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.


Sky or Virgin Media : Best Deals for TV and Broadband Bundles in Ireland

If you are looking for the cheapest  “triple play bundle” of TV , Broadband and Home Phone there are usually some good deals available from both Sky and Virgin Media .  These two companies are the two biggest digital TV subscription providers in Ireland.  January is a good time to look because the providers usually have special offers on. The start of a new year is also a good time to look for cheaper packages  for the year ahead.

Firstly –  apologies if you don’t live in an area covered by Virgin Media – because this comparison is not going to be any use to you. Virgin Media  (previously UPC) provide their TV , broadband and phone services via their own cable network – which is available in Dublin, Cork City, Galway City, Limerick City and many areas of County Dublin.

Sky provide their TV via satellite dishes  and their  broadband and phone via the national telephone network. Sky Fibre is only available in some areas of the country – but it should be available in all the places where Virgin Media is available.

So – how do Virgin Media and Sky Ireland compare on price – and what do you get for your money?

We did a comparison of the deals on offer in early January 2017 from Sky Ireland and Virgin Media Ireland.   We looked at packages with unlimited broadband, inclusive anytime phone calls and TV with around 50 channels.

Cheapest Bundles

We found a deal from from Sky on Switcher.ie  including fibre broadband with speeds upto 100Mb (where available) , unlimited data and free calls to landlines all day as well as 55 TV channels.  The total cost of this in year one would be €678. (€56.50 a month for 12 months then €92 per month)

We found a very similar package on Virgin Media – with  broadband with speeds upto 240Mb , Unlimited data, free calls to Irish landlines 24 hours a day and 50 TV channels on their Horizon box. The price is €85 per month with the first 6 months at just €35 a month. Total cost in the first year: €720. More Here

The Sky bundle is €42 cheaper in year one than the deal from Virgin Media.

What are the differences between the Virgin Media and Sky bundles ?

Broadband :The speed on the Virgin Media deal is faster , upto 240Mb compared to a maximum of  upto 100Mb with Sky. Sky uses the same phone lines  as Eir/vodafone while Virgin use their own cable network . The Virgin speeds should be better in the majority of cases.

TV: The difference in TV channels is negligible.  The main differences we could see is that with Sky you get Sky Atlantic and with Virgin you get a few more of the HD channels , Film 4 and Discovery. Virgin throw in FREE Netflix for 6 months.

Phone – Both bundles include anytime calls to Irish landlines.
With Virgin you also get 400 minutes per month of calls to landlines in 22 countries and USA mobiles.
With Sky you get unlimited free calls to landlines in the UK, USA and 18 other countries – which could come in very handy if you have friends or relatives overseas.

Overall there is not too much difference :-   Sky works out at just €42 cheaper in the first year than Virgin Media . The contract is for 12 months – so you can always switch again if there is a better offer.
These prices were correct on Jan 4th 2017.

You can go for an upgrade with Sky to the “Variety” package with 103 channels – for an extra  €144 in year one .  ( Total €822 ) If you want to see the full range of Sky TV and broadband bundles – you can see them here and order online.

An upgrade with Virgin Media to their  “Full House” TV with 100 channels would work out at  €780 in the first year.  This beats the almost equivalent Sky bundle on price by €42 over 12 months. You can  find out more about Virgin Media TV and broadband deals and even order your bundle online at Switcher.ie

You might also want to take a look at our comparison of Broadband and Phone bundles where Pure Telecom come out as the cheapest option .


Lowest Mobile Call Charges

Lowest Call Charges on  Pay as You Go Mobiles

There are probably dozens of different mobile plans ,  deals or bundles in Ireland – it is hard to work out which is the best.  A 2015 UK survey found that mobile phone users waste billions of  pounds a year by paying for call bundles that are more than they need. Others don’t buy enough minutes in their bundles and then end up spending money on high rate calls outside of the bundles.

Some people , especially more elderly people,   might just want a mobile for receiving calls as well as making a small number of calls. They might not need texts or data . For someone not on a special deal or bundle – then making a call from a “pay as you go” mobile can cost as much as 35c  a minute . So for €10 credit you might only get 28 minutes of calls.

We have checked the cheapest PAYG options available for someone making  just  250 minutes of calls a month  (200 to mobiles and 50 to landlines). These are the cheapest monthly  prepay top up “bundles”  available for such a person. (These type of top up deals usually require an opt in text and expire after 1 month and any unused credit is not carried forward.)

Lycamobile  have one of the the lowest priced options  : For €9 on Lycamobile  you will get 300 mins of calls to mobiles or landlines ,  300 texts and 1Gb data in a month.

A payment of €10 on 48Months -will get you 300 mins of Calls to Irish mobiles , 60 mins of  landline calls , unlimited texts and 1Gb of data for a month.

€10 on Meteor gets you unlimited any network calls for a month (no data or texts)

€15 on Tesco Mobile also gets you  unlimited calls with teh €15 credit to use on something else.

€15 on Id gets you 250 mins, 250 texts and 500Mb

If you don’t go for one of these  provider’s bundles and just top up and use credit as and when you need it  – then  those 250 minutes of  calls in a month could cost you around  €75 (based on an average call charge of 30c a minute.)

If you really don’t want to buy bundles that you might not fully use and will just expire  – then you need to know which mobile network has the lowest price per call on prepay:
Lycamobile charge 9c/min for landline calls and 29c/min for mobile calls . This was the lowest rate we found. By comparison – Meteor and 3 charge 35c/min for all calls ; Tesco charge 32c/min .

Figures checked Jan 2017

If you are a heavier mobile user – you should take a look at our pages on  Best Value Prepay Mobile Bundles  and  the Best SIM only Deals