We explore what cards are widely accepted, how to avoid fees and more tips for traveling abroad.
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 places to pay with American Express and Discover 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 cash advances when you use a credit card.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Potential credit card fees in Ireland
Depending on your card and which currency you pay in, you may incur:
- Foreign transaction fees. Each time you use your credit card, you could pay a fee of up to 3% of the transaction. That’s up to $60 for $2,000 spent.
- Currency conversion fees. A merchant or ATM could offer you the option to pay in US dollars instead of euros. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC), which often has a poor exchange rate and higher fees.
Can I incur both fees on a single transaction?
Yes, you can. To avoid this, get a travel card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and always make sure to pay in the local currency.
Compare cards with no foreign transaction fees
If you travel often, getting a midrange or premium travel card could help you save money. But if you only occasionally travel, an entry-level card with no annual fee might be the better choice — you can stick to only using it when you travel abroad and it won’t cost you anything to own.
Are American Express and Discover cards accepted in Ireland?
In Ireland, American Express and Discover cards aren’t as popular as Mastercard or Visa, but in some places you can still pay with them.
If you want to make a cash withdrawal with an Amex card, look for Bank of Ireland or Centra ATMs. For Discover cards, Allied Irish Banks ATMs will work.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Ireland?
It really depends on where you’re going. You can pay with a card almost anywhere in the cities, but if you go to the countryside, you may need to bring some cash with you. Withdrawing cash with a credit card could lead to a cash advance fee of as much as 5% of the transaction. That’s a $40 fee when you withdraw $800. In addition to the fee, you’ll immediately start to incur a cash advance APR, which is usually considerably higher than purchase or balance transfer APRs.
Luckily, there’s a workaround: For payments, use your credit card; for cash withdrawals, use a debit card. Debit cards usually have no cash advance fees or APRs since you’re directly using your money and not the bank’s credit.
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.
Chip-and-PIN credit cards
In Ireland, you can use chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature cards wherever credit cards are accepted.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Ireland?
As far as safety goes, you can freely use your card in Ireland. However, there are some precautions you can take for increased security, such as:
- Use an ATM within 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 a bank, check for devices attached to the reader and cash return slot.
- 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.
- Keep your card in sight. Card cloning is rare in Ireland, but just in case, don’t let your card out of your sight.
How to prepare before traveling to Ireland
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. If you travel often, avoiding the 3% foreign transaction fee can save you a lot of money. Consider getting a travel card, as they usually have no foreign transaction fees.
- Opt for a Mastercard or Visa. They’re more universally accepted, and Ireland is no exception. That isn’t to say you can’t still use your American Express or Discover cards in some locations. There are also enough ATMs around if you want to withdraw cash with these cards as well.
- Get a backup card. Try to always carry a second card when traveling abroad, 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 if you want to make a cash withdrawal, keep in mind that credit cards have additional fees while most debit cards don’t.
- Inform your bank that you’re traveling 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 ring the bank up to resolve it.
Top travel cards to consider for frequent travelers to Ireland
If you travel to Ireland often, you may want to consider one of the following cards:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- United℠ Explorer Card
You’ll save money by not paying foreign transaction fees, and you’ll earn miles to redeem for airline tickets to Ireland and back.
If you don’t find any direct flights with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines or United Airlines, know that they’re all part of alliances that have partner airlines with flights between the US and Ireland. You can still earn and redeem miles on partner flights.
If you travel to Ireland, you can safely use your credit card to make payments and withdraw cash. You’ll just have to be careful to not incur fees that you can otherwise avoid. With a decent travel card, you’ll avoid paying foreign transaction fees. By simply declining the DCC when offered, you’ll also avoid a poor exchange rate and additional fees.
If you decide to make cash withdrawals, a decent debit card could be your best choice, since you’ll avoid paying cash advance fees and a cash advance APR.