ATMs and stores (Or: Large denominations of euros)

Since I haven’t been in the Netherlands too long yet, I do not have a bank account. Now that I am registered as a legal resident, I technically can get one at any point, however. One thing that I find a bit strange with the Netherlands is the apparent passivity to receiving and spending large denominations of euros – particularly €50. Especially when you consider that right now €50 is closer to $60.

Oddity #1: Dutch ATMs prefer to give you a €50 bill at all costs. If you ask for €60, you will get a €50 bill and a €10 bill back. In the US, you always get back $20s. Of course, I could ask for €20 each time, but  I am still using my American debit card (tied to my Chase account) to withdraw money, and there’s a $5 fee for use in foreign ATMs. That’s fair, but it does mean that I will always try to withdraw €100 to reduce how many times I have to pay the fee. I might withdraw even more (like €200), but considering my luck, the machine would probably give me two €100 bills!

Oddity #2: Most stores seem oddly nonplussed about accepting €50 bills. Of course, this is limited to the stores I have frequented so far, but half the time I expect an alarm to go off and the police to swoop in an arrest me for trying to hand over a €50 bill for a €15 purchase. (I’m joking, but I did have to break a €50 for a €15 purchase today.) I have memories of the hometown Burger King refusing to accept $50 bills even for a purchase around twenty five dollars. So I had it ingrained in me as a child that you just don’t do that. If you can help it. Exceptions: buying clothes, etc, where the total tends to be higher by default.

Oddity #3: Dutch banks will look at you funny if you ask for smaller change. This one I only know from asking questions, but I don’t doubt it. I am used to the US where I had to ride the bus back and forth daily. It wasn’t that far of a ride, so I only needed $1 bills (about $4 a day), but… My routine was to go to the bank every week and break a twenty dollar bill into singles. The bank tellers knew me by name, and sometimes even started counting out singles before I was at the desk. (Useful except when I was really there to withdraw a rent.)

I did see a sign in Xenos (a thrift-ish store) saying no €100 bills or higher, though I do know they will accept €50s (even if your purchase is less than €8…!). Hmm.

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Categories: Culture, Everyday purchases | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “ATMs and stores (Or: Large denominations of euros)

  1. I’ve found that, at least on ABN-Amro ATMs, you can choose denominations if you enter your own withdrawal value. For instance, when you first select “withdraw money”, it will give you a list of common amounts, like 20, 50, 100, 150, etc. There is usually a button for ‘Other’. If you pick that, and then put in an amount like 100, it will then ask you how you want that split up, using 50s, 20s, and 10s,

  2. Thanks for the tip! That was the ATM I was trying to use the last few times, with no success. It’s quite possible the first time (the only time it did work the way I wanted it to) that I did ask for ‘Other’. *cross fingers* 🙂

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