Renting a car in Ireland? Driving on the left might take some getting used to, but otherwise the process for renting a car is much like in the United States. By planning ahead and following a few tips, you can avoid a lot of headaches later.
Driving across rolling hills and along coastal roads to the smaller villages and towns is without a doubt the best way to explore this beautiful country. But before you set off, it's worth taking a moment to understand a few of the potential pitfalls to renting a car in Ireland. Here are our top tips for getting the most bang for your euro.
Essential Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland
Book from home. Don't wait until you get overseas to rent a car. It will be cheaper to book your vehicle from the United States.
Pay for your rental in local currency, not US dollars. Dynamic Currency Conversion may seem like a convenient service. It essentially offers you the choice of being charged in euros or in U.S. dollars. While it may seem easier to get charged in dollars, it does not make good money sense. Essentially, the rental car company converts the purchase amount from euros on your behalf—an unnecessary step, since your credit card company will gladly process the transaction in either currency, and you will pay through the nose for something you don't need.
You are not required to carry an International Driving Permit.. Your U.S.-issued driver's license is all you need in Ireland. But if you're also going to be traveling to other European countries, it's inexpensive and easy to get an International Driving Permit, but you need to apply from the United States before leaving home.
You may want to buy collision and insurance.. What happens when you are not used to driving on the left side of the road? Or on narrow roads bordered with stone walls? Or with a left-handed stick shift?
Many foreign visitors to Ireland gets stuck paying for a rental car damage waiver in some shape or form because many credit card companies explicitly exclude coverage in Ireland due to the high claims rate. Before your trip, be sure to double check your credit card's policy on renting a car in Ireland. Do not assume that simply possessing a credit card is enough to provide a damage waiver. Know that American Express recently changed its policy and now does cover CDW/LDW in Ireland.
If you have a premium credit card, it might provide some additional secondary CDW and theft insurance as a perk. It's crucial that you to understand what coverage your credit card provides before you get to Ireland.
Automatic transmissions can be harder to find. Do you know how to drive a car with a stick shift? The vast majority of vehicles have manual transmission. If you don't specifically request an automatic transmission, the vehicle will have a manual transmission. If you need an automatic vehicle, it can be easier to find one at an airport location.
Gas is expensive. There's a good chance that petrol prices will be higher than what you see at home. Note, also, that the handles on most fuel pumps are the exact opposite color of what a U.S.-based driver would expect (diesel = black, unleaded = green). That makes it all too easy to put the wrong kind of gas into a rental car, so be sure to take your time at the pump.
Inspect the car before you drive away. Irish rental car companies have a sketchy reputation for trying to stick foreign visitors with fake damage claims. No matter how excited you are to get behind the wheel of your vacation car in Ireland, take time to protect yourself from potential false damage claims by inspecting the car and taking note of dings, dents and scratches. Document everything with photos at the time you pick up and return the car.
You probably will not need air conditioning. Thanks to the famously changeable weather in Ireland, you probably won't need AC unless you're traveling in the middle of summer—and even then, not often. The smaller the vehicle you rent, the less likely it will be equipped with air conditioning. And if air conditioning is not listed as a feature, don't expect to have it in the vehicle.