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Renting a car in Ireland: the best advice on how to rent a car in Ireland for your holidays

Car hire in Ireland is among the most chosen options by those who come to Ireland and decide to visit the island in whole or in part; having the car means being able to organize freely, choose where to stop and what to see, and be totally independent of public transport. If you too have decided to organize the fateful trip to Ireland that you have been planning for some time and now you are facing the car rental dilemma, you are in the right place because here I will give you information on how to rent your car in Ireland and also tips, all experienced personally since I live in Ireland.

Renting a car in Ireland is simple but you need to pay attention to a few, but fundamental rules:

  • You cannot rent a car if you are under 21;
  • It is difficult to rent a car if you are over 75 years old;
  • Cars can only be hired with a credit card (but keep reading because below I’ll show you how to do it without!);
  • Cars can only be rented with a driving license valid for at least 12 months (no international license is required).

Rent a car in Ireland: which car to choose

Although Ireland is an island subject to the wind and still very rural, a classic car is enough. You do not need SUVs (which are also difficult to find) nor cars with special equipment. Make sure that the car is the size you think is more congenial to your trip and that it is convenient, therefore, even if you travel in two, rent a car in two places may not be the best solution especially because the roads in some areas of Ireland they are not even paved. Remember that in Ireland you drive on the left, an element to take into consideration if you decide to opt for car hire: after the initial loss, the driving is simple and quiet even if the roads, in some places, can be difficult.

You will often find yourself driving on roads like these:

Where do I rent my car in Ireland? What are the best companies for car hire in Ireland

It depends on the tour you want to do: in principle, if you land in Dublin and you stop in the city for a few days I suggest you rent the car in the city so as to avoid returning to the airport. If you land in Dublin and you want to go immediately to the countryside, then you have to rent your car at the airport. Same thing if you land in other cities, Belfast or Cork. If you plan to rent a car in one location and bring it back into another, remember that you will have to pay a surcharge.

There are many cars hire companies in Ireland but I suggest you rely on the most famous and internationally known: Hertz, Avis, Budget, National, Europcar, Sixt or Thrifty. Remember that you may have to pay a surcharge if you collect and return the car outside the standard hours. In this regard, the rental day is calculated from the actual moment in which the booking begins, so if you pick up the car at 11 am you will have to return it on the day set no later than 11 am; if you return it at 11.30 am, you will be charged an additional day.

Car Rental Insurance in Ireland

When it comes to car rental insurance, you should know that Ireland is quite complicated. Basically the car is insured for the minimum and to add other forms of insurance it is necessary to have a credit card. These are the acronyms with which you have to familiarize yourself before going to the rental counter to negotiate your rental insurance:

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

Indicates the basic insurance or the maximum amount for which the car is covered in case of an accident or problem. Many companies ask for a deposit, often substantial, and it’s taken directly from the credit card to ensure that in case of an accident the customer who has only chosen the CDW coverage has money to cover the damage.

Super CDW

It is the full insurance, which covers all damages to the vehicle and to the people and that you pay daily. No credit card deposit is retained because in the event of an accident or a problem the car rental company will pay for everything.

Car Hire Excess

The excess is a pre-authorization on the credit card that is taken during the rental and is refunded when the vehicle is returned without damage. It is usually asked by all car rental contracts in Ireland and refunds can take 3 to 5 working days.


Driving in Ireland to discover places like this

How to pay the car rental in Ireland

Basically, all the car rental companies in Ireland only accept credit cards as a form of payment: MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club. Debit cards or prepaid cards are not usually accepted as it is not accepted payment in cash. The driver of the car must have a credit card in his own name and the passengers’ credit card can never be used to pay the rental. In short, if you rent a car in Ireland under your name, you must provide your credit card to finalize rental and payment. If you rent a car on behalf of another person, the other person will have to provide your credit card when you pick up the car.

Hiring a car in Ireland without a credit card

It is impossible to find a car rental that allows you to book a car in Ireland without a credit card. Even if you pay in advance, and therefore in principle, you can also use a Debit Card or a Prepaid, on arrival at the agency the credit card will still be required as necessary as a guarantee against damage and various problems. That said, if you have a debit card you can try to rent your car using this as payment and guarantee: the process can be longer, usually does not allow the rental of cars with large displacement and the agency could ask you for additional documents to support of your request. The second solution is, if possible, is to use the credit card of one of the passengers who will travel with you, holding the rental to him or her and then adding the second driver: in this way you can both drive and be covered by insurance and payment will be made in the name of the driver who is the owner of the credit card. However, the safest and most recommended method is credit card rental, so I suggest you get a credit card issued in your name so that you do not have any problems whatsoever.

More tips for renting a car in Ireland

  • If you use a comparison to find the best price for your car rental, remember to check not the basic price but the final price including all the extras (from insurance to additional elements, such as the GPS)
  • It is usually said “book early for peak seasons” but in Ireland, it is better to book in advance, regardless of the season. The country is always crowded and last minute prices are prohibitive;
  • Always check the status of the car before leaving the rental office;
  • Choose diesel if you intend to travel the whole country or move a lot;
  • Always choose to return the car with full fuel;
  • When you return the vehicle, ask for the receipt by checking the status of the car.

Discovering remote Ireland by car


Are you heading to Ireland and do you want more information on customized tours but also on things to do, where to eat and drink and more? Write me an email or follow me on Instagram and Facebook and do not be afraid to ask for more information or a customized consultation! If you want to have photographic tips on what and where to go to take good pictures get in contact with Giuseppe, based in Ireland as well.

[All the pics are copyright of Giuseppe Milo]

Article written by Veruska Anconitano aka La Cuochina Sopraffina. If you want more information please contact us.

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