Exchanging money is one of the most important things to take care of when traveling. Making sure that you have the right amount of money, in the right currency, is one of the most anxiety-inducing things about travel. But I have seen countless people stress over this for no reason.
The best place to exchange money for a trip to Ireland is before you arrive. When in Ireland, ATMs are the best way to get the local currency, there are also exchanges in most cities and airports. Currently, most businesses in Ireland will accept payment via card, so cash is less necessary than in the past.
While you might not need as much cash today as in years gone by, it can still be useful. When making the trip to Ireland, it is usually a good idea to bring about €200 or so, just in case you get locked out of your card. If you need to get cash while here however, there are certain things you should look out for.
Exchanging Currency in Ireland
Banks and Post Offices in Ireland will only allow account holders to exchange money with them. If visitors want to exchange money, then the most reliable source of cash in Ireland will be ATM machines. To avoid bank fees as much as possible, it is better to take out larger sums of money, around €200, in one go.
One thing to consider for a trip to Ireland is if you will cross the border at any stage. If you are planning to visit Northern Ireland, you should be aware that they are part of the United Kingdom. As such, they use the Pound Sterling (£) and not the Euro (€).
For any recommended amounts of cash mentioned in this article, please convert from Euro to Sterling at a ratio of 1:1.
There are of course other places where you will be able to exchange money in Ireland and I will mention them below.
For the most part however, you will not need to use cash that much in Ireland. Certain businesses, like taxis and barbers/ hairdressers, may prefer to deal in cash so plan accordingly. Even before Covid, most other places had already started to move away from cash. You should be able to get by just using your card in Ireland.
How much to bring?
Generally speaking, it is a good idea to bring approximately €200-€250 euro to Ireland. This way, you should have enough money for a taxi if needed and be able to get some accommodation and food if something comes up.
Make sure to exchange this money before you arrive. That way you will be able to take advantage of any offers that your local bank/ financial institution has. Unless you have a bank account in Ireland, you will not have access to currency exchanges offered by banks here.
Using US Dollars in Ireland
US Dollars will not be accepted as a form of payment in Ireland. When in Northern Ireland, the currency is Pound Sterling and in the Republic we use the Euro. While certain individuals may accept dollars in certain situations, they will need to exchange the money themselves before it can be used.
In all the airports in Ireland, there will be currency exchange services available. It is generally recommended that you only use these as a last resort. You will not be able to pre-order any euro/ pounds and the exchange rates will be higher. There should always be cash in stock however.
When flying home, you might have the temptation to convert any euro that you have left. This is usually also not recommended. If you do this, you will double the amount spent on exchange fees. It may be better to either spend all your money before you leave or save it for a future trip.
For US travelers, you may be able to get back some money in Irish airports. The Value Added Tax (VAT) on certain goods, like clothes over a certain value, can be reclaimable when in the airport. Companies like Fexco will usually have a presence in Irish airports, so make sure to save your receipts after purchasing all those gifts!
The best way for most visitors to exchange money when in Ireland is to use ATMs. The fees for their use are not as high as in certain other parts of the world, like the United States. They are generally used by most locals when cash is needed and they are usually safe and reliable ways to get cash in Ireland.
Some smaller towns and villages might not have the same access to these services as bigger cities like Dublin. In smaller towns without a bank, there may be an ATM in a convenience store or similar establishment. These may have a small service charge of €1-4 to use.
Generally speaking, it is better to take out a larger sum of a couple of hundred Euro from an ATM. This will not only avoid any charges that you might incur, but it will also mean that you won’t be stuck for cash when in the middle of nowhere.
Do Cards Work in Ireland?
Some cards like JCB, Discovery and Diner’s Club will not be accepted in Ireland. But it is most likely that your bank card will be accepted in most establishments on the island. Many locals rarely use cash anymore and you might not need any for your entire trip.
When in Ireland, you will might also be more subject to transaction and exchange fees than you would be at home. When given the option by paying in card, it is usually best to choose to pay in the local currency. This will avoid much of the exchange fee.
When in Ireland, there will be currency exchanges in the center of most cities. While they are not the best places to exchange money, they can be used if nothing else is available. As you will not be able to pay with US dollars when in Ireland, if you arrive with too much you may have to change them.
One of the companies that I have used is Fexco, mentioned above. They have numerous locations around Ireland, including the center of Dublin city and the airport.