Best SIM Only Plan Ireland

There are so many different plans and deals around  for mobile phones it can get very confusing and as a result , many people tend to  stay with their existing network because they just can’t be bothered to change.

If you use a Pay as You Go mobile phone “plan”  – it can be very easy to get through €40 or more a month in top ups . On some of the lower priced billpay mobile phone contracts – the inclusive  “free” minutes are only 100 or 200 – which can be easily exceeded and you can end up with a bigger bill than you expected at the end of every month.

Going over your inclusive minutes on a billpay plan will typically cost you at least €7.50 for every extra 30 minutes of calls you make. (based on typical charge of 25c per min).
Tip:  There are some very good prepay bundles available with unlimited calls and texts that could work out better value than going for billpay   See Our  Comparison of Prepaid Mobile Phone Charges

One way to prevent unexpected large bills for mobile charges is to try and get a package that offers unlimited calls, data and texts . Then you will never be worried about  going over any limits. These days you don’t have to sign up for really long contracts to get unlimited calls/texts .

Best SIM only Plan Ireland

It’s easier to compare SIM only plans  rather than mobile plans  that include the purchase of a phone . When a phone is included in the deal –  the monthly charge will vary depending on the up-front amount paid for the phone , the length of the contract and the type of phone.

Most mobile networks in Ireland now offer billpay SIM only 30 day plans. You put the new SIM in your existing unlocked mobile phone and you can usually keep your old number to make the change easier.  You will usually  have to set up payments by direct debit.

We have done a comparison of some of the  SIM – only billpay 30 day contracts with  high quotas of  calls and data.

SIM Only BillPay Deals Compared

Network Charge per Month Call Minutes Texts Data
Virgin (2) €25 Unlimited Unlimited 30Gb
Tesco €25 Unlimited Unlimited 30Gb
Meteor (3) €25 Unlimited Unlimited 15Gb
Id Mobile
€29 5000 5000 20GB
Three €29.59 Unlimited Unlimited 15GB
Vodafone €30 Unlimited Unlimited 3Gb


Virgin  (2)    This offer is only available to Virgin media TV or broadband customers – but it might be even worth switching your home phone and broadband to them to get this SIM only offer. During January 2017 they have a special offer of just €5 a month for the first 5 months. You can see details and prices for Virgin’s TV and broadband bundles over on

Meteor  (3)   Price increases to €30 after 6 months


There is also the option of using  48 Months :    – it’s prepaid and you don’t have any contract . You get their SIM and pay a monthly “membership” fee that pays for a specific package of calls ,texts and data for a month. It’s impossible to get hit with a large bill because it’s prepaid and you can’t use more than you’ve paid for without buying  extra services.  With other companies on SIM only billpay contracts – even 30 day ones, – you will get hit with higher charges if you exceed the included calls, texts or data limits.   get a FREE 48 SIM here to try it out .

Figures updated January 2017



Help to Buy Scheme for First Time Buyers

Help to Buy Scheme for First Time Buyers

First time buyers can claim a tax rebate equal to 5% of the value of the new house they are buying from January 2017. A New home is defined as “a new building which was not previously used, or suitable for use, as a dwelling.”  Second hand homes are not eligible.

Some people are referring to this scheme as a First Time Buyers Grant.

The Help to Buy tax rebate of up to €20,000 will be available only  to first time buyers to help them purchase a new home in Ireland. It is aimed at people who might not be able to afford to put down a 10% deposit in line with Central Bank Mortgage Rules.

The  tax rebate can  also be claimed on new homes that were bought since July 19th 2016 .  But – if you signed a contract to buy a property (or drew down the first tranche of the mortgage for a self-build) before 19th July 2016  you will not be eligible for the Help to Buy Scheme

Important : The rebate applies to NEW homes only (Including self builds)
The Help to Buy scheme is due to finish at the end of 2019.

Bonus : If first time buyers also manage to take out one of the mortgages with cashback – such as with Bank of Ireland , they could get as much as 8% total cashback.. See the Lowest Mortgage Rates Here


The government’s  Help to Buy Scheme  (HTB)  will enable eligible first time buyers to get up to 5% of the purchase price of a new house or apartment back in the form of a tax rebate.  This can then be used towards the deposit on the purchase .

The total tax rebate under HTB will be limited to the total income tax and DIRT paid over the previous four tax years and will be capped at €20k. If you have paid less than €20k income tax / DIRT  in the past 4 years – the maximum rebate possible will be the amount of tax you paid.

Purchases Before Jan 1st 2017
The rules are different for houses bought or built between July 19th 2016 and Dec 31st 2016. These properties will  be eligible for tax rebates on purchases up to €600,000 – but the rebate will still be limited to  €20,000.

Purchases from Jan 1st 2017 – The 5% tax rebate will only apply to houses  priced up to €500,000. Still  with a €20k cap.

Applications for Help to Buy

There are 2 stages to the  HTB Application :
Stage 1 is to work out the maximum relief available to you under the scheme based on tax payments you made in the relevant years.  You can apply before you choose a house or apply for a mortgage. Once you know the maximum rebate possible –  you can then  arrange a mortgage and/or sign a contract with a prospective Qualifying Contractor.

When mortgages and contracts are signed you will need to  complete Stage 2 of the Help to Buy Claim  where the exact rebate will be worked out based on purchase price.

Payments of the rebate will be made directly to the builder/developer as part of  the deposit.  The builder/developer must have registered with Revenue as a registered contractor under the Help to Buy Scheme . Only properties built by a registered contractor will be eligible.
In the case of a self build – the payment wil be made direct to the bank providing the mortgage.

