Prepaid Debit and Credit cards can be used for spending at online shops and high street stores – in the same way as normal Debit and Credit Cards.
A prepaid card is a payment card that can be loaded with money by you or someone else. You can then use the card to pay bills and make purchases at shops, in person, by phone or over the internet.
If you can’t get a “normal” bank account or a credit card – these prepaid cards can be useful for situations where cash is not an option – such as online shopping.
Comparison of Features and Charges on Prepaid Cards in Ireland (Updated February 2020)
Bunq Travel Card
The Bunq Travel Card is a Mastercard credit card that comes with a smartphone app. You can’t actually spend more than the balance on the card – but it is treated as a credit card by payment terminals. This means it will be accepted for car hire and hotel reservations, unlike prepaid debit cards. (as long as you have enough money loaded on it) .
No credit checks are required. With the bunq app you get notified instantly whenever your card is used. You can use the app to temporarily freeze your card if you lose it.
Under 18’s can get a Bunq Travel card if their parent/guardian authorises it and the parent/guardian has their own Bunq account.
There is a one-off fee of €9.99 to order the Bunq travel card.
Spending: The Bunq travel card has no spending fees and a maximum daily limit of €50,000 spending in any currency. You can set your own spending limits
Foreign Spending :The Bunq Travel card uses the Mastercard Exchange Rate with no added foreign exchange fees. It works with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
ATM withdrawals cost €0.99c each time.
Loading the card is free by bank transfer but there is a 0.5% charge to load from a debit card. There is no daily limit on how much you can transfer from another bank into the Bunq account. But transfers by debit card are limited to €500 per day. All funds are covered by the Dutch bank guarantee upto €100,000.
There are no monthly admin fees or inactivity fees.
You can apply for a Bunq Travel Card Here
Revolut is UK based and their prepaid Visa debit card comes with online account access via a smartphone App. It costs €6 to get the card delivered.
You get instant payment notifications on your phone. Revolut also allows you to temporarily freeze your account or disable contactless purchases.
Revolut comes with a Euro IBAN account number and a UK Sterling account number. It can be used with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- You can spend, transfer or exchange up to €5,000 in total every month without any fees at home or abroad. (a 0.5% fee applies after this).
- ATM withdrawals are free on the first €200 per calendar month – a 2% fee applies above this.
- On foreign spending, Revolut uses the interbank rate on weekdays and adds 0.5% on weekends. Overall – not much difference to the Mastercard rate.
- There are no loading fees, admin fees or inactivity fees.
Skrill prepaid Mastercard
(Not recommended due to high fees – but it could be useful for someone who wants to load a card using cash at a shop)
€10 annual fee
Usage Fees – Shopping in Euro – No charge
ATM 1.75% charge
TopUp charges: – Free if done by bank transfer But a 1.9% fee for top-ups from debit cards or credit cards.
Non Euro spend = 3.99% charge
No inactivity charges
Swirl Prepaid Mastercard
(Not recommended due to high fees – but it allows cash top ups in stores which might suit some people.)
Registration Fee: – Free online or €3.95 over the phone
Loading fees: In stores, the fee is €2.99 for top-ups under €350 and €3.99 for top-ups over €350. Loading by Bank Transfer is Free.
– when purchasing in Euros online or in shops = 2.95%
(min 75c, Max €2.95)
ATM = €1.50
– Non-Euro Spending – 5% conversion charge
Inactivity Fee = €3.50 a month after 2 months of no usage.
Low Cost Debit Card from N26 Bank
An alternative to these “prepaid” debit cards is to use an
N26 has no fees when using the debit card to make purchases in Euros or any other currencies. N26 just use the standard Mastercard exchange rates. See more at the N26 Website.
N26 Charges :
Loading is free by bank transfer (only method available).
Non-Euro ATM cash – 1.7% admin fee.
Non-Euro Spending – No Fees
First 5 ATM withdrawals in Ireland per month are free. After that, there is a fee of €2 per withdrawal.
See : Revolut and N26 Compared
Bank of Ireland charge 10c and AIB and Ulster charge customers 20c for each “normal” debit card transaction – unless the customer qualifies for free banking. BOI and Ulster charge 1c for contactless.
See this article for more details about Current Account Charges in Ireland
Debit Card Consumer Protection:
It is useful to know also that Irish residents have the same protection when buying with a prepaid debit card as with a normal debit or credit card. If goods don’t turn up you can get Visa or Mastercard to do a chargeback to the retailer’s bank and get a refund. Credit cards in Ireland have no more protection than debit cards (unlike the UK)