7 Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland (Beware #6)

Renting a Car in Ireland



What to Know Before Renting a Car in Ireland

I knew I wanted to self drive part of our vacation to Ireland, but it took some convincing to get my mom on board.

While we love travel and take quite a few trips internationally, we hardly do road trips. Ireland is one of the few European countries that drives on the left so she was doubly hesitant!

It took a little pressure on my part but eventually we decided to rent a car in Ireland and we’re really happy we decided to commit to it.





We love planning our own travel itineraries and Ireland is such a scenic country that it really makes sense to rent a car and have some freedom to choose your own sights and stops.

Here are some tips we figured out about how to rent a car in Ireland. For the most part, the process is straightforward!


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renting a car in ireland as an american


1. Pre Book Your Car for the Best Rate

Ireland has all the big name car rental companies, including Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, Avis, National as well as some Europe car rental agencies and local Irish car companies. 

During the planning process, we used Auto Europe to get preliminary quotes from all the major car rental agencies available in Ireland.

Do a search for your dates on the Auto Europe site and play around with your dates, pick up and drop off locations and size of car to get a general idea of costs. We ended up going direct with a car rental agency for the best rate. 





When renting a car, there are a couple factors you’ll want to pay attention to:



At minimum, drivers need to be at least 21 years old in order to drive in Ireland. But, if you’re between ages 21 – 24, you will pay a surcharge. Ireland also has age restrictions on the upper threshold and charges a bit more if you’re over 75.


Automatic or Manual

We knew we wanted to drive an automatic rental so we made sure to check this box. If you can drive stick, you’ll save significantly on cost! There aren’t many automatic vehicles in Ireland.


Number of Drivers

We put both of us down as drivers, to split up the driving time. Typically car rental agencies will charge more for additional drivers.


 Read more:  Here are the Prettiest Places to Visit in Ireland






2. Plan Your Itinerary Before Booking

The nice thing about car rentals is you can pretty much cancel up to the day of and not be charged. Take advantage of the flexibility and try to plan your route, stops and number of days in Ireland.

Here are some things to keep in mind about an Ireland itinerary:


Pick up and Drop offs 

When renting a car in Ireland, you have the option to pick up your car in any major city center or major city airport. We found that airport pickups were cheaper and realized in Dublin that this is probably because all the car stock is located at the airport.

Note: for Dublin airport the car pick up and car drop off spots are different. This confused us at the time, and we had trouble finding the right place to drop it off. Ask where you should drop off the car when you initially pick it up, to save yourself the hassle.

If you’re flying back to the US, you should aim to arrive at Dublin airport 3 hours before your flight time, as you will have to go through US Pre-Clearance at the airport.





Compare Car Rental Prices Against Airfare

You can pick up in one city and return in another, which for our dates resulted in no change in the car rental price! I was pretty surprised.

But, when we checked flight prices, round trip airfare from Dublin was cheapest. Other major airports in Ireland include Shannon in the southwest and Cork in the southeast, but if you’re flying from the US, these flights likely involve stopovers.

We ended up booking round trip airfare from Dublin because it was not only slightly cheaper but offered direct routes home. That meant we needed to commit to a full circular drive around Ireland.





Make Sure You Have Enough Time 

In order to have enough time to fully circle the Republic of Ireland in a leisurely fashion, make sure you have enough time. We did it 7 days but rushed a bit because I already had two prior weeks to explore Ireland.

Budget at least 10 days and ideally 2 weeks!

It helps to have a fully fleshed out itinerary and Ireland vacation plan before you do all your bookings. If you want to take a look at my itinerary, you can find it in this post here.

 Read more:  How to Plan the Perfect Ireland Itinerary






3. Choose a small car (but not too small!)

There were 2 of us on the trip and we ended up booking the smallest car possible, “the mini” category. On the day of, we found out it was a Kia.

This ended up being great for us because we’re not the most comfortable drivers and found navigating Irish roads with as small a car as possible, easier. Larger Irish cities require parallel parking so that was also easier to navigate with the mini car!


Account for Luggage

The downside is that although it’s a 4 door car, it only comfortably seats 2 people. We brought just 1 large suitcase (my Calpak one has proven quite durable for the price) and to fit it in the mini car, we had to fold down the back 2 seats.

If you each bring large luggage.. I don’t think it will fit. We did have some extra room for small bags like duffels, backpacks, shopping bags etc. If you can, I would recommend packing a wheeled duffel bag for Ireland, as not only are the car trunks small but many small hotels will have lots of stairs.





Narrow Roads

Irish roads are much narrower than roads in America.

Basically, what we might consider a one way road, Irish people will happily drive in opposite directions as a two way road, and drive fast. You can get an idea of what local roads look like in the photo above (some are even narrower). Highways are roomier but have more traffic. Buckle up!


Diesel Upgrades

If you’re visiting Ireland with 4 or more people, consider a compact or midsize car. This is slightly more expensive but run on diesel so you could end up saving on the fuel cost.

Gas prices in Ireland during our trip in October 2017 were roughly 1.329 euro per liter. Most recently in 2019, they seemed to be about the same.

1 Gallon = 3.78541 Liters, so you’re looking at around $5 per gallon if I did my math correctly.


 Read more:  Don’t Miss Staying in an Irish Castle Hotel






4. Use Your U.S. License

It’s totally fine to drive in Ireland with your US license – no need for anything additional!

For tips on how to drive in Ireland on the left, I’ve written a comprehensive post about everything we had wish we knew before hand. 

 Read more:  How to Master Driving in Ireland (as a tourist!)






5. Rental Car Insurance in Ireland

The main difficulty with renting a car in Ireland is the extra insurance cost. Notably, it is required to have excess collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance for any Irish car rental. 


