International Student Blog

Money, money, money

I recently got a comment asking for tips on cash, debit and credit cards. What an excellent question. Remember, though, that it can be difficult to open a bank account if you are here for less than 6 months. So if you’re here in the short term, you may want to use your account from home. Here’s my experience on money handling practicalities:

Our helpful commentor said, “I heard that you can pay for everything using a debit/credit card in Norway. Is that true, and if yes, is a debit card enough to get you through daily life?”

You heard right! Personally, I almost never have cash. The only times I’ve been sad about that are the rare occasion where there is a coffee machine that takes coins only. Generally, a debit card, student card, Skyss (transit) card, and laundry card (if you’re in student housing) are what it takes to get you through your daily life. I can’t think of any other examples, apart from above-mentioned mediocre but cheap coffee, where I regretted my lack of cash-carrying.

That being said, I have spent most of my time in Norway in larger cities. If anyone wants to weigh in about carrying cash outside of major cities and towns, please comment below!



Our commentor also asked: “…[D]o you have any suggestions on which banks most students tend to open accounts with?”

I don’t know much about other banks, but I personally opened an account with DnB and I’m reasonably happy with them. One fabulous thing (as an American, anyway) about Norwegian banks is that you can not only bill pay via your account online (something we’re used to already), but you can quickly and easily transfer money in to friends’ bank accounts (say if you’re traveling together and sharing expenses). Yet another reason not to have to carry cash.




Other options

You might want to look at other sites that feature information on banking in Norway or opening a Norwegian Bank Account. The following banks are nationwide:

Danske Bank

DnB is the only bank that currently has English language online banking, so that may be helpful to keep in mind if you don’t speak Norsk. Also, remember that there may be a charge for having a bank account and these fees as well as other policies can vary from bank to bank.

DnB also has a handy mobile app so you can keep an eye on your budget (and I hear other banks have apps as well, but perhaps not in English).



Opening an account

Ask the bank what documents to bring to open the account. You’re likely to need to bring the following when you open an account in person:

  • Norwegian national identity number (only assigned to students here more than 6 months)
  • Housing contract showing your Norwegian address
  • Passport
  • Passport photo
  • Citizens of certain countries may require additional documentation

New Style British Passport with Microchip Data. Focus at 'Passport' and 'Camera Icon' Narrow DOF

Remember your passport! Image:


Most banks provide a VISA debit card which you’ll receive separately from your PIN code both by post. This card has a chip, which is only interesting and new if you’re from the U.S., I think. You can insert said chip into the debit/credit card machine instead of swiping the card. Occasionally not having a chip card can be a problem, but mostly cards that only have a swipe strip (pretty sure that’s the technical term for it) work too.



In the meantime

What do you do before you have a Norwegian debit card?

If you transferred money to SiB as a self-financing student you can get money cards of some of your money from SiB while you’re waiting for your debit card (see image below for details).




Information from the Spring 2015 semester startup brochure. Remember to check the newest brochure for any updates! Images: 

If you have a debit or credit card from your country, make sure you have the pin and are aware of any currency conversion fees, but these also work in Norway (almost always).

When your studies are complete

Remember to close your account when you leave Norway. You can read more about that here.


Thanks to everyone who’s been commenting. Keep those student life questions coming, everybody! I’m happy to address them in the blog!

23 comments for “Money, money, money

  1. Marta
    27. July 2015 at 14:21

    It is possible to open the account without passport? Does any bank accept ID card?

    • Stand Hiestand
      28. July 2015 at 13:32

      Hei hei, thanks for your comment! That’s a great question, the information I found says you may need to bring a passport, but it may depend on the bank. You can always look up banks online to see if they have information available or try contacting them directly to ask.

    • Johanne
      30. July 2015 at 19:19

      Norwegian banks loves passports, so I would recommend bringing one! You might be able to open the account, but you won’t get any ID on your debit card without a passport. (I’m speaking as a norwegian now, so there might be other rules concerning foreigners opening accounts as well.)

      • Stand Hiestand
        31. July 2015 at 10:55

        Hei hei! Thanks for your comment. It’s helpful to get the Norwegian-expertise on these topics! Appreciate it very much 🙂

  2. Arne
    27. July 2015 at 15:51

    Nice article, however as a (somewhat non-satisfied) member of DNB, I might add a few things:
    – When opening an account, consider the timeframe you’re at: If you open up an account at DNB, it can take up to one month before the account is really opened. They will circulate your information to Oslo and back, and not only did that take a long time for me, the contracts will arrive through the post, which is not always reliable – I found out the hard way. As a comparison, Nordea will give you an account on the same day before you leave their office, and they will take a picture of you (which means you don’t need to bring your own passport photo).
    – After getting an account at DNB, you will be shipped a debit card, internet bank credentials, and a code generator. These will come via post again (except for me, as the post failed to deliver me my bank card and it got destroyed – there was some subsequent hassle with getting a new card and I finally got it after 2 months of waiting). DNB will never call you, or inform you in any other way either. So if you don’t get the necessary things via post, you should contact them yourself. Also, to this date, I have never actually spoken to anyone at the DNB flagship office at Torgallmenningen. I have tried calling them a dozen times but have never been answered. This is frustrating, if you decide to order you contract/card/anything to their office instead of you postbox. Also, the emails I have sent to DNB have never been answered.
    – Many nordic students may want to go to Nordea, as this is a more-or-less unified bank within the nordic countries. There are benefits if you have an account in Nordea in several countries.
    – Not trying to bash DNB here too much, but I have had a _really_ hard time with them. The internet banking works smoothly, but getting started with an account and especially troubleshooting when things didn’t work out was painfully slow.

