car at Durrow Viaduct, County Waterford, Ireland
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Everything You Need to Know About Car Rental in Ireland (2024)

Renting a car in Ireland is the best way to experience everything the country has to offer. You will be able to explore Ireland at your own pace, not on someone else's schedule. You can stay longer in an area you are drawn to, change your itinerary at will, or just take the long, meandering road to your next destination.

Looking for the EASIEST car rental in Ireland?
Irish Car Rentals offers Contactless Car Rentals with Full Insurance at Dublin Airport!

Car rental in Ireland isn't as simple as it is in other places. You have a few important choices to keep in mind as you choose your rental car – from size and transmission to rental company and insurance coverage.

Car in front of Durrow viaduct. Car rental in Ireland
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There is a lot of information in this article- if you want a condensed version here is what you MUST know about renting a car in Ireland.

  • Most cars in Ireland are manual transmission. If you can not drive a ‘stick shift' be sure to reserve an automatic. Rates are higher.
  • Understand additional fees you may encounter (all are listed here).
  • You do not need a car in Dublin. Plan to pick up after your city stay or return when you visit.
  • Cars are a bit smaller and boot (trunk) space can be limited. Review car size carefully before booking.
  • Additional insurance is mandatory, whether you purchase it or use a credit card. Read this section to understand your options (this is the most important part).

Want a quick overview? View Ireland Car Rental in 8 Easy Steps.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Car in Ireland?

Car rental costs will vary based on the type of car you rent, when you rent it, the time of year you are visiting, where you rent from (and drop off), as well as any additional products or services you add to your rental.

Note on car rental in 2024: High demand and scarcity of new vehicles may cause price increases during high tourist season. Book early to receive the best pricing.

Average Ireland rental car costs in 2024 (updated April 9, 2024)
7 day round-trip rental with SCDW from Dublin Airport via Irish Car Rentals using my exclusive rental link.

Manual Economy€278.43Automatic Economy€445.78
Manual Compact€291.85Automatic Compact€470.98
Manual Intermediate€439.92Automatic Intermediate€504.62
Manual SUV/Family€433.02Automatic SUV/Family€534.07
Manual Economy€290.40Automatic Economy€423.67
Manual Compact€294.94Automatic Compact€447.17
Manual Intermediate€420.58Automatic Intermediate€474.51
Manual SUV/Family€411.85Automatic SUV/Family€538.86
Manual Economy€322.03Automatic Economy€377.24
Manual Compact€329.21Automatic Compact€397.02
Manual Intermediate€397.02Automatic Intermediate€449.18
Manual SUV/Family€411.54Automatic SUV/Family€451.10

Additional Ireland Car Rental Costs

As you can see above, it costs more to rent a car with an automatic transmission than a manual, but that's not the only cost that can be added to your car rental in Ireland. Other fees can include:

  • Renting a diesel vehicle will increase rental costs but may save money on fuel
  • One-way rental costs
  • Admin fee for using your own insurance (€30 – PLUS a hold on your credit card in excess of €5000)
  • Admin fee for using a credit card (€5)
  • Irish car rental taxes (some companies build this into the rental cost)
  • SCDW (or Excess) insurance (you want this -> read the section on insurance)
  • Cross border fee (if you visit Northern Ireland)
  • Additional Driver
  • Refueling (return the car with an empty fuel tank)
  • Age related costs (under 25 and over 75)
  • GPS rental (don't do this! Use the map on your mobile device. Get tips here!)
  • Petrol (obviously)

How to Save Money on Car Rental in Ireland

The cost of renting a car can seem steep, so you are likely looking for a way to save a bit of money.

Whatever you do, DO NOT scrimp on the insurance. The SCDW insurance with a zero deductible is often the best money you will spend. Considering using credit card insurance coverage? Read this first.

Here are a few ways to save money on your car rental:

  • Rent early for the best rate. I recommend booking as soon as you know your travel dates.
  • Rent a manual transmission vehicle (but ONLY if you already know how to drive it!).
  • Rent the smallest vehicle you can be comfortable in (don't forget about your luggage).
  • Only rent a car for the days you need it (you will NOT need a car in Dublin city).
  • Return your car to the same location you rented from.
  • Rent from Irish Car Rentals with my exclusive link to save 10%.
Ireland Car Rental

How to Rent a Car in Ireland (in 8 simple steps)

When it comes to renting a car in Ireland it's helpful to begin at the beginning. So let's start with the basic steps.

  1. Know your arrival and departure dates and locations.
  2. Do you need a car for your entire trip? (Note- you won't need a car in Dublin!)
  3. Research car rental companies.
  4. Choose the car.
  5. Get your quotes– but be sure you are comparing apples to apples. (Note- this is where the real work comes in!)
  6. Check, and double check, your insurance options.
  7. Make your reservation.
  8. Tips for Picking up and Returning your Rental Car in Ireland

Step #1: Know Your Arrival & Departure Dates & Locations

Before you can begin pricing your Ireland car rental you need to have your flights booked. Note the dates and times.

Planning car pick up at the airports:

Arriving in Dublin: plan to pick up your car 60 minutes after you land, though it may take longer.
8 Tips for a Smooth Car Rental Experience at Dublin Airport

Arriving in Shannon: plan your pick up for 30 minutes after you land. Shannon Airport is much smaller than Dublin and immigration lines are usually quite quick.