Determining Car Rental Prices

What makes it tricky is that car rental rates online usually show you the lowest possible base rate, and don’t include the necessary upgrades like CDW insurance. Once you factor in the cost of excess CDW insurance, the price skyrockets.

For example, Auto Europe aggregates car rental prices from a number of different companies, and these rates typically do not include CDW insurance.





CDW Insurance with a Credit Card

If you have an American credit card, the good news is you may already be covered with insurance. Check the fine print and then double check with a customer service rep at your bank to make sure – lots of credit cards cover CDW coverage except for Italy and Ireland.

I’m not quite sure why, but luckily our credit card did cover the extra insurance. That meant we could just opt for the most cost effective rental company. Keep reading for how we did it!

 Read more:  What to Pack for Your Ireland Vacation






If you’re American and have travel friendly credit cards, you can potentially save half the price of an Irish car rental by taking advantage of free CDW insurance. 


Mastercard credit cards are your best best. But, not all Mastercards offer it, they have so many different branded cards and types. I have like 13 credit cards and luckily, one credit card was a no foreign fee card with a decent credit limit and offered car rental insurance coverage. Eureka! We hit the jackpot!

We used the Citi AAdvantage Mastercard – I believe it’s been re-branded into a different card. Another reader used their Capital One Mastercard.


Visa credit cards normally do not provide insurance coverage in Ireland. 2019 Update: I have heard from readers that the Chase Sapphire and Chase Freedom now offers CDW protection for Ireland!





Call your credit card company (try the number on the back of your car) and ask what type of car rental insurance is covered and specify that you’re traveling to Ireland.

The rep may ask a few questions or pass you on to a designated Benefits Administrator, and then will let you know what coverage is included, if any.

Then, make sure you ask your rep to send you an email confirming coverage because at the car rental desk in Ireland they will want to see coverage spelled out in writing. Make sure to print this and bring it with you to Ireland. Bring the same credit card to Ireland and pay for the rental with this same card.

Only then will the car rental representative waive their coverage! Whew!

At the counter, the rep saw that we had the form and immediately accepted it. We have heard from others that the counter agents may deny the email or try to bully you into buying the CDW insurance anyway.

If that happens to you, stay firm and insist on using the credit card provided insurance. Or, ditch that rental company and use another (that’s shady!)





How Credit Card Insurance Works in Ireland

  • Make sure you waive the car rentals’ coverage, otherwise Mastercard won’t cover you
  • The way it works is car rental coverage takes precedence over Mastercard’s coverage, but the car rental coverage is a) expensive and b) carries a high deductible (for us it was €2700)
  • Car rental coverage does not cover damage to the entire car. Notably excluded are the tires and under car, along with some other miscellaneous things.
  • Meanwhile, the insurance coverage offered by my Mastercard credit card completely covered collision damage protection, car theft and the entire car. There was no deductible whatsoever. It was quite a handy benefit!

I was really impressed by my credit card and would go so far as to recommend signing up for it purely if you are planning to visit Ireland. Obviously, review your own finances and do what you’re comfortable with, but for us the card really came in handy!

In general, I found that Visa and Mastercard credit cards can be widely used in Ireland. If using them at restaurants, they will often ask you to pay up at the bar, where the card reader machines are located. 

 Read more:  All the Best Irish Food You have to Try!






6. Be Prepared for Extra Charges

Check your receipt carefully, as you’ll typically see some additional charges. These can include:


Admin Fee: In an example of a complete money grab, car rental agencies charge you an administration fee if you have your own collision damage waiver insurance. We were charged 30 euro.

Credit Card Fee: We were charged an extra 5 euro just for using a credit card. I guess I’m too used to being able to charge everything in the US – it’s illegal for businesses to charge credit card processing fees here!

Gas: You have the option to bring the car back with a full tank or without. Opt for the former because the car rental company will charge you double the price of fuel and as I mentioned in my Driving in Ireland post, fuel is already expensive in Ireland! Also, car rental agencies won’t give you a credit for left over gas in the tank.

Taxes: Ah, the dreaded tax man. Car rentals are subject to a (very high) tax rate of 13.6%. Yikes!





Credit Card Holds

This isn’t an outright charge but car rental agencies will place a large hold on your credit card if you use your own insurance coverage. This is to cover any potential accidents which can happen.

For our Irish car rental, we had an additional $5,000 hold plus the estimated cost of the car rental. The amount of the hold depends on many factors, like the size of car, duration of your trip, and car rental company.

I would guess that since we had a mini car, our hold was on the smaller to average amount.

If you are worried about the size of the hold, I would suggest bring along 2 credit cards for your trip, one for the rental and the second for trip expenses. Definitely bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees!





How Much It All Cost

Even with all the extra charges, we thought renting a car in Ireland was well worth it. Most of the country’s beauty lies in scenic drives and you won’t be able to experience the landscape without your own car rental.

For reference, our “base” price car rental was about 70 euro for 8 days. Our credit card covered the extra insurance and we paid gas and tolls as we went (more info on those in my driving in Ireland post.

We visited in the off season, in October, so I think that helped significantly with the rate. I have heard it can be quite expensive in peak season (as with all things) and if you have to pay for the extra insurance.

Hope that pricing info helps!






7. Ditch the GPS

Instead of purchasing a GPS, I highly recommend getting travel cell service instead. There are many ways to get cellular service while traveling but my personal preference is to use Know Roaming, so that I have access to cell service and can use my iphone.

A GPS unit is only as good as its last update and most GPS devices in Ireland operate by GPS coordinates, not by address. For my Ireland trip, I knew I wanted to use Google Maps on my phone instead. It’s how I plan my trips, its what I use on a daily basis and is always up to date.





