Why use a credit card?
Credit cards are a type of payment card that can help you spread the cost of a major purchase or unplanned outgoings. Some cards also offer other benefits like:
- shopping rewards & cashback
- existing credit debt transfer
- cheaper overseas spending
- fraud & consumer protection
You can use it to pay for goods and services on credit which you can then pay back over time. You can choose to pay off the amount you owe in full at the end of each month or make smaller repayments each month.
The card issuer will charge interest on the amount you owe, but if you pay off your balance in full each month you won’t pay any interest charges.
Exactly how much you can spend on your credit card depends on your credit limit which is set by the credit card provider.
How to get the best credit card
When you’re choosing a credit card, think about how you plan to use it and what features would benefit you most.
Some credit cards are helpful for spreading the cost of major purchases. Others can help you reduce your existing credit and loan debts. If you’re a keen shopper certain credit cards give you cashback, or regular travellers can earn travel rewards.
It’s a good idea to think about what you need your credit card for and choose the features that best suit your financial situation.
|Example use||Look for cards with…|
|Major purchases||Low APR on purchases|
|Reducing existing credit card debt||Low APR on balance transfers|
|Regular travel abroad||Foreign transaction fees waiver or travel rewards|
|Regular small purchases||Cashback rewards|
|Studying at University||Student card|
|Irregular cashflow||Money transfer options|
|One-off purchase over €500||Instalment plan options|
Types of credit card
There are several different types of credit cards and each offers slightly different benefits, the main types of credit cards in Ireland are:
- Purchase cards: these cards offer 0% interest on new purchases for an introductory period. Introductory rates tend to last for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months.
- Balance transfer cards: these cards offer the chance to move existing credit card debt to a new card to save money. Many offer low or 0% interest rates on transfers for an introductory period.
- Money transfer cards: these cards allow you to transfer money from your credit card to your current account and often come with a low or 0% introductory rate.
- Instalment option cards: some credit cards offer the option to pay in fixed monthly instalments at a low rate of interest for purchases over €500.
- Reward cards: these cards offer incentives to use them, like cashback on purchases or travel rewards.
- Student cards: the credit limits and interest rates tend to be lower with these cards and you have to prove you’re a third level student at an eligible institution.
- Overseas cards: these cards are useful if you travel regularly, because you don’t pay foreign transaction fees and there is no additional charge on top of the exchange rate.
To help you find the best credit cards in Ireland, use our comparison tool and check which cards have the features you want, the lowest interest rates and the longest introductory rates
Compare credit cards in Ireland
How much does a credit card cost?
In Ireland, you pay a ‘Government Stamp Duty’ on your credit card account, which your card issuer will typically collect on 1st April each year, in arrears.
The current stamp duty rate for credit cards is €30 per year per credit card account.
Most credit card issuers won’t charge an account fee for your card, however, those with particular rewards sometimes charge a monthly fee, so always double check before you apply.
How to apply for a credit card
The application process will depend on the card issuer and whether you have an existing account with the provider. If you apply for a credit card with your bank, it may be a quicker process, but not necessarily the best card for your needs.
Credit card providers often give you the choice to apply by:
- Online application
- In person at a branch
Before completing a full application, your bank or card issuer will often take you through an eligibility process. You will need to provide your basic income and outgoings. This check will tell you whether your application is likely to be accepted.
If you decide to go ahead with your application, you’ll need to provide official documents with personal and financial information.
Can anyone apply for a credit card?
Each card provider has different lending criteria, but you usually have to be:
- Over 18 years of age
- A permanent resident of Republic of Ireland
- In receipt of a regular income for over 6 months
- Earning over €16,000 (this threshold varies between providers and card types)
What you need to hand:
In addition to your name, contact information and date of birth, you will need:
- Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) or Individual Tax Reference Number (TRN)
- Evidence of your identity, e.g. P60/P45, medical card
- Addresses for the last three years
- Income details, e.g payslips, tax assessment
- Bank details
Credit providers are required by law to complete a credit check with the Central Credit Register (CCR). If you’d like to find out more about your credit check, read our guide How to check your credit record.
Credit Card FAQs
Can I get a credit card if I have bad credit?
When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will access the Central Credit Register Credit or Irish Credit Bureau to inspect your credit history. This process helps lenders to assess your ability to repay the ‘loan’.
Your card issuer will use the credit report to assess your application before making a decision. They will also consider your income and outgoings, such as salary, rent and utilities. Different lenders have their own criteria for approving credit and some are more stringent than others.
If you have a history of unpaid loans, late payments or a poor credit score, it will make it more difficult to get a credit card. If you want to find out how to access your credit report, read our guide How to check your credit record.
Can I get a refund from my credit card provider?
If you made a purchase using your credit card you may be able to get a refund using the Chargeback scheme, if the goods or services are faulty or don’t arrive.
You can find out more about how the Chargeback scheme works by reading our guide to your refund rights.
Do I have to pay Stamp Duty on each credit card or each account?
You only pay for the credit card account. So, you could have more than one card on your credit card account and only pay the €30 Stamp Duty fee once.
What are interest charges?
Interest is the cost of borrowing money. It’s usually expressed as an annual percentage of the loan. When you borrow money, you’ll pay back the original amount loaned plus the interest.
For example: If you spend €1,000 on your credit card and your interest rate is 10%, you will have to pay back €1,000 plus 10% interest (€100). This means you pay back €1,100 after one year.
What is APR?
Annual percentage rate (APR) is used to help you understand the cost of borrowing. It’s the official rate used for comparing credit cards and unsecured loans, and is shown as a percentage of the amount you’ve borrowed.
The lower the APR, the cheaper the cost of borrowing should be.
It takes into account the interest rate and additional charges of a credit offer, but not penalties, like late payment fees.
What is the minimum repayment?
A minimum repayment is the minimum amount you must pay towards your credit card balance each month.
Ideally, you should pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges, but if that is not possible you must make a minimum repayment every month.
If you don’t, you risk paying a penalty, owing extra interest and harming your credit score.