Image Which bank has the best value current account?
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

Whether you're an Ulster Bank or KBC customer who's on the lookout for a new home for your wages or just in the mood to save some money, we've all the info on who's offering the best current account.

Current account switching rates in Ireland are incredibly low at less than 0.10% - and have been for quite some time. Unlike with other household services such as energy and broadband, we tend to harbour incredible inertia in Ireland when it comes to switching financial institutions and current accounts in particular.

For many of us, our parents choose a bank for us in childhood, or we sign up to whoever is offering the best freebies during Freshers week in college. Either way, once we’ve signed up, for most of us, whichever bank has us - has us for life.

But that doesn't have to be the case as there are still plenty of options for those looking to switch and save.

So how do the current account providers compare? 

We've waded through all the details and charges to see how all the main current account providers compare.  

Note that as well as the day-to-day fees outlined below, in most cases you'll also be charged for non day-to-day fees such as bounced cheques or direct debits, replacement cards, overdrafts, as well as foreign exchange fees.  

AIB

The biggest and most popular bank in Ireland, AIB has a good mobile app, a large branch network, and offers all the most popular mobile payment options i.e. Apple, Google and FitBit Pay. 

However AIB's current account is expensive compared to all the other providers.

It charges a €4.50 quarterly maintenance fee, a €0.35 fee for every ATM withdrawal and a €0.20 charge for every chip and pin transaction, self-service lodgement, online transaction, direct debit and standing order. These fees are applied regardless of how much you lodge or keep in your account each month.

Contactless transactions are free though.

There is some good news in that some AIB customers can avoid fees. Student accounts, graduate accounts, accounts for those over 66 years of age and AIB’s Basic Bank Account are free of day-to-day charges.

Also, people who pay their AIB mortgage from an AIB current account are able to avoid day-to-day fees.

AIB also now allows you to easily freeze and unfreeze your card within its app. So if you've misplaced your debit card, or want to stop it from being used, you can temporarily block your card to protect it from unauthorised use as opposed to having to cancel it and deal with all the hassle that then entails. You can then unblock it at any time. 

AIB customers can now also send money quickly and easily to one another at the touch of a button through the AIB app.

An Post

An Post launched its current account back in June 2017 and recently completely redesigned and updated its app, which now comes with some novel features.

For example, current account customers can easily save by setting money aside in up to 10 dedicated 'Jars'. You can set savings targets and deadlines and pay bills right out of a Jar. 

Customers can also avail of the Round Up function, which rounds up your debit card payments to the next whole number and puts the difference in a Jar. So, a payment of €1.90 puts €0.10 in your Jar. If you turn on Round Up multiplier, that amount is multiplied. Customers of Revolut will note this is similar to its Vaults feature.

The account also lets you easily stay in control of your finances and avoid nasty surprises with helpful alerts for transactions like direct debits, credits to your account or failed payments. You just decide what alerts you want to receive and how you’d like to receive them – by email, text or online – and you'll be kept up-to-date.

Customers can also access An Post Money Mate. This is a current account aimed at kids between the ages of 7 and 15. With this feature, parents can set up an account for their child from their own app. With each account a child receives a Mastercard debit card allowing them to make contactless, chip & PIN or online payments - but fully overseen and controlled by their parent or guardian from their own account.

An Post is doing well on the mobile payments front, offering Apple, Google and Fitbit Pay.

However the An Post account leans on the expensive side. The account has a €5 monthly maintenance fee and if you want access to An Post Money Mate it’ll be an extra €2 a month. 

There is also a €0.60 ATM withdrawal fee. However the cash withdrawal fee reduces to €0.50 if money is taken out at an An Post branch and you get one free post office withdrawal each week.

You'll also be charged €0.50 for any cash or cheque lodgements at your post office. 

At 3%, the account also has among the highest foreign exchange fees if you use your card outside the eurozone. 

All other day-to-day transactions like direct debits, standing orders, online payments, chip and pin and contactless payments are free though.