Departing from Dublin: plan to drop off your car 3.5 hours prior to boarding time. It will take 20-30 minutes for the shuttle (if needed) to bring you back to the airport after you return the car or for you to park at the airport and have the car checked by an associate. I recommend dropping off people & luggage at the departures gate then returning the car for minimal hassle.
Dublin Airport Tips

Departing from Shannon: plan to drop off your car 2-2.5 hours prior to boarding time. Shuttles (if needed) usually take 10-15 minutes.

Pick up or drop off at non-airport locations: Be sure to check opening hours and plan your schedule accordingly. Carefully note closing time and weekend hours.

OK, that was easy…

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Step #2: Do You Need a Car for Your Entire Trip?

Next, determine if you will need or want a car for the duration of your trip.

If you have a couple days planned in Dublin you won't need a car in the city. When deciding between airport or city pick up/ drop off be sure to check your accommodations- is parking included or will you have an additional fee? Also check availability of car rental facilities: What hours are they open? What are the weekend hours?

Picking up your car rental in Dublin city? You need to read this.

Ready to move on?

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Step #3: Research Irish Car Rental Companies

You'll find plenty of options when searching for car rental in Ireland.
All the big names are there: Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, National… (tip: use the .ie web extension for the Irish website).
And you have the European companies: Europcar and Sixt (I never rent with Sixt ever again).
And a couple of Irish as well: Irish Car Rentals (a division of Europcar) and Dan Dooley (which was purchased by Enterprise but still maintains it's own branding, for now.)

So, how do you choose? I have a few tips to narrow down your choices:

  • Choose a rental company that offers points or discounts through your credit card, a membership, or your business.
  • Over 70? You CAN rent a car but not all companies have the same senior rental policies. Read this article to learn policies for each company.
  • Choose based on price: Both Discover Cars and AutoEurope are comparison sites which can be used to determine which companies are offering the best deals for your dates.
  • Choose based on availability: some car rental companies are only available at airports. If you are planning to pick up or drop off at other locations you will have fewer options.
  • Choose based on your age. Drivers ages 25-74 should have no problem choosing a few Ireland car rental companies to compare. Drivers aged 21-24 and 75 and older will find fewer options, higher rates and/ or extra fees. If you are under age 21 you can not rent a car in Ireland.
  • Follow my recommendation: I usually use Irish Car Rentals (use exclusive link to save 10% **). I've found the prices to be fair, the vehicles to be in great condition, and the staff very helpful.
Irish Car Rentals booking

Do you have your car rental companies narrowed down?

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Step #4: Choose the Car Type

The rule of thumb for car rental in Ireland is to choose the smallest vehicle possible as fuel (petrol) prices in Ireland can be high. Petrol is sold by the liter (1 gallon = 3.78 liters). Average price in Ireland (December 20, 2023) €1.76/L.

rental car and too much luggage
Be honest about how much luggage you are bringing – and the size of the car!

You also need to consider your comfort. Be honest about the space you will need for both people and luggage. A few points to consider:

  • How much luggage are you bringing? And how large is it?
  • Will you bring or use car seats?
  • How much driving will you do daily?

And finally- can you drive a manual transmission? If not you must reserve an automatic, and those are more expensive.

Now the real work begins…

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Step #5: Get those Ireland Car Rental Quotes

Crack out your spreadsheet skills – computer or paper- for all the notes you'll be taking.

My spreadsheet has these columns:

  • Rental company
  • Quoted price – be sure to work in a single denomination so you have equal comparison
  • What is included – limited liability insurance, mileage, taxes, airport surcharge, breakdown service, etc
  • Costs for extras (each in their own column) – Super Collision Damage Waiver (also SCDW, CDW Excess, CDI Excess), additional driver, GPS, etc.

You want to make sure that your quotes are as similar as possible.

Additional Reading: Why GPS is a Waste of Money in Ireland

Now a bit more about that insurance…

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Step 6: Check – and Double Check- Those Insurance Options

The thing that makes car rental in Ireland tricky is the CDW insurance. It's something that surprises people if they haven't done their research and beginning your vacation with the feeling that you just got fleeced isn't a great start.

Ireland car rental terms can be a bit tricky, but the main thing you must realize is that you will not be allowed to drive away in your Irish car rental without some form of excess insurance.

Why is extra insurance coverage a requirement in Ireland?

Because, for all its wide motorways connecting the major cities, Ireland is a country of narrow, winding roads lined with hedgerows and stone fences.

Narrow village streets lined with cars nearly guarantee a mirror swipe with the fault yours or someone else's. Over 90% of rental cars in Ireland return with some sort of damage.

An 80km/hr road in County Kerry

This is where things get a bit confusing.

Ireland car rental insurances:

Limited Liability Insurance This is a legal requirement when renting a car in Ireland and is included on every car rental, automatically (and must be declined if you wish to use a credit card to cover insurance).

What it covers: Assists in paying the damages caused to another person’s property when you are at fault in an accident.

What it doesn’t cover: The damage to you or your own (rental) car in an accident when you are at fault.

