Visa or Mastercard in Ireland .

In May 2018 there were widespread issues with Visa card payments in Ireland and other parts of Europe caused by IT problems. In recent years we have also seen major problems with Ulster Bank here in Ireland and TSB in the UK – which resulted in thousands of people unable to make payments or get cash from their accounts.

As we seem to be moving closer towards a cashless society – it probably makes sense to try and have at least two different methods of card payment.  If one card fails – you should still be able to pay for goods or services with the other.

You should no longer rely on having just one card payment method.
Cash is the obvious alternative – but these days many people just don’t bother with cash anymore. Most people probably get cash from an ATM using their card – so if a card system fails you won’t be able to get cash out anyway.

The two dominant card payment systems worldwide are VISA and MASTERCARD – so you should try and have at least one card backed by each of these. (Ideally from different banks to cover you in cases of bank-specific IT problems.)

Here is a list of the main Debit card providers in Ireland showing which card system they use  –  Visa debit card or a Mastercard debit. The majority of banking customers in Ireland probably have a just a Visa debit card.

Banks that Issue Visa Debit Cards in Ireland

AIB Debit Card – Visa

BOI Debit card –  Visa

PTSB Debit Card – Visa

Ulster Debit card – Visa

Banks that Issue Mastercard Debit Cards in Ireland

An Post Debit Card  – Mastercard

EBS Debit Card – Mastercard

KBC Debit Card – Mastercard

N26 Debit Card Mastercard


It might seem a bit extreme to have two current accounts just in case there are problems with one of them – especially if that means account fees on both of them. But there are still some free accounts available where you aren’t forced to pay in large amounts each month. (More here on  where to get Free Banking in Ireland)

The only two banks listed above that can be used without fees are N26 and EBS – both come with Mastercard debit cards. So if your main current account has a Visa debit card – it might be a good idea to open an account with one of these and try to keep a couple of hundred Euro in it.

The N26 account can only be operated online and the  N26 debit card has extra advantages – such as no extra fees or charges when spending in foreign currencies. (Other banks typically charge around 2% or 3%  – more here about those bank charges)

Prepaid Debit Cards

Revolut is a “global money app” – and it comes with a Visa Debit card. You can load it with a bank transfer from your main bank.  No annual fees and no fees on foreign currency spending.

Monese is a UK based app-based payment service linked to a prepaid Mastercard.  – but there are some limits and charges.

  • First €/£200 ATM withdrawals a month are free. Anything over that is charged at 2%
  • The first €/£ 2000 a month spending on foreign currency transactions is free – after that, there is a 2% fee.
  • 2% fee to transfer currencies outside Monese .

You can sign up for a Monese account using your PC/Laptop Here

If you have an Apple phone or Ipad You can get the free Monese App Here.

If you already have a Mastercard Debit card – it could be worth trying to get a VISA debit or credit card as a second card.

The cheapest way to do this would be to have an EBS account, an N26 account and a Revolut card.

The PTSB current account has a Visa Debit card and has fees of €48 a year. As mentioned above – Revolut provides a prepaid Visa Debit card also.

Visa credit cards are currently only provided by  AIB and  PTSB in Ireland. All the other Irishbanks supply  Mastercard credit cards.

See our page on Credit Cards here.

2 thoughts on “Visa or Mastercard in Ireland .

  1. There were apparently issues with Mastercard transactions in Ireland today with retailers and atm transactions. Can anybody shed any light on this ? Is the issue solved?

    • Mastercard customers reported some problems across much of Europe and America, but the credit card company refused to provide an explanation for what caused it.

      They said “We are aware that some issues were experienced and have been working hard to resolve it,” Yesterday evening they said – “The situation has been fully resolved and all transactions are now working as normal. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

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