Comparison of Bank Charges in Ireland

Most of the main banks in Ireland have some sort of transaction or admin fees on current accounts.  The big two banks , AIB and Bank of Ireland made over €1 Billion profit each last year – probably helped by these fees and the large amounts of cash customers keep in their current accounts to try and avoid fees.

There are a  few banks where you can avoid some or all of these bank charges.
We have carried out a comparison of bank charges so you can work out which is the cheapest bank for you if you want to Switch Your Bank . We have also included the online bank N26 – which has been available for Irish residents for more than a year now.

The figures below were checked  in March 2018..

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Sugar Tax in Ireland – How Much Is It ?

Budget 2018 saw an announcement of  details of a new “Sugar Tax” which is due to start on 6th April 2018.
More about Budget 2018 here.

The official name for the new tax is the Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax (SSDT). 

A similar tax is being implemented in the UK in April 2018 – The official name of the “sugar” tax in the UK is  the Soft Drinks Industry Levy

In Ireland ,  soft drink manufacturers will be taxed according to the volume of sugar-sweetened beverages they produce or import. Pure fruit and vegetable juices will not be taxed unless sugar is added.  Dairy products will not be taxed either nor will Soya, nut, cereal or seed based “milk substitute” drinks.
Alcoholic drinks or non-alcoholic beer and wine will not be subject to the new sugar tax either.

If a retailer has purchased taxable product from a wholesaler based outside the ROI; The responsibility rests on the retailer to submit the paperwork and pay the tax to the government.

If companies take the right steps to make their drinks healthier they will pay less tax, or even nothing at all.
It seems that almost all the major soft drinks producers have already reformulated their drinks so that they fall outside the Sugar Tax. So it looks like the tax has already started to have the desired effect. Consumers will probably not see many price increases at all from April.

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Digital Banking: N26 compared to Revolut

A few years ago – the term “mobile bank” in Ireland might have referred to a van from AIB or BOI going around rural villages. Today – Mobile banking  or Digital banking – refers to the new branchless, mobile-only, app based banks that are growing as more people shift to using their phones to do their banking business,.

The two digital providers  that have the most customers in Ireland are N26 and Revolut.

Others that are only available in the UK and other EU countries include Monzo, Starling , Atom and Monese . Some of these may be available in Ireland in the future .

A Comparison of N26 and Revolut

N26  was  launched in Germany in January 2015 and has been available to Irish residents since December 2015. . N26 say they have over 850.000 customers across the EU. (Not yet available in the UK though)

N26 has had a full European banking licence since 2016 – so any funds you have with it are covered by the German Banks guarantee (up to €100,000) .
With N26 you get a bank account number  (IBAN) – in the same way as any mainstream bank – so you can get your salary etc paid in. You can also set up Direct Debits  . Being branchless –  N26 does not deal with cash or cheques.

The N26 bank account comes with a MasterCard debit card  (not a prepaid card) . The only fees are a €2 ATM withdrawal fee if you make more than 5 ATM withdrawals (in Euros)  in a month.
The €2 fee does not apply to non Euro ATM withdrawals – but there is a 1.7% fee for non-euro ATM cash withdrawals. This compares quite well with the “main” banks – who charge around  3.5% for non euro cash withdrawals  – See More Here on ATM charges abroad.

There are no fees for using the N26 card to make purchases in currencies other than Euro.

Signing up to N26 is free and is done over your smartphone with a video call (make sure you have good coverage). You just need to  fill in an online form and show yourself and your passport.  (Over 18s only) They’ll send out your Mastercard after a few days. Join N26 Here

Revolut was set up by  in July 2015  and say they have over a million users across Europe and 75,000 in Ireland . Revolut say they are not a bank – but they applied for a European banking licence in 2017, this is not in place yet (expected in the first half of 2018) . Until then – any funds are not protected by a bank guarantee. (Note: Revolut is regulated by the UK  Financial Conduct Authority, meaning that any money you deposit is ring-fenced (in a Barclays account), so in the event there are problems with Revolut, the money should be safe.)

As with N26 – you get an EU IBAN with Revolut , so you can get your salary and other bank transfers paid in.
No joining fee – but you have to pay €6 to get your debit card delivered. (This is free with N26)

Using the Revolut prepaid debit card you can spend, transfer and exchange up to €6,000 in total every month (a 0.5% fee applies after this).  Free ATM withdrawals are limited to the first   €200 each  month, after that a charge of 2% is added.

Direct Debits were only made possible with Revolut on March 15th 2018 – and as with N26 , they don’t cater for cash or cheques.
You can sign up for Revolut here


Overall – because of the EU banking licence , N26 is our preferred option. Also – there are no fees on spending with N26 , but with Revolut if you go over the €6k limit in a month you will be charged 0.5%.

With N26, you can opt for their “N26 black” account which costs €5.90 per month. N26 Black comes with a free travel insurance which covers mobile phone theft protection, travel insurance and ATM theft protection.More importantly, it waives the ATM-withdrawal fees abroad for every foreign currency. Ideal for people who travel a lot.
In Ireland, there is nothing stopping you from using N26 as your main current account – but at the moment most people are probably using it as a second account which they use mainly when travelling abroad.

Exchange Rates

Revolut say they use the Interbank exchange rates when you use their card for non Euro purchases. N26 use the standard Mastercard exchange rates.
We did a quick comparison of  USD/EUR rates , Interbank versus Mastercard , over a 2 week period in late 2017. On average- the Mastercard rate was 0.25% worse than the Interbank rate.  On a spend of €1000 this would work out at a difference of €2.50.

Apparently Revolut add a 0.5% markup to the interban rate at weekends on  14 major currencies and 1% for all others. So it is likely this would often make their rates worse than N26 at weekends.