Travel card (OV-chip card)

To use the public transportation in Maastricht, first make sure you have a travel card (OV-chip card). This card is the main form of payment for your travel in the Netherlands. If you forget your OV-chip card you can still buy regular bus tickets from the bus driver, or disposable OV-chip cards for trains at the train station but they are almost always more expensive than having an OV-chip card. Remember to always check in and check out by tapping your OV-chip card when travelling within the Netherlands! 

How can I get an OV card?

You can buy an OV-chip card online or at a public transportation service desk. You can order a personal chip card online from the official site. If you are eligible for the student travel product, you need to couple your product with your OV-chip card. You can do this by visiting this site. After you have successfully linked your card, you can load your product on your chip card at a pick-up device and are ready to travel.

The OV card costs €7.50 and it is valid for five years. 

One option for students who need an OV Chipkaart is the combo ISIC/OV Chipkaart. This can act as both a Dutch public transport and international student card, and gives you a 15% discount off every off-peak journey (including weekends) that you make. 

The card costs €15, which is slightly more than the standard personal OV Chipkaart at €7.50. You also have to pay a monthly subscription of €4.50. You can check how much a standard journey costs on the website and from this estimate how much you would likely save with the card and then whether it will be worth it for you. Be sure to take into account that the card also allows you access to all of the ISIC discounts

One thing to mention though – you can’t add any extra discounts on top of the 15%. Normally, if you’re with someone who has free travel then they can give you a 40% discount if you are travelling with them. This would not be possible if you have the ISIC/OV card. 

In addition, if you decided to start working 32 hours a month and got studiefinanciering including the free travel product, then you would need to get your own normal personal OV chipkaart in order to benefit from this. 

You can learn more about the OV-chip card on the official website.

How do I top up the OV chip card?

In order to pay with your OV-chip card, you must first top-up your card with money. To ride the bus you need at least €4 on your chip card. To ride the train it’s €20 (or €10 if you have the student travel product). This money functions as a kind of deposit. You can top up your chip card at the ticket machines at train stations or via the internet. Whenever you check-in on the bus or train, the corresponding deposit is withdrawn. Upon checking-out, the deposit will be refunded and your ride billed. The deposit is a safety measure to prevent travellers from not checking out. Rates depend on the public transport provider you’re travelling with, but you always pay per kilometre. You can calculate the cost of your travel in advance on by planning your journey.

I forgot to check out with my OV card, what should I do?

It’s unfortunate, but not to worry because this can be fixed! When using an OV-chip card you must check in and out. You do this upon departure (checking-in) and arrival (checking-out) by holding your OV-chip card in front of the card readers on the bus itself or at the train station. You must always check in and out, even if you are on your free travel period or changing operators as failing to do so might lead to fines or losing your credit. So, if you are switching from an NS train to an Arriva Transport train (as is very common in Maastricht), check out at NS, and then in again at Arriva Transport. If you have forgotten to check out, you can fix this on the official OV-chip card website.

Why should I get an OV card?

There are many reasons why you should get an OV card. Firstly, you can download subscriptions onto your OV card and thus travel for cheaper. Read about the different subscriptions here.

Secondly, if you are studying in the Netherlands and are receiving studiefinanciering, you are eligible for benefits on the OV chipkaart with the student travel product. This product enables you to travel for free or at a discounted rate with Dutch public transport. You can choose between free travel on weekdays or during the weekend. If you choose to travel for free during the weekdays you’ll also receive a discount during the weekend (and vice versa).  You must apply for a personal OV-chip card in order to use the student travel product. Click here to visit the official student travel product website or visit the website for more information.

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