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.
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)
as the name says, it’s anonymous
cost: 7.50 euro
validity: 5 years
charge it manually
you can share it with other people (it’s not property of a single individual)
after expiry date, you can’t renew it but you can get the residual credit back and you can buy a new one (cost 7.50 euro)
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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