No overdraft facility is available with the account however, so if you have an overdraft with your existing provider and want to switch to An Post, you'll need to clear it first.

Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland (BOI) has been slow to innovate where technology is concerned. It only recently launched Google Pay and Apple Pay while the quality of its mobile app and online banking services lag behind AIB's.

However it recently launched some handy new online banking features.

BOI customers can now freeze and unfreeze their card within the BOI app or online. You can now also view your PIN instantly (in case you forget it) and order a replacement card online without having to call the bank.

Like AIB, BOI customers can now send money quickly and easily to one another at the touch of a button through the BOI app.

BOI used to charge individually for a host of current account transactions but since November 2020 it has replaced all these with a flat €6 monthly account fee, regardless of usage, which should see most customers, though not everyone, pay a bit less each month.

The €6 monthly fee also includes the charge for any 'bounced' or unpaid cheques, direct debits or standing orders, which can be as high as €10 per failed payment with some banks such as AIB and also the Credit Union. Speaking of which...

Credit Union

The Credit Union launched its current account in 2019 when some of the largest Credit Unions in Ireland came together under the currentaccount.ie brand to roll out a new, full-service current account for Credit Union members.

Now around 200 branches of the credit union offer a current account.

The new current account offers all the features you’d expect from a traditional bank account such as online banking, direct debits and standing orders, as well as access to an overdraft facility. 

Customers receive a Mastercard debit card, which can be used wherever you see the Mastercard logo worldwide. The debit card is also contactless enabled, meaning you can tap and pay for purchases on the fly.  

The Credit Union is also doing well on the mobile payments front, offering Apple, Google and Fitbit Pay.

The charges all differ per branch but in general it costs €4 a month, after which all your day-to-day banking is free. However you only get five free ATM withdrawals a month. After that there's a 50 cent charge per withdrawal.

There's an initial €25 fee for setting up an overdraft and €25 charge every time you renew it, which is similar to most of the other banks.  

Other charges for things such as direct debit or standing order set-ups and amendments differ more wildly between branches however. Some charge nothing, while others charge up to €2.50 per instruction. 

EBS

The EBS MoneyManager account has no monthly account maintenance fee and no charge for any day-to-day banking. There is also no minimum monthly lodgement requirement.    

However no overdraft facility is available with the account, there is no mobile app to help manage your banking on the go, and customers don't have access to either Google Pay or Apple Pay. There are no rewards schemes for customers to sign up to either. 

EBS operates euro accounts only. This means any payments sent to your EBS account in a non-euro currency cannot be processed and will be returned.

However, if you're happy with the most basic of services, this is an account to consider and will cost you almost nothing to run.

Important to note is that EBS recently announced that it's undertaking a strategic review of its operations, which could see it stop offering savings products and current accounts and focus on mortgages instead. So something to consider carefully before switching.

N26

The 'digital alternative'.

N26 has a brilliant mobile app, supports both Google and Apple Pay, and allows you to open a bank account online in just minutes through the app. There's no monthly account maintenance fee and all day-to-day transactions are free. However you're only allowed three fee-free ATM withdrawals a month; after that there's a hefty €2 charge. 

The app provides detailed analytics on your spending and allows you to toggle on and off different payment settings. 

N26 now has over seven million customers worldwide, almost 200,000 of whom are in Ireland.

N26 is a bank. It's licensed by the German Central Bank and operates in Ireland and other EU countries on a European Passport (a banking licence which allows a bank or financial institution which is licensed in one EU country to passport that licence to another country without having to get regulatory approval all over again).

Customers are covered by the German Deposit Guarantee Scheme up to €100,000 so your money is as safe with N26 as it is with any of the traditional Irish banks.

When you open an account you'll immediately be given a German IBAN and BIC number, meaning you should be able to get paid into the account by your Irish employer and set up direct debits and standing orders just like with any other Irish bank account. However, although less common, some people may encounter IBAN discrimination, which is where an employer or utility provider is unwilling or unable to accept a non-Irish IBAN. So this is something to consider.  