What you need to know: Sometimes this will be listed as CDW but it is not the Super CDW (SCDW or CDI Excess), only the liability. (I know, confusing). Rental companies in Ireland will not let you rent a car without additional coverage in place.

If you opt out of the excess coverages, a ‘hold' will be placed on your credit card to cover any damages that may occur. This is based on rental company, car value, and rental term; amounts will vary from €2000- €7000.

Super Collision Damage Waiver Aka SCDW or Excess insurance. Additional insurance coverage. I highly recommend purchasing this coverage.

What it covers: Limits your financial liability for material damage to the vehicle, including theft, as long as the vehicle is used in accordance with the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.

What it doesn’t cover: The deductible you will pay in case of damage.

What you need to know: Adding this will cost you extra (often called excess; ie CDW Excess or CDI Excess), ranging from €20-30 per day, depending on type of vehicle, length of rental, and rental company. Your deductible can be as low as zero when you purchase this coverage.

Tip: If possible purchase this prior to your trip. Not only will you have it taken care of in advance (and possibly in your own currency, thereby skipping exchange fees) but you will be out the door and in your car quicker! Currently Irish Car Rentals, Dan Dooley and Auto Europe offer pre-purchase of CDW insurance. You can also pre-purchase CDW Excess at most major car rental websites that end in .ie (but not .com).

If I purchase Excess Insurance (SCDW) will I have to leave a credit card deposit?

If you purchase a zero deductible SCDW there will be NO HOLD on your credit card. If you purchase a €100 deductible SCDW there will be a €100 hold on your credit card.
The credit card hold is ONLY placed on your card if you decline to purchase excess insurance.

VIP Express Also called VIP Express Insurance

What it is: A service offered by some tour packages which adds CDW/ CDI excess to your self drive vacation package.

What you need to know: This often needs to be added when you make your booking; you may not be able to add it separately to your package. Read the fine print carefully.

Free Insurance Protection You may see this listed on some car rental websites

What it is: CDW and theft protection coverage.

What they don’t tell you (unless you hit the ‘details’ link): USA and Canadian rates generally do not include CDW; please check the rental terms to confirm what is included.

Tip: Be sure to read the rental terms thoroughly before renting a car. You will find accepted credit cards listed here (note that Discover card is not accepted in Ireland), as well as insurance coverage, fuel and mileage limits, restrictions, etc.

What You Need to Know About Credit Card Insurance Coverage in Ireland

Certain credit cards (World Mastercard and Chase Sapphire) offer collision damage cover for the driver, however most VISA, Mastercard, and American Express card issuing companies in the USA have withdrawn coverage for car rental in the Republic of Ireland. A few Canadian issued credit cards also offer coverage.

If the customer wishes to use their credit card to cover collision damage, they must first waive CDW when reserving their rental car, then obtain a current Letter of Authorization from the credit card company must be presented at the time of rental in order to waive the CDI coverage. Client should note that theft insurance may not be included.

Tip: Letter needs to be issued less than 2 weeks prior to picking up the car. A quick call to your card issuer will result in an immediate email of authorization. Print this out and present to rental company. Credit card used to rent the car must be the same as credit card offering coverage.

It is your sole responsibility to determine coverage with your provider and present proof upon arrival. If proof of coverage is insufficient, you will be liable for the full value of the vehicle and a minimum deposit of €3,000/£2,500 will be required. Alternatively, you may opt to purchase CDW/CDI locally which will limit your liability.

Also note that your credit card will have a ‘hold’ place on it for at least €3000 (often €5000 or more) in case of damage, so be sure your credit limit is sufficient. This ‘hold’ is released when the car is returned undamaged.

What About Travel Insurance Policies that Cover Car Rental?

Third party excess policies do not reduce your excess to zero. They simply insure the excess. This means that if your excess (the amount held on your credit card) is taken due to damage caused by you during your rental, you can claim this amount back through the company you purchased this policy from.

You must have proof of the policy when you pick up the car and it must confirm relevant coverage for the Republic of Ireland. You will be required to leave an excess (often €5000 or more) held on the credit card used to rent the car.

Drivers who arrive without a relevant card and letter, or those who do not have excess available on their card, will be required to purchase SCDW/ Excess/ Super CDW coverage from the car rental company.

Also note that not all car rental companies will accept third party insurance. You will want to verify that the insurance will be accepted before arriving in Ireland.

Always read the fine print. I have heard that some car rental companies have begun charging a surcharge to use your credit card insurance. From what I found this is not the norm and seems to be associated with bookings made with vendors like Travelocity and Expedia. I do not recommend booking your vehicle with these sites as the fine print excludes US credit card coverages as well as other rules and restrictions.

Important to know about credit cards: Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere credit cards are used. American Express is not as widely accepted due to fees. And Discover card is not accepted at all.

Additional Insurances

It is important to note that theft and personal liability insurance are not included in your Irish car rental coverages.

What if I or my family is injured?

I recommend doing your homework on the coverage your credit card provides for travel (remember it must be the card you used to book your trip/ car rental for coverage to be effective!). Look for terms like Travel Accident Insurance, Travel Assistance, Roadside Assistance, etc. And then learn what is- and what is not- included in that coverage.

