5 Things You Should Know When Renting a Car in Ireland

The thought of driving on the left is usually the biggest concern for travelers renting a car in Ireland, but for some, the car rental policies and prices deliver a big headache… especially since they tend to be different for North Americans in Ireland from other parts of Europe. Here are a few things you should know to prevent surprises along the way:

  1. Many online car rental quotes only include the cost of rental and basic insurance coverage (usually a €1,000 deductible). Taxes, fees and extra insurance may NOT be included.
  2. Most car rental companies wait until the customer arrives in Ireland before introducing their zero-deductible insurance (often called Super CDW/Super Collision Damage Waiver Insurance – many companies DO include information on their websites, but it is easy to miss).
  3. Most credit cards DO NOT cover car rental insurance in Ireland. (This item is especially important for North Americans) That’s because Ireland is on the short list of countries where Mastercard and Visa do not offer this benefit. Many credit card customer service reps aren’t aware of this detail, so ask for confirmation in writing and be sure to bring the document with you when you travel (World Mastercard and Canadian Visa usually DO cover insurance).
  4. If your credit card DOES cover car insurance in Ireland, you will be required to sign extra documents to waive the rental company’s insurance. Some agencies require a deposit or a hold on your credit card when insurance is declined. These “temporary” fees can range from €0-15,000 (€2,000 seems be the most common).
  5. Call rental agencies before you book and ask questions… especially if the costs, fees, and extra insurance are not clear to you. One call before your trip can save hours of frustration during and after your trip.

What Are Some of the “Hidden Fees”

Beyond the straightforward cost of your rental car, there are several fees that will likely appear on your bill… some of them are lumped together and presented at the time of booking under the “fees” header, but others may not. Irish rental companies vary greatly on this count, so it’s best to ask specifically. Here are a few fees to look for (warning, each rental company in Ireland seems to have a different name for these):

  • Environmental and Recycling Charge (usually under $5)*
  • Boarder Crossing Fee (could be around $40)*
  • Vehicle Licensing Fee (usually under $5)*

* These fees are usually included in the standard “fees” category

  • Fees for drivers under the age of 25 (drivers over 70 used to be charged extra or denied, but this has changed at most rental agencies)
  • Local Taxes
  • Airport Fee/Location Service Fee
  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW insurance) – LLI (Limited Liability Insurance) – CD Excess – Excess Liability – this fee is usually quite clear
  • Super CDW – CDI – Peace of Mind (POM) Insurance (please contact your rental agency directly to make sure you understand what each of their insurance offerings cover and how much they cost)
  • Personal Accident Insurance – Personal Benefits
  • Theft Protection
  • Transaction Processing Fee – Credit Card Admin Charge (usually a few dollars or a percent of the transaction)
  • M-50 Tolls – Some rental cars are now set up to automatically bill you if you use the M-50 toll road near Dublin
  • “Deposit” when Declining Insurance
  • Late Fees

Is Super CDW Insurance worth it?

If you’re a betting type of person, the odds are in your favor if you do not purchase the extra insurance (unless of course you’re a lousy driver). However, the peace of mind of having a zero deductible can often outweigh to potential cost savings.

My advice… first-time visitors who are not used to the left should seriously consider the extra insurance – I’ve seen many rental cars returned with damaged passenger side mirrors, missing hubcaps (casualties of the narrow Irish roads) and worse. Renters are charged a premium for those damages. After that first trip, you’ll be in a better position to decide if you’d prefer to skip the Super CDW.

Find More Information at:


Note: Each rental company is different, so be sure to review the policies and information provided each… Not all companies participate in the policies listed above.

Author: Corey

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  1. Hi, my wife and I own a small company in Norway through which we offer photo workshops in Ireland (theirishway.com), amongst other services. Our favorite region is Kerry and the Iveragh Peninsula (south of Dingle).