N26 charges no foreign exchange fees on card payments either so if you use your card in the UK or the States you won’t be charged the 1.50% – 3.00% foreign exchange transaction fee that you’re charged with all the other traditional banks.

The downside is that, as a true digital bank, there aren't any N26 branches in Ireland so if you want to lodge money in person or cash in a cheque you'll find yourself stuck. No credit facilities such as loans, credit cards or even an overdraft are offered by N26 in Ireland yet either. 

What's more, N26 doesn't issue physical cards as standard anymore - leaving you to only pay with your phone. If you want a physical card it'll cost you €10 and you'll need to request it separately. 

Another popular digital-only bank is Revolut. You can find out how it compares to N26 right here.

We also discussed both fintechs in a recent episode of our bonkers.ie podcast, Current accounts: a deep dive.

Permanent TSB

Permanent TSB’s Explore Account is the only current account on the market that will actually pay you to use your card.

While there's a hefty €6 monthly account maintenance fee, all your day-to-day banking is then free and you'll also earn 10 cent every time you use your debit card to pay for something in store or online. You can earn up to €5 per month through this feature alone, meaning you could offset most of the maintenance fee each month.

Plus, if you're a customer of SSE Airtricity or Sky you can get up to 5% cashback on your bills when you pay them by direct debit from the account, meaning you can earn even more. And if you have a mortgage with Permanent TSB and pay this from your Explore Account, you'll receive 2% cashback on your monthly mortgage repayments until 2027.

If this all sounds too good to be true then it just might be, as Permanent TSB still doesn't offer Fitbit Pay or Garmin Pay, while its app can be slow and lacks basic features such as face or fingerprint log-in or a temporary freeze card feature. However it recently launched Apple Pay and Google Pay after years of delay.

Comparison of main current account providers in Ireland 

 

AIB

An Post

BOI

CU

EBS

N26/

Revolut

PTSB

Maintenance fees (per annum)

€18

€60

€72

€48

€0.00

€0.00

€72

ATM withdrawal fee 

€0.35

€0.60

€0.00

€0.50 - first 5 free

€0.00

€2.00 - first 3 free N26

€1 or 2% - first €200 or 5 free Revolut

€0.00

Lodgement fee

€0.20

€0.50

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

N/A

€0.00

Chip & Pin fee

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Online banking transactions  

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

DD / SO fee 

€0.20

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Contactless fee

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Google / Apple Pay

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Overdraft available

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Pay contacts within app

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Block / Unblock feature

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Perks

Fitbit Pay

 

An Post Money Mate

Jars

Round Up feature

None

None

None

No foreign exchange fees on debit card purchases 

Detailed analytics on your spending 

10c back as you pay

Up to 5% cashback on select bills

2% cashback on mortgage repayments

Who wins?

It's a close call but if you want access to a nationwide branch network, need to be able to lodge cash or cheques from time to time, require an overdraft, and are conscious about fees, then Permanent TSB seems like a good option. However its digital offering is very average at best so the account is by no means perfect.

However if you do all your banking online these days and prefer card payments over cash then N26 or Revolut are definitely worth a look and both are an increasingly viable alternative to a “traditional” bank account.

The point is that there's still choice out there at the moment. So if you're fed up with your existing bank's pesky fees and charges, you don't have to put up with it. You can switch to a better option for you today. 

Make sure you also check out our guide on 8 things to consider when choosing a new current account before deciding on a new provider. And check out our in-depth piece on which bank has the best mobile app.

How to switch current account 

Despite what you might think, switching banks usually isn't as much hassle as people think thanks to The Central Bank’s Switching Code, which ensures that switches have to be completed by the bank within a 10-day time frame; and this includes the transfer of all direct debits and standing orders. Nevertheless you'll still need to do some of the legwork yourself. You can learn more about the switching process in this guide.

If you're ready to switch you can easily compare current accounts across all the providers in Ireland on bonkers.ie right now.

Get in touch

Are you happy with your current account provider? Would you consider switching? We’d love to hear from you. 

If you have any questions about the different current accounts on offer, feel free to get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.