You may find that it will cover the card holder and no one else, or that the coverage is minimal. I always purchase and recommend everyone consider purchasing travel insurance for an Ireland vacation.

Any questions? If not you can move on…

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Step 7: Make Your Car Rental Reservation

Now that the hard work is done and you've decided on the best car, price, and options for your trip, it's time to purchase your car rental in Ireland.

Just a couple important tips to remember:

Your car must be reserved in the name of the main driver.

The credit card used must be in the name of the main driver. Cash and travelers checks can not be used to rent a car in Ireland. If you opt to use a debit card it must be a Visa or Mastercard debit and may be subject to a hold on your bank account.

You will need a current drivers license to rent a car. An international drivers license is not necessary in Ireland.

Do offer your flight information on your reservation in case of flight delays.

And you're done! Congratulations!

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Step 8: Tips for Picking Up, Driving, and Returning Your Rental Car in Ireland

If you have pre-purchased your Excess insurance and any other optional accessories your rental process should be quick and you'll be exploring Ireland in no time! But there are a few things I recommend before you leave.

  1. Purchase the refueling option. The rates are fair and it allows you to return the car empty. So much easier than finding a gas station as you return to the airport!
  2. Inquire about tolls. The M50 around Dublin is an automatic toll road. There are 8 other toll roads in Ireland. Some rental companies will have the charges added to your bill; others require that you pay the charges either onsite or online. Know your rental company's policy.
  3. During the walk around, or before you drive out of the lot, take photos of the car from all angles. This is your ‘insurance' against being charged for previous damage to the vehicle. If possible set the time/date stamp on your camera for these photos.
  4. If the car interior is excessively dirty when you return it you may be charged a cleaning fee. Remove trash and sweep out sand or dirt before returning.
  5. Upon return take photos of the car from all angles. Often agents don't do a final walk around with you upon return. This is your ‘insurance' against being charged for damage you didn't incur.

I realize this is an exhaustive list of tips for car rental in Ireland- congratulations on reading til the end! You are now completely prepared to rent a car in Ireland!

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Any questions? Ask in the comments below- I always reply!

** The 10% discount is only applicable to certain car classes; the mini & economy classes are excluded. Other restrictions may apply.

Jody Halsted
Follow Along

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  1. Do you have any other suggested car rental sites? Your link does not have any vehicles available that would seat our family of 6! Thank you!

  2. Hi Jody. We have a two week trip booked in September. We plan to spend the first three nights in Dublin and then head out for loop around the island. We have a car reserved with SIXT to be picked up downtown and returned at the airport. Your comment about SIXT has me nervous. Should I reconsider? Thanks.

    1. Hi John.
      My experience with Sixt was very negative as one of their employees stole my credit card (when I gave it to him for the hold) and he used to to pay for a trip to New York.
      Because I was in Ireland when it happened you can imagine the distress and the impact it had on my trip.
      To make matters worse, Sixt made it very difficult for my credit card company to investigate the fraud and charge the thief.
      Due to that I will never use them again. If their corporate division acts like that they are not someone I want to work with.

      Did you check pricing with Irish Car Rentals using my exclusive savings link? If not, have a look.

      Safe travels!

  3. Even when purchasing the extra personal accident coverage, I find it only covers the driver. I understand the other liability cover included by law covers ‘3rd Party’..but I see no way to get coverage for passengers. I’ve checked a number of companies and they specifically exclude passengers in the language they use, such as, ‘..covers the driver and everything out side of the vehicle..’ I am very careful, have driven on the left in Ireland for years on holiday, but with passengers, they have to provide their own insurance.

    1. I’m using AutoEurope and I’m only getting the inclusive rate with deductible OR inclusive rate with refundable deductible. Both of these still require credit card block so I’m assuming that’s just CDW not Super CDW. I can’t find anywhere to add Super CDW. Thank you

      1. Hi Debbie.

        The rates offered vary by car rental company.
        For example, Dollar offers basic rate, inclusive rate w/ deductible and refundable deductible rate.
        But if you switch to Hertz you will see Basic rate, inclusive rate w/ deductible, and no deductible rate (zero deductible) which is what you are looking for.

        So to get a zero deductible rate you need to switch car rental companies or you will likely be offered zero deductible insurance on site.

        Hope that helps.

  4. Hi Jody,
    Thank you for this extremely helpful article! We are planning a 2-week trip to Ireland this June (first half of June) and will be driving along the Wild Atlantic Way. We arrive at Dublin Airport around noon and are planning on spending the rest of that day in Dublin to get our bearings before heading southwest to start our road trip the following day. We’re planning on booking a car through Irish Car Rentals. I know that you don’t recommend driving in the city itself, so would it be best for us to just take an Uber from the airport to our lodging in the city, and then pick up a rental car at a city center location the next day before setting out? Or is it simpler to just bite the bullet and pick up the car at the airport right when we arrive? On our departure we plan on returning to Dublin the day before our flight – would it be easy enough to drop the car at the city center location and then just Uber to our hotel and then airport the next day? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. That is a great question!

      You won’t find Uber in Ireland (it is against insurance laws for people to drive paying passengers in personal cars) though the Uber app will call a taxi.
      But you won’t need that – the airport has a taxi queue that moves quickly and will have you on your way to the city center quicker than an app will get a taxi to you.
      If you do need a taxi in Dublin I recommend the FreeNow app.

