I recently had the good fortune to attend Kristie's fabulous Welsh wedding and since we were already across the pond, my husband and I added a few days in Amsterdam to our vacation.
We've been to London before (Feb 2011) and we spent a good bit of that trip running around via the tube so we figured getting around this time via rail and tram would be just as easy. Fortunately for us, getting across The UK to Norh Wales and back via trains was just fine. We had no trouble whatsoever and honestly, even though long, trains are not as quick as driving, it was a breeze. The same can not be said once we arrived in Amsterdam.
Had I known anything about a smart-chip credt card or read this article before that trip, things might have been different, for us, but instead, we found ourselves trapped in the Schipol (Amsterdam Airport) unable to purchase train tickets out of there via teller or automated machine AND unable to find an ATM that would dispense money to us, FOR HOURS.
It was such an unsettling experience that I don't want it to happen to any of you lovely readers, so 1) get the proper card, if you can, 2) get cash from a machine BEFORE crossing through the customs barrier (the machines inside are more accepting of "American" credit cards), 3) your bank's debit card may work in some of automated machines even if your credit card won't, 4) an ING ATM is your best bet of getting cash once through customs and out into Amsterdam and, 5) some shops/museums will take your "old-fashioned" mag-strip credit card, you just have to look for their terminal (where you would swipe the card yourself) to have a swipe slot instead of one where you insert the card (like at a gas station or ATM machine).
Based on that article and other research, this could (and is) be a problem in more than just Amsterdam so if you are planning a trip across the pond any time soon, better be safe and make sure you have everything you need from the get go.
(Photo from: Discovery.com)