I’m a huge fan of Google Maps for so many reasons:

  • You can plug in multiple destinations and it will plan the best route. So you can put in say attraction #1, stop #2 and your hotel and it will remember it all
  • You can find information on nearby essentials, like gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. Just hit the magnifying glass and what you want. Then, the app will plan out your best route for you.
  • It lets you have control over your route – you can avoid toll roads, avoid ferries and/or avoid highways.
  • It speaks to you to help you drive, even if you’re alone (although I recommend having a buddy to help with navigation). After you enter your destination, hit “start” and Google Maps will start directing you.
  • It gives you a heads up where you’ll encounter traffic. Routes are normally highlighted in blue. If there is a section of the road ahead with traffic or congestion, you’ll see the section highlighted in yellow for medium traffic and red for full stop congestion.
  • Finally, Google Maps isn’t a data hog. Just turn on cellular to plot the route, then turn your phone to airplane mode. It will still talk you through the route and remember your route so long as you don’t close the app (you can toggle to different apps, just don’t completely close out of Google Maps)

That gave our Irish road trip lots of flexibility and enabled us to modify our itinerary if we found we wanted to linger at a destination or leave another attraction early. Given how unpredictable the weather can be in Ireland, this was really helpful.

It also meant we never scrambled to find gas!





Decided Not to Rent a Car?

If that sounded like way too much work or risk for you, I get it!

In fact if you have limited time, it may not even be worth it to rent a car – a driving loop of the Republic of Ireland will take you at least a full week.

Instead, you can base yourself in Dublin and taking day tours to the most popular places in Ireland. I did this on my second trip to the country and it was much more relaxing to not have to worry about driving!

Below are some of the most popular tours that will take you to the Cliffs of Moher, Giants Causeway (to see the Game of Thrones Dark Hedges), Galway, Kilkenny, Killarney and more.


Compare the tour prices with Irish car rental prices to get an idea of how much more or less you’ll pay. They’re surprisingly affordable! Also, the benefit of taking a tour is that you’ll get a knowledgeable local guide to show you the sights.





Essential Tips for Visiting Ireland

Getting In | Aer Lingus, the national Irish airline, offers non-stop flights from select US cities. Two reasons to recommend Aer Lingus: low nonstop fares from many US cities and their pre-clearance facilities. We found cheap flights to Ireland in October – you can check for flight deals and routes here.

When returning to the U.S., take advantage of the U.S. pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports, where you complete U.S. immigration, customs and agriculture controls before departure so that when you land in the U.S., you can just collect your bags.

Getting Around | If there’s one thing I can recommend, it’s to rent a car and drive around Ireland. Not only is the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route one of the world’s most scenic drives, transportation in Ireland is a bit difficult without your own vehicle. We were nervous about driving on the left but ultimately renting a car was the best decision! Check car rental prices for your dates here.

Where to Stay | I highly recommend staying at an Irish country house during your trip. Irish hospitality is truly something else. For unique luxury accommodation check out out Ireland’s Blue Book. Or, take advantage of Airbnb for a local experience!

Protect | Lastly, be sure to visit Ireland with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most. Hurricane Ophelia hit the country smack in the middle of our road trip! Get a quote for your trip here.


 You Might Also Enjoy: 


Ireland Vacation Planning Articles

Ireland Travel Tips: Know Before You Go

The Most Beautiful Places in Ireland

How to Plan the Perfect Ireland Itinerary

Where to Stay: 10 Enchanting Irish Castle Hotels 

Packing Checklist: What to Wear in Ireland

For Foodies: All the Best Food We Ate in Ireland


Ireland Road Trips

The Best Stops on the Wild Atlantic Way (with map!)

7 Useful Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland

How to Master Driving in Ireland (as a tourist!)


Irish Sights, Activities & Tours We Especially Enjoyed:

Co Galway: Visiting Kylemore Abbey, Ireland's Most Beautiful Castle?

Co Kerry: Can't Miss Sights in Killarney & Dingle

Co Waterford: Waterford, Ireland's Oldest City, the House of Waterford Crystal & Mount Congreve Gardens

Co Wexford: Don't Skip Wexford - Here's Why!

Co Kilkenny: Exploring Kilkenny Castle, in photos


Restaurant & Hotels We Loved:

County Clare: Gregans Castle Hotel

County Galway: Rosleague Manor Hotel, Where to Stay in Galway

County Wexford: The Strand Inn

County Waterford: The Cliff House Hotel, The Reg Pub


Northern Ireland

Travel Guide: Belfast

Where to Stay in Belfast as a First Time Visitor


Follow me @Sher She Goes on

Youtube | Tiktok | Instagram



  1. Lizzie
    November 12, 2017 / 4:32 pm

    Great post! I definitely agree, especially about getting a smallish car for Ireland. Those roads are so narrow!!!!

  2. Dennie
    April 18, 2018 / 10:39 am

    Thanks for the tips about renting a car in Ireland. I just called my Mastercard and they stated that they offer full coverage and will be sending me documentation to bring along with me.

    Unfortunately, I’ve read that there are some car companies in Ireland that may reject it still so you might have to go somewhere else which isn’t always an option if you’ve shopped around for a deal and especially if you have to get going.

    • Sher
      April 18, 2018 / 6:57 pm

      Hi Dennie – Great! So glad you were able to use your Mastercard too. We used Hertz (it was the cheapest at the time we went) and while the counter guy was sketchy – he tried hard to upsell us – they did accept the letter and provide full coverage. Not sure about other car companies in Ireland but I’ve generally heard good things about Conns and Dooley’s, which seem like family run local businesses. Can try calling or emailing them to confirm?

