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Car Rental in Ireland: 4 Credit Cards that Will Save You Money

If car rental in Ireland is something you're considering as opposed to taking a tour or using public transportation, which is cheaper but more limiting, there are some things you will need to know before you make that car rental reservation.

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That includes choosing the right credit card.

Most credit card companies offer what is known as secondary insurance coverage, which means that it will only cover for certain damages incurred in a car accident.

Photo: Johnstocker

The credit card that offers primary insurance is better because the primary insurance applies first, no matter what other coverage is in place.

All the above matters if you find yourself in a situation where you need to file an insurance claim.

With the second option, all you’ll need to do is call the number on the back of your card and let the credit card company handle the rest.

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Why Using the Proper Credit Card is Important

The importance of using the right credit card for car rental in Ireland is not just for convenience sake.

A rental car will get you to scenes like this one in rural Connemara in Co. Galway. Photo: MNStudio.

When you rent a car in Ireland, you can be liable for a very high deductible if you don’t take certain steps, and that’s where the choice of a good credit card comes in, which will ultimately limit your financial liability in case of an accident on Irish roads.

No matter what, car rental in Ireland requires accepting the CDW (Collision Damage Waiver).

a car rental desk 7 tips on getting a rental car
Photo: Twenty20photos

For tourists visiting Ireland for the first time and who want to rent a car, it can seem confusing and overwhelming.

The information in this post is meant to demystify the process and outline what is involved in saving money on a rental car in Ireland.

What is CDW and How Will Your Credit Card Cover It?

The Collision Damage Waiver coverage is not insurance.

As the name implies, it’s a waiver.

Photo: @freedomz

That means the car rental company is waiving its right to collect a high deductible from you in the unfortunate event that your rental car is damaged.

The waiver won’t eliminate the deductible; it will simply reduce it.

The waiver covers most of the car in an accident, but excludes the undercarriage, roof, tires, windshield, windows, interior, and side mirrors.

Photo courtesy of PhanuwatNandee.

The waiver benefit through your credit card will not cover any damage that you may cause to other vehicles and personal property, nor will it cover injuries to you, your passengers or pedestrians involved in an accident.

However, in Ireland, unlimited third-party liability insurance (which will cover the above scenario) is a legal requirement and is included in the pre-paid price of the car rental.

Photo: IJzendoorn for Getty Images Pro.

To get the CDW benefit, you must 1) either accept it from the car rental company (the more expensive option) or 2) decline it and use your credit card for coverage.

When you agree to the second option, be aware that a hold of about $5,000 will be placed on the credit card that you use.

When you return the car (without any scratches and such – the rental company will examine it at that time), the hold will come off the card.

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What If I Don’t Use the Credit Card Benefit for Rental Car Coverage?

If you choose to take the rental car company’s CDW benefit, you’ll pay a price for it.

a woman on the phone car rental in Ireland
Photo: Half Point.

And for some, that’s ok as they may want the extra coverage and peace of mind that is offered, including Super CDW, which is a second tier of insurance coverage that will bring the deductible down to zero or near zero.

The additional cost of the Super CDW is $10 to $30 per day on top of the $15-$30 that the regular CDW costs.

Some car rental companies may offer a package that includes both, so be sure to enquire about that if you’re not going to use the credit card benefit.

Making Use of the Credit Card Waiver Benefit

If, however, you choose to go with the credit card waiver benefit, you’ll want to do a few things beforehand.

  1. Double-check that your credit card offers this type of coverage. Many Visa cards are not accepted in Ireland for this purpose except for the three mentioned below. Some American Express cards are acceptable, as well some World Elite Mastercards.
  2. If you don’t have a card that offers this benefit, apply for one (from the list below or others that you find online).
  3. Get a complete description of the coverage from the credit card company and ask what countries this benefit extends to so that there are no surprises when you get to the car rental desk in Ireland.
  4. Know the maximum number of rental days that the credit card will cover you for, and what types of cars are covered (most are, but RVs are not).
  5. Ask for a “letter of coverage” from the credit card company and present it at the car rental desk at the airport in Ireland.
  6. Be sure to reserve and pay for the rental car with the qualifying credit card.

Below are 4 credit cards that offer the CDW benefit.

