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Travel money guide: Ireland
Planning a trip to Ireland? Here’s all you need to know when preparing to spend in the Emerald Isle.
As Ireland has its own unique currency and travel money customs, so it’s important to do your research before you leave. Ireland is divided politically between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Island. Euros are the currency of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland use the British pound.
We have a look at spending in euros and pounds as well as tips to make your money go further in Ireland. Organize your travel money helps for a stress-free vacation.
Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options
Some debit cards and travel cards waive international transaction charges and give you free international ATM withdrawals. Use a travel card or debit card for everyday purchase and cash withdrawals when you need euros or pounds, and a credit card for everything else.
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, why not apply for a credit card with travel features? Complimentary insurance can save you hundreds before you’ve even left the country. There are even cards which offer extended interest-free terms for up to a year or more.
Compare travel credit cards
How much should I budget for my vacation to Ireland?
Traveling to Ireland is not cheap. Even budget travelers should plan for at least $50 per day. If you’re looking to stay in nicer hotels rather than hostels or dorm beds, you’re looking at a budget of $130 to $250 a day. You’ll find Northern Ireland a bit more expensive.
|Hostel dorm bed
$10–$25 per night
$15–$150 per night
$200+ per night
|Get a full Irish breakfast sandwich on Nassau Street
|A meal at a midrange restaurant
$15 per head
|3-course meal at a Michelin star restaurant
$120 a head
|Visit the national galleries of Dublin
|Skip the lines at the Guinness Storehouse
$20 (early entry and first service)
|3-day tour of South Ireland starting and returning to Dublin
From $250 per person
*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
- Tip: There are credit cards, debit cards and travel cards which don’t charge for ATM withdrawals. Be sure to apply for a card with low ATM withdrawal fees so you can get euros or pounds for cheap.
- Tip: Always pay in euros or pounds when you’re using your credit or debit card. You may be asked to pay in USD, but you’ll get robbed on the exchange rate if you do this.
Travel card, debit card or credit card?
You shouldn’t have a problem using any Visa or Mastercard product at Irish shops and ATMs. American Express can also be used, but at fewer places. Diners Club is accepted in fewer places than American Express and Discover cards are not accepted at all.
Travel money options for Ireland at a glance
|Travel money option||Pros||Cons|
|Debit cards for travel||
|Prepaid travel money cards||
|Credit cards for travel||
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.
How each type of travel money works in Ireland
There are only a handful of debit accounts with features suited to travelers. What you want to keep an eye out for is a card that doesn’t charge for currency conversion or international ATM withdrawals — local ATM operator fees may still apply.
- Tip: Make sure you tell your bank about your travel plans to Ireland. There’s a good chance your card will be blocked if you try and use it outside of the country without notice.
Prepaid travel cards
All travel cards let you load euros and pounds, the respective currencies of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Pounds are also used throughout the rest of neighboring Great Britain — most trips to Ireland also involve a trip to the United Kingdom.
You’ll be able to spend without paying for currency conversion — however, you’ll pay ATM fees, reload fees and be subject to an inflated travel card exchange rate.
- Tip: Depending on the card you use, you may end up with a higher or lower exchange rate. You can check with your providers to see what rates apply and work out the most affordable option.
Credit cards are great for larger purchases like travel bookings and souvenirs. Credit cards give you time to payback what you’ve spent before interest is charged on purchases. Some credit cards also provide complimentary international travel insurance when you buy your airfare with your card.
A credit card with no currency conversion fee can be a cost effective way to make purchases in Ireland. The exchange rate set in place by your card applies and it is usually as close as you can get to the market rate. Drawbacks include international transaction fees, interest and ATM withdrawal charges.
- Tip: Even with these travel benefits, avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash. Cash advance interest and cash advance fees apply for this type of transaction — and you don’t get interest-free days either.
Traveler’s checks have been made redundant by the bank’s fraud protection policies and the ever increasing number of places accepting card payments. If you’re the victim of card fraud, your bank or card provider will be able to give you a full refund if you have complied with the terms of the Visa and Mastercard Zero Liability Guarantees.
- Tip: Check our page on fraudulent credit card transactions for information on what to do and who to call if you’re ripped off.
Case study: Interview with Luke about spending in Ireland
Where did you visit?
Luke visited Dublin, Limerick (Ireland), Belfast (Northern Ireland) and then headed over to Edinburgh (Scotland) and London (England).
What cards did you take with you?
- Travelex travel card
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Why did you take these cards with you?
Luke preloaded both euros and pounds sterling the Travelex travel card for everyday purchases and ATM withdrawals. He didn’t pay anything to withdraw pounds in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Island because of a global ATM alliance between Barclays and Bank of America.
He used the Barclaycard to pay for purchases like flights, car rental and hotel bookings. A low purchase rate and no currency conversion fee are the main reasons he used this card. He avoided using his card for ATM withdrawals so he wouldn’t get hit with cash advance fees.
What about ATM withdrawals?
Luke withdrew the pounds and euro equivalent of about $250 dollars each time from his travel card. He saves on ATM fees because of the Global ATM Alliance with Bank of America and Barclays Bank. Luke did pay ATM fees in the Republic of Ireland of two euros per transaction.
Could you use your cards everywhere?
Even though Luke’s Travelex travel money card didn’t have his name printed on the front, he didn’t have any trouble using it in any of the cities he visited.
What do you think is the best way to travel with money to Ireland?
Luke says use a combination of products: a debit card or travel card and credit card. Start with looking at products that don’t charge for currency conversion and then compare fees.
Do you have any tips?
Let your bank know about your travel plans to avoid the hassle of calling your bank to unlock your credit card. Luke says he failed to do that, and Barclaycard blocked his card once he used it in Ireland.
Why we like: Travelex Money Card
Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.
- Not linked to your bank account for safety.
- Convert currency with a 5.50% foreign exchange fee
- Contactless payments
- Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.
A guide to Ireland’s coins and banknotes
Did you know?
In the Republic of Ireland, the official currency is the euro. Notes are €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500, while coins are 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2.
In Northern Ireland, pound sterling is the local currency. Notes are £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100, while coins are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2.
Buying euros and pounds sterling in the US
ATMs take the hassle out of getting local currency. Americans don’t have to pay to enter Ireland or the United Kingdom, so there’s no reason why you should need a large amount of cash right away. However it can be a good idea to have some small bills to pay for food or a train or taxi from the airport.
US banks will charge a commission to exchange funds – Travelex is a better option. There’s no commission and Travelex has a number of locations, including airports that make it convenient.
Get travel insurance quotes for your vacation to Ireland
Plan how you’ll spend your money on your trip to the Emerald Isle to save money. If Ireland isn’t your only destination, have a look at our other travel money locations guides:
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