    I’m Finnish, if that matters. I guess nordic citizens are considered to get “an easy start” in Norway/Bergen. Or so I heard.

    • Stand Hiestand
      28. July 2015 at 13:11

      Hei Hei, thanks so much for sharing – it is very helpful to get input from other students and hear their experiences! I’m sorry you had a less than ideal experience with DnB, I certainly hope things resolved in a way that worked out in the end for you. I have had a pretty good experience with DnB, but I am so glad you wrote in and told us about what happened for you, so students know that experiences can vary. Thanks again, and sorry to hear about your frustration!

  3. Brana
    27. July 2015 at 18:24

    You have a bery nice and helpful blog. Well done.
    I can answer your question about card use in small town(s) in Norway.
    I lived in a small town called Ås and the only problem I had without cash was paying for the bus tickets. In a small place there is novhere to buy a ticket, but in a bus, and they only take cash. This is not a problem if you have a ruter app, but I think one needs Norwegian card to pay for the ticket with this app. Other than that evry store, pub of caffè has a bank terminal, so if you have a card you’ll have no problem there.

    • Stand Hiestand
      28. July 2015 at 13:04

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your experience with card use in small towns in Norway! I was recently on Lofoten and only needed cash once as well 🙂

  4. AJ
    27. July 2015 at 19:24


    Having grown up in a small city in Norway I can safely say that the same rules apply there as in any big city. However, what is worth a mention is that some fast food shops (some in the larger cities, but many in the smaller) often do not take card. Some small tourist shops also do not take cards.


    • Stand Hiestand
      28. July 2015 at 13:05

      Hei AJ, Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your experience with card use outside large cities in Norway! Always helpful to have input from other students!

  5. GAN
    27. July 2015 at 21:43

    When speaking abut debet cards and Visa, it is important to remember that almost all norwegian issued debet cards are both BankAxept and Visa. in 99% of the cases where you use the card in Norway, it is the BankAxept-part that is used. This is because BankAxept transaction costs about 0.30-0.40 NOK per transaction for the merchant, whereas VISA-transaction often costs 2% of the transaction amount or more.

    Therefore Visa debet cards are NOT accepted everywhere, even though locations that accepts them have increased very much the last five years or so. So DON’T come thinking that your foreign debet card will work everywhere here, because it won’t. MasterCard coverage is not as high as Visas in Norway, but getting better. You won’t starve. If you have a Maestro, Diners, AmEx or other cards, don’t expect them to work anywhere at all, except for “tourist traps” that sell troll figurines and “lusekofter” or hotels (plus ATMs, I guess). Not all plastic are created equal.

    • Stand Hiestand
      28. July 2015 at 13:06

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your experience and knowledge about debit and credit card use in Norway! Very helpful 🙂

  6. Marte
    27. July 2015 at 23:28

    Generally speaking, if it’s indoors you can use your debit card. Stands that are outside are les likely to accept cards.

    • Stand Hiestand
      28. July 2015 at 13:07

      Hei hei! Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your tip for card use Norway! Your input is much appreciated!

  7. Ami
    29. November 2015 at 10:49

    Hei hei. This is a nice article and I thank you all for sharing your experience. I am lost about which account I should use here in Norway. I international student, and came new to Norway learning Norsk. Some say that DNB is good for students, and many like Danske bank with “basis account” with has almost same specification as DNB with only difference thaat Dansk (FOKUS) gives you MasterCard, and DNB gives you Visa Debit Card. Anyone knows other differences about the fees and paying bills or withdrawal fees? I am not expert about banks, so I need an advise which one I should choose for my case. N.B: I am staying here for 4 years, and I am 28 years student.

    • Stand Hiestand
      3. December 2015 at 20:25

      Thanks for commenting! I don’t know about the differences in fees from bank to bank, I’m sure you could ask them in person or check online, and if anyone knows and wants to comment — please do!

      I wish you the best and I hope you enjoy your stay!

  8. raja
    7. February 2016 at 17:38

    I want to know as a international student how much money I can withdraw from my account per month

    • Stand Hiestand
      9. February 2016 at 23:06

      I’m certainly not qualified to answer this, I’m afraid. If it’s your personal account with your own money in it, I’m sure it is up to you, as long as you can maintain a budget that works for your needs 🙂
      If it’s not your personal account, you’ll have to ask whomever is providing the funds. I wish you the best of luck!

  9. Austin Rayford
    24. August 2017 at 15:28

    Recent update here: I tried to go to DNB to make an account in person and they told me the entire application process is ONLINE now. It is not possible to open an account in person. You will receive an email once you apply online that asks for certain documentation which you will eventually have to mail to their main office in Oslo for approval. IMO this makes the process much lengthier and inconvenient for customers when it seems that in the past they could just show up in person with all the necessary documents and open an account. Good luck, Austin

    • Stand Hiestand
      16. September 2017 at 17:40

      Hey there, thanks for the update 🙂
      It was indeed the case that in the past you could go in person directly to DNB, sorry to hear they’ve made this a much more difficult process! Perhaps other banks are a better option at this point?

  10. Serge
    9. November 2018 at 23:55

    Possible to have an account when I am from another country
    In Africa,Rwanda

    • Stand Hiestand
      20. December 2018 at 18:35

      Hi there,
      Yes it is possible to get a bank account when you are from another country. But be prepared, it can take some time to get through all the requirements for residency before you are allowed to open the account. So have some funds available (Sammen can also give you a cash card with some of your money if you are a self-financing student who puts through funds to Sammen before arrival).

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