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Alternative Banking vs Traditional: Which Is for You?

by College Life
Updated on July 25, 2023

For this article, we compiled a list comparing alternative banking options with traditional ones! This may be interesting for the bunch of new college students or graduates amongst you! We already touched upon this subject in another article where we broke down what bunq is and how it could benefit every student or young graduate out there. In this article, we'll show you how well bunq compares to old-fashioned banking services and its competitors.

Keep on reading to find out how you can best manage your finances!

The big guys

In case you are new here, in the Netherlands, there are a bunch of established traditional banking services. Much like any other country, these banks have a lot to offer but mostly to already established professionals. For daring, young spirits, these banks might be a bit outdated.  Don't worry! There's something for everyone here in the Netherlands! You might want to try alternative finance.


Our first big guy is ABN-AMRO. In general, what they offer is pretty straightforward: no big surprises but also no crazy fancy features. For example, one account will cost you approx. 1,55 euros per month and comes with one card. If you would like to have up to five accounts with two cards, one of which can be a credit card, you have to pay a monthly fee of 3.40 euros. It's pretty decent and budget-friendly. However, the one setback is that you sometimes need an e.dentifier box in order to pay using iDeal. Could be better if you're asking me!


ING is a very well-known Dutch bank recognizable through its orange lion. Very present in the Netherlands and a household name here, you cannot really go wrong with this one. There aren't that many crazy features to begin with. You can do your normal transfers through your banking app or on your web browser, you can use iDeal, and you can easily transfer from one bank account to another.

A major advantage with ING is that your first account is completely free! Of course, you still need a BSN number so do not forget to do all your paperwork at the Stadhuis first!


Like the aforementioned banks, Rabobank offers quite similar services. However, compared to ABN-AMRO, Rabobank offers you the possibility to pay with iDeal through a QR-code which eliminates the annoying hardware terminal. Concerning its rates, given that they are an internet bank,  they do not add any fees for opening up an account. However, you are limited to one savings account per person and combined with another person, you could potentially have up to three accounts.

Concerning the banking app on your phone, you are quite limited in the amount of accounts you can have. You can only open a joint account with one more person, as mentioned earlier!

Alternative banking all the way

Now, if you aren't really convinced by the three traditional banks we've just mentioned, do not worry. There's an alternative to everything! For those who want the convenience of not having to leave their house in order to create and maintain their accounts then keep on reading!


bunq is very much one of the easiest alternative banking solutions to date. An overview of its benefits and services can be found in our detailed article on easy banking. Some features which distinguish bunq from the rest are the ability to open up as many shared accounts as you want with  up to 10 people in each account, everything can be done through the mobile app, and the fact that it has a great internal policy of transparency!


Very similar to bunq, N-26 is also an internet-based, alternative banking service. No administrative paperwork, offices, or a billion people you have to talk to, just the app. They offer both Maestro and Mastercard and have a network all over the globe. They also offer very secure safety features such as face recognition (for the phones that support it) and touch ID. Moreover, they allow you to change your daily withdrawal limits and other limits all through the app. However, their biggest shortcoming (unlike bunq) is the fact that they do not offer iDeal, which could be rather inconvenient in the Netherlands.

So, what's next?

Well, after reading all these options, it's now time for you to decide where you trust to leave your money! Do you trust the old guys more or are you ready to take a new step in the direction of innovation and technology? Whatever you decide, let yourself be inspired by this article but make sure to do your own extensive research as well! And for all the new students, good luck with prepping for a new semester. It's going to be a wild one!

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