      I would just pick up your car in the city centre. There is no sense in picking up a car, paying for a day, then trying to find parking in Dublin (and paying for that, as well).

      You could return your car to the city centre or consider staying outside of Dublin your final night. The villages of Howth, Malahide, and Kildare are charming, easy to navigate, and then you can return the car to the airport before you leave.
      But totally your choice.

      Safe travels!

  5. Hello! I am planning a trip the first week of April and Irish Car Rentals does indeed have the best price by a significant margin. However, both in speaking with friends from Ireland and in reading reviews, they have a consistent reputation for adding “secret” or additional fees that jack up the prices in the end. How can I ensure this won’t happen?

    1. In my experience bad reviews and ‘secret’ charges come from the fact that most people don’t fully understand car rental – and mainly insurance- in Ireland. The ‘secret’ charges aren’t secret – people just don’t take the time to fully ready the contract.
      In this article I outline all those ‘secret’ charges under the heading ‘Additional Car Rental Costs’ – these can include cross border fees, age related costs, and one-way rental costs.
      Additionally, people may think their credit card covers them when it doesn’t (as Ireland is restricted on many) or they are not aware that they need to have a letter from their credit card company as well as the hold that will be placed on the card.
      Because you have read this article (I hope) and understand everything involved with car rental in Ireland, nothing will take you by surprise. And, if you book with Irish Car Rentals you can pay most of these ‘secret’ charges before you arrive because most are optional and can be prepaid.
      I also want to let you know that I do not recommend anything that I don’t use or trust. I have been using ICR for my own car rentals for over 7 years now and have always had a great experience.

    2. Thank you for all the great info on renting a car in Ireland. We are from Canada and will be using the Tangerine World Mastercard which covers CDW with a confirmation letter from the CC company. We plan to book through IFV /ICR and have 3 questions. 1. When do they charge for the rental – at pickup or when we book several months in advance (concerned about exchange rate now or then) . 2. If charged at booking, will they refund the funds if we have to cancel our trip?
      3. Will we still have to purchase insurance for damage to our car or have the option of the rental company holding back funds on our credit car?

      1. 1.  When do they charge for the rental – at pickup or when we book several months in advance (concerned about exchange rate now or then) .  
        Your car rental will be charged when you book the car.
        2.  If charged at booking, will they refund the funds if we have to cancel our trip?
        Cancellations policy is listed here. ICR has a cancellation cover that will refund the full amount paid minus the cancellation cover.
        3.  Will we still have to purchase insurance for damage to our car or have the option of the rental company holding back funds on our credit car?
        When booking choose the ‘waive CDW’ box. You must have the available funds on your credit card (currently 5000 Euro). If you don’t have those funds available to ‘hold’ then you will be required to purchase SCDW.

  6. Hello,
    I am currently doing my research to rent a car in Ireland for a few days in October (2022). I have noticed that for the excess coverage, there are 2 options: with an excess OR refundable excess. The refundable excess is a little more expensive, but is it worth the cost? Do you recommend the refundable excess option?

    1. Great question!
      I am making the assumption that you are renting through Auto Europe, as they are the only company that I am aware of that offers refundable excess coverage.

      Auto Europe offers you an ‘inclusive’ package which does not include any type of Excess coverage or Refundable Excess with Super Cover – which is their Excess CDW coverage with the additional option of a refund.
      So, yes, take the refundable excess…
      this doesn’t mean your excess coverage will be refunded. It just means that any charges you incur in case of an accident can be refunded to you.
      From the Auto Europe website: If you opt for this coverage, you will be entitled to claim back the excess charged by the supplier for damage or theft from Auto Europe. The whole process is short and simple. Settle the invoice directly with the supplier (don’t forget to request all the mandatory damage/theft documents) and then you just contact Auto Europe to file a claim.

      I hope that makes sense?

      1. Hello – I’m in the process of reserving a car in Ireland mid May to Mid June. I’ve read your informative article and want to be sure I understand correctly. I should opt for the CDW coverage AND also the excess coverage? This would increase my car rental $23 + $21 per day for both. I would appreciate if can advise. Thanks.

        1. The basic CDW coverage is included in all car rental contracts. This is Limited Liability Coverage and protects damage to someone else’s property. It DOES NOT cover the car you are driving.
          You are required to insure the car you are driving – this is where CDW Excess/ SCDW/ SuperCDW/ etc comes in.
          This is an extra cost (the basic CDW should be included in your car rental price).
          You can opt out of the excess insurance if you have a credit card that will cover car rental insurance in Ireland (many don’t). If you use that option you can expect a €3000-6000 ‘hold’ on your credit card in case of accident.
          I hope that answered your question.

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  12. HI- I am not the best with any type of insurance 🙁 so are you saying the extra insurance you can add for XX amount before reserving your car through expedia and choosing Hertz is not sufficient?

    1. Hi Debbie.
      I don’t ever recommend purchasing travel through Expedia as they are then your ‘travel agent’ and any issues that arise must be handled through them.
      That said, I have had reports from readers who arranged their rental through Expedia and Travelocity and had the excess insurance they purchased refused.
      They then have to purchase insurance at the rental location in Ireland and appeal to the ‘agent’ for reimbursement. Which doesn’t always happen.
      I hope that helps you.

