In May 2018 there were widespread IT issues with Visa card payments in Ireland and other parts of Europe.
In recent years we have also seen major IT problems with Ulster Bank here in Ireland. These outages resulted in thousands of people unable to make payments or get cash from their accounts for several days.
You should no longer rely on having just one card payment method.
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.
Cash is an alternative – but these days many people just don’t bother with cash anymore. Of course, the majority of people probably get their cash from an ATM using their card. Therefore if a card system fails you might not be able to get cash out anyway.
The two dominant card payment systems worldwide are VISA and MASTERCARD. It makes sense to try and have at least one card backed by each of these. Ideally the cards should also be from different banks to cover you in cases of bank-specific IT problems.The majority of banking customers in Ireland have a just a Visa debit card. We have listed below the main Debit card providers in Ireland showing which card system they use – Visa debit card or a Mastercard debit.
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
- Bunq Travel Card – Mastercard (Credit)
Two Bank Accounts
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. You will be charged the €5 a year stamp Duty on any debit cards .
The only cards listed above that can be used without current account fees are N26 , EBS and bunq . All three are Mastercard 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 few of hundred Euro in it.
More here on where to get Free Banking in Ireland
The N26 account is 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)
bunq is an online bank based in Holland but available in Ireland. The Bunq travel card is a prepaid credit card, so you can only spend up to the balance you have on it. It has no fees when you spend in any currency. ATM withdrawals cost 99c each time. Adding money to the card from another bank account is free. It is treated as a credit card pay the payment terminals – which means it can be used for car hire and hotel reservations. bunq is a fully licenced bank and all funds lodged up to €100,000 are covered by the Dutch bank guarantee. An added bonus is that there is no credit card stamp duty on this card (credit card stamp duty is €30 a year on other credit cards.)
More here about the Bunq Travel Card
Revolut is not a bank , it 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. More about Revolut here
Visa credit cards are currently only provided by AIB and PTSB in Ireland. All the other Irish banks supply Mastercard credit cards.
See our page on Credit Card Offers and Rates here.