Ireland attracts millions of visitors each year. It’s no wonder, as Ireland is brimming with historical heritage, idyllic landscapes, and cultural hotspots. Because Ireland is an island, you’ll likely leave your car in the driveway when visiting this majestic land. Make the most of your visit by renting a car in Ireland.
What Is a Rental Car?
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Before we dive into the details of renting a car in Ireland, let’s first discuss what a rental car is. A rental car is a vehicle you pay to use for a short period of time. Rental cars aren’t limited to cars—cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs are all available for rent.
Renting a car is a convenient option for travelers who want to have a car on vacation, but do not want to bring their personal car with them. Whether that reason is to maximize vacation time or because the vacation destination is unreachable by car, renting a car is a good option.
Ten Things to Consider When Renting a Car in Ireland
As travelers to Ireland usually arrive by airplane, they need to consider how they will move around the country. Public transportation options are available in Ireland but are limiting in flexibility. Renting a car in Ireland is a good option for anyone who wants to visit multiple regions and create a personalized itinerary.
Here we present the top ten things to consider when renting a car in Ireland.
1. Driver’s License Requirements
An International Driver’s Permit is not required for travelers from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, or EU member states. The hard copy of your national driver’s license will suffice in Ireland.
2. Credit Cards Only for Ireland Car Rental
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Only credit cards are accepted for Irish rental car payments. Debit cards, cash, check, or money orders are not accepted. Make sure you have a valid, major credit card when renting a car in Ireland.
An important note: the primary driver of the rental car must pay for the rental with a credit card bearing the primary driver’s name.
3. Age Restrictions
Ireland has some of the most restrictive car rental policies in Europe. Review this section before moving forward with renting a car in Ireland.
No Rental to Drivers Under 21
To rent a car in Ireland, you must be 21 years of age. Without exception, no one under this age is ever permitted to rent or drive a rental car.
Limited Rental to Drivers 21-24
Drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 are sometimes permitted to rent a car in Ireland. Eligibility for drivers under 25 depends on the car rental company. Check with individual car companies to determine your eligibility. Drivers in this age group should expect to pay a higher rental fee called the young driver surcharge. On average this fee is €30 per day, per young driver.
Limited Rental to Drivers Over 75
Rental car restrictions in Ireland also apply for drivers over the age of 75. The criteria for renting a car might include a clean driving record and proof of good health. If you are 75 or older, contact car rental companies directly to determine your eligibility for renting a car in Ireland.
4. Manual Transmission
In Ireland, automatic vehicle transmissions are not prevalent. Not that it will be impossible to find an automatic car for rent in Ireland, but it will be more difficult. Manual transmissions, otherwise known as stick-shifts, are the lay of the land in Ireland and much of Europe.
If you don’t know how to drive a manual transmission, or you don’t want to drive one, be sure to check the specifications of a rental car before renting it. We’d even recommend contacting a rental company directly to confirm that an automatic vehicle will be available to you.
5. Prices—Gas Prices and Currency Conversion
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Money is an important factor when deciding to rent a car in Ireland. Ireland is an EU member state and its currency is the Euro. Currency conversion rates change daily. The Euro is typically stronger than the US Dollar. Remember this when looking at car rental prices on Irish websites. Some sites will offer prices in US Dollar formatting. When in doubt, use an online currency conversion tool to calculate Euro to Dollar amounts.
The price of gasoline, or “petrol” as it is known in Ireland, is one of the biggest expenses for those traveling by car. Gas prices in Ireland are very expensive.
Keep in mind that gas is sold by the liter rather than by the gallon. There are over three and a half liters in one gallon of gas. In 2018, the average price of gas in Ireland is €1.38 per liter. If you are thinking in gallons, the price of gas is roughly €5.22 per gallon.
6. Pickup and Drop-Off Location
Once you’ve reviewed all the basics of renting a car in Ireland, it’s time to get down to business with your travel plans. Before renting a car, you must establish where and when you want to pick up and drop off your rental car.
Determine if you want to have the rental car for your entire trip or just a portion of your trip. Figuring this out will help you establish your pickup and drop-off schedule most efficiently.
Most car rental companies provide pickup and drop-off service from the airport. If you would like your rental car immediately, schedule your pickup around the time your flight arrives at the airport. Remember that it will take time to exit the plane and clear customs.
If you only want the rental car for part of your vacation, find a car rental agency close to where you are staying.
When scheduling a drop-off, choose a time and location that is convenient for you. If you are dropping off your rental car before your flight, make sure you have scheduled enough time to make your flight after you have dropped the car off and completed any necessary paperwork.
7. Choose a Rental Car Company and a Car
Now for the fun part. There are many car rental companies in Ireland which means there are many cars to choose from. Choose a vehicle that will be comfortable for you and anyone who is traveling with you. Here are some of the most popular car rental agencies serving travelers in Ireland:
- Budget Car Rental
- Dooley Car Rentals
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car
- Hertz Car Hire
- Irish Car Rental Dublin
- National Car Rental
- Payless Car Rental
- Sixt Car Rental
- Thrifty Car Rental
Start the process by visiting the websites of a few car rental agencies to compare prices. Enter your travel data for availability and price quotes. Again, be sure to check the specifications for the cars. Consider how many people will be traveling in the car and how much luggage space you need.
When in doubt, always contact the rental company directly to clarify your questions.
8. Rental Car Insurance
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Car rental insurance is mandatory in Ireland. Personal liability insurance and the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is often included in the rental quotes. Unlike many travel destinations, Ireland will require you to purchase excess insurance.
Pre-Authorization Holds on Credit Card
Sometimes a pre-authorization hold is put onto your credit card to cover any damages incurred on the car while in your possession. When you return the car in the condition it was rented in, the pre-authorization hold is cleared and you are not charged. It may take up to one full business week for this amount to disappear from your credit card balance.
Don’t Expect to Use Your Credit Card’s Insurance
Unlike most countries, the insurance associated with your credit card is not accepted in Ireland. Ireland only accepts CDW coverage from US travelers holding a World MasterCard or Canadian travelers with a Gold or Platinum MasterCard. In addition, you need a written approval statement from MasterCard agreeing to cover car rentals in Ireland.
9. Added Extras
For a fee, most car rental companies offer added extras for the duration of your car rental. Important extras to add to your rental include car seats for small children and GPS navigation systems.
Irish law requires all passengers who are small children to sit in a car seat. The purchase of added extras is based on availability. When traveling with small children, plan to make sure a car seat is available for your vacation.
10. Driving Rules in Ireland
Brush up on Ireland’s driving rules and traffic signs. For example, cars steer and drive on the left-hand side of the road in Ireland. Roads in Ireland might be more narrow than you are accustomed to. Right turns at red lights are not permitted. There are many rules to learn. Research Ireland’s traffic signs and road rules before getting behind the wheel of your rental car.
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Renting a car in Ireland is a surefire way to see all the sights and attractions on the island. Proper planning and research will make the car rental process flow more smoothly.