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What’s the smartest way to pay, day-to-day?

Mark Whelan

Mark Whelan

Staff Writer

There’s an increasing number of payment options available these days, but do you know which is the best to use for small payments when you’re on the go?

“Do you mind if I tap?”, asks Caroline, the barista in my favourite coffee spot, as I hand her my debit card to pay €2.50 for my routine morning iced coffee.

“Not at all” is my standard reply, as I contribute to the three million contactless payments that are now made every week in this country.

I appreciate it when she shows me the amount she has keyed in to the POS terminal before tapping. Not that I don’t trust her, but it’s always nice to have the comfort of seeing that she didn’t miss a decimal place on the €2.50 and accidentally charge me €25 with the tap of a card.

A few weeks ago, the cafe’s contactless function was being a bit moody and wouldn’t always accept a tap. Without thinking, Caroline would pop the card into the POS terminal as an alternative and ask me to enter my PIN.

She doesn’t know that by doing so, she has just increased the cost of my coffee by 8%.

You see, my bank charges 0 cent for contactless payments, but 20 cent for chip and PIN.

What does your bank charge for contactless payments?

As the moment, only one bank charges a transaction fee when you use contactless. It’s Bank of Ireland and the fee is 1 cent.

AIB, KBC, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank don’t charge a penny, but this could change.

AIB, for example, once considered introducing a 20 cent fee for contactless, but has waived this until further notice.

Contactless can be used to pay for items up to €30 and although some people express concern over the security of the method, the number of transactions has tripled in the last year.

Chip and PIN

In some cases, chip and PIN is to be avoided if you’re looking to save on fees.

AIB charges 20 cent every time you pop your card into a POS terminal and enter your PIN, and Bank of Ireland charges 10 cent.

KBC and Ulster Bank don’t change anything and Permanent TSB will actually pay you 10 cent back into your current account (up to a maximum of €5 a month) every time you use chip and PIN.


There are no immediate fees charged when you use cash to pay for your morning coffee, but if you regularly use an ATM to withdraw cash, this could be costing you big in fees.

AIB charges 35 cent per ATM withdrawal, KBC charges 30 cent and Bank of Ireland charges 25 cent.

If your preference is to carry cash, it’s wise to get into the habit of asking for cashback when you’re paying for your groceries, for example. There’s no charge for accessing cash this way.

Android Pay and Apple Pay

This week, AIB became the third bank to offer Apple Pay in Ireland, joining KBC and Ulster Bank.

The same three banks offer Android Pay too.

Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB are yet to offer either.

All Apple Pay and Android Pay transactions are free at the moment and they’re possibly more secure than paying by contactless. Every time you tap your phone or Apple watch to a terminal to pay for something, a temporary card number is created to complete the transaction so your actual details are never even shared with the shop you’re in.

Know your fees

Whether your preferred payment method is contactless, chip and PIN, Apple Pay to good ol’ cash, it’s good to know the costs associated with each. And don’t be afraid to speak up if you are about to be charged in a way that’s not your preference.

If you aren’t happy with what your bank is charging in fees, you can quickly compare your options and switch for a better deal. We’re here to help!


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