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Posted by on Aug 14, 2009 in Q&A, Transportation | 14 comments

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:

http://www.irelandyes.com/cars.html
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186591-c2757/Ireland:Renting.A.Car.In.Ireland.html
http://goireland.about.com/od/preparingyourtrip/bb/byb_rentalcar.htm

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.

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14 Comments

  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 …

  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.

  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!

  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.

    //www.destinationkerry.net

  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.

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

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

  9. Superb post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

  10. SIXT CAR RENTALS……
    WORST CAR RENTAL EXPERIENCE I EVER HAD
    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.
    NO WAY TO RUN A CAR RENTAL COMPANY

  11. 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.

  12. Shifting gear with the wrong/left hand and not the right(!) hand is a challenge for many of us. Myself, I do “righthand movement” as if seen through a mirror with my lefthand. So, when you’re mixing up 1st and 3rd gear when the light turns green …. like a rabbit!

    If renting a car from Budget or AVIS, you’re usually equipped with some kind of paper telling you about driving on the left. But, you know, things that are normal to you, may seem odd for others. But seeing the issue, is not very easy. Agree with you, though, they should have a routine telling them to check the customer’s home address before handing over the key. Speaking English, doesn’t mean your from Ireland.

    Good luck next time you’re in Eire!

  13. Most agencies will give an orientation to those who ask… but I’m not sure they have a standard protocol for this, so one rep might do a much better job than others.

    The important details tend to be 1) how to reverse. 2) lights. 3) wipers. 4) steering wheel tilt. 5) opening the hood (the bonnet). As for how to drive, that could be a full-day course ;)

    Truth is, I’ve been there when cranky visitors have snapped at the agents when they tried to give some unsolicited tips, so I guess they’re darned if they do and darned if they don’t.

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