Irish Water Late Payment Penalty Charges

Water charges have been here for over a year now – they started back in January 2015. The very first Irish Water bills went out in April 2015.
It looks like there is a significant number of people who have not paid any of their water charges  – about 40% of people have paid nothing at all.

Penalty Charges for late payment will start to kick in from April 2016.

Irish Water will automatically apply late payment charges  where the  outstanding payments equal the total annual water charge and remain unpaid for 3 months or more.  The late payment charge will not be made if a customer agrees to a payment plan.

How Much are the Late Payment Charges ?

For an unregistered  household or a registered household with 2 or more adults the late payment penalty is  €60. A further €60 will be added  at each anniversary if the bill is still unpaid or a payment plan has not been entered into with Irish Water.

For  a registered One Adult Household , the charge is €30. An additional €30 will be added on every year while the bill remains unpaid or a payment plan has not been entered into with Irish Water.

It’s not quite as simple as an annual charge – a penalty is applied for each year that the charges remain unpaid.
For example – if someone getting charged €260 a year doesn’t pay any water charges for 3 years – This is what will happen….

End of Year 1 – late payment charge €60

End of Year 2 – a second charge of €60 for the year 1 outstanding PLUS another €60 charge for the second year’s missed payment.

End of Year 3 :  a third €60 charge for the year one late payment  PLUS  a second €60 charge for the year 2 late payment PLUS a €60 charge for the most recent missed payment.

So – that is a total of €360 in late payment charges on top of the €260 a year water charge.

That makes a grand total of €1340 due after 3 years of non payment. In this example it works out at as a  penalty charge of €360 on a €780 bill – which is a 46% penalty charge.
(The total charge after 2 years of non payment would be €700 made up of  €180 on top of the  €520 water charges  (34% ))

What Happens if You Still Don’t Pay ?

The next step that Irish Water can take to try and get people to pay their bills is to take them to court .  The new Civil Debt (Procedures) Act 2015, allows Irish Water (and other utilities etc ) to apply to the Court for an order allowing them to take deductions from earnings or deduction from social welfare payments.

The minimum debt for this Civil Debt process is €500 – so it will be at least another year before any such court orders will be seen for Irish Water debts  (if they are ever used).

 

Grants towards Home Repairs for Pensioners

Financial assistance of up to €8000 Euro is available via local authorities under a scheme called “Housing Aid for Older People” .

The grants are for people aged 66 years or older, who are living in poor housing conditions. (In cases of genuine hardship a local authority may also assist people under age 66.)

The grant can only be paid to owner occupiers or to people who are buying their house from the local authority under the Tenant Purchase Scheme.

All the various local authorities have different guidelines regarding the type of work they will award grants for.   You should check with your own local authority to see which types of work they will cover.  In general ,  only essential repairs that make a property habitable will be covered under the scheme.   This would typically include things such as :

Structural repairs or improvements
Repair or replacement of windows and doors
The provision of water, sanitary services and heating
Cleaning and painting
Re-wiring  ….

It is a means tested grant.  The maximum grant of 95% of the cost of works (Max €8000)  can be given to households where the total annual household income is less than €30,000.  (That is €576 a week)
So a single person or a couple on just a full state pension would easily qualify under income rules
The grant  is also  prioritised on medical needs.  People for whom alterations or adaptations would facilitate their discharge from hospital or the continuance of care in their own home will get the highest priority .
The local authorites have a fixed budget to spend and they decide who gets it. There is an appeal process.

Households with income from €30,000 – €35,000  can get 85% of the cost ( Max €6,800)
Households with income from €35,001 – €40,000  can get 75% of costs (Max €6,000)
Households with income from €40,001 – €50,000 can get 50% of the cost (Max €4,000)
Households with income from €50,001 – €60,000 can get 30% of the cost (Max  €2,400)
Households with income over €60,000 a year do not qualify.

Contact your Local Authority to get a claim form and to find out more details.

 

ATM Charges For Non Euro Cash Withdrawals

If you are travelling to the UK, USA  or any other country that doesn’t use the Euro  – it is very easy to use your  Irish debit card to withdraw local currency at an ATM .  The exchange rates given by your bank at thw ATM  will usually be better than you would get by exchanging currency  before you travelled… but how much extra will you end up getting charged by your bank for using the ATM abroad ?

These are the Non Euro ATM cash withdrawal charges for the main Irish banks.

Ulster Bank 2% (min €3, max €12), plus foreign exchange fee of 1.5%
(Tip:  If you use an ATM at  Easy Cash,RBS or NatWest , you will not be charged )

AIB – Currency conversion fee of 2.5% (not capped)  plus commission of 1% (min €2, max €6)

BOI 3.5% (min €3.17, max €11.43)

KBC 3.5% (min €3.17, max €11.43)

PTSB 3.5% (min €3.17, max €11.43)

This is how much  a withdrawal of £300 (Approx €414 Euro) at an ATM in the UK will  cost you

UlsterBank  :  €14.49 (Free at NatWest or RBS)
AIB : €14.49
PTSB: €11.43
KBC €11.43
BOI €11.43

Making a smaller withdrawal of £50 (€70) will cost you :
€3.17 with BOI, KBC and PTSB cards,
€3.75 with AIB
€4.05 with Ulster Bank. (Free at NAtWest / RBS)

With all cards you should avoid making lots of small withdrawals – as this will end up costing you much more in the long run .