    We have experienced the same issues you are describing. It’s always wise to ask questions! We ‘ve been using AVIS and BUDGET with great success and good service. Be aware that some car rental companies may charge extra for “tire insurance”.

    Even though YOU beleive you’re a good driver, remember that Irish country roads may be poor, and the “celts” are usually driving at high speed even though the road is narrow and bumpy! Mirros, windscreens and tires are “consumer goods” in parts of Ireland.

    But in all; Ireland is worth a visit! Friendly people! Nice scenery! But not as inexpensive as before …

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  2. I spent almost an hour stuck in someone’s driveway on the outskirts of Dublin trying to turn around before I knocked on someone’s door in tears to ask how the heck to put the darn thing in REVERSE!

    When we rented the car, I was 24 and my mom doesn’t have her license, so here we are, two Americans, one underage per rental car policies and the agency gave us no instructions or help in terms of driving in Ireland. They handed us the keys and that was the end of it. There was no book in the glove box.

    I was a bit shocked that they’d send us off without so much as a “remember to drive on the other side.”

    The moral of the story is that there was a ring, for lack of a better word, around the shifter and you had to pull that up towards your palm in order to put the darn car in R.

    The poor lady who answered her door was very kind about it and even invited us in for tea and then dinner.

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  3. It’s a diifcult transition, take your time, especially when arriving at Dublin airport as the roads are immediately quite busy. Spend some time in the environs of the airport if you need it, take it slow, keep calm and keep the white line on your right shoulder!

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  4. Wise advice, Russell. I’m leaving for Ireland Sep 30, gonna drive around for 10 days. Done it before, though. Heading for Kerry – lots of narrow roads! I’ll be “recording” my experience and post here when back Oct 10.


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    • Skip Dublin Airport. Shannon is great. Roads less congested, air very fresh,countryside magnificent.

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  5. Just got back from Ireland….Sept 09 was the least rain in 20 years according to the paper and we got in on it.
    Driving in Ireland….I always rent a diesel with manual transmission,a fun to drive combination. All diesels now have lots of low end torque as a result of common rail injection systems,known by the badge on the trunk (cdi).With a 5 or 6 speed manual a person doesn’t have to shift as frequently as you would with a petrol (gas) engine.
    You can be going down the road in top gear at 100kph (60) and if you come to a town or village that has a sign posted 70kph (42) just slow down and if the engine stays above say 1200 rpm it is not necessary to shift down. Also in 3rd gear you can go 20kph (12) 0r 70kph (42) because of the low end torque. A friend of mine says with a diesel you’re not constantly stirring the pot…his way of saying shifting frequently.
    As for driving on the left as long as you can see the white center of the road line in your outside mirror you are all right so don’t worry about looking in the left outside mirror but do keep an eye on the inside rear view mirror.

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  6. thanks for these great tips. whew! so much to learn and know…

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  7. Do rental cars in Ireland have operative cigarette lighter female sockets? My companion is on oxygen 24/7 and her compressor is operated/ recharged by 12 volt power.

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    • Yes. However, because this is critical (and I’ve heard one story of someone’s car phone charger not fitting in the socket), you should check with your rental agency first. If the car doesn’t have one, insist they find you one that does.

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  8. Always check well in advance, as the last thing you want is to be renting a car that you can’t drive all the way to your destination without incurring charges.

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    They force fed me insurance I did not want, prepaid fuel I did not want. The bill was over 4 times what they quoted me on like.
    Cant find the return station which is understaffed. The shuttle took forever to arrive, there must be only one. And then they charged me for damages to the car even with the insurance.

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  10. I just want to warn people about the fuel deposit. A deposit of 123 Euros was taken but if I returned the car with a full tank, this would be refunded. I filled the tank for only 74 Euros! Make sure you allow plenty of time before returning your car to visit a petrol station. These are hard to find on the way to Dublin airport, so ask a local where the nearest one is.

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  11. This blog post is a bit dated, so here are some more recent suggestions for avoiding the notorious Irish car rental scams. I visit Ireland about four times a year, so I’ve seen it all.

