Credit Card and Euros
Credit Card and Euros

Saving Money in Ireland: The Best Bank Cards to Use

Saving money in Ireland while on vacation is your number one goal, right?

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And while you’ve got your bags packed, passport in hand, travel visa if you need one, and Euros in your pocket, you're not quite sure what kinds of bank cards will give you the most bang for your buck.

While bank cards are essential for travel these days, using them can be expensive.

Here's the lowdown on the pesky finance charges you may encounter while traveling abroad.

Avoiding them will contribute to saving money in Ireland.

Finance Charges

In general, consumers are charged between 2 and 3 percent of the purchase price of every item bought with their credit cards abroad.
The most common credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are used all over the world, as well as others.

And, if you use your foreign debit card at an ATM in Ireland, you can be charged anywhere from 1% to 3%, which can drain needed funds from your vacation budget.

Here is a breakdown of the various types of ATM fees:

  • ATM Operator Fee

    When using an ATM that isn't part of your bank's network, the machine will notify you of a fee that is being charged by the bank that operates that machine.
    Photo courtesy of Jovanmandic for Getty Images Pro.

    You will run into this situation when withdrawing money from banks in Ireland with a foreign debit card.

  • Your bank's Non-Network Fee

    Depending on what bank your money is in, that bank may also charge you a “non-network” ATM fee for using another ATM operated by another bank.

  • International Transaction Fee

    These can be anywhere from 3% and up.
    Photo: PixelShots

    If you hold a Bank of America debit card and you are traveling to Northern Ireland, then you're in luck!

    Bank of America is the only American bank that is part of the Global ATM Alliance network, which means that if you withdraw money from its partner, Barclays Bank, of which there are quite a few in Northern Ireland, you will not incur any of the above fees.

    All in all, the above fees could amount to $5 per transaction. Ouch!

Here are some tips on saving money in Ireland when you use either a debit or credit card.
Photo: Adrian825 for Getty Images.

Also, before you travel, let your banking institution know that you are leaving the country to avoid being declined while abroad.

It may also be useful to download your bank's mobile app for convenience.

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Not only can you open a free checking account at Charles Schwab, you can also open a free brokerage account, too.

It costs nothing to maintain the accounts, and there’s no minimum deposit requirement either.
Photo: Leonid Yastremskly for Pixels.

Here are some of the benefits offered by Charles Schwab when you open an account and have a Schwab Bank Visa Platinum debit card.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
Photo: Ildo Frazao for Getty Images Pro.

The reason you should get this card, of course, is to avoid the foreign transaction fees that you will be charged by so many other banks.

You will also save 3 percent on every currency conversion that you would ordinarily pay for with other cards.

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  • Free ATM Usage

You can use this card at any bank ATM machine in Ireland. When you use it to withdraw cash, there is no fee.

inserting a bank card into an ATM saving money in Ireland
Photo: Kaspars Grinvalds for

Not only are you not charged for the transaction, but Charles Schwab will also refund you for any ATM costs that you might accrue for a particular month, such as ATM operator fees.

  • Fair Exchange Rates

foreign exchange rates on a screen saving money in Ireland
Photo: piotr_malczyk for Getty Images.

Stop shopping around for a decent exchange rate. Charles Schwab will give you the most up-to-date bank rate on the day you are exchanging cash.


Open a free checking account with Capital One bank and you'll get a free pass on ATM charges provided you use it in Northern Ireland via the Allpoint banking network.

There are lots of those ATMs in both Belfast and Derry.


Like Charles Schwab, this online bank will reimburse you for any ATM fees you incur no matter where in the world you use your SoFi Visa debit card.

The company's motto is, “when you need cash, you shouldn’t be charged for it—no matter where you are.”

a person using a laptop saving money in Ireland
Photo courtesy of Andrey Popov for Getty Images Pro.

That means you can use your SoFi Visa card at any ATM worldwide that is in the AllPoint network and the bank will reimburse you for the fees.

As mentioned above, AllPoint ATMs are only in Northern Ireland.

In fact, you won't incur any account fees, minimum balance fees, overdraft fees, transaction fees, or foreign transaction fees when you sign up for a SoFi account.


Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is typically used by freelancers who do business with clients in other countries. But it can work for tourists, too.

paper money from different countries saving money in Ireland
Photo: mkos83

With Wise, you can set up a “borderless” account, which is essentially a multi-currency account. After choosing your preferred currency, in this case, Euros, you will then be given an account number.

With this borderless account comes a debit card, which can be used in ATMs around the world without incurring the usual ATM fee or foreign transaction fees.

See the video below that explains the Wise banking service.


