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5 Things You Should Know When Renting a Car in Ireland

August 14, 2009

The thought of driving on the left is usually the biggest concern for travelers renting a car in Ireland, but for some, the car rental policies and prices deliver a big headache… especially since they tend to be different in Ireland from other parts of Europe. Here are a few things you should know to prevent surprises along the way:

  1. Most online car rental quotes only include the cost of rental and basic insurance coverage (usually a €1,000 deductible). Taxes, fees and extra insurance are usually NOT included.
  2. Most car rental companies wait until the customer arrives in Ireland before introducing their zero-deductible insurance (often called Super CDW/Super Collision Damage Waiver Insurance – many companies DO include information on their websites, but it is easy to miss).
  3. Most credit cards DO NOT cover car rental insurance in Ireland. That’s because Ireland is on the short list of countries where Mastercard and Visa do not offer this benefit. Many credit card customer service reps aren’t aware of this detail, so ask for confirmation in writing and be sure to bring the document with you when you travel.
  4. If your credit card DOES cover car insurance in Ireland, you will be required to sign extra documents to waive the rental company’s insurance. Some agencies require a deposit or a hold on your credit card when insurance is declined. These “temporary” fees can range from €0-15,000 (€2,000 seems be the most common).
  5. Call rental agencies before you book and ask questions… especially if the cost of fees and extra insurance are not clear to you. One call before your trip can save hours of frustration during and after your trip.

What Are Some of the “Hidden Fees”

To get an idea of taxes, fees and “optional items,” run your car rental query through Although their quotes ONLY include the rental, taxes and location service charge/airport fee (no insurance), their online quotes outline add-ons for you to consider. When you reach Step 4 “Review & Book” of the process, click the “View Optional Items” tab under the quote. This area outlines the additional fees and prices that can be added when you rent the vehicle. Previous customers have confirmed that these numbers are accurate – sorry, I haven’t used them myself.

Is Super CDW Insurance worth it?

If you’re a betting type of person, the odds are in your favor if you do not purchase the extra insurance (unless of course you’re a lousy driver). However, the peace of mind of having a zero deductible can often outweigh to potential cost savings.

My advice… first-time visitors who are not used to the left should seriously consider the extra insurance – I’ve seen many rental cars returned with damaged passenger side mirrors, missing hubcaps (casualties of the narrow Irish roads) and worse. Renters are charged a premium for those damages. After that first trip, you’ll be in a better position to decide if you’d prefer to skip the Super CDW.

Find More Information at:

Note: Each rental company is different, so be sure to review the policies and information provided each… Not all companies participate in the policies listed above.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2009 11:27 AM

    Hi, my wife and I own a small company in Norway through which we offer photo workshops in Ireland (, amongst other services. Our favorite region is Kerry and the Iveragh Peninsula (south of Dingle).

    We have experienced the same issues you are describing. It’s always wise to ask questions! We ‘ve been using AVIS and BUDGET with great success and good service. Be aware that some car rental companies may charge extra for “tire insurance”.

    Even though YOU beleive you’re a good driver, remember that Irish country roads may be poor, and the “celts” are usually driving at high speed even though the road is narrow and bumpy! Mirros, windscreens and tires are “consumer goods” in parts of Ireland.

    But in all; Ireland is worth a visit! Friendly people! Nice scenery! But not as inexpensive as before …

  2. Nicole permalink
    August 17, 2009 7:16 PM

    I spent almost an hour stuck in someone’s driveway on the outskirts of Dublin trying to turn around before I knocked on someone’s door in tears to ask how the heck to put the darn thing in REVERSE!

    When we rented the car, I was 24 and my mom doesn’t have her license, so here we are, two Americans, one underage per rental car policies and the agency gave us no instructions or help in terms of driving in Ireland. They handed us the keys and that was the end of it. There was no book in the glove box.

    I was a bit shocked that they’d send us off without so much as a “remember to drive on the other side.”

    The moral of the story is that there was a ring, for lack of a better word, around the shifter and you had to pull that up towards your palm in order to put the darn car in R.

    The poor lady who answered her door was very kind about it and even invited us in for tea and then dinner.

    • August 18, 2009 6:36 AM

      Shifting gear with the wrong/left hand and not the right(!) hand is a challenge for many of us. Myself, I do “righthand movement” as if seen through a mirror with my lefthand. So, when you’re mixing up 1st and 3rd gear when the light turns green …. like a rabbit!

      If renting a car from Budget or AVIS, you’re usually equipped with some kind of paper telling you about driving on the left. But, you know, things that are normal to you, may seem odd for others. But seeing the issue, is not very easy. Agree with you, though, they should have a routine telling them to check the customer’s home address before handing over the key. Speaking English, doesn’t mean your from Ireland.

      Good luck next time you’re in Eire!

    • August 18, 2009 9:39 AM

      Most agencies will give an orientation to those who ask… but I’m not sure they have a standard protocol for this, so one rep might do a much better job than others.

      The important details tend to be 1) how to reverse. 2) lights. 3) wipers. 4) steering wheel tilt. 5) opening the hood (the bonnet). As for how to drive, that could be a full-day course 😉

      Truth is, I’ve been there when cranky visitors have snapped at the agents when they tried to give some unsolicited tips, so I guess they’re darned if they do and darned if they don’t.

  3. Russell Shortt permalink
    September 3, 2009 9:43 AM

    It’s a diifcult transition, take your time, especially when arriving at Dublin airport as the roads are immediately quite busy. Spend some time in the environs of the airport if you need it, take it slow, keep calm and keep the white line on your right shoulder!

  4. Thorbjorn Liell permalink
    September 3, 2009 9:51 AM

    Wise advice, Russell. I’m leaving for Ireland Sep 30, gonna drive around for 10 days. Done it before, though. Heading for Kerry – lots of narrow roads! I’ll be “recording” my experience and post here when back Oct 10.


  5. May 10, 2011 12:24 PM

    When it says to get confirmation of rental car insurance in writing, is email enough proof? Do I take my proof of insurance coverage from my own insurance here in the US? Again, is email enough to prove a “written comfirmation?”

    • May 10, 2011 1:39 PM

      Email proof will work… as long as it states that you are covered in Ireland.

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