The Best Car Rental Company in Ireland

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Ireland Car Rental. black hatchback with boot open.

Another car rental post?

Yup. I can’t help myself.

If you’re new around these parts, I have written a lot about car rentals in Ireland before (A Comprehensive Guide to Renting a Car in Ireland, How to Use your Credit Card for Car Rental Insurance in Ireland, & The #1 Thing You Should Know Before Renting a Car In Ireland).

Almost all of the information is as relevant as the day I wrote them.

But one thing has changed recently. My unwavering love for the Dan Dooley car rental company in Ireland has, well…, wavered.

You see Dan Dooley used to be the only truly Irish Car Rental company left at the major Irish airports. They had the best customer service and upfront pricing out of all the car rental companies.

But they were bought out by Enterprise in 2017.

For most of 2017 and even into 2018, Dan Dooley still operated like it’s own company so I didn’t mind giving them my full recommendation.

But now…

If you go to the Dan Dooley website, you’ll see that they are simply an agent for the Enterprise and Alamo car rental companies.

There is no longer a Dan Dooley car rental counter at the Irish airports.

Ugh.

I’d so much rather rent from a local Irish company than an international one, but now that’s not an option.

Now that I am researching my own car rental for our trip this spring, the field is wide open.

Who am I going to use? Who am I going to recommend to others?

Ok before the big reveal, you have to know something.

I believe, about 99% of the people traveling to Ireland for the very first time should purchase the extra Super Collision Damage Waiver insurance (SCDW).

Car Rental Company in Ireland; Ireland Car Rental
If you look closely you can see a tiny little baby Alexander head in the front seat (don’t worry we were only out of the car seat while parked to see the lovely views).

It’s not cheap–about 20-25 euros per day, but it’s worth it.

I call it the platinum, “if-I-scratch-and-dent-the-whole-car-it-doesn’t-matter”, car rental insurance.

You might also find this platinum insurance listed as SCDW, Top Cover or Excess (so confusing, I know–I like my name way better).

Toss those keys back in and don’t worry about the scratches and the dings.

You’re covered.

The tricky part is that purchasing the SCDW isn’t always outlined in those big guy car rental company quotes. You may need to read the terms and conditions to find out exactly how much it is per day and calculate your total cost.

So which is the best car rental company in Ireland?

Drum roll please…

any of them.

If you get the full SCDW insurance, you are covered. All of the companies provide roughly the same service without much distinction.

Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Alamo…take your pick.

Go with the cheapest option or a rental company you already have a relationship with.

My method for booking a rental car in Ireland.

Ireland Car Rental two red cars on Ballygally coast road in Northern Ireland. Car rental company in Ireland.

I can be kind of persnickety about my trip planning. I like to know how much I intend to spend. I like to map out where I am going to go. What I am going to do.

I also like to know I am getting the best deal on a car rental.

I’ve mentioned before that one way to do this is to make a spreadsheet. I thought it would be helpful to share my template. Enter your email below to get access. 

It’s certainly not fancy. It only includes the things I am considering for my car rental (automatic quote for a standard size car, an extra driver, SCDW, & driving into Northern Ireland).

But it does let me see all of my options and helps me compare apples to apples.

Feel free to copy and make one of your own.

Here are the items that could impact the cost of your rental

  • Super Collision Damage Waiver Insurance (SCDW)
  • Tire & Windshield Insurance
  • Personal Accident Insurance
  • Theft Protection
  • Prepaid Fuel
  • Additional Driver
  • Child Seats
  • GPS
  • Wifi Unit
  • Cross Border Fee (Traveling to Northern Ireland/Vice Versa)
  • Location Surcharge
  • Terminal Pickup Fee (rather than being shuttled to car pickup location)
  • One Way Rental Fee (picking up and dropping off at different locations)
  • Roadside Assistance

This time, Conn’s offered the best price for us.

Working with a car rental agency (a middle-man)

Generally speaking, I like to rent with a car rental company directly. In case any issues arise, I don’t have a middle man to deal with.

However, there are a couple of agents on my spreadsheet, like Conn’s Ireland Car Rental, a Hertz agent, and Irish Car Rentals, a EuropCar agent.

I like Conn’s Ireland Car Rental because it includes SCDW and all other major insurances (except tire and wheel) in the quote. If you don’t have the time to dig through the terms and conditions and want to be sure SCDW is included, this is a good option.

(But note, additional drivers, child seats, GPS, Wifi, pre-paid fuel, and wheel and tire coverage are all added at the time of pick-up. So if you need any of these, you will have to read through the terms to find out the current price–which may not save you any time in the long run).

We used Conn’s once several years ago out of Dublin with no problems except that our car wasn’t the greatest. I don’t blame that on Conn’s–Dublin is a big airport and they rotate out a lot of vehicles. We just didn’t hit it right that time.