    1. If you don’t want to pay the extravagant daily insurance charge (sometimes 30 euro a day) you MUST MUST MUST have a letter of coverage from your credit card company. This letter must state SPECIFICALLY that the coverage extends to the Republic of Ireland AND Northern Ireland. It must also list the last four digits of your credit card. And it must also state that the coverage extends for the entirety of your visit. (The letter will say something like, “This coverage is good for 30 days.”) No letter, no car. Or pay the insurance fee. It’s not an optional fee like it is in the states, and your car insurance does NOT extend internationally.

    2. When returning your car, DO NOT LEAVE WITHOUT GETTING A RECEIPT. I cannot tell you how many times the car company has tried to tack on extra fees at the end that I would NEVER have known about unless I had requested a receipt at the end and CHECKED IT CAREFULLY. I have almost incurred fees such as:

    a. Fuel charges. I gave back a car with a FULL tank. When I asked for a receipt and started looking it over, the rental rep said, “Oh, by the way, I had to charge you for the tank since you returned it empty.” When compelled to take another look, he said, “Oh, the glare from the sun made it tough to see the fuel gauge.” Checking that receipt saved me 90 euro.

    b. Valet charges. I gave back a car that was, admittedly, full of sand, but nothing that a quick vacuum couldn’t have dealt with. When I returned the car, the rental rep didn’t say a thing about it. When I questioned the 125 euro “cleaning fee” on the receipt he said the car was filthy, and had even taken photos of the interior so that if I questioned the fee upon arriving home, the company would have at least had some proof that cleaning would be required. When I questioned the extortionate rates for a vacuum he said “it will take hours to clean that car and requires a ‘chemical cleaning’.” I took the car back, ran it to the car wash, vacuumed it until it was spotless (for 10 euro and 15 minutes), and got a revised receipt from the sheepish and embarrassed car rep.

    3. Damages. When you first get your car, meticulously document ANY damages with the agent, even the smallest scratch. These companies are well known for charging for tiny scratches that existed before you take the car. I learned this one the hard way, paying 200 euro for a tiny scratch that didn’t happen while I was renting it.

    I’m sure there are other scams, but you’ll avoid them if you look carefully at your receipt BEFORE you leave the rental office. It’s essential that you question all fees before returning home. Once home, you’ll have a devil of a time getting them taken off.

    As for learning to drive on the left, it’s just something you have to get used to!

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    • Good advice Sammy.
      After a hiring scam from Hertz, I hired another car on another through Dublin airport and spent a good hour in the rain with an outline diagram of the exterior of the car, which I had to ask for, marking EVERY scratch, bleb etc. I had asked to asked for kitchen roll to dry the panels so I could inspect properly. I got them to counter sign the diagram. When I got back, with a full tank of fuel, I had no problems.
      BUt my advice woud be:
      1) ask for the sheet which is an outline diagram of the car exterior panels and mark with a pen scratches the hire co has missed – time spent here is really valuable. Run your fingers around every tyre exterior, the whole way round, side walls included to check for unusual blebs. Factor an hour into your journey time for this. Get the co. to counter-sign, date and time the diagram. Check the bumpers are a flush fit nd not cracked underneath. They’ll look upon your return.
      2) Vacuum the car before return. 5 mins.
      3) Throw a bit of cleaning fluid eg flash in a bucket with lots of water and sponge the car clean. 10 mins max.
      4) refill the fuel tank 5 mins
      5) Get a receipt for the return car.

