Debit and Credit Card Charges on Non Euro Purchases

Debit and Credit Card Charges on Non Euro Purchases .

When you use your Irish debit card or credit card for purchases in non Euro currencies – (including online) … you will nearly always be charged extra currency conversion fees by your bank on top of any “normal” transaction charges.
Most banks will also make extra charges for non-Euro cash withdrawals at ATMs.

Which option works out the cheapest?

We did a  quick comparison of the bank charges incurred when spending with a Bank Debit Card , a Credit Card or using cash from an ATM .

We used a non-euro purchase worth the equivalent of €100 as an example. We compared the bank charges when using a debit card , a credit card or a cash ATM withdrawal.

You can read more details about ATM charges abroad in our article  about ATM charges for Non Euro Cash

Paying By Debit Card

  • bunq Travel Card  – no charge.
  • N26no charge
  • EBS  change 1%  (minimum €0.30,maximum €6.00).
  • PTSB charge 1.75% (Minimum €0.46, maximum €11.43
  • KBC  charge 1.75% (Minimum €0.46, maximum €11.43
  • AIB charge 1.75% (minimum €0.45, maximum €11.00)
  • Bank of Ireland  charge 2% (maximum €11.43)
  • Ulster Bank charge 2%  (min €0.50, max 12)
  • Ulster Bank charge 2%  (min €0.50, max 12)
  • Credit Unions charge 2% (Max €12)
  • An Post charge 3% (no cap)

So – a purchase made with a debit card in a Non Euro currency equivalent to €100 would incur bank charges as follows:

  • Zero with online bank N26
  • Zero with bunq Travel Card
  • €1  with EBS
  • €1.75 with PTSB, KBC or AIB
  • €2.00 with Bank of Ireland
  • €2.00 with a Credit Union current account
  • €2.00 with Ulster Bank
  • €3 with An Post

Paying By Credit Card

  • AIB Visa 1.75% in Europe; 2.75% Rest of World
  • AIB Mastercard 1.75%
  • PTSB Visa 1.75%
  • Ulster Mastercard  2%
  • BOI  2.25%
  • KBC 2%
  • An Post / Avant  2.65%

So  – the credit card fees on a €100 equivalent spend outside Europe would be …

€1.75 with PTSB
€1.75 with AIB Mastercard
€2 with Ulster and KBC Credit Card
€2.25 at BOI Credit Card
€2.65 with Avant Card/ An Post
€2.75 with AIB Visa Credit Card (€1.75 in Europe)

Using an ATM

Withdrawing cash at an ATM will cost you more than using a debit or credit card to purchase outside the Eurozone.
See  more details of ATM charges  Here

Summary of  Bank Charges for spending in a non-Euro currency (equivalent to €100) on a credit or debit card compared with getting cash from an ATM overseas.  Cheapest options are highlighted in bold.

BankDebit CardCredit CardATM
Credit Union€2n/a€3.50
An Post€3€2.65€3.90

Our Verdict –

1. Using cards for non euro purchases works out cheaper than using cash from an ATM – especially for customers of N26 (no charge) .
2. Using a debit card will usually work out cheaper than a credit card – especially on larger purchases.

If you like the sound of  N26 bank – you can find out more on the N26 website. It is an “online-only” bank based in Germany. It is covered by the EU bank guarantee and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. You will need a smartphone to operate the account, you can’t pay in cash or cheques – so it might not suit everyone – but it might be a useful “second” account to take advantage of the low fees when making purchases in other currencies.

Also you can find more details here about the Travel Card from Bunq

Revolut is another “online-only” debit card option available in Ireland. It is not a fully licenced bank account (yet) – but it comes with a prepaid debit card that has low fees when spending in non Euro currencies .

Comparison of Revolut Vs N26

More about other Prepaid Debit Cards in Ireland.

Remember – there are 9 countries in the EU that don’t use the Euro as currency – they are Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

Exchanging Money before You Travel

Some people like to pay for stuff with cash when abroad . If you plan ahead – you can order travel currency before you leave Ireland.
In a recent   currency exchange rate comparison we found the best Euro to Sterling exchange rate for cash in Ireland was from No1 Currency

Larger Purchases:

There is no cap on credit card charges for purchases made outside the Eurozone – but debit card charges are capped at all Irish banks.

(Debit card caps : Ulster bank and credit union  cap is €12 , BOI and PTSB are €11.43 , AIB is €11.)

Example :  – for a non euro purchase costing the equivalent of €1000  this is what you would be charged by the banks:-

  • N26 would not charge you anything for spending on their debit card in a foreign currency. (They don’t currently offer a credit card.)
  • Bunq would also have no charge.
  • Bank of Ireland would charge €11.43  and  €22.50 with a credit card.
  • Ulster Bank would charge you €12 on a debit card but  €20 on their credit card
  • When purchasing outside Europe an AIB debit card would charge  €11 – an AIB Visa Click credit card would charge 2.75% (€27.50) .

All the figures above also apply to online purchases made in currencies other than Euro.

See more information

Compare bank card fees to using Paypal and Amazon’s currency converter

So –  it will work out cheaper to use your Irish debit card instead of a credit card for larger purchases in a currency other than Euros. This applies to online purchases too.

If you open an N26 account – you will not have to pay any fees on foreign currency purchases with their debit card. They use the same exchange rates as all other Mastercards – so you won’t be worse off that way.

The same applies to the Bunq Travel Card they dont charge fees.

Protection when Buying with a Card

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 exactly the same level of protection. More about card protection in Ireland here.

More information here about the cheapest way to exchaneg larger amounts of currency 

Tips :

  • Often when abroad  (Non Euro Currency)  shops or hotels might give you the option of having your Irish debit or credit card payment converted to euros at the point of sale . Be aware that in most  (if not all) situations the final cost to you will 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.  There will usually be small differences between the rates used by Mastercard and Visa.

We have seen research from the UK showing that Mastercard has better rates than Visa the majority of the time. (Average of 0.5% better – but sometimes a difference of 3% !)

All Figures checked  May 2020

Note – For AIB Visa – the countries that are classed as “Europe”are
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.