Money, money, money, money, monnnayy (monayy!). Anytime I talk about getting cash out, this song always pops in my head. Just me? :-)
Alright, let’s talk about the best way to get cash in Ireland. You’re going to need to access euros while on your trip, but you don’t want to pay a lot in fees or have to remember all your hiding spots for the moola you brought with you.
The best way to get cash in Ireland is by using your debit card at any Irish bank with an ATM.
Sounds simple, right? It actually is (unlike car rentals in Ireland, ugh).
Why is using an ATM the best way to get cash in Ireland?
Irish banks do not charge ATM fees (whoop, whoop!).
The only fee you might pay would be from your home bank for a foreign/international withdrawal.
This typically runs about $5.00 per withdrawal. Sometimes US banks charge a percentage of how much you withdraw (so it literally pays to know which one it is for you!).
If your bank’s fee is exorbitant, shop around. I find credit unions have good rates or Charles Schwab has a great option with unlimited ATM withdrawals and no foreign transaction fees or currency hikes (they even reimburse you for any ATM fees you might be charged by other banks anywhere in the world).
There are a few ATMs that charge fees in Ireland, but those are not connected to banks (think convenience stores). To avoid fees, seek out ATMs on the facades of brick and mortar banks.
Don’t buy lots of euros before you leave.
You could take a large amount of euros with you by going to your local bank or AAA and purchasing them before you trip, but this is problematic for a couple of reasons.
First, it is a security risk. Ireland is as safe a country as any, but its never a good idea to carry a large amount of cash with you while traveling.
Second, your home bank (or wherever you get your euros) will charge you a higher exchange rate to cover their costs (usually about 6-10%) than what the actual exchange rate is.
At the time of posting AAA’s “exchange rate” is $1.22 for every euro, but the actual exchange rate is $1.1216 (meaning you’ll pay almost 10 cents more per euro through AAA).
So doing a quick calculation, if you took 1000 euros with you, you’d be spending an extra $98.40 on AAA fees for getting the money here at home.
It’s very unlikely that you would use the ATM so many times that you would rack up that much in foreign transaction fees.
Don’t take a bunch of US cash and expect to exchange it cheaply and easily.
Another way you could get euros would be taking a lot of US cash with you and exchanging it for euros in Ireland, but this puts you in the exact same boat or worse.
The airport currency exchange offices usually charge even higher exchange rates than home banks and you can no longer exchange US dollars inside Irish banks unless you are customer of that bank.
If you really want to bring euros with you, don’t go overboard. One hundred euros is enough to get you a cab and a meal if need be before you need to seek out an ATM.
Order enough that you feel comfortable and get the rest in Ireland.
How to find an ATM in Ireland:
There are plenty of ATMs in Ireland–particularly in the cities and larger towns.
If you plan on staying in only small rural villages, it might be a good idea to pay attention to where the nearest ATMs are.
Check the logo on your debit card and use the ATM locator for that bank’s network.
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Irish ATM locator (not complete, but another good list)
So what do we usually do?
First, I call up my bank and tell them I will be in Ireland so they take off the travel hold on my debit card.
Then I ask what the withdrawal fee is for ATMs in Ireland.
I also ask if there are any limits on how much I can take out at one time or over the course of our trip so I can plan accordingly, especially if we are staying at any cash only B&Bs.
We usually withdraw a lump sum of a couple hundred euros when we arrive. I split it up between the two of us and place a little in a secret stash in our luggage somewhere.
Joe and I take out more as we need it, but, these days, I find we can use a credit card more often than not.
Using your Credit Card in Ireland
Credit cards give us the very best deal in Ireland. Since our cards don’t have any foreign transaction fees, we get the actual exchange rate at the exact moment that we swipe our card.
Since we use our credit card as much as we can, we generally don’t have to visit the ATM much more than that first initial withdrawal anyway.
Call that credit card company up (just like you did with the debit card) and let them know you’ll be in Ireland.
Ask about those foreign transaction fees. If your card has them, consider getting a new card “travel” card before you go. Capital One has some great no fee and no foreign transaction fee ones.
Dynamic Currency Conversion
You may get asked what currency you want to have your credit card charged in while you are in Ireland.
Always have them charge in the local currency (euros or pounds).
If you say US dollars, you run the risk of dynamic currency conversion. This means the vendor’s machine converts the currency as you swipe the card. But then the charge hits the bank and the bank is like “oh Stephanie is in Ireland, we need to convert that charge into US dollars.”
Boom you get charged the currency exchange twice. You will end up paying much more this way.
Side note: I don’t think most vendors are being sneaky when they ask which currency you want. Usually the tellers see the question pop up on their point of sale system and are like, “uh, what do you want to do?”
Just say the local currency and you are all good!
Everything above applies to Northern Ireland too (hooray!).
You don’t need to do anything different for your travels up north. Just know they use the pound instead of the euro.
If you plan on traveling there and the Republic of Ireland, make sure your credit card and debit card banks know that you’ll be in both locations.
How much will you actually spend?
How much cash you will actually need depends on all sorts of things.
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I’ve written a lot about this over the years, detailing how much we’ve spent over the last few trips. (This year’s expense report coming really soon…).
Ok, now that you’ve got your money sorted. It is time to pack. Have you grabbed the best Ireland packing list out there? No?!
No worries, snag it and some of the best tips for Ireland below!