Revolut is a British financial technology company that offers banking services to customers in the U.K. and Europe and is now available in the U.S.

a pen, coins, paper money and a newspaper saving money in Ireland
Photo: Deyan Georgiev

There are no ATM or foreign transaction fees involved with the use of its pre-paid debit card, which enables cash machine withdrawals in approximately 120 countries.

There are no fees on the first $300 withdrawn using the Revolut card at ATM machines abroad. You can also transfer money from your bank account to the card. There is an exchange rate fee but no conversion fee.

According to Investopedia, “a currency conversion fee is a charge levied by the credit or debit card payment processor or ATM network to convert one currency to another as part of a financial transaction. A foreign transaction fee is a charge levied by your credit or debit card issuer or ATM network on the same transaction.”

U.S. residents can apply for the card here.

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This is another digital banking option that you might want to consider to avoid bank fees when visiting Ireland.

Similar to Revolut, this is a German bank that operates in over 20 countries in Europe.

a person holding a credit card over a laptop saving money in Ireland
Using the proper bank cards is key to saving money in Ireland. Photo: Konstantin Kolosov.

It plans to launch in the U.S. soon.

The bank promises customers that they don’t need to maintain a minimum balance and that they will not be charged maintenance charges nor foreign transaction fees when the N26 debit card is used at ATMs overseas.

This will only work at Allpoint ATMs in Northern Ireland, as noted above.

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Best Credit Cards to Use in Ireland

The following list includes some of the best credit cards to use for your budget vacation to Ireland, or anywhere else abroad.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

While there is a $95 a year annual fee with this card, it is worth getting if you travel a lot.

You can also earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months of opening the account, which is $750 toward travel when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program, which includes airline transfer and hotel partners.
Photo: Rawpixel.

If you have enough points, they will transfer participating airline partner programs at a 1:1 ratio, which is one of the reasons why this card is so valuable. The Aer Lingus Aer Club program is one of them as well as United Airlines MileagePlus and others.

Hotel partners include IHG One Rewards, Marriot Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt.

Other useful benefits specifically for travel to Ireland: primary car rental insurance, meaning you can use this card to cover the CDW costs when renting a car in Ireland. Also includes insurance coverage for lost luggage.

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Aer Lingus Aer Credit Card

There are no foreign transaction fees with this card either.

The draw for many who apply for the Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card is the chance to earn a companion ticket on the airline by earning Avios points, which can also be redeemed on British Airways, Iberia and other OneWorld Alliance airlines.
Image courtesy of Aer Lingus.

However, it takes a lot of spending in the first year to earn this reward, and if you’re not flying to Ireland often enough, it may not be worth it. Having the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card mentioned above may suffice.

The annual fee is $95 and you earn 75,000 Avios points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.

Another perk with this card is if your baggage gets delayed by more than six hours, you’ll be reimbursed up to a $100 per day for three days. That is meant to cover the cost of toiletries and clothing.

If your checked-in or carry-on bag is lost or damaged, the coverage with the card is up to $3,000.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

This is excellent value, especially for those on a budget.
Photo: @gokgakphotos.

There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee with this credit card. In addition, there’s a 0% APR on purchases made with the card within the first 12 billing cycles.

You’ll get 25,000 online bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening your accounting. How about purchasing your airline ticket with the card to get you started?

Capital One® Quicksilver Credit Card

There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee with this credit card. As an added bonus, you’ll also earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make with the Capital One Quicksilver credit card.

As a new cardmember, you’ll earn a one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 within 3 months of getting the card, which is a lot less than the others mentioned above. There’s also a 0% APR for the first 15 months of having the card.

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Use a 0% percent credit card while saving money in Ireland. Photo: @puwadons.

There is no annual fee nor foreign transaction fee with this credit card. You’ll get a 0% APR for the first 15 months of having the card, together with a 1-3% cash bank reward initiative.

Capital One® Venture X® Rewards Credit Card

There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee with this credit card. Earn 1.25 miles with every dollar spent on this card. In addition, there is a nice sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 within three months of opening the card.
Photo: Stock Film Studio.

For the annual $95 fee, you'll get additional benefits that include primary rental coverage, meaning you can use it to cover the CDW cost on car rental in Ireland. You will also get a credit of up to $100 when paying for the application Global Entry or TSA PreCheck with the card, as well as getting travel accidental insurance at no extra cost when you use the card to pay for your travel bookings.

Have you used any of the above cards as a strategy to saving money in Ireland, or perhaps you know of others that offer similar benefits. Let me know in the comments below.

This post is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of financial advice. In addition, I am not responsible for the consequences of any reader acting on the above advice.

Read more: How to Save Money on a Trip to Ireland


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.

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