For example – a £10 ATM withdrawal (about €12) in the UK would cost you €3.21 with Ulster , €3.17 with BOI KBC  or PTSB and €2.35 with an AIB card
Five withdrawals of £10 would end up costing you as much as €16 – but one £50 withdrawal would cost at most €4.05

These bank charges for ATM withdrawals apply in all non Euro currency countries including USA , Australia, New Zealand , India, Poland, Denmark , Croatia and many more.

(Note:  The charges listed above do not include any of your own bank’s transaction fees which can be typically 20c .  Exact tranasaction fees vary from bank to bank and may be waived if certain conditions are met. The transaction fee for withdrawals of  Euro abroad should always be the same as if you were in Ireland)
Some ATMs abroad will also make an extra usage charge – they should display how much (if any) this charge will be before you withdraw the cash

Compare these ATM charges with Debit and Credit Card Charges when spending in non Euro currencies.

More details of Irish day to day Bank Charges Here

 

Figures checked Feb 2016

If you are looking to transfer larger amounts of Euro to Sterling – take a look at our page on how to get the Best Euro Sterling Exchange Rates

 

Card or Cash – What is the Cheapest Option Outside The Eurozone ?

When you use your Irish debit card or credit card for purchases in non Euro currencies – you will be charged extra on top of any “normal” transaction charges . The banks also make extra charges for non Euro cash withdrawals at ATMs – but which option works out the cheapest?

Is it cheaper to spend on your debit card or credit card or to get cash from an ATM when outside the Eurozone.?

We have done a comparison of the spending options at the four main Irish Banks – looking at the charges incurred when using a Debit Card , a Credit Card or using cash from an ATM. (Of course an ATM is not an option if you are buying online !)

You can read our article here about ATM charges for Non Euro Cash

If you are abroad you are probably  going to need to use some cash for smaller one off purchases – but when paying for larger bills like a family meal or clothes outside the Eurozone  is it better to pay with cash from an ATM , a debit card or a credit card?

Using a non euro purchase worth the equivalent of €200 as an example we have compared thedifferent  bank charges incurred when using a debit card , a credit card or a cash withdrawal .

For AIB , BOI and PTSB  customers , the charges, when paying by either debit or credit card, would be €3.50. (1.75%) This is much lower than getting cash from an ATM where an ATM withdrawal of the local currency equivalent to €200 would cost €9 with AIB and €7 with BOI and PTSB.

For Ulster Bank  customers – paying by debit card or credit card will cost you 2% – so that would be €4 on the equivalent of €200 spend. An ATM withdrawal of the equivalent of €200 would incur charges of  €7

AvantCard credit card (previously MBNA) has the highest charges when using a credit card for a non Euro transaction. They charge 2.65% -so on a purchase equivalent to €200 that would mean a charge of €5.30 .

There is no cap on credit card charges for puchases made outside the Eurozone – but debit card charges are capped at all Irish banks. (Ulster bank cap is €12 , BOI and PTSB are €11.43 , AIB is €11.

So – for most purchases outside the eurozone over the equivalent of about €700  you will always be charged less when using a debit card instead of  a credit card.
For example – for  a non euro purchase costing the equivalent of €1000  you would be charged  €11.43 by Bank of Ireland when using a debit card but the charge would be €17.50 with a credit card.
Ulster Bank would charge you €20 on your credit card but using their debit card would incur a lower charge of  €12

Many people assume that they are better protected when purchasing with a credit card if goods are faulty or don’t turn up. But under Irish law this is not the case (unlike the UK) . In Ireland Credit cards and Debit cards have the same level of protection . More about that here.

More information here about the cheapest method of exchanging larger amounts of currency

 Tips : Often when abroad  a shop or hotel may give you the option of having your debit or credit card payment converted to euro at the point of sale . Be aware that in most  (if not all) situations the final cost to you will usually be higher than if you paid in the foreign currency and let your card provider convert it to euro. So, when asked if you want to pay in Euros – say NO Thanks .

Ulster Bank debit cards can be used in the UK at ATMs in Nat West Bank or RBS and there will be no extra fees.

Note – Exchange rates used on credit cards. The main credit cards in use by Irish providers are either Visa or Mastercard . The exchange rates  are set on a daily basis by Visa and Mastercard . This means that when comparing a Visa card from AIB with a Visa card from Ulster Bank etc you shouldn’t need to take into account exchange rate differences because they should all use the same rate on a given day.

Figures updated February 2016.