Car rental: go with a credit card, not a debit card!

A car in Ireland - © mark_gusev
A car in Ireland - © mark_gusev

In Ireland, renting a car can be a tricky operation, with some pitfalls… Nothing insurmountable, but enough to spoil the pleasure of the vacations! We reassure you: it is possible to avoid the obstacles, as long as you follow our advice below… and anticipate! Here is an overview of what you need to know to rent a car in Ireland with peace of mind!

Rent a car in Ireland: go with the right payment card!

Credit or debit card: there is a big difference!

In Ireland, when renting a car, it is necessary to sign a contract in the name of the main driver… and to present a payment card. So far, nothing really shocking or abnormal…

But beware! This is where many travelers get confused about a very important subtlety!

Most car rental agencies in Ireland require that you present a credit card with your first and last name. However, many travelers present a debit card!

The difference may seem insignificant… but not in Ireland! Indeed, the nuance, although fine, can change the fees on your rental, because :

  • the credit card is a deferred payment system (no need for a funded account, within a certain limit).
  • the debit card is an immediate payment system (within the limit of what is in the account).

Don’t be fooled by the fact that you have a Visa or a Mastercard: these cards can exist in debit or in credit…

To find out what you have, you’ll need to take out your card and look at the front of the card on the left side, vertically. The word “debit” or “credit” appears in white, in very small letters, and will give you an indication of the status of your payment card.

What if you don’t have a credit card?

Let’s say you only have a debit card, not a credit card, you have two scenarios:

  • If the agency allows it (this is the case with Hertz, Sixt and Europcar), you can still present your debit card… with the obligation to subscribe to an insurance without deductible. This costs about 30€ per day, which will literally blow your rental budget!
  • If the agency does not allow this option, it will be impossible to rent your car… Worse still: if you have prepaid your car via the Internet, you may never get your money back! This could turn your very first day in Ireland into a real nightmare… and force you to turn to another agency, with new rental fees, and of course, the payment of an insurance without deductible!

We’d rather warn you: rental agencies are pretty strict on this issue and don’t really make exceptions. Even if you have incredible negotiation skills, you can already accept their rules.

The solution: the credit card

But what can you do to avoid these problems? The solution is simple but requires anticipation. We advise you to approach your bank a few months before your departure… to ask them for a credit card.

The process takes a few weeks, but it doesn’t take long to complete.

Once in your wallet, this card will be a precious sesame for a successful vacation in Ireland: freedom and your rental car are yours… without any bad surprises or extra costs!

It’s now up to you to take advantage of the wild Irish roads!