Before making an application for the Help to Buy Scheme , you will  first need to complete Online Forms 12 (if a PAYE taxpayer) OR Forms 11 (if self-assessed), in respect of each of the  four tax years and you must pay any outstanding taxes due.

Online applications for the Help to Buy scheme are now being accepted by Revenue since Jan 3rd 2017.
PAYE employees can apply on Revenue’s MyAccount .
Self Assessed taxpayers can apply through ROS

Applicants will also need to register to use the Revenue’s MyEnquiries service.

Mortgage Rules

In order to qualify, applicants must take out a mortgage of at least 70% of the purchase price, or in the case of a self -build, at least 70% of the valuation approved by the mortgage provider.  

First Time Buyer – definition . Revenue say that…. “The first-time buyer must not have either individually or jointly with any other person (directly or indirectly), previously purchased, orbuilt a property.”

So – owning an inherited property will not exclude people from this scheme.

Clawback: The property must be occupied by the first-time buyer, or at least one of the first-time buyers in the case of multiple first-time buyers , for a period of five years from the date the property is habitable — otherwise some or all of the rebate will have to be repaid. See Below …
Leave or sell within 1 year – 100% of rebate to be repaid.
Leave or sell within 2 years – 80% of rebate to be repaid.
Leave or sell within 3 years – 60% of rebate to be repaid.
Leave or sell within 4 years  – 40% of rebate to be repaid.
Leave or sell within 5 years – 20% of rebate to be repaid.

Examples of Rebate Amounts

Purchase Price             Max Tax Rebate on Purchases After Dec 31 2016

200,000                          10,000
250,000                          12.500
300,000                          15,000
400,000                          20,000
499,000                          20,000
501,000                            Nil


First Time Buyers Grant

There was a First Time Buyers Grant in operation from 1977 to 2002. When it was abolished it was worth €3,610 .The Housing Minister at the time said the  grant “returned little benefit to consumers” and had “simply been absorbed in the increased profits of builders“.

We wonder if the same thing will happen this time around?  Will the HTB scehen just result in a rise in house prices ?



DIRT decrease to 39% From January 1st 2017

The government charge a tax on the interest you receive on savings. This tax is known as  Deposit Interest Retention Tax or DIRT for short.

Back in 2002 the rate of DIRT was 20%. It was then increased over the following years up to 41% in Jan 2014 in an attempt to try and encourage people to spend rather than save money.
This year , Budget 2017 announced the first reduction in DIRT since it was introduced – and from Jan 1st 2017 it is now at 39%. The plan is to drop it by 2% each year for 4 years until it is back down to  33%

History of DIRT Rates in Ireland

  • 41% from 1st January 2014 to 31st December 2016
  • 33% from 1st January 2013 to the 31st December 2013
  •  30% from the period 1st January 2012 to the 31st December 2012
  •  27% from 1st January 2011 to the 31st December 2011
  •  25% from 8th April 2009 to the 31st December 2010
  •  23% from 1st January 2009 to the 7th April 2009
  •  20% from 1st Janury 2002 to the 31st December 2008.



Lending Limits for Mortgages

New regulations were announced in January 2015 by the  Irish Central Bank that applied lending limits for mortgages in Ireland . 

These regulations first came into force in February  2015 and were amended slightly in January 2017.

The restrictions relate to the percentage of the house value that can be lent. ( The LTV or Loan to Value) as well as  income multiples.  It is important to note that every individual mortgage will not be subject to these exact limits . Banks can lend more than the specified limits in some cases – but they have to stick to annual targets on the amount of mortgage loans that they allow to go over these limits.

There are different limits for different categories of buyers:

A)  Principal Residence (Owner Occupiers) LTV Restrictions

Every individual mortgage will not be subject to these exact limits – but the banks will have to ensure that at least 85% of the total value of mortgages issued each year  for principal dwellings do not  breach the limits given below.

i ) non-first time buyers are subject to a limit of 80%  LTV. (20% of lending can exceed this cap)

ii) first time buyers  – since Jan 2017 the maximum loan allowed is now 90% of the house value.  (Lenders are allowed to exceed this 90% limit in 5% of cases) .

Switcher mortgages and housing loans for the restructuring of mortgages in arrears or pre-arrears are not in the scope of the Regulations.

Note – (Borrowers in negative equity who wish to obtain a mortgage for a new property are not within the scope of the new  LTV limits.)

B) Owner Occupier Mortgages  – Income  Restrictions

There are also limits on the size of loans compared to the  income of the borrowers. The Loan to Income Ratio Or LTI on  Owner occupier mortgages cannot be more than 3.5 times the  borrowers gross income.
Again – this limit is not strictly applied to every individual mortgage – but the banks must ensure annually that  at least 80% of their home loans to owner occupiers (by value) have this income restriction applied.

( Note: Re-mortgages/switchers  on the same residential property with an amount that is the outstanding monetary balance at the date of the switch are exempt from these LTI limits.)

C)  Buy to Let mortgages (BTL)

BTL mortgages are now subject to a limit of 70% LTV.
Each  individual mortgage is not subject to this limit – but  the banks must ensure that at least 90% of their BTL mortgages each year (by value) have this LTV limit of 70% applied.

There are No income related limits for Buy to Let mortgages.

First Time Buyers might be interested in reading about the new Help to Buy Scheme that is now up and running and can provide up to 5% of the deposit on a new build home.