      Good luck and don’t let the b$%^&R grind you down 🙂

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  12. My wife and I are headed to Dublin in April. My Master Card credit card (United Mileage card) is issued by Chase Bank . This card will now cover ALL car insurance requirements when I rent a car in Ireland (AND Northern Ireland, Israel and Jamaica!) using this credit card. Call Card Benefit Services at 800 356-8955 to obtain a letter that states that Chase is the PRIMARY insurer. The Card Benefits agent will email the letter to you. Print it on a color printer. Also, retain a soft copy in the-mail, your smartphone, etc. I recommend that you call the Card Benefits number less than 2 weeks before you leave for any of the aforementioned countries. Why? Some car rental agencies require that the letter be dated less than 2 weeks before the car rental agent reads it.

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  13. I did rent a car from Enterprise at the Dublin airport for 4 days 2 weeks ago and ended up paying $800 canadian dollars yes $200 a day. It was supposed to be $120 Euros, we upgraded to an automatic since we got scared and then took the extra insurance to reduce the deductibles. Then, when we brought the car back, they added $100 Euros of taxes to the total making it $549 Euros for 4 days. If we had known. we might have gone another way (tours with cabs and trains). I did inquire with Enterprise before leaving, sending emails and calling them. and on web sites prior to renting and nobody would tell me about the hidden fees and a total per day including everything. Be ware, you finally know the whole truth. If you don’t mind paying $200 a day for an automatic Golf, go ahead or try to find out hidden fees from other companies, do not use Enterprise, you will be served by used car salesmen……
    — beluse Today

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  14. As an Irish born citizen from the USA I am horrified to hear the experiences of renters in RIP OFF IRELAND! It is shameful what the gombeens in car rental at Dublin airport do to customers. Waken up fools, you are killing your own business!

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  15. To JR 😉
    Those cos will NEVER wake up as there’s always another flying bus loads of confused/ busy/ naive people who just wan’t to pick the keys up and go.
    I think its the airport, Dublin, in particular which is problematic for its care hire thieving practises. Now I know this is not really going to happen, but if one took the bus in to the city and went to a car hire shop there, I would lay a bet that the fees and services would be a lot more reasonable.

    My experience with Hertz in Dublin airport was a sad one. My brother and I were going to the wake of granny down in Arklow. Picked up the keys, went to car hire lot, spoke to guy in the hut, who declined to come and inspect the vehicle by mumbling and waving his hand in the general direction of where it was parked. So we took the car and went Arklow. 4 days later my brother took the car back. The fellow in the car lot hut, went directly to the driver side front wheel, felt a bleb on the tyre and charged us 300 euro!!! for a tyre. After a lengthy process, over the coming weeks, I got this to 150 euro. Even so it was still as scam as we had not touched the side walls of the tyres to anything.

    As a lesson to them, I asked the financial director’s assistant of the company I worked for, if there were any cheaper corporate rates of car hire than our then current provider (hertz). Indeed there was. After a quick chat with FD, the assistant swapped accounts with the thanks of our FD. I wrote to Hertz and told them what I did and why I did it. Hurting private customers can hurt your bottom line. I doubt they changed their shady practises though.

    Hertz’s companies include: Hertz, Thrifty, Dollar, Rent to Buy, Donlen.

    I would advise everyone not to hire from any of the companies working from an airport as Hertz owns them.

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  16. Book Budget or Payless car hire at Dublin Airport. They are usually the cheapest. Check for damage very carefully before you drive away. Buy annual excess insurance or daily – buy it online. carhireexcess.com is one option. About $2 per day, or a little more for daily excess insurance. If you get hit with a damage charge, this insurance will refund you. I use Expedia.com or cardelmar.com to book the rental. If you need to book on arrival in Dublin, cardelmar is the sole company I have found who will confirm for rental within an hour. My most recent rental cost less than $7.50 per day for a standard sized car. Ask for a diesel car at the counter (not before) as the fuel economy is better and they tend to be more fuel efficient.

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  17. If you read the companies’ terms and conditions on what is required and covered by credit cards, there shouldn’t be unexpected charges.

    Some websites do include the SCDW online and can often worth the peace of mind if you’re a nervous driver. It is not compulsory, you can say no to the rental staff.

    These sites are useful for preparing yourself for car rental-


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