  3. Dennie
    April 23, 2018 / 11:03 am

    Thanks for the heads up about Dooley. They seem to be the only car company which not only has a decent reputation but a glowing one in Ireland. I’m doing my research and it seems every other company there has a dozen or more horror stories/reviews attached to them.

  4. Fabio M.
    May 9, 2018 / 8:16 am

    Actually interesting finding these tips all together. Another thing I’d say is to be aware of aggregator websites that show you cars from other rentals at a cheaper price, offering their own insurance, because it looks frequent that when you reach the front desk they’ll tell you that insurance is not valid and you’ll need to pay for another one.

    • Sher
      May 9, 2018 / 2:05 pm

      Hi Fabio – glad you found it helpful and thanks for the tip! Totally agree insurance is the tricky issue. We were lucky enough to do research before and find that our credit card fully covered the insurance. The salesman did try to trick us about adding on other things but accepted it!

  5. James
    May 25, 2018 / 11:55 am

    Wow those pictures look INCREDIBLE! And of course, thanks for the great tips.

  6. Pam R
    July 6, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    Can I ask what credit card you used.

    • Sher
      July 6, 2018 / 4:56 pm

      Hi Pam – sure, we used the Citi AAdvantage mastercard. I’m not sure if the card is still around, but it’s super handy! no foreign transaction fees, earns American Airlines miles and it covered our rental insurance.

  7. Karl
    August 26, 2018 / 8:15 pm

    You mentioned you’d recommend your credit card, but I didn’t see where it said which company you had your card with?

    We are planning a family trip to Ireland next year, so should be interesting. (Definitely going to be spendy for a vehicle that holds all 6 of us.)

    thanks for your article.

    • Sher
      August 28, 2018 / 5:10 pm

      Hi Karl – Dennie was helpful to chime in! I used my Citi AAdvantage Mastercard, and have heard from others that recently Chase Sapphire provides Ireland car rental coverage (at the time of my trip, they did not). Best to call the number on the back of each of your credit cards and speak to customer service to confirm! Start with any Mastercards you may have – in my experience, Visa cards are a no-go for Ireland + Italy car rental protection.

      What time of year are you all visiting? If you can, try to visit off season. We went in October and because it was past the peak season, our rental price was not bad. You just have to be OK with the temporary insurance hold, and bring an extra credit card that has no foreign fees for daily purchases. Might actually be better to rent 2 small cars for 6 people, since the roads are soooo narrow!

  8. Dennie
    August 27, 2018 / 9:42 am

    Karl, I just came back from Ireland in June and I used SherSheGoes’s suggestions and my Capital One Mastercard which has a lot of travel coverage including rental car insurance.

    Note: The car rental companies will charge you €30 for using your card’s coverage and if there is any damage they will charge you and leave it up to you to settle things with your credit card company. Also, expect another €40 in administrative fees and they’ll charge you for the full tank which you can settle up with them at the end. Our car’s full tank cost €74.

    I’ve never paid more to rent a car than in Ireland but with that being said it was absolutely worth it and Ireland is beautiful and was made to be explored by car. Also, people are not joking when they say that the roads are narrow. We rented a Toyota Corolla which in the US is a small car but it felt very wide on small Irish roads which were barely wider than the width of the car. Try and get the smallest car that you can possibly manage.

  9. Jeffery Searcy
    August 28, 2018 / 8:55 pm

    Just tried the discount code for KnowRoaming and its expired. Thank you for all the good advice though :)

    • Sher
      August 29, 2018 / 10:12 am

      Hi Jeffery – Thanks for letting me know! Let me double check it..

  10. Melodi
    September 4, 2018 / 8:56 pm

    Hi Sher,

    Fantastic and extremely helpful post, thank you! I just had a questi on on the US pre-clearance at the airport when returning to the US. How, do you actually do it? Is there somewhere in the airport we need to complete this?

    • Sher
      September 4, 2018 / 9:09 pm

      Hi Melodi, the Dublin airport has a separate section to guide you through pre clearance. You don’t have to do anything special – when you check in for your flight as usual, they will know by your ticket that you’re headed to the US so you just follow the airport signs for “US Pre Clearance”. It’s straightforward once you’re there! Basically, they just have you go through security twice and section off the room.

  11. Melodi
    September 5, 2018 / 7:49 am

    Thank you so much for your quick response & all the info in your blogs, I’ve read then all.

  12. Jerry
    September 25, 2018 / 12:39 pm

    Excellent and very helpful info. Thanks so much! My wife and I are going over to Ireland for our 30th anniversary in 2 weeks. This info will be very helpful.
    Thanks again
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia

  13. Slainte
    November 12, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    Something that may be of benefit to people who will want to use the car hire cdw.

    If booking from the US, rates quoted are exclusive of cdw (adding at counter is about €25/d) which still has a reduced deductible.
    If you ring direct to a location, they can quote inclusive of cdw which will be cheaper than adding it in at the desk.

    Larger vehicle’s have higher daily rates on insurance, so more to save if you need insurance ringing direct

    Diesel comparing to unleaded fuel normally doubles your range per tank, dieselon average is 10c/ltr cheaper at the pump, so if driving alot it may be worth it.

    And if your booking bigger cars/suv’s some cards do not cover them.

    • Sher
      November 12, 2018 / 2:54 pm

      Hi Dermot – appreciate your tips!

      Yes, CDW is an extra cost on most quotes so it’s important to confirm how much the car will cost with CDW as well as the deductible cost. For us, we were able to benefit from our US credit card and waive insurance altogether, although I know not everyone can take advantage of this.

      For diesel vs unleaded, we booked a small car with unleaded fuel. They did try to upsell us on diesel when we got to the car rental counter, but for our trip (1 week driving a full loop Dublin to Dublin), the fuel cost savings weren’t worth the cost of the upgrade. I’m sure it could be for those who need a bigger car!