I will say that Conn’s is known for great customer service. Just this week, I was working with someone one-on-one and they raved about how helpful he was (and that’s not the first time I’ve heard that).

Irish Car Rentals is also listed as it is an Irish company and often comes out to be one of the lower priced options.

Some More Resources

It must be a car rental kind of week. Corey, over at the Irish Fireside, just posted a fantastically informative video about renting a car in Ireland.

Rolling hills of Ireland and foxglove flowers. Text reads Tips for choosing a rental car in Ireland.

I’d highly recommend you give it a watch before you reserve your rental.

I’ve also got a few more tips up my sleeve about car rentals and all the other important things you need to know for your trip to Ireland. Enter your email below to grab my Ultimate Ireland Packing List and my most favorite tips for traveling to Ireland.

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23 Comments

  1. Hi Stephanie, I have really found your Dan Dooley info spot on (and I have used them in prior years and they were great!) and I also followed their buy out. I used middle man Auto Europe for my last road trip in November. I used them 2 times before for France road trips. All experiences were great and customer service also great. Nov trip was Auto Europe and Hertz. It is pre pay but nice because I could pre pay one method (aka another travel member paid it) then used my card when I got to Ireland. My daughter, who is under 25, used Dan Dooley (Enterprise) in Nov. As I recall they were one of the only companies who would rent to under 25- and she paid an extra premium. Thanks for updated info.!

    1. I haven’t used Auto Europe to actually make a rental, but I have used them to get a baseline of what the cost for a particular time is roughly running (easier than checking all the sites in a pinch).

      Ohhh–you reminded me…I need to update my list of companies that rent to less than 25 and over 70 (and how much the fee is..many its usually so expensive!). Thank you!!

  2. I am happy you did not say Dan Dooley was a good option. I used them in September 2018 because you had recommended them in an article I read and the customer service was terrible and I had to wait at the airport 5 hours for my car to be ready. They also over charged me and I never received a refund. Dan Dooley blamed Enterprise and Enterprise blamed Dan Dooley. It was a nightmare!!

    1. Awful!!! I am so sorry you went through that! I hope it didn’t put too much of a damper on your trip. I hate when things like that leave a bad taste in my mouth about a whole experience (even if you try to not let it!).

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    Thanks for the update re: Dan Dooley. Following your advice last year(May 2018), we rented from Dooley at Dublin Airport, but began picking up bad vibes when we reached the desk. We were told to take our preprinted Dooley forms to the Enterprise desk over in the parking lot …..uh, oh. The place was in a dither, no one seemed in charge and the bad vibe was confirmed when an employee tipped us that “Enterprise was now in charge”….tho the employees were Dooley’s. The reserved car was too small for our party of four and another weren’t available until we were rescued by a wonderful employee (who was probably facing a layoff) who, after reviewing the papers, miraculously found us a new Ford Escape and started the laborious checkout process of counting every bug-ding on the exterior. Suddenly, he noticed my Name on the document and the process smoothed remarkably. He even filled out the Auto Return Condition form with the words: “Car has no damage whatsoever”, handed it to me after writing his personal cell phone on the document in the event of trouble, and off we went.
    Upon return to Dublin, the car was immediately accepted without inspection and we finished our business with Dan Dooley. When you compare my name with Dan Dooley’s….it’ll all be clear!

    1. Well it certainly sounds like you were able to experience the kind of customer service I remember by Dan Dooley (lucky you–reading the other comments it doesn’t sound like others fared as well!). Last name Dooley for the win!

  4. Hi Stephanie, I’d look into Malachy Quinn from My Irish Cousin. He’s doing car rentals and even gives you a little driving lesson upon picking you up at the airport. His customer service cant be beat. You can find him on facebook. He’s a true Irishman if I’ve ever seen or heard one!!

    1. Hi Coleen! I had no idea Malachy was doing rentals now. That’s great! I will have to check it out. He is such a wealth of information!

      1. I am leaving in 2 weeks for my first trip to Ireland and had a rental car reserved with Conn’s. But I was messaging with Malachy about a week or so ago and he told me I could get the same coverage with him that I would get with Conn’s, and his charge saved me about $120 USD over the 17 days of my rental…plus he’s providing me with an upgrade! He also brings the rental car to you at your lodging! This will save me time, allowing me to head out exploring quicker, and I don’t have to schlep my luggage onto public transportation to go the short-ish distance from my Airbnb location to the Hertz location just to pick up my car. :)

        For your readers, Malachy doesn’t (currently…maybe in the future) advertise on his website that he rents cars, so they will need to contact him either via FB or his website.

        1. Thank you Mary and Coleen for posting this, I am very interested to hear of this option! I’m deep into my research for my first Irish car rental and this option is very intriguing. I’ve sent off an email to Malachy and will see what kind of quote I get back.

