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Visa/Mastercard/Debit Card Usage

Hello,
We will be traveling to Ireland for 15 days in July of this year. We wanted to make sure that we could use our U.S Visa, Mastercard there. I know in the past you could but just read an article on the US credit card magnetic strips on the back of the cards not working but believe that was just for the UK. I know chip and pin are used in Ireland and UK but how about Debit, Visa, Mastercard? Any advice would be great! Thanks so much.

Jess

Posted by
2081 posts

Welcome Jess,

All i have is a Visa card and it worked fine. The only issue is that some ATMs didnt take it since i have my card through a local credit union and its a different network. If my card didnt work on an ATM i just found a different one from a different bank.

happy trails.

Posted by
1010 posts

We always use our Capital One card on trips, as there are no transaction fees. We were in Ireland in 2012 and used our card there also.

Posted by
8 posts

This might be too much information, but:
We spent 3 weeks in Ireland last summer, and wondered about this too. It was said that you need to have a “pin and chip” credit card to use it in Europe, but that wasn’t the case in Ireland. We used a standard Visa card everywhere with no trouble. Most restaurants used the handheld card reader, so the card never left your sight – they would bring it to the table and complete the bill right there. Visa was easy to use – American Express only worked at 2 hotels.

We also knew that an easy way to get cash is to use an ATM and your debit card, and we had done that before. There was usually no trouble finding a machine – except in the small villages. In one village in Co. Galway, there was only 1 ATM in town, and the day we needed it, it had run out of money! The next morning, as we were leaving, it had not been serviced yet, and we had to drive back to Galway and get our cash and then back to the B&B to pay. We passed several villages that did not have even 1 ATM. In the cities or bigger towns there were usually 1 or 2 on the street front, outside of a bank. The small towns have them inside the gas stations or groceries – they often have a sign outside saying ATM.

One more interesting thing about using the ATM card is that it was the cheapest way to change money. The exchange rate, including the “foreign transaction fee” varied a lot:

BECU debit card -- around 1.33
There was a foreign transaction fee that amounted to just over 1% on each transaction –
taking out 300 Euros had a fee of $2.10, and spending 300 Euros with the Visa card had a fee of $9.51.

VISA card -- this was when paying in Euros -- over 1.36

VISA card -- when paying in US dollars -- around 1.45!

We didn’t know this ahead of time, so when places asked if we wanted to pay in euros or dollars, my husband figured dollars might be best. We didn’t understand the fine print that said they would include a 3.5% exchange rate mark-up. We thought that was the rate we had read that Visa charges anyway, but not so.

Posted by
9361 posts

Regular magnetic stripe cards work everywhere, except some places like unmanned gas stations and tollbooths. I travel about once a year, and this last trip in August I was in London, several places in Scotland, and several places in Spain. I used both debit cards (in ATMs) and credit cards with magnetic stripes with absolutely no issues. Ireland should be no different.

Posted by
2876 posts

According to the Irish tourism board, over 800,000 Americans visit Ireland every year. Believe me (numerous trips there), they're used to us. You'll have no problem using your US credit or debit cards.

Posted by
4498 posts

Cheryl touched on something to be aware of when using your credit card or at an ATM. ALWAYS make transactions in the LOCAL currency. Sometimes a merchant or ATM machine will ask if you want to have the transaction converted into your own currency. It sounds so helpful and convenient - it is NOT. It is a way for the merchant to make a nice little commission fee by adding a conversion fee to your transaction. And your own bank/card issuer will still add any fees they might have.

Posted by
123 posts

Jessica,
I have a normal visa/debt card and it works just about everywhere in Europe (including Ireland and the UK). What I mean by that is more and more banks are starting to move there ATMs inside the banks and your have to use a card with a chip in it in order to get inside the banks. The nice thing is if this happens to you, they normal have a doorbell and you just have to push and say I'm an American. They we'll let you in. Also more and more shop people act like they don't know how to use them. Just say swipe the card. It's crazy but, some how I made it February-November with the card working over there and for 180 days I was in Ireland.