Credit Cards

Your complete guide to credit cards in Ireland

Credit cards are a convenient and safe way to pay when used wisely. Here’s all you need to know about credit in Ireland and how to pick the best card for your needs.

What’s in this guide?

Part 1

How credit cards work

What is a credit card?

Credit cards are a type of payment card that can help you spread the cost of major purchases or unplanned expenses. You can use your card to pay for goods and services on credit and repay the money over time

Some cards also offer other benefits like:

  • shopping rewards & cashback
  • existing debt transfer
  • cheaper overseas spending
  • fraud & consumer protection

How do credit cards work?

A credit card works like a debit card, but the money you spend is borrowed from your bank or card issuer. The amount you can spend depends on your credit limit.

At the end of the billing month, a statement will be made available for you to view online, in an app, or by post.

Your credit card statement will tell you:

  • How much you’ve spent
  • How much cash you’ve withdrawn
  • Interest charged or due
  • Your total balance and what you owe
  • The minimum payment you must make

Your card issuer will set a minimum payment sum which you must pay every month to avoid penalties and a possible footprint on your credit record.

What is the minimum repayment?

A minimum repayment is the minimum amount you must pay towards your monthly credit card balance.

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.

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What is a credit limit?

It’s the amount your credit card provider is prepared to lend you. Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can owe at any point and will be based on your income, outgoings and credit history.

You can request a credit limit but you’ll only find out how much you’ve been granted if your application is approved.

Find out more about credit limits and how to boost them in our guide How credit limits work.

How is your interest rate decided?

Your interest rate may differ from the ‘typical APR (Annual Percentage Rate)’ and is based on your credit history and financial circumstances.

Card issuers use your credit history to work out how much risk they are taking if they offer you credit; so your interest rate will depend on your credit rating and repayment capacity.

If you have missed or made late payments on a loan, credit card or mobile phone bills in the past, it could have a negative impact on your credit rating.

  • Poor credit rating: If you have a bad credit history or no credit history at all, you are considered high risk and the interest rate offered will be higher, which means you’ll pay more for credit facilities.
  • Good credit rating: If you have a high credit score because you’ve been a reliable borrower and haven’t defaulted on payments you’ll likely get offered the typical APR.
  • Financial status: Banks and card issuers also look at your income and employment status to assess your repayment capacity. Your income is a major factor in determining your credit limit. Card issuers may also take into account your outgoings and borrowing commitments.

Find out how your credit rating works and what you can do to improve your credit score.

Check your credit record

When is credit card interest charged?

The interest you’ll pay depends on your provider’s APR (Annual Percentage Rate) and what you spend. The card issuer charges interest on the amount you owe.

Interest only kicks in when you don’t pay your statement balance in full by your due date.

You can pay off the amount you owe in full at the end of each month or make smaller repayments. If you don’t pay the balance in full by the due date, the unpaid sum carries over to the following month with interest applied.

What does APR mean?

The 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.

It takes into account the interest rate and additional charges of a credit offer, but not penalties, like late payment fees.

The APR you are offered depends on your credit history and repayment capacity and may differ from the “typical APR” advertised which is the rate given to the majority of customers.

Part 2

Types of credit cards

Types of credit card

There are several different types of credit cards and each offers unique benefits. The main credit card types and features in Ireland are:

  • Purchase credit cards These cards may offer 0% interest on new purchases for an introductory period. Discount rates tend to last for three, six or 12 months.
  • Balance transfer credit cards Move your balance to a new card to cut interest and save money. Many cards have a low or 0% interest on transfers for an introductory period.
  • Money transfer credit cards These cards allow you to transfer money from your credit card to your current account and may come with a low or 0% introductory rate.
  • Rewards credit cards These cards offer incentives to use them, like cashback on shopping, travel rewards and other perks. Ideal if you shop and travel often.
  • Student credit cards Credit limits and interest rates tend to be lower with these cards designed for students. You’ll have to prove you’re a third level student at an eligible institution.
  • Prepaid credit cards Prepaid cards are not strictly credit cards because you have to preload, but they offer the same payment protection you’d get from a credit card.

Credit cards with an instalment plan option: Some cards offer the option to pay for goods over €250 in fixed monthly instalments at a low interest rate. Credit cards with this feature are helpful for budgeting the cost of large purchases when your introductory periods end.

Can you get a refund when you pay with a credit card?

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.

Rewards credit card

Purchase cards in action

If you spend €1,000 on your credit card with an APR of 20% and pay back €90 per month it would take 13 months and cost you an extra €115 in interest.

With an introductory rate of 0% APR for six months (reverting to 20% APR thereafter), it would take 12 months to pay off the balance and cost you €25.

Part 3

Credit card costs

Stamp duty on credit cards

The current stamp duty rate for credit cards is €30 per year per credit card account.

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.

Most credit card issuers won’t charge an account fee for your card; however, some with travel rewards and extra perks charge a monthly fee, so always double-check before you apply.

Do you have to pay Stamp Duty on each credit card?

You only pay for the credit card account. So, you could have more than one card on your credit card account and pay the €30 Stamp Duty fee once.

However, you’ll pay €30 for each account if you have multiple credit cards with different banks.

How to calculate interest rate charges

The interest you are charged each month depends on the APR you are given and how you use your card. The higher the APR, the more you will pay for the money you have borrowed.

