The Deal Mommy

Ireland Car Rental: A Nasty Bit of Fine Print That Could Ruin Your Vacation

Greetings from Bodkye, County Clare, Ireland! After MUCH preparation and a few false starts, I was able to successfully decline car insurance in Ireland. Here’s what I can share:

  • American Express does NOT offer rental car insurance protection in Ireland. Not even platinum.
  • Citi Thank You cards DO offer rental car insurance protection in Ireland. Even the fee free one.  Even better, Citi will email you proof of this fact if you call the number on back of your card and ask. The documentation can come in really handy if you get a surly car rental agent.

Even armed with this knowledge, I did not have a hassle free experience at the Avis counter in Dublin.  There were two nasty surprises hidden in the fine print of the rental contract.  I saw them in advance, but wanted to point them out to you as they could be deal-killers when looking at rentals:

  • Avis charged me a 30 Euro “Service Fee” for the “Service” of NOT taking their insurance!  This was truly a first and I’ll be fighting it tooth and nail when I get home.

And this could be the real Deal Killer:

  • If you don’t take their insurance, Avis will Pre-charge a 3,000 Euro deposit to your credit card! Read that again. Three. Thousand. Euro.  Now you churners may greet that with a yawn, but many people I know don’t carry a huge amount of credit on purpose and 4 thousand dollars at current exchange rates may take a HUGE chunk out of their available credit line at the start of their annual vacation.

I was lucky enough to have enough credit available, although it triggered a fraud alert from Citibank.  Can’t say I’m surprised as I’m not one to charge 4 thousand dollars on car rental in a foreign country on a whim!


Lesson learned: you CAN decline car rental insurance in Ireland, but whether you SHOULD or not is an entirely different question.  If I had it to do again, I might have just sucked it up and paid the extortionate rate for the lack of hassle.


As a quick note of comparison, car rental in NORTHERN Ireland, which is UK, was a breeze.  My AMEX Platinum covered everything, and Enterprise didn’t charge me a penny over the rates save a 200 pound deposit, which was much easier to swallow!


Please share your Ireland car rental stories.







15 thoughts on “Ireland Car Rental: A Nasty Bit of Fine Print That Could Ruin Your Vacation

  1. kevin

    We rented from Dan Dooley at the Dublin airport for a week ALL insured for $300.00 US. I thought that was good compared to other car companies. Will use them again, hassle free and easy!

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Tim and Kevin,
      Even after living in Dublin for 6 months ten years ago and driving in many other countries, I’m really floored by the driving conditions out here. As Deal Kid put it: It’s like a constant driving test, except you’re taking it in a mirror, and if you fail, you die!

      This rental ended up costing $180 (assuming I don’t get the 30 euro back, which I will FIGHT to get, even if I have to file a dispute with Citi). Next time I might just pay the $300, or better yet, stay in Northern Ireland.

  2. Tim

    If I recall, MasterCard has the better insurance options for Ireland, and have utilized these; but for short stays, with all the roundabouts and hedgerows…I’ve been known to take the CDW to relieve a bit of stress…YMMV

    1. kevin

      We have only been once so far and as you said, roundabouts, ect.. I opt for the SCDW. I would have only been out 99E for anything. Yes, I have heard the World mastercard provides insurance. We are planning in April Oslo, Scotland and Belfast so I might look into that. Thanks

      1. The Deal Mommy Post author

        We LOVED Belfast, much more than I expected. We had been ten years ago and besides the black cab tour, my reaction was “meh”. This time, three nights weren’t enough and we were actually disappointed with Dublin afterward! With the pound at 1.5 per dollar it was an especially good value compared to the rest of Ireland. Keep an eye on the blog for more posts, and feel free to shoot me any questions while you’re planning.

  3. Bob

    I had used a rented car to go from Dublin to Killarney driin through M7. The car broke down after about 120 miles near Limerick. I called the rental provider and I had a mechanic headed for me straight away. I had to wait for 40 mins before he could find me. But then he fixed the car, and in a few minutes I was back on my trip. It didn’t give any problem there on and I completed the trip. Thanks to the rental provider.

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Thanks, and I’m inclined to agree for much of Ireland. However, out West there is a pretty big gap in the smaller towns.

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Yes! I fought it by showing the letter from Citi confirming the insurance and threatening to dispute the charge so they finally dropped it.

  4. Ken

    What if you rented the car in Belfast and drove south to Ireland? Would they then charge you the crazy fees? I was thinking of flying into Dublin, taking a bus/train to Belfast and then renting a car there to circle the island.

    1. thedealmommy

      Double check with the rental company before you do so. My trip was 3 years ago but at the time UK rentals were not allowed to be taken into the republic.

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