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  14. We planned to stay a month and are actually getting a short term lease from eurocar’s business fleet. It comes with full coverage and both my husband and I can drive. There is a deposit but it’s far less than cdw hold. I also get an agent I get answers to all my questions.

    1. Thanks for the tip! Yes- when you have a long stay a short-term lease can actually be quite affordable. Most visitors don’t stay longer than a rental term of 28 days.

    2. I’ve never heard of this. We stay for months and rent 2 or more separate cars, max 31 days each. How does this work? I would love and appreciate any tips.

      1. You would likely have to call as opposed to booking online – but many car rental companies will negotiate a longer term.

  15. Great overview! I agree with a few of the comments here that renting a car in Ireland is a traumatic experience for the unprepared. I have sat in lines watching people almost reduced to tears at the start of their “vacation” by the insurance costs.

    I have a World MasterCard, and I have used it over the past ten years in Ireland. I print out the coverage letter, etc. Worked great until last summer. I was informed that the car rental company was charging me a $10 per day handling fee because I was using the MasterCard coverage. While this is still cheaper all around than getting CDW I felt it was yet another scam, and left me feeling bad about car rental in Dublin again.

    Are all the rental agencies doing this now? I checked with another one and they said the same thing.

    1. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Jarlath. I did some checking into this and made some calls. From what I could discern this is happening when people book car rentals through 3rd party sites like Expedia and Travelocity.
      I have also been told that when people book through those sites and purchase excess insurance it is being declined.
      Car rental in Ireland could definitely use an overhaul. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening while tourism numbers are so high.

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  17. Glad I found your article and I have posted it to my own facebook page. The car rental desk has become the one traumatic part of my vacation home to relatives in Ireland. I literally spend the whole trans atlantic trip worried about what BS they are going to pull this time at the desk. I have British and American passports and driving licenses and my way around is to have an annual car hire insurance excess policy for UK residents. I think the behaviour of front line staff (particularly Hertz) at Dublin is disgraceful upselling insurance to Americans with tales of that ‘poor American who was killed last week a mile from the terminal on a roundabout’. I have been kept waiting for two hours (with three exhausted young kids and hubby in tow) while they reluctantly agree to accept my coverage and let me rent the car I booked without paying the extra rich american tax! I am English so I now ban any of my American family from opening their mouths and we get by! But very good points well explained.

    1. A little knowledge goes a long way. Most tourists are unaware of the insurance requirements in Ireland and that leaves them feeling ‘fleeced’ or taken advantage of.
      I’m glad you found the article helpful and hope you will pass it along to friends & family.

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  21. Hello! Your tips are spot on! One thing I might add…tire insurance is not generally covered by any of the aforementioned insurance plans…we are thankful we purchased additional tire coverage! Tires suffer tremendous wear and tear in Ireland! Headed back to Ireland in 10 days and will be purchasing all insurance options for total peace of mind!

  22. Thank you for this! We are in the process of planning our 2nd visit to Ireland and this time around we will be renting a car. Our first trip was in 2017, but we stayed right in Dublin and didn’t need a car (I had to chuckle at your comment about the recommendation to NOT drive in Dublin. I have to agree with you wholeheartedly!). This time we will be staying in Dublin for the first few days and will not have a car there – we will pick up a car after our stay in Dublin and will spend the rest of the trip driving along the coast and eventually ending up in Galway. This article provided me with some valuable information!

  23. Thanks so much for newsletter and tips. Just returned. Found the Costco Citi Visa does cover Ireland, and they emailed letter that explicitly states Ireland.

    Rented through Buget.IE and at the counter it required a firm “Yes you do. Yes you can. Yes you will” to get clerk to process/accept and waive CDW. He went to supervisor and magically the form then appeared. My card benefit/insurer made sure I understood I must decline car rental company’s insurance, as they will only accept claim if they are primary and only (this does not pertain to “third party” portion).

    Just reserved online with Irish Car Rentals for next trip. Irish Car Rental site pricing, processing and then declining CDW was a much better experience.

    Thanks so much for you and your readers.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Mark. Sometimes I don’t think it’s a ‘hard sell’ technique so much as that personnel just don’t know. Glad you knew your facts and got it straightened out!
      Safe travels on your next trip!

    2. I see your date for the Citibank card was 3 years ago. I also used my Citibank card my first year renting car in Ireland, 2018. However, the following year, 2019, I got a notice that they would no longer offer many of their Traveler’s Benefits, including CDW, even though they still wanted their $95 yearly fee. Since then, I’ve found only my Chase Sapphire, Chase Amazon, and Barclays Jet Blue cards still offer CDW. Very disappointed in Citibank.

  24. Our driving experience in Ireland was pretty good! My 4 rules would be:
    1) RESERVE and automatic in advance.
    2) Think through in advance that you will be driving on the opposite side of the road as in the US.
    3) Think through in advance the process of getting into a round-a-bout in the clockwise direction.
    4) Get used to the idea that many rural roads are VERY narrow!

    If you are prepared in advance, you will LOVE Ireland and driving in Ireland!