  14. Julie
    January 3, 2019 / 8:16 am

    With gas prices and the extra fees with the rental cars, would you say it’s still cheaper to drive yourself than take all the tours?

    • Sher
      January 3, 2019 / 10:26 am

      Hi Julie – it depends! Tours are really convenient, because they take care of literally everything, but if you want to have the freedom to stop by the side of the road for photos, or linger in one spot and rush through others, you can’t do that, you have to stick to the schedule.

      With rental cars, you have to be OK with the potential for damage, insurance, + driving on the left… but you get to explore a LOT more of Ireland and go off the beaten path. You can also stay overnight in cities besides Dublin!

      As far as pricing, it depends what time of year you’re visiting and how long you have to spend. If you are visiting Ireland for 5 days or less, I’d say just fly in to Dublin, explore the capital and take day trips + tours. If you have 2 weeks or more, it’s probably cheaper and nicer to rent a car! So not a cut and dry answer, but I hope that helps!

  15. Dennie
    January 3, 2019 / 11:06 am

    Hi Julie,

    My wife and I went to Ireland in May for about 10 days and we rented a car and highly recommend doing so because it’s a gorgeous country that is made for exploring.

    We got to see Dublin, Kilkenny, New Ross, Hook Head lighthouse/peninsula, Kenmare, Ring of Kerry (and all sites along), Skellig Michael, Killarney (national park and all nearby areas of interest), Limerick and Cliffs of Moher. It was amazing and would not have been possible without a car.

    You just have to be prepared to pay more for a rental car than you’ve probably ever paid before. Also, people are not kidding when they say get the smallest car possible. Even a compact Toyota Corolla seemed like a big car on many Irish roads.

    • Sher
      January 3, 2019 / 11:07 am

      Hi Dennie – Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing your experience! :)

    • Maria Arnold
      May 18, 2022 / 11:36 pm

      Thank you for your blog. We have plan to go there but still don’t decide the date.
      The most concern is about the car insurance. And we don’t have credit card.

      May be any-update about the new regulations about Tips Trip to rent Car there? So we don’t get scam.

  16. Lynette Gardner
    February 16, 2019 / 12:45 pm

    Hi Sher,
    We have a trip planned in June to Ireland and Scotland. There will be 7 of us going (6 Adults, 1 child). I am seeing on here that everyone is recommending the smallest vehicle. Would it be better for us to rent 2 cars for our group? I would also like to know if anyone has any advice on taking/driving the rental car from Ireland to Scotland? We have a home of a friend that we are staying at in Ireland, so we have a base and will be doing trips from there. It is located in Enniscrone, and we are flying into Shannon. Would appreciate any advice from you and others on the best thing to do for rental cars.

    • Sher
      February 16, 2019 / 1:29 pm

      Hi Lynette,

      Hm.. With 7 people, you could do either a van or 2 cars. I would check rental rates to see the price difference. I do think a smaller car is much easier to navigate, because the roads are often very narrow, but you may be more comfortable with driving than we are and like traveling as a group.

      We used Kerry Coaches on a different trip to Ireland, we had 7 of us + the driver and they have some really comfy vans. Nice seats, lots of room inside and mini tables. You can inquire with them, if you want to have everyone together and prefer not to drive at all.

      I’m not 100% certain about crossing international borders. I would guess that it is not allowed or carries a very hefty fee, but double check with the company you are renting from. Especially with Brexit going on… it may be tricky.

  17. ken prichard
    March 12, 2019 / 1:42 pm

    don’t forget to pay your M50 tolls 3.10 euros at most gas stations or else the rental company will tack on additional fees to cover their fees to M50 toll road services… like 2.00 more each way!!! Hertz rent a car actually charges you directly when you bring the car back …it’s a little bit more than 3.10 not much more but you’ll feel secure known it’s paid and you don’t have to inconvenience yourself at gas stations here and there and most likely you’ll forget! and see it on your visa bill…

  18. julie
    March 14, 2019 / 10:43 am

    Very helpful post! Thank you! So which rental company did you use? We use the same card you use, AA MC, and have rented all over the world with it. and never get the insurance from the rental agency. Just need to figure out who to book thru that will accept that we ARE covered by our card and not force us to buy the damn scam insurance. Can any one give me suggestions? We’ve had a great experience with SIXT in Portugal, but their UK office is unable to give us quote without the CDW.

    • Sher
      March 14, 2019 / 12:48 pm

      Hi Julia – I think we used Hertz. We got price quotes from all the car rental companies online and just went with the least expensive really. Just make sure to call the customer service # for your cc, verify that they cover Ireland and get the document in writing so you can present it at the car rental counter.

  19. Sean Riggan
    April 8, 2019 / 2:04 am

    We’re getting ready to go to Ireland next month (Late May 2019). Any recommendations for specific car rental companies to use (or avoid)? Have you ever considered “Turo”? As I’ve researched the specifics of renting a (5-7 passenger) car in Ireland, I’m getting the sense that it’s something of a free for all/cash grab. Am worried about having a reservation ahead of time, and then arriving to find that the rental deal/contract isn’t as represented (and as a foreigner, not sure what recourse is available while standing in an airport…)
    This is definitely different that renting a car back in the USA!
    Thank you!
    Sean R.

    • Sher
      April 8, 2019 / 1:05 pm

      Hi Sean – I don’t have a recommendation for a company in particular (I used Hertz and I see lots of people recommend a local company called Conn’s). I just went with what was cheapest.

      Rates depend on the season so yes in peak season things will definitely be more expensive. Have you looked into 2 small cars? That could be a lot more affordable and easier to navigate since the roads in Ireland are SO narrow compared to the US.