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (Visa)

a credit card on its side car rental in Ireland
Coverage
: Primary* – Covers “theft, damage, valid loss-of-use charges imposed and substantiated by the auto rental company, administrative fees, and reasonable and customary towing charges (due to a covered theft or damage) to the nearest qualified repair facility. Provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.”
Rental Period Covered: 31 days.
Where are You Covered: Available worldwide.
Annual Fee: $95.

*Primary coverage means that you do NOT have to file a claim with any other insurance company you may have before taking advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card benefit.

For more information, visit the credit card website.

  1. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (Visa)

a credit card car rental in Ireland
Coverage: Primary* – Covers “theft, damage, valid loss–of–use charges imposed and substantiated by the auto rental company, administrative fees, and reasonable and customary towing charges (due to a covered theft or damage) to the nearest qualified repair facility.” Reimbursement for damages caused up to $75,000.
Rental Period Covered: 31 days.
Where are You Covered: Available worldwide.
Annual Fee: $550 (might be too costly for some).

* Primary coverage means that you do NOT have to file a claim with any other insurance company you may have before taking advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card benefit.

For more information, visit the credit card website.

 

  1. Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Coverage: Primary* – Covers theft and damage because of a car accident, a natural disaster or vandalism, the cost to repair the rental car or the actual cash value of the rental car, whichever is less, and reasonable towing expenses to the nearest collision repair facility. Reimbursement for damages caused up to $50,000.
Rental Period Covered: “the length of the rental car agreement, with a maximum rental period of 31 consecutive days.”
Where are you covered: Available worldwide. “Some countries or car rental agencies require a letter of coverage. Call 1-866-918-4670 (Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.) if a letter is required.”
Annual Fee: $0 (except for the Costco membership fee, which is $60 per year for a baseline Gold Star membership and $120 per year for the Executive membership tier).

*Primary coverage means that you do NOT have to file a claim with any other insurance company you may have before taking advantage of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi benefit.

a mastercard and visa card car rental in Ireland
Photo: demopicture.

For more information, visit the credit card website.

  1. American Express Gold Card

Coverage: Secondary* – “Covers damage or theft, such as loss of use, appraisal fees provided they are supported with verifiable documentation, towing charges (which are not covered by other roadside assistance programs available to the Card Member) and storage, which are charged by the nearest vendor or facility capable of rendering assistance and which are usual and customary in the locale where the Damage or Theft occurred.”
Rental Car Period Covered: 30 days.
Where Are You Covered: Worldwide.
Maximum Coverage Per Rental Car: $50,000.
Annual Fee: $250.

*The Amex Gold card comes with secondary car rental insurance with the option to purchase primary coverage for a flat fee per rental period. I suggest you purchase the primary coverage, which is an affordable fee (around $12 to $24.95 total for coverage that lasts the entire rental period, up to 42 consecutive days).

credit cards in a woman's hands car rental in Ireland
Photo: Farknot.

For more information, visit the American Express website

Are you curious about the ins and outs of car rental in Ireland? If so, I hope these tips will help you find the right credit card to lower the cost.

colette

Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Kay

    Thank you! So much help in this article!

    1. colette

      You’re welcome, Kay!

  2. Anonymous

    Please verify this information. I have these cards and when I went to Ireland in November , these cards did not cover Ireland specifically.
    Thanks, Denise

    1. colette

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ll update. The credit card companies change their coverage in specific countries frequently so sometimes it’s hard to keep track. I appreciate the heads-up!

  3. Anonymous

    Do we need to bring a letter from the credit card company to get the waiver? Some sources say we do. Thanks for writing this article!

    1. colette

      Yes, definitely get the letter.

  4. anonymous

    Letter re auto insurance benefits issued on 6 Dec 2023 by Visa for United Explorer card states that previously excluded countries are now covered:
    “This letter is to verify that (NAME)and any drivers authorized on the car rental
    agreement, when using card number ending in XXXX, are eligible for worldwide coverage under the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit. This includes the previously excluded countries of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel and Jamaica. Coverage is not available where it is prohibited by law or by individual merchants, or is in violation of the territory terms of the rental agreement.

    1. colette

      Thank you for that information!

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