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.
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 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 might not 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
Bunq Travel Card – Mastercard (Credit)
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 cards listed above that can be used without fees on spending in any currency are N26 , EBS and Bunq . All of these both come with a Mastercard card – 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)
Bunq is an online app based card provider based in Holland but available in Ireland. The Bunq travel card is a credit card but you can only spend up to the balance you have on it. (Mastercard) 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. More here about the Bunq Travel Card
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. More about Revolut here
If you already have a Visa Debit card – it could be worth trying to get a Mastercard debit or credit card as a second card.
The cheapest way to do this would be to get an EBS account, an N26 account or a Bunq Travel card
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.