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Thinking about renting a car in Ireland?
verb: to declare something bad, ugly, terrible, or nasty.
interjection: use as an expletive to express disgust or surprise.
Can be a replacement for damn that sucks!
Upon landing at DUB, I knew the next step was to go pick up the rental car.
So here’s how I did it (made the booking not picked up the car).
In This Post
I ran a quick search on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website – they generally have fantastic rates on rental cars. That’s how I got such a good deal in Hawaii. Keep in mind that they ONLY service airport locations and you MUST pick up and return to the same location.
They quoted me at ~$325 for a 6-day rental. Not bad.
But when I hopped on kayak.com to compare and they had rentals pricing out at 9 Euros per day. And 85 Euros for the 6-day rental (~$97). Now that was a screaming deal. I booked a car at Dollar via priceline.com.
My only criteria were:
- 4-door (for ease of getting luggage in and out)
- Automatic transmission
- Unlimited kilometers (I wanted to drive a lot)
So, I did it. I thought I’d gotten a better deal than what the Chase Ultimate Rewards site was displaying.
Now that I’m back safe and sound, I’m not so sure any more.
To get to the car rental pickup area, you have to take a shuttle about 5 kilometers down the highway to a pretty isolated lot, but still on the airport grounds.
I thought when I got there, I’d put down a credit card so they could put a hold on it and kinda… drive away.
My convo with the desk agent
“You’ve driven on the left before?”
“Yes. In New Zealand.”
“And how are you on the left side? Are you…?” *made swooshy motions with her hands*
“Yeah, no. I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”
“Which insurance would you like Personal & Commercial Van Insurance or something else?”
“None, it’s included with my credit card.” (Chase Sapphire Preferred now includes all countries under their primary car rental insurance.)
“Uh oh. Have you ever tried to file a claim with a credit card company?”
“Well, no. And I don’t wanna find out. I’m sure they’ll be fine, though.”
This is when an older gentleman piped up. He explained that it would be a nightmare for me to get Chase to help me with any type of mishap while I was in Ireland. “Happens all the time to you Americans. Everyone always thinks it’ll be OK and it never is.”
But I insisted on waiving the coverage.
“30 Euro admin charge to take the insurance off.”
“And if you waive it, we have to put a 5,000 Euro hold on your credit card.”
WHAT?!?! That’s over $5,700!!!
“Yeah, but if you pay 125 Euros, the hold is only 2,000 Euros (~$2,300). And if you pay 250 Euro, there is no hold.”
So for me to waive the coverage would cost me 30 Euros. And they kept pressing me. Finally, just to get the hell out of there, I paid the 125 Euros, and let them put the 2,000 Euro hold on the card, which burned me HARD.
“You’re making the right decision,” the older man said. “That way if you get into an accident, you can pay the deductible, hand us the keys, and walk away.”
“Do uhhh… accidents happen a lot in Ireland?”
“It’s what I spend every day filing claims for.”
They took me out and made a big production about me examining the car. It had a LOT of scrapes and dings on it, so I took out my phone and recorded dozens of pictures in the Evernote app (this is another great use of Evernote for travelers!). There was no way they were gonna pin those on me when I returned it.
If you see anything like that on ANY rental, whip out your phone and snap some pics. It’s worth the 2 minutes that it takes to walk around the car once and record any big issues.
The driving experience
The roads in Ireland are NAR-ROW. And the trickiest part is getting around in town. Once you’re on the highway, it’s just like driving anywhere else. For me to drive to Dublin to Galway to Cork via Limerick and back to Dublin, the roads were fine.
And no accidents!
But I did see, at times, how the roads could be confusing. And they definitely do NOT get points for their signage. So be careful out there (as always, when driving in another country)!
And have lots of coins for tolls if you plan on driving from one city to another. A few of the toll booths accepted my Barclaycard Arrival Plus, but a few of them also didn’t.
Getting to the Radisson Blu Royal in Dublin and seeing that hold on my account made my “good deal” booking with Kayak feel like a terrible deal after all. Especially after finding out about the admin charges and basically being bullied into getting insurance I didn’t want.
Things to look for when renting a car/driving in Ireland
- Always check the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal as their prices tend to be the BEST for airport rentals. And, surprisingly, the AA Car website gives out some really decent rates too
- You will most likely have to put some monstrous hold onto your credit card, so be prepared for that
- And be prepared to pay a bullshit fee if you don’t want their insurance (“admin charge” my A!)
- Take lots and lots of pictures of anything you see on the car. Mine had lots and lots of dings and scrapes
- Pre-plan your driving as much as possible. It’s easy to miss signs in Ireland – signage is really not their strong suit
Now, my questions. Would I have been charged those ridiculous fees if I’d just booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (Update: it seems so. See link at the bottom.)? Because the price ended up being the same after the insurance payment. Although I saw disclaimers about extra fees charged by the rental car agency and now that I’m back, have read many reports of huge credit card holds. And man, I wish I’d Googled that before I left!
Has anyone else rented a car in Ireland? Are there any tips for next time? Would love to hear from someone more seasoned – and would love to share this info with readers. Please comment below if you know anything about renting a car or driving in Ireland.
Update: This is an amazing resource – A Comprehensive Guide to Renting a Car in Ireland
Stay safe and scrappy out there!
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.