If you’re considering renting a car in Ireland we highly recommend it. Our experience renting and driving throughout Ireland and Scotland was great. Here are our tricks and how we had a great Ireland car rental experience.
Ireland is a country that begs to be explored by car. You simply can’t get the full experience by bussing from city to city. The magic of Ireland happens in the countryside and small towns that dot this picturesque landscape.
Sure you could hop on a tour bus but then you lack the ability to stop when and where you want. Some of our favorite spots were unexpected and found by accident while driving. Renting a car will add a lot of valuable experience to your Ireland vacation.
RENTING A CAR IN IRELAND FAQ’S
- CAN I DRIVE IN IRELAND WITH A U.S. DRIVER’S LICENSE?
- Yes you can, an international drivers license is not needed. Just be sure to bring your passport in addition to your license.
- CAN I RENT A CAR IF I’M UNDER 25?
- Most agencies won’t rent to anyone under 21. In addition, most agencies will charge an extra fee for drivers between the ages of 21-24.
- IS CAR RENTAL INSURANCE MANDATORY IN IRELAND?
- Insurance is required and it’s important to note that many of the car rental search engines do not include the required insurance which is quite pricey. Read on below for insurance tips.
- WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO HIRE A CAR IN IRELAND?
- You will need a credit card, drivers license, and passport. If you have insurance coverage from a credit card such as Chase, you will need proof of that coverage in order to refuse the rental car insurance.
- HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A CAR IN IRELAND?
- Our rental was for 11 days and cost $213. That is with the CDW waived (details below). Without the insurance waiver it was going to be around $300. This was a 4-door hatchback manual transmission. Automatic transmission will double the price.
CAR RENTAL INSURANCE IN IRELAND
Like I mentioned earlier, car rental insurance is required in Ireland and Scotland. The insurance is called Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and will almost double your cost.
The good news is that many U.S. based travel credit cards have CDW included for rental cars as part of their perks. Not all cards are the same and they don’t cover every country so you MUST check with your credit card company to see if you’re covered.
CHASE SAPPHIRE RENTAL CAR INSURANCE IRELAND
Chase Travel Credit Cards now offer coverage for Ireland and Scotland. This free coverage is one of the many reasons why I think Chase is the Best Travel Credit Card.
In order to waive the CDW fee you will have to have written proof of your coverage that must be presented at the time of picking up your car. Chase made this simple by calling the number on the back of the card and getting a letter immediately sent via email.
If you are waiving the CDW because you have coverage through a credit card it’s very important that you select to “waive CDW” when booking. The credit card insurance coverage will not go into effect if you don’t waive CDW coverage from the rental provider.
IRELAND CAR RENTAL TIPS
We are all about finding the best deal but there are some important things to consider when renting a car in Ireland.
PICKING THE RIGHT SIZED CAR
Ireland has some of the narrowest roads we’ve ever seen. In addition, you’ll be driving on the right side of the vehicle and the left side of the road. This all takes a while to get used to so picking the smallest car that will fit your needs is the way to go.
We were traveling with 4 people and 4 small backpacks. We chose the compact 4-door which was a hatchback. For just 2 you’ll have no problem. For 4 people with large roller luggage you’re gonna need to go up one size to the SUV.
I can’t overemphasize how a small car is really nice for these narrow roads and tight parking.
MANUAL VS. AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
The norm for cars in Ireland is a manual transmission. Car rentals in Ireland with an automatic transmission will nearly double your cost. So if you can, go for the manual. I found that learning to shift with the left hand wasn’t a problem at all.
PICK-UP AND DROP-OFF POINTS
When booking your car rental don’t forget you can plan your pick-up and drop-off points that work best for your trip. For example, when we arrived to Dublin we were planning to spend a couple days in town before driving north.
So instead of picking up the rental from the airport and having to struggle with parking while in Dublin, we opted to pick it up at a downtown location a couple of days later.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN IRELAND
- Before hitting downtown find a parking lot or quiet neighborhood to get used to everything being backwards.
- Practice parallel parking before you have to do it under the gun on a busy downtown street.
- When sitting on the right side I found it took a bit to get used to judging where my left side of the car was. And due to the narrow roads you have very little room to spare.
- Big trucks and buses have the right of way and it’s expected that you slow down and pull off if needed.
- Fold your mirrors in while parking so they don’t get knocked off.
- Don’t leave any valuables in site while parked.
- Speed limits are generally 80 km/h on country roads and 100 km/h on national highways
FINDING A CHEAP CAR RENTAL IN IRELAND
When it comes to renting a car in Ireland we ended up finding the best deal through Booking.com. The rental agency was Hertz and although the pricing was the same direct through Hertz, we opted to do it through Booking.com for their perks.
While traveling and talking with other folks about their car rental experience a few people mentioned using Discover Car Hire. The word on the street is that they search some of the smaller local rental agencies that may land you a better deal. I took a quick look at it and the Hertz pricing was a touch lower than through booking.com so definitely worth a look.
PICKING UP YOUR IRELAND CAR RENTAL
When picking up your car rental be sure to bring the required documents.
- Drivers License
- Credit card
- Insurance Letter if applicable
It’s worth noting that they will put a large hold of about $5,000 on your credit card so if you have a low maximum keep this in mind.
Also, be sure to take a good look at the vehicle and make sure any damage is noted on your rental agreement. It doesn’t hurt to take some quick pictures of the car noting any damage before driving off the lot.
Well I hope these tips make hiring a car in Ireland a little less overwhelming. Like I said earlier, we had a great experience driving through Ireland and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.