      For us, picking up the car was an experience. They heavily tried to upsell us, you just have to come prepared (if you have your own insurance via a credit card) and stay firm. Read all the fine print and it should be ok.

      For drop off, we had trouble finding the right place since it was different from the pick up (at dublin airport). But the actual drop off process was straightforward and we didn’t have any issues. I have heard some people get charged for dings and damage, so you could protect yourself by taking photos of existing damage at pick and/or taking a video of the car when you drop off.

      Have a great time!

  20. Shay
    April 12, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me how toll roads work with a rental car. Are we allowed to use them? A few of the roads we will be traveling on have tolls and the ones without are like 45 mins to an hour longer.

    • Sher
      April 12, 2019 / 3:06 pm

      Hi Shay.

      Sure! Double check with the company you’re renting from, but our experience was that generally the renter is responsible for all toll payments. Make sure to have cash on you for the toll, since we found that not all of Ireland’s toll booths will accept credit cards.

      There’s one specific toll that’s different. Between Junction 6 and Junction 7 on the Dublin M50 motorway (its the main highway that surrounds Dublin and you’ll drive through it if picking up or dropping off at the airport), there is no toll barrier or tolling booth so no cash payment. The car license plate is photographed and billed as you drive on the road (you’ll see a giant purple sign).

      Depending on what agency you rent with, they may pay the M50 toll upfront, or tell you that you are responsible for paying it. Our rental companies paid it upfront and added the toll charge to our final bill without any extra fees.

      It’s easier if the car rental company has registered the car for the toll and pays it directly. If they expect you to pay it, you create an account on eFlow and pay the fine online. You have up until 8pm on the day after you passed through the toll in order to pay, before they assess hefty fines. You can check out the eFlow website for more info.

      Ask your rental car company how they will handle the M50 toll. FYI – some will charge you not only the cost of the toll (~3 euro), but also an “administrative” fee that can be as high as high as 100% of the toll.

      Hope that helps!

  21. Chris
    April 17, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    Hi there. I’m planning to rent a car for a trip to Ireland in June ’19. Every place I look tells me an International Driver’s Permit is required for drivers outside of the EU. May I ask when you took your trip? Perhaps the rules have changed since then. Also, current cost estimates through AutoEurope, including second driver fee and no deductible CDW, are looking like 500-600 USD. Does this sound reasonable? Low? High? We just don’t want too many surprises at the rental counter.

    Thanks and great article!
    – Chris

    • Sher
      April 18, 2019 / 12:41 am

      Hi Chris! Hm, that’s really odd. Where did you read that you would need an International Driver’s Permit?

      The rules haven’t changed. US citizens can drive in Ireland as a tourist for up to 12 months. I double checked the US embassy website here for confirmation but you can also call the rental company in Ireland to doubly confirm.

      Auto Europe is great at aggregating prices, but try comparing the rental you’re looking at directly with the rental car company. It can sometimes be cheaper going direct.

      It’s hard to say whether the price quoted to you is “fair” since it depends on so many things – the type of car + car size, duration, drop off + pick up, time of year, demand etc. I did find that Ireland rentals are pricey but for us, it was worth the cost after we planned our itinerary and weighed the pros and cons.

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by “no deductible CDW” – do you mean you are including CDW in the quote, or that you plan to waive CDW and use your credit card’s coverage? You can save money on the car rental price if you have a credit card that will cover Ireland car rentals. That’s probably the main cost savings.. otherwise demand among tourists is pretty high from May – September, which keeps prices high.

      I think you will have a great time regardless. Have a great trip!

  22. Pam
    April 22, 2019 / 1:48 pm

    Is it possible to rent electric cars in Ireland?

    • Sher
      April 22, 2019 / 3:03 pm

      Hi Pam, not sure but I don’t think so!

  23. deanj
    April 26, 2019 / 7:26 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! :) I traveled to Ireland for almost three weeks and it was an awesome trip. I rented a car through Dooley car rentals and it was a very reasonable trip for me. The main reason for renting a car is freedom. You’ll be able to travel on your own schedule and at your own pace.

  24. Pat
    May 3, 2019 / 10:10 am

    Hi Sher,
    I just found your blog, when I searched for “renting a car in Rreland” I went 2 years ago and got stung with paying for the car insurance, which doubled the price from 450 to $900 for a week. I followed your great advice, my Chase Freedom Visa card was covered, they forward you to the Benefits Administrator, who then provided me with an email stating the CDW coverage. You just saved me a lot of money on my upcoming trip. That’s a great blog you have, keep it up!

    • Sher
      May 6, 2019 / 9:53 am

      Hi Pat – I’m so glad my post was useful and that you had a great time in Ireland! And thanks so much for letting me know that the Chase Freedom now covers Irish car rentals. That’s amazing!

  25. Dan Dooley
    June 9, 2019 / 1:12 pm

    There’s a new fuel in Ireland called gaoth. You can find it in most open spaces around the coastline and if you fill up you’ll get from Kerry to donegal on a full tank of the stuff. You just need the right vehicle, locals use tractors. ?

  26. Peter Karp
    June 19, 2019 / 12:48 am


    My family is planning a trip in August to Ireland. We will be staying in Kenmare for three days and then heading to Galway. We want to rent a car and drive from Kenmare to Galway but the closest car rental location is Killarney. Do you know if car rental companies will drop off cars? Or if there is a rental agency in Kenmare? Thanks for your help.


    • Sher
      June 19, 2019 / 2:30 pm

      Hi Peter! Hmm how are you getting to Kenmare? There should be car rentals at Kenmare airport. Some car companies will drop off cars but they’ll definitely be more expensive that way. Or if you’re flying in via Shannon Airport, you can rent a car from there.

