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Using a credit card in Ireland
Credit cards are widely accepted in Ireland – but you'll want to avoid these common overseas card fees.
As a member of the European Union, Ireland is as safe as it gets for credit card use. Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted in the country, but you can also find some merchants who accept American Express cards. Unfortunately, you can’t pay taxis directly with a credit card, but you can get a mobile app that allows you to do so.
ATMs are widely available across Ireland for cash withdrawals but beware of additional fees that come with using a Canadian debit or credit card.
- Foreign transaction fees. Each time you use your credit card overseas, you could pay a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%. This fee is charged for each transaction you make overseas, which means you could pay up to $30 for every $1,000 you spend in Ireland. You can easily avoid this fee by applying for a no foreign transaction fee credit card.
- Currency conversion fees. A merchant could offer you the option to pay in Canadian dollars instead of euros. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC), which often has a poor exchange rate and fees. You can avoid this fee by paying in the local currency only.
- Cash advance fees. Using your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM will result in a cash advance transaction. This type of transaction comes with a fee as well as an immediate interest rate – there is usually no interest-free grace period with a cash advance transaction. You can avoid these fees by using your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM.
- ATM fees. Even when you use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, you’ll be charged an ATM fee. This fee can easily be avoided by applying for a debit card from a bank that has an international ATM partnership, such as Scotiabank or Tangerine.
Can I incur both foreign transaction and currency conversion fees on a single transaction?
Yes, you can. To avoid this, get a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees and always make sure to pay in the local currency.
In Ireland, American Express cards aren’t as popular as Mastercard or Visa, but some merchants – especially in big cities – may still accept Amex. If you want to make a cash withdrawal with an Amex card, look for the Bank of Ireland or Centra ATMs.
No, you should avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM unless it’s an emergency. Withdrawing cash using a credit card will have you facing two different fees: a cash advance fee and the cash advance interest rate. Unlike a purchase interest rate, cash advance rates are typically charged from the day you withdraw the cash – there is no interest-free grace period.
So, how should I get cash?
To avoid cash advance fees and interest rates, use your debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM. If you’re looking to avoid ATM fees, which usually sit around $2.50 to $5 per withdrawal, you can apply for a debit card from a bank that waives ATM fees. Both Scotiabank and Tangerine offer debit cards with no ATM fees – but you’ll have to use specific branded ATMs that belong to the Global ATM Alliance.
While most cities and towns will accept debit and credit cards, you’ll want to carry some cash on you if you’re heading into the countryside.
Do taxis in Ireland accept credit cards?
Some do, but most of them don’t accept credit cards. If you want to pay for your ride with a card, download the Mytaxi app for iOS and Android devices. With the app, you can also book a cab a few days in advance to pick you up from the airport. You could additionally use a rideshare service like Uber, which allows you to add your credit card as a payment method.
As far as safety goes, you can freely use your credit and debit cards in Ireland. However, there are some precautions you can take for increased security, such as:
- Use an ATM inside a bank. If for some reason the ATM eats your card, you’ll be able to quickly retrieve it. Also, ATMs within banks are less likely to be tampered with. Should you use one outside of a bank, check for skimmer devices attached to the reader or keypad.
- Take two credit cards. You can use your primary card for payments and keep your backup card in your hotel room safety deposit box. That way, you’ll never be left without money if you lose your card or it’s stolen.
- Keep your card in sight. Card cloning is rare in Ireland, but just in case, don’t let your card out of your sight when you hand it over at restaurants, pubs or shops.
- Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. If you travel often, avoiding the high foreign transaction fee can save you a lot of money. Consider getting at least one credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees.
- Opt for a Mastercard or Visa branded card. These brands are more universally accepted, and Ireland is no exception. That isn’t to say you can’t still use your American Express in some locations.
- Get a backup card. Try to always carry a second card when travelling overseas, given you don’t know what could happen to your primary card.
- Get some cash. In general, you can pay with plastic almost anywhere in Ireland, but you’ll want to carry a bit of cash on you just in case.
- Inform your bank that you’re travelling to Ireland. If you don’t let your bank know ahead of time the dates you’ll be gone and where you’ll be, it may block your card if it suspects the charges are fraudulent.
- Get your bank’s phone number. If you lose your card or have payment issues, you’ll be able to reach your bank easily and resolve any problems quickly.
If you travel to Ireland, you can safely use your credit and debit cards to make payments and withdraw cash. With the right credit card, you can avoid paying foreign transaction fees, and by simply declining paying in Canadian dollars when offered, you’ll also avoid a poor exchange rate and additional fees.
If you decide to make cash withdrawals, a debit card could be your best choice, since you’ll avoid paying cash advance fees and a cash advance APR. Consider applying for a debit card from a bank that has an international ATM partnership so you can avoid overseas ATM fees.
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