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  27. Thank you for the information! We start in Dublin for two days and now WON’T rent until we leave. But we are dropping off in Belfast. Any recommendations? We understand there will be extra fees…

    1. So glad to help!
      The main thing with dropping a car off in Belfast are the fees for leaving a car in another country. They can be steep and will be different for each car rental provider, so I recommend doing your research.
      I always pay for the ‘return the tank empty’ option. A) it’s less hassle the day of departure. To me the convenience is worth the cost. and B) there have been noted cases of gas stations in Ireland raising their rates the closer they are to airports. Most have been shut down, but that’s not to say others don’t do it.. But totally your call.
      Otherwise everything should be the same as if you were returning the car to the same place you picked it up.
      Safe travels!

      1. Actually, found this year that car rental prices are considerably cheaper at Belfast Airport than Dublin Airport, by about 30%. They DO charge a one-time 25lb fee to take car to Republic of Ireland, but still worth it. Bus to Belfast Europa Center is available at Dublin Airport, then transfer to Belfast Airport bus.

  28. I’m booking thru a travel company and they are taking care of the care rental for me. I just read that you said that you said you should have $2000-5000 free on your card for the rental. Is that true???

    1. Hi Wendy. It really depends on how your travel agent books it. Some travel agents will include the insurance coverage, some won’t.
      And then it depends on if the credit card you used will cover car rental insurance in Ireland.

      I go through this pretty thoroughly in Step 6 of the car rental article above.

      You need to check with your tour company and see what is covered- and what is not. Ask thorough questions and be sure you understand their answer. If it is vague or doesn’t quite make sense, ask again.

      But, yes, if you plan to cover your car rental insurance with a credit card, and not the CDW Excess (additional purchased insurance coverage), you will need to have a specified amount available as a ‘hold’ on your credit card. Your rental contract should outline costs.

      Your tour company should be able to outline all this for you. You just need to ask for all the information.

      Hope that helps!

  29. I’m so glad I discovered you! I was about to create a rental car disaster to start our Mother Daughter Irish Road Trip. Your information is so spot on!

    What is the extra add on that Irish Rental Cars offers to “collect your car at terminal”? Will it save me time? We are on a tight schedule to drive to Cobh….but don’t want to pay if not necessary.

    1. Hi Linda! I’m so glad the car rental information was helpful!

      To answer your question- rental times at Dublin airport can be long, so if you are pressed for time collecting your car at the terminal could save you at least 30 minutes. If you are flying into Cork it won’t make much difference as that airport is much (much) smaller.

      Have a wonderful trip!

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  32. If I use my credit card for the collision damage and theft do I need Third Party Liability Coverage or is this what you are saying is always included in the Rental? I just want the car I am driving to be covered as well as the car and driver of another car if I am at fault. Also how do I know how much the Rental company will Charge my Credit Card if I do not use their insurance?

    1. Basic liability- sometimes called third party liability- is included with any car rental.

      Your car rental company should spell out the terms of exact coverage and limitations and the information should be available prior to finalizing the car rental. My preferred company, Irish Car Rentals, lists everything on their website in easy access to customers under the tab Rental Information. They even list the credit card hold amounts in their Knowledge Information link from that page.

      Other rental companies should also have this information available on their websites (use the .ie version for Ireland specific information; example: ). If you can’t find the information I would call the rental company directly – the Ireland office- for the answer.

      I hope that helps. Safe travels!

  33. I have friends who were in an accident in Ireland in May. They had rented their car through Budget. The insurance they purchased with the car did not cover the driver’s hospitalization, only the passenger’s bills. Is this the way it is with all rental companies and insurance? Is this why we would need TravelGuard or similar insurance?

    1. It is actually that way with all car rental- even in the US. You just don’t realize it because in the US you usually have your own auto insurance to cover you.
      Under the insurance portion I wrote:
      It is important to note that theft and personal liability insurance are not included in your Irish car rental coverages. I recommend doing your homework on the insurance coverage your credit card provides (remember it must be the card you used to book your trip/ car rental for coverage to be effective!) as well as considering travel insurance.
      Personal liability is the coverage you need in case of your own injuries.

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  35. We have spent many holidays in Ireland and always rented a car. However, we are planning another trip and while we are alert and hold a clear licence we have just turned 80 year. Do some companies rent to seniors over 80 and what are the conditions they offer ? Thanks, Carole

    1. Hi Carole. As you’ve likely noticed, finding car rental when over 75 can be tricky. Each company has their own criteria, so to narrow down options can be tricky.

      I know that Irish Car Rentals, who I recommend, does rent to persons over 80, you just need to provide the following:
      Drivers aged 75 and over will need to provide a PRINTED medical certificate which states that they are fit to drive and a letter from their insurance company stating that they are currently driving and have not had an accident within the last 5 years. This information must be received at least 5 working days in advance of your rental.

      Auto Europe is pretty handy for narrowing down rental options. When you open the page under the pick up/ drop off and dates is a box that says ‘Driver age 25-69’. Uncheck that box and enter your age. All results will be companies that offer rentals to you. My search showed Sixt, Avis, Alamo, and Enterprise. Each will have their own terms, so be sure to read them carefully.

