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Banking

The truth about overseas banking charges

Robyn Hamilton

Robyn Hamilton

Content Marketing Specialist

It’s summertime and we all know what that means - holidays! The question is, do you know how much your bank is charging you every time to withdraw cash from an ATM or use your debit card whilst abroad? Does not knowing make you feel anxious while you are on holiday? In this article we break down what each bank is charging for international banking.

We’re all familiar with the ritual of visiting the local post office or bureau de change ahead of a big trip abroad to make sure that we have enough cash exchanged to see us through our holliers. It’s odd that it’s a ritual that many of us still cling to, acting as if the country we are visiting won’t accept debit cards or provide ATMs to withdraw more cash.

I know that for me at least, this stems from never being quite sure how much I’m going to be charged to perform any kind of banking transaction abroad - “surely extortionately?!” being a regular interior monologue.

You will often be charged for making banking transactions abroad but hopefully, the following information will put your mind at ease as to just how much those fees are.

Euro transactions within the EU and EEA

The good news is that if you are travelling within the Eurozone (countries that use euro) and use your debit card to withdraw euros, or use your debit card to pay with euros, you will not be charged any extra fees than you normally would at home. Happy days!  

The same is true if you are travelling in EU member states that aren’t in the eurozone as long as you are withdrawing euros or using your debit card to pay in euros.

Things get a little trickier when non-euro transactions come into the mix.

Non-euro transactions and transactions outside of the EU  

All of Ireland’s major banks charge a percentage of the transaction value every time you withdraw cash or use your debit card to pay for things when outside of the EU; or withdraw non-euro currency within the EU.

Most of the banks’ rates are fairly similar with a few exceptions. See below for a table that compares the overseas banking charges from Ireland’s five major banks.  

AIB

KBC

Bank of Ireland

Permanent TSB

Ulster Bank

Debit ATM withdrawal (Non-EU/non euro)

2.5% of transaction value + 1% Commission fee. Min. €2, max.€6.  

3.5% of transaction value. Min. €3.17, max. €11.43 per transaction

3.5% of transaction value. Min. €3.17, max. €11.43 per transaction

3.5% of transaction value. Min. €3.17, max. €11.43 per transaction

ETRF of 1.5% of transaction amount + 2% of transaction value. Min. €3, max. €12. 

Debit Point of Sale (Non-EU/non euro)

1.75% of transaction value. Min. €0.45, max.  €11 per transaction

1.75% of transaction value. Min. €0.46, max. €11.43 per transaction

2% of transaction value.  Max. €11.43 per transaction

1.75% of transaction value. Min. €0.46, max. €11.43 per transaction

ERTF of 1% of transaction amount + 1% of Currency Conversion Fee. Min. €0.25. max. €6.

Debit Contactless (Non-EU/non euro)

1.75% of transaction value. No minimum fee, maximum €11 per transaction

1.75% of transaction value. Min. €0.46, max. €11.43 per transaction  

2% of transaction value.  Max. €11.43 per transaction

1.75% of transaction value. Min. €0.46, max. €11.43 per transaction

ERTF of 1% of transaction amount + 1% of Currency Conversion Fee. Min. €0.25. max. €6.  

Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank emerge as the two slightly more expensive options, but it should be noted that both banks offer lower domestic charges than their counterparts. Ulster Bank doesn’t charge anything for ATM withdrawals and debit transactions at home, while Bank of Ireland has the second lowest rate amongst the five banks in terms of quarterly maintenance fees. Read more about each bank’s fees and how to avoid them.

Leave the debit and credit cards at home

Instead of worrying about overseas charges on your debit or credit card, why not ditch them altogether? 

There are now plenty of prepaid Mastercard and Visa money cards out there that are completely feeless to use both at home and abroad. Simply load them up with cash online or via an app on your phone from your bank account and then tap and spend away to your heart's content while abroad without the fear of any fees creeping up on you. Some of them even offer low-fee currency exchange options, travel insurance and more. 

You can compare prepaid money cards on bonkers.ie quickly and easily right here. Revolut and N26 are our particular favourite options!  

Not happy with your bank? Why not switch?

Remember if you are not happy with what your bank is charging you in terms of fees, you can always switch current accounts. The Central Bank’s switching code ensures that the switch will be carried out in a swift and effective manner (within 10 days), without the loss of any standing orders, direct debits etc. You can compare current accounts on our Compare and Switch Current Accounts page. 

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