Your credit card provider will calculate what you owe each month but here’s how to work out the monthly rate of interest you’ll pay on a balance:

  1. Divide your APR by 365 to find your daily interest rate
  2. Multiply your balance by the daily interest rate
  3. Multiply your daily interest rate by the number of days in your monthly bill

You may be charged different interest rates for purchases, cash withdrawals and transfers, so check with your provider to ensure you understand what you’re being charged.

The best way to avoid paying interest is to pay your entire balance in full each month.

credit cards mastercard and visa

Balance transfer cards in action

If you have a balance of €1,500 on your credit card with an APR of 20% and you pay €125 per month it would take 14 months and cost an extra €188 in interest.

A card with a 5% APR would take 13 months, and you’d pay €42 in interest, but a 0% APR purchase card would take 12 months and cost you €0.

Part 4

How to choose the best credit card

There are so many features to compare when you’re thinking about a credit card it’s often difficult to tell which card is best for your needs. Here’s our tips to help you pick the right card and compare features, so you get the best deal.

Pick the right credit card for you

When choosing a credit card, think about how you plan to use it and what features would benefit you most.

Some credit cards help spread the cost of major purchases, whereas others can help you reduce your existing credit and loan debts. If you’re a keen shopper, look for a credit card with rewards like cashback or travel perks.

Think about what you want from your credit card and pick one that best suits your financial situation.

Example use Look for cards with…  
Major purchases Low APR (Annual Percentage Rate) 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  

Purchase cards

Enjoy interest-free shopping with a 0% purchase card.

View cards

Balance transfer cards

Reduce the cost of borrowing with a 0% balance transfer card.

View cards

Rewards cards

Get cashback and enjoy travel perks with a rewards card.

View cards

Find a credit card that’s right for you. Compare to find the lowest APR, the longest introductory rates and the best features.

Compare credit cards

How to compare credit cards

Once you’ve decided the type of credit card you want, shop around for the best credit card deal. Here’s what to consider when you’re comparing cards:

  • Introductory interest rate: this is a discounted rate for a fixed time. The most desirable rate is 0% because you’ll pay no interest at all for the duration of the introductory offer. However, a discounted rate over a longer period could also be worth considering.
  • Introductory transfer period: if you need a long time to pay off an existing balance, or you have a high balance to clear this is a significant factor. It’s typically applied for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months in Ireland.
  • Typical APR: this is the official rate used for comparing credit cards and loans and includes the standard rate of interest plus other costs associated with your credit such as Government Stamp Duty or annual fees.
  • Standard variable interest rate: this is the advertised interest rate your card returns to after the introductory rate has ended. You must consider this if you’re unable to settle your balance before the introductory period ends.
  • Bank charges and fees: Always check out costs for late payments, cash advances or missed payments. Some premium cards also charge an annual fee, so read the small print before applying.
  • Rewards and cashback: some cards are offered with cashback, travel perks or exclusive discounts but you may pay an annual fee or higher interest rate. If you think you’ll benefit from extra perks, these cards can be good value, but if you don’t use your card often or travel frequently, they’re probably not worth it.
  • Salary requirements: most cards require a minimum salary of €16,000 per year, although some premium cards may require €40,000 for approval. The exception to this is credit cards for students.

Part 5

Applying for a credit card

Where to get a credit card

There are six credit card providers in Ireland.

  • AIB
  • An Post Money
  • Avant Money
  • Bank of Ireland
  • PTSB
  • Revolut

Discover the best 0% purchase and balance transfer cards in Ireland.

See credit card deals

How to apply for a credit card

You can apply for a credit card with your existing bank or another credit card provider.

Applying with your own bank may be quicker, but not necessarily the best card for your needs, so it’s worth shopping around.

Credit card providers have various preferred methods of application. Some require an online application, whereas others prefer to take your application by telephone or in person at a branch.

Before completing a full application, your bank or card issuer may take you through an eligibility check. For this, you’ll need to provide your basic income and outgoings. This affordability 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 and undergo a full credit check.

Credit providers are required by law to complete a credit check with the Central Credit Register (CCR).

What documents do you need to apply for a credit card?

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. Passport, Driving Licence, P45
  • Addresses for the last three years
  • Income details, e.g. payslips, tax assessment
  • Bank details

dad and daughter at laptop

Are you eligible for a credit card?

Each card provider has different eligibility criteria, but the basic requirements are:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • A permanent resident of the Republic of Ireland
  • In receipt of a regular income for over six months
  • Earning over €16,000 (this threshold varies)
  • Pass an eligibility and credit check

Can you get a credit card with bad credit?

Some lenders do accept borrowers with bad credit, but you will likely pay a higher interest rate, so borrowing will be more expensive.

Having a history of unpaid loans, late payments or a poor credit score will make it more difficult to get a credit card, but a specialist lender may be able to help. Different lenders have their own criteria for approving credit; some are more stringent than others.

A good first step to getting a loan with bad credit is to check your credit score and work on repairing it so you can get better credit facilities in future.

Using a broker to find the best loan for bad credit can be helpful. This means individual credit checks don’t harm your score further, and you may get access to more lenders.

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Typical Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is based on purchases of €1,500 and a credit limit of €1,500 plus annual Government Stamp Duty of €30. Data valid as of 07/06/2024