Monday , May 29 2023

ABN-AMRO bank is surcharging BES customers

The site Dossier Koninkrijkrelaties reports that the ABN AMRO bank has found a way to get rid of its account holders abroad. Suddenly, they are faced with a surcharge on the usual costs. For residents of Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, the additional charges since 1 July are 15 euros per month. For Aruba, this charge is ‘limited’ to 8 euros because the country falls into a lower risk category than the other islands.

Earlier this year, ABN AMRO surprised its Dutch customers living abroad by announcing that they were unilaterally ending their accounts. Under pressure from the Ministry of Finance), the bank — of which the Dutch State is a majority shareholder — suspended that decision. Reference was made to the initial bill of Member of parliament Joost Sneller (D66) which aims to oblige the big banks to open up their basic services to Dutch people abroad.

Risk profile

ABN AMRO not only lists Curacao, Aruba, and Sint Maarten abroad (which is formally correct), but also the public entities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba while they are fully part of the country of the Netherlands.

“For customers who do not live in the Netherlands or in a special municipality (BES islands), the costs we incur as a bank are on average higher. We charge a part of these costs. The surcharge is debited monthly at the same time as the cost of your payment products The amount of surcharge depends on the risk profile of the country in which you live,” the bank states on its website.


The introduction of a ‘risk premium’ makes the already pricey payment system between the European and Caribbean parts of the Netherlands even more expensive. Banks charge the extremely high ‘world rate’ for transactions between the two parts of the country. For each transfer, the fee for the banks concerned can be up to EUR 80 per transfer.

At the urging of the House of Representatives, Minister Wopke Hoekstra (Finance) had a few years ago investigated whether the payment system between the Netherlands and the BES islands could be simplified and thus made cheaper. The best solution seemed to be the creation of a BES Bank, but the incumbents successfully lobbied against it.

Read their full report HERE (in Dutch)

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