastercard, the occasional preference for Maestro in some places suggests travellers keep some cash on hand to avoid any inconvenience. The above cards will ensure you can get cash locally when you need it.
Which one then?
All three cards—Monzo, Starling, and Revolut—work well and have nice extra features and apps. It’s good to note that since Revolut is a VISA card, it might be handy to have one even if you choose a Mastercard like Monzo or Starling. On a trip to the Middle East a while ago, only the Revolut card worked at ATMs. This might have changed as the banks there have grown, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Links to get the cards:
If you are thinking of getting a card, you can use on of our referral links below, and get a perk while you’re at it. We’ve also provided links to their official page if you don’t care for referral links.
You’ll get £5 for joining using our link (we get £5 as well 😉
Fancy a day trip? If you open a Starling account using this referral link, we both get a free individual day pass to one of the hundreds of places the National Trust looks after.