      And don’t forget to add on the excess insurance. I would be sure to do that when you reserve the car- just to be safe. And also have that doctor’s note with you, even if the rental company doesn’t request it. Again, better safe than sorry!

      I hope that helps you find a rental car. Have a wonderful trip back to Ireland! Safe travels!

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  37. Thanks for a great article. I just want to confirm….I need to purchase a CDW AND a Super CDW? Avis is also trying to sell me Personal Accident and theft insurance. Seems a bit excessive! Especially when you add an extra driver at $10 a day too. Super expensive!

    1. Hi Kelley. Basic CDW is included in your car rental rate.
      Super CDW is extra, and a MUST if you don’t have credit card coverage in Ireland (most don’t).

      Accident and theft are an option ; I’ll be honest and say that I have never purchased them.

      Additional driver is an expensive add on, I agree.

      Hope that helped!

      1. Thanks for replying and the great article. I just made my reservation with Irish Car Rentals! We will be there in a couple of weeks!

  38. Maybe I’m confused…Anda’s question was about how personal liability isn’t covered in the cost of the car rental, and your response seems to confirm that. But then in response to John’s question, you wrote that all rentals include liability in the cost if the rental. Are these two different “liablity” coverages?

    Similar to John, I can opt out of CDW and excess/SCDW bc I have a Visa CC with coverage that is accepted by most Irish rental companies. The coverage is up to $100,000 and includes theft, tires, rims, and glass. I thought I was all set because it was my understanding that the base rate of all rentals in Ireland includes third party liability. But after I read your answers to Anda’s and John’s questions, I’m not so sure. Can you please clarify?

    1. Hi Suzanne.

      Third party liability is included in the base quote of car rentals in Ireland. It provides coverage for someone who is not the policy holder. So if you cause an accident the third party liability covers damage or injury to what you hit. The car rental companies are required to carry this as you are driving their car and they don’t want to be sued.

      John’s credit card does not cover third party liability- and your’s probably doesn’t either- because it is included in the rate of the car rental.

      Personal liability, also called first party liability, is what your credit card (or the CDW) cover. It is coverage for damage or injury to yourself or the vehicle that is caused by you.

      I hope that clears it up a bit.

  39. Thank you for all the info! Now that I read on this it doesn’t sound as hellish as I thought it would be…

  40. On my rental paperwork I don’t see Super CDW but I have collision damage coverage and theft protection for the vehicle both with a deductible of $0 EUR. Would that actually be the “super” CDI/CDW we want to have?

    I just don’t want an surprises at the desk! Thanks!

    1. Not all rental companies use the same terms- which makes things really confusing! If you have paperwork that says you have coverage with a zero deductible then you should be set.

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  42. My Amex rep says they cover the CDW in Ireland(since Sept 17′) when using their card. They do not cover liability. Do I need excess insurance coverage?

    1. Hi John. All car rentals in Ireland automatically include the liability in the cost of the rental. You should not be able to ‘opt out’ of that and should not need additional insurance coverage for it.
      As to Amex covering the insurance… This is really going to depend on who you rent with. If you rent with an international company (Hertz, Enterprise, Avis) you should be ok. But you might find that the local Irish companies don’t accept Amex as payment when you arrive. In which case you will have to purchase the excess insurance.
      Don’t forget to have between $2000-$5000 ‘free’ on your card for the hold. And you will need the letter of coverage dated no more than 2 weeks prior to your trip as proof of coverage.

      Safe travels!

  43. Hello!
    Very interesting article! This summer I plan to visit Ireland and I would like to rent a car. Can you advise good companies where you can take a car if I’m less than 25 years old?

    1. I would check local companies like Europcar and Sixt. And be prepared to pay a premium due to your age. Good luck.

  44. I’ve also noticed for a lot of car rentals super CDW still doesn’t cover damage to windshields or tires either, it’s in the sneaky fine print. Great article! We’ll be picking up our rental in September, it should prove interesting haha. Not sure if anyone can answer this question, you mentioned shuttles from dropping your rental off to the airport at Shannon. Is that for all rental agencies? We’re picking up and dropping off our car from Hertz at the airport but I haven’t been able to find any info on shuttles.

    1. Hi Jackie. Yep, that fine print. 🙂

      Some Shannon car rentals are right on site- you just walk out the arrivals door, cross the street, and get your car. For any that are not right on site there will be a shuttle.

      Have a great trip!

  45. This is very helpful information. We are planning to go to Ireland next year and of course, we want to rent a car. I’m going to bookmark your page, but I could help noticing the “additional” insurance point you make. If theft and personal liability insurance are not included in your Irish car rental, then what is? Sounds kind of ridiculous, but I guess that’s the norm there.

    1. Hi Anda.
      Theft and personal liability aren’t included in most car rentals, it’s just that we normally don’t notice it as those two items are covered by our personal insurance accounts which cover our car rentals 99% of the time.

      Limited Liability (basic CDW), which is automatically included in Irish car rentals, covers any damage you cause to another person’s property.

      The CDW Excess (Super CDW) covers any damage to the vehicle you have rented.

      Often the credit card you use to book your car rental will cover theft of your property from the car. It will also often cover your personal liability up to a point.

      I encourage people to understand car rentals and liabilities no matter where they travel as it’s often not as ‘clear cut’ as you may assume.