          1. One important detail about Malachy My Irish Cousin. He only rents automatics, which is a real coup for Americans looking to simplify their car rental experience in Ireland, and they only do all-inclusive pricing (perhaps even better than Conn’s). I learned this when I was in the process of booking with him (all correspondence was done via Facebook; his responses were fast, friendly, and informative.). As many know, automatics are much more expensive to rent in Ireland, and we wanted to save the money, so we went with Conn’s instead, but I think most Americans prefer an automatic. I’ll report back in July after our experience with Conn’s, but I think many Americans will find renting from Malachy dreamy by comparison.

  5. Truly sorry to hear about the buy out. When last in Ireland we went with Hertz as Dan Dooley did not have cars available in all the places we were visiting. We rented cars for portions of our visit, not the entire visit, so that became a factor.
    We picked up our first car in Cork City and returned it in Sligo. Worked out well, but the return at the Airport in Sligo didn’t work out. We ended up driving it into the city and returning it there, but that really wasn’t a problem.
    So, car rentals. Err on the side of caution and buy all the protection you may ever need. Pull over to allow the faster moving cars (MOMS ON THEIR WAY TO SCHOOL!!! LOL) pass, and remember that the car that is pulled over and stopped is not the car/driver that will be found at fault should a collision happen.
    Have a great time in this wonderful country!

  6. Howdy Stephanie, defiantly agree on the guys at Dan Dooley! Fabulous, real, Irish company to deal with. Looks like from your guidance Conn’s Ireland Car Rental are the closest to it. (But.. Not easy to find on Google search) Especially customer service wise. I do like to have that as backup if anything was to happen. You know yourself! Thanks, Nadine for Ladybird!

  7. Hertz is now run by Ryan’s and it is horrific. I rent four months a year in Ireland through autoeurope.com who are fabulous. Hertz holds $5000 which is expected if you decline insurance they offer and use your credit card insurance. Hertz is a scam confirmed to me by two of their employees when they insist you buy a supplementary insurance for almost $9.50 per day. They will not give you the policy or explain why your credit card insurance is not good enough.
    Stay away from them. They may show lower rates on auto Europe but you will get the big surprise when you go there. I love Alamo. No hidden charges.

    1. Alamo are owned by Enterprise (as are National) and as are Dan Dooley, If you check this correspondence, you will hear how Dooley’s have changed since being bought out. Any company can be good on the day and that is possibly what you found with Alamo.

  8. We were in Ireland for about 10 days and returned about 2 weeks ago. Another blogger from America recommended Irish car rental and that was a huge mistake on our part. Lots of hidden fees even though we had the credit card letter indicating there was full coverage. We upgraded from manual to automatic and found the increase for the week along with liability insurance (10 euro per day) added over $700 to our weekly rental. We will be very careful next trip and definitely won’t rent from Irish car rental.

    1. Changing your rental from manual to automatic is going to be far more expensive, no matter what company you rent from. Unfortunately for those of us that only drive automatic, that’s just the way it is in Ireland.

      We also rented from Irish Car Rentals (a budget arm of Europcar) and had no problems. Took all the insurances (CDW, SCDW, tyres & windscreen, roadside assistance) and for a week with an automatic it cost us about €500 total ($700 CAD). This was for a compact car rental in May, not sure if the price changes in the summer months.

      1. I think Irish Car Rentals own the franchise for Europcar in Ireland, not that they are owned by Europcar. Maybe that makes them a better bet than Europcar, with a better, more Irish attitude. I once paid virtually the same for two car seats for a week with Europcar, in Spain, as the upfront charge for renting the car for the week. Two seats with a sales value of Euros120, costing almots the same to rent, as a car with a sales value of Euros15,000.

      2. IMO Irish Car rental was not the best for us. We talked to the Manager of the house we rented and found he used Avis, hertz, etc and he felt what we paid was outrageous. My next time that I need to rent a vehicle, I will compare. I love a standard shift but felt that driving on the opposite side of the road that I was used to , would be a bit more difficult when acclimating to a standard shift.
        We tried to discuss the huge bill we got for the car rental with Irish car rental but got no where. Lots of add ons, more than usual and also had to hold a huge amount of money in security – much more than when renting cars in the USA. Personally, won’t rent from Irish car rental ever again.

  9. Even if you had booked an automatic in advance it would have been hundreds of dollars more. The rental companies are transparent about that. We tried to get a car on the cheap, and all of my research before our trip yielded no secrets. It is just expensive (and we rented a manual), period. The nature of the driving and roads are such that full-coverage is prudent simply for peace of mind. I drove 1900km in three weeks and ended up with a random deep scratch near a door handle. We had full coverage so it didn’t matter, but even a little thing like that could have cost us an additional few hundred dollars (we had a Skoda with 15km on it, so it was literally right off the lot and pristine). There were plenty of other near misses over the course of our trip that could have yielded damage (that thankfully didn’t), so if you are driving, always get full coverage (and always get an automatic unless you are a regular driver of a manual transmission; the driving is different enough without adding shifting as well).

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