Using money abroad

If you’re going abroad, whether for work or a holiday, it pays to give some thought to your finances. There are a number of ways you can access your money when abroad.

Using your cards abroad

When you are abroad, you can use your debit or credit card at an ATM or to buy something. If you are not sure whether your debit card will be accepted in certain countries, ask your bank, but generally, if it has a Maestro or Visa symbol, it will be accepted. If you are in a country within the Eurozone you’ll be charged exactly the same as you would in Ireland for using an ATM or buying something using your debit or credit card. But if you are going outside the Eurozone, you need to be aware of the charges.

For security reasons, your bank may also reduce the amount of cash you can withdraw each day from an ATM outside the EU. Make sure to check this limit with your bank before you travel.

Debit card charges

If you are outside the Eurozone, you will pay a transaction fee every time you use your card to get money from an ATM or to buy something. This is usually a percentage of the value of the transaction, but most banks have a minimum fee per transaction, as much as €3.00 each time you use your card. So bear in mind that using your card a lot, particularly if you are taking out small amounts of money regularly can be expensive. In addition to the transaction fees, your bank will also charge you for converting the transaction into euro every time you use your debit card. Our current account comparison has more details of charges that apply when you use your cards abroad.

Credit card charges

If you are outside the Eurozone, you pay a currency conversion fee every time you use your credit card to buy something, or to get money from an ATM. This is a percentage of the transaction amount, but there is usually a minimum charge per transaction. So, if you use your credit card a lot outside the Eurozone, particularly for transactions of a small value, these charges can quickly add up.

If you use your credit card to get foreign currency from an ATM, you pay a currency conversion fee and a cash advance fee.

To avoid paying cash withdrawal fees you can lodge money to your credit card account. But check first with your credit card provider, as you may still be charged these fees.

You should also check whether the money you lodge to your credit card account would be covered if your card was lost or stolen, and used by someone else, as some providers will not give you back your money if this happens.

With some cards, you do not get an interest-free period for cash withdrawals so you pay interest from the moment you take out the money. Our credit card comparison compares costs across the main providers.

Be aware that in some countries, you may be asked for identification such as a passport when you use your debit or credit card.

Making a payment in the local currency

When using your debit or credit card abroad you are sometimes given two options at point of sale by the retailer. One option to pay for an item in the local currency (e.g. Sterling). The other is to pay in your home currency (Euro). In general, it is usually more cost effective to pay in the local currency (e.g. Sterling) and it may cost you more to pay in your home currency (Euro). However, if you do choose the option of paying in your home currency, you should receive a record showing:

  • The local currency amount
  • The exchange rate that applies
  • The total amount in euro

Foreign currency and travellers’ cheques

If you are buying foreign currency or travellers’ cheques, you pay a commission, or charge. This usually ranges from 1% to 1.5% of the euro value of the currency. The amount of commission you pay can vary widely between various banks, bureau de change and airport outlets.

Generally, locations that offer the most convenience, such as airports, ports and outlets with long opening hours, will charge you higher commission.

Foreign currency limits

If you are entering or leaving the EU and carrying €10,000 or more cash you must make a declaration to the customs authority of the Member State you are entering or leaving.

You must lodge the declaration at the airport, seaport or land frontier through which you are entering or leaving the EU. You can get more information on the Revenue website.

Read our travelling abroad money saving tips to make your holiday money go further!

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