  27. Anya
    July 17, 2019 / 9:43 pm

    What was the total cost of the car rental process? Car rental costs including all additional fees? Cost of fuel and miles driven? Plus taxes?
    I am currently planning my trip to Ireland, with my mom, for next March 2020. I’ve bookmarked your blogs and love all the helpful information.
    I plan to make it a 3-4 day trip as we are also exploring Scotland, London, France and more on this trip.

    • Sher
      July 17, 2019 / 9:58 pm

      Hi Anya! So glad you found my blog and that everything was helpful :)

      Hm, I don’t remember the total cost offhand. Rental car costs in Ireland depend on so many factors – size of car, duration of rental, rental agency, the time of year you’re visiting, what city you’re picking up + dropping off in, etc – that our cost really wouldn’t help you estimate yours.

      To get a rough estimate you can go to Auto Europe, plug in your travel criteria and get the car rental price.

      Insurance is then extra. We used our credit card so insurance was basically free for us.

      For gas costs, I put the per litre cost in the post. We did a circular around the Republic of Ireland in about 8 days, and I think we filled up the tank twice.

      Hope that helps!

  28. Lindy
    July 22, 2019 / 3:33 pm

    Very informative and useful advice!
    I checked with my credit card (Visa Infinite) about waiving the CDW insurance and they accepted Ireland! Saved us a great deal but the HUGE 5000 euro hold on the credit card was a bit of a bummer.
    We rented a mini car (Skoda citigo) which worked great for my husband and I. We had two carry on suitcases and two backpacks that JUST fit in the trunk.
    We initially had the rental company try to upgrade us to an SUV. They claimed the upgrade charge (100 euro) would be worth the fuel savings, and we would feel safer in it on the highways versus our “washing machine” sized car. We stuck with our mini car and were especially glad we did for the cities and narrow rural roads.
    Thank you for your tips!

    • Sher
      July 22, 2019 / 6:03 pm

      Hey Linda! Appreciate your comment. Good to know there are some Canadian credit cards that waive CDW in Ireland!

      I totally relate to the salesman upsell story. It’s hard to know what to do (we were tired, fresh off a flight and slightly confused) but I think it’s best to always stick with your gut / original booking decision :)

  29. brian
    September 1, 2019 / 11:19 pm

    FYI — as of middle of Sept 2019, the Citi AA Advantage card will NO LONGER offer CDW car insurance for rental cars. The CITI Costco card will continue offering CDW for rental cars, except it will only cover up to $50k, not the $75k that the CITI AA card had

    • Sher
      September 1, 2019 / 11:55 pm

      Oh no – that’s a disappointing change. Thanks for letting us know Brian!

  30. Richard
    December 4, 2019 / 12:00 pm

    Regarding your April 12, 2019 reply to Shay where you mention creating an eFlow account for tolls; be sure to close the account immediately upon returning the car so you don’t end up paying the next car renters’ toll violations. See page https://www.eflow.ie/help-guidance/faqs/myaccount/closing-your-account/ for details.

    • Sher
      December 5, 2019 / 10:09 am

      great point!

  31. Jane
    December 29, 2019 / 5:21 pm

    Thank you for so much information very helpful. Have you or anyone looked into short-term car leasing? Ie 5weeks.

  32. Joanna
    January 13, 2020 / 2:38 am

    I’m headed to Ireland in June and your site popped up. I didn’t know this link would be THAT handy! Thank you so much for all this, what a help!!

  33. Grace
    February 11, 2020 / 1:28 pm

    Hi! My friends and I are planning on visiting Ireland this summer and are wanting to road trip but I’m having a really hard time finding places that will rent to people under 25 (I’m 21). Do you have any suggestions or know of any company that will?? thank you!

    • Sher
      February 11, 2020 / 9:50 pm

      Hey! Sixt should rent to you if you’re 21. You can check rates for your dates here. They’re pretty popular for European car rentals.

  34. Julie
    February 14, 2020 / 5:58 pm

    Can you recommend an honest rental car company at Dublin airport? I am a little apprehensive because there are too many horror stories.

  35. Peggy
    February 20, 2020 / 7:41 pm

    Going to Ireland in August 2020. Originally wanted a car with a trunk (boot) to keep our luggage out of sight. I’m finding that is pretty hard to find unless you go with an intermediate sized car.

    Did you (all of you) feel comfortable leaving your luggage visible in the car while going on tours, etc.?

    • Sher
      February 20, 2020 / 8:22 pm

      Hi Peggy! Hm, we never really left our luggage in the car for long periods? We usually left it at the hotel in our rooms.

  36. Doug Moore
    February 23, 2020 / 9:31 pm

    We are 2 couples traveling to Ireland in May 2020 from Canada. I have been reading your blog and all of the comments and find it very helpful information. One piece of info I was looking for was not mentioned. Our Home Sense Visa covers any damage to the rental car but Not any liability. When people mention that their MasterCard covers the CDW does this include car coverage as well as liability or do people get liability coverage separately?
    Any information on this would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks! Doug

    • Sher
      February 23, 2020 / 10:22 pm

      Hi Doug! Hm I’m not quite sure what you’re asking but will do my best to answer.

      When my credit card included CDW (make sure to get it in writing from your card company), it included it meant that I wasn’t responsible for any damage to the car (some cards only cover damage up to $x amount) where you would be responsible for any excess damage costs.

      I didn’t purchase any separate liability coverage. I guess you’re asking about liability coverage if you damage say, another car / property / person in a major accident? Yeah, I believe that would be separate and not part of the CDW. But you definitely want to double check the terms of your specific credit card and have it all in writing.

