The public transport smartcard: OV-chipkaart

The OV-chipkaart is the way you pay for public transport in the Netherlands.

An OV-chipkaart is a plastic card, the same size as a credit card. You can load either money (a balance) or a specific travel product onto the OV-chipkaart. Once you have done that, you can travel on any bus, tram or train. Not only with HTM, but also with all the other public transport companies in the Netherlands. There are two kinds of OV-chipkaart:

A personal OV-chipkaart

Persoonlijkeovchipkaart _landelijkPersoonlijkeovchipkaartfoto _landelijk

If you travel a lot by public transport, a personal OV-chipkaart is convenient. You can have various different travel products loaded on it at the same time, and any age-based discounts (ages 4 to 11 or 65 and over) can be applied. All nice and handy, on a single card. You can also arrange for the balance on the card to be topped up automatically (from a Dutch bank account). Read more about the personal OV-chipkaart or apply for one straight away. A personal OV-chipkaart costs €7.50.

Anonymous OV-chipkaart

Anonieme OV-chipkaart An anonymous card is not linked to any specific person. More than one person can use the anonymous card, but not at the same time. You cannot load season tickets onto it, there are no age-related discounts and you load a balance onto it yourself. Read more about the anonymous OV-chipkaart. An anonymous OV-chipkaart costs €7.50.

Where can you buy one?

You can buy an anonymous OV-chipkaart:
- from NS ticket machines. You can pay with your bank card (Dutch or most European cards), a credit card or cash (coins only).
- at shops such as supermarkets, Bruna and Primera. Search for a sales outlet near you.
- at an HTM Service Point (Den Haag Centraal, Den Haag HS, Zoetermeer Centrum-West). You can pay with your bank card (Dutch or most European cards), a credit card or cash.
You can take your anonymous OV-chipkaart with you immediately.

You can buy a personal OV-chipkaart: online on the OV-chipkaart website.
1: Fill in the digital form.
2: Add a digital passport photo.
3: Pay €7.50 by iDEAL (Internet banking), credit card or PayPal.
Your personal OV-chipkaart will be sent by regular mail to your home address (including addresses in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany).

Loading money onto your OV-chipkaart

Before you can travel with it, you have to have loaded money (a balance) onto your OV-chipkaart. That can be done in various ways.

  • Yellow ‘loading and pick-up devices’
    These machines can be found in various bookshops and supermarkets. You can pay with your bank card (Dutch or most European cards)
  • NS ticket machines
    These machines can be found at train stations. You can pay with your bank card (Dutch or most European cards), a credit card or with cash (coins only).
  • HTM Service Points
    These are shops that you can find at the Den Haag Centraal, Den Haag HS and Zoetermeer Centrum-West stations. You can pay by credit card or bank card (Dutch or most European cards), or with cash (coins and notes). 
  • Automatic top-ups
    If you arrange for automatic top-ups, an amount will be downloaded onto your OV-chipkaart as soon as the balance runs out. You can choose for yourself what amount. That amount will then be deducted from your bank account.  More information about automatic top-ups.
  • Webshop
    You can purchase a balance for your OV-chipkaart at the HTM webshop. You pay by iDEAL or credit card. Then you have to take your OV-chipkaart to a ‘loading device’ in order to actually download that balance onto it. Find a loading point near you.

How do you use the OV-chipkaart?

Checking in
You check in at the start of your journey using a card reader. Every bus and tram has one by every door. This is how it works:
1. Hold the OV-chipkaart up to the ‘Kaart hier’ (Card here) sticker on the card reader. Wait for the bleep.
2. The card reader checks whether you have enough of a balance to be able to travel, or a valid travel product.
3. The boarding fee of €4 is then deducted automatically from your balance.

Note: if your trip costs less than €4, the difference will be refunded to you when you check out.

Checking out
When you get off the bus or tram, or if you are switching to a different bus or tram, you have to check out. This is how it works:
1. Hold your OV-chipkaart up to the ‘Kaart hier’ (Card here) sticker on the card reader again. Wait for the two bleeps.
2. The card reader calculates the amount that you have to pay for the journey. That amount is settled automatically against the boarding fare.
3. The screen on the card reader tells you exactly what amount has been deducted from your balance (on the left). The remaining balance on your OV-chipkaart is also shown (on the right).

Error
If anything goes wrong during check in or check out, you will hear three bleeps.

What if you forget to check out?  
If you forget to check out, €4 will have been deducted from your OV-chipkaart, even if the trip would have cost less. You can ask for that money to be refunded: go to an HTM Service Point at Zoetermeer Centrum-West, Den Haag HS or the OV Service Shop at Den Haag Centraal.

Journey costs

The price of a journey with HTM is made up of a basic fare of €0.89 plus 15.5 eurocents per kilometre.  If you have a personal OV-chipkaart and you are aged between 4 and 11 or over 65, you travel with a discount as standard. The basic fare is then €0.59 and the kilometre rate is 10.2 eurocents. What this means is that the fare for a journey is €0.89 plus the number of kilometres you travel times the kilometre rate. Plan your journey on 9292 and you will see the cost of the trip at the bottom.
Switching over? If you switch to a different tram or bus, then you do not pay the basic fare (€0.89) again. This is handled automatically if the time between checking out from the first bus or tram and checking in on the next one is less than 35 minutes. For the second trip, you only pay the number of kilometres times the kilometre rate.

Travelling by train

If you are going to travel on an NS train, then you also have to activate your OV-chipkaart for travelling with NS in first or second class. You can read how to do that and how to load a balance onto your card and how to travel with NS here.

More information about the OV-chipkaart