      • Sher
        February 23, 2020 / 10:26 pm

        To add on, I believe that that liability coverage is always something you would pay extra for.

        The reason why people talk so much about CDW is because most credit cards with travel perks do include car damage coverage when renting a car abroad.. except the fine print usually excludes Italy and Ireland.

        In Ireland, CDW insurance is mandatory so a traveler would typically have to pay for this on their own. So when people have a credit card that covers rental car damage for Ireland, they’re typically happy since it can save on a huge cost and is a rare benefit.

  37. Bec Lee
    March 10, 2020 / 12:56 am

    Hi! I love your blog so much and it has been helping me in my solo travels so much.

    Always informative and full of tips that are actually useful!

    But now I really need specific help as I’m so confused and it’s my first time renting a hire car overseas (Ireland, essentially doing a similar trip to yours on this blog)!!

    I’ve been comparing prices, terms and conditions etc for the last 3 days and my brain now hurts. However I have decided that booking Direct with a company seems to have less loop holes and contradicting terms then 3rd part websites.

    That said I am now looking at booking with Enterprise Car Hire in Dublin City Centre based on trip plans. But here is where I am confused…

    I’m from Australia.

    There is an Australian Enterprise website quoted in AUD and also a Ireland Enterprise website quoted in EUR. Obviously this makes sense and everything is the same on the T&Cs.
    However when it comes to booking price which site should I use???

    If I do a standard google conversion rate form EUR to AUD then its about $100 cheaper booking with the Ireland website then booking on the Australian website which is higher rate.

    Why is this? Am I missing something, such as international trade fees through banks etc??

    What do you suggest?


    • Sher
      March 10, 2020 / 1:08 am

      Hi Bec! Oh thanks! You will love Ireland :)

      Hm, so usually when a company has different websites for each country, I find that the company’s local site offers a better currency rate. So for example I recently bought flights on Norwegian Airlines and checked out in Norwegian paying Norwegian krona, because there was a pretty big currency conversion difference. I used a no foreign fee American credit card and triple checked everything at checkout. I saved a couple hundred dollars but… then I made a booking error because, well everything was in Norwegian, ha. so sometimes you have to weigh the cost savings vs. the potential headache.

      Since Ireland and Australia both speak English, I think its more straight forward and I’d probably personally check out on the Ireland website? But, that’s assuming your Aussie credit card or bank or whoever won’t charge you currency fees.. if your bank does, then I’d probably recommend checking out on the Australian Enterprise site to avoid that!

  38. Bec Lee
    March 10, 2020 / 1:31 am

    Thank you Sher!
    That was the fastest reply ever LOL

    Good to know! My credit card has no international transactions fees. So that should be ok then.

    Hopefully Enterprise is an ok company overall to book. The other one I just checked out was Conn’s Ireland Car Rental (linked with Hetz).

    Have you had/have any feedback on either of them?

    • Sher
      March 10, 2020 / 2:18 pm

      haha i was doing some work last night and happened to see your comment come in :)

      that’s awesome your card doesn’t have fees. you probably already know, but they will put a hold on the card when you get to the rental car counter so depending on your card limit, you may want to ask your credit card company if they can increase the limit amount, or to bring another no foreign fee card just in case.

      I’ve used Auto Europe and Hertz in Ireland. I’ve had friends that used Sixt which is known to be a little cheaper. Most recently we used Enterprise in the states.

      to be honest, i think all the global car rental companies are about the same. it’s like airlines, 90% of the time things are fine and the 10% of the time you have an issue, it’s the most annoying/inconvenient/difficult experience ha.

  39. Wills
    July 23, 2020 / 9:04 am

    Hi I am planning to visit Ireland next year in January. Recently one of my friend travel with self drive car rental in Ireland. He book it from Dooley car rental, I want to if you have any experience this company? My friend was happy with services he got the from company. He said he was confused between Dooley and Axis, but he found better insurance with Dooley. What would you suggest Dooley, Axis or Hertz?

    • Sher
      July 23, 2020 / 1:04 pm

      Hi Wills,

      Dan Dooley used to be very popular because it was a locally owned business and would include the price of insurance in their quotes. The company has since acquired by Enterprise Rent A Car so they’re part of that chain now. I’ve never used them personally so can’t comment.

      Update: I actually keep getting spam comments from bots praising Dan Dooley in fake glowing reviews. I find it off putting.

  40. Seema
    October 1, 2020 / 7:32 am

    Hi, planning to tracel to Ireland after all this opens up. Hopefully next year. These tips are going to be very useful for me. Thanks

  41. Alison Wills
    October 20, 2020 / 7:54 am

    Thank you for the helpful information and the great pictures. Enjoyed them very much.

  42. Roger
    December 3, 2020 / 5:28 pm

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Ireland and will be flying in/out of Dublin. While we are Ireland we hope to spend a few days in Northern Ireland, UK. Will the car insurance we purchase cover us while we are driving in Northern Ireland?

    • Sher
      December 5, 2020 / 3:32 pm

      Hi Roger – Hm… I’m not sure, best to check directly with the company you’re buying insurance from. I assume policies might differ.

  43. Travel Global
    April 11, 2023 / 12:31 pm

    Really useful post, thank you!

  44. Sherri Ross
    June 19, 2023 / 5:46 pm

    Thank you for this (and all) the posts about Ireland. I used them extensively (esp this driving one) for my 2 week trip that I just took to Ireland. It was great and I took a lot of your info with me. Thanks again!

  45. Sean
    May 9, 2024 / 9:24 pm

    I booked a trip October 13-November 2, 2024, with rental car thru Expedia. got the rental car coverage with them. Car is going thru Europcar. What do I need to do to make sure I am insurance compliant

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