How to get the best current account in Ireland

Here’s all you need to know about current accounts in Ireland. Find out about the benefits, what they cost and how to pick the best current account for your banking needs.

Current account basics

What a current account provides and where to get one.

What is a current account?

It’s a type of account held with a bank, building society or financial institution that you use to keep your money secure. Personal current accounts are normally used for everyday finances.

This type of bank account is best for:

  • Everyday spending such as weekly shopping
  • Receiving money like wages or welfare benefits
  • Transferring money by direct debit or standing order

What do you get with a current account?

When you open a current account, you will usually be given:

  • a debit card to make cashless payments and ATM withdrawals
  • a mobile app to manage your money
  • Online account or telephone banking facilities
  • Apple & Google Pay
  • the option to order a cheque book if you need one

You may also be able to apply for an overdraft facility, subject to your credit history.

Some bank account providers offer other perks such as cash back on purchases and bills or interest on your balance.

Virtual Debit Card with Online Bank Account

Open a free N26 online bank account & get a virtual Mastercard debit card to use in store & online, accepted worldwide. T&Cs apply.

Who provides current accounts in Ireland?

All the major banks in Ireland offer current accounts, here’s a list of current account providers in Ireland:

  • AIB
  • An Post
  • Bank of Ireland
  • Credit Union
  • EBS
  • KBC
  • N26 - online only
  • Permanent TSB
  • Revolut - online only
  • Ulster Bank

Some offer different types of current accounts to cater for different needs or stages of life, for instance, student accounts.

Current account charges and fees

Bank accounts often come with fees and charges.

Bank charges and fees

Many banks charge monthly maintenance fees and sometimes charge for cash withdrawals at ATMs. Here’s a snapshot of bank charges for their main current accounts.

Bank Account charge Overdraft set-up fee ATM withdrawal fee  
AIB €4.50 per quarter €25.39 0.35  
An Post €5 per month not offered 0.60  
Bank of Ireland €6 per month €30 free  
Credit Union €4 per month €25 5 free p/m  
EBS free not offered free  
KBC €6 per quarter €25 0.30  
N26 free not offered 5 free p/m  
Permanent TSB €6 €25 free  
Revolut free not offered Up to €200 p/m  
Ulster Bank €2 €25 0.35  

Some banks also charge additional fees for setting up direct debits, using Apple or Google Pay or in-branch counter services.

You will also be charged for any transaction that creates extra administration for the bank, such as:

  • Bounced cheques
  • Replacement cards
  • Unauthorised overdrafts
  • Spending abroad

The cost of these charges vary so always check you know what you’ll have to pay extra for before you open an account.

What are overdraft charges?

An overdraft allows you to withdraw money or pay bills from your bank account even if there is no money in it. It is a form of short term credit so you are borrowing money from the bank.

There are two types of overdraft:

  1. Arranged overdraft: this is when you agree with your bank in advance, how much you can get overdrawn.
  2. Unauthorised overdraft: this is when you spend more than you have in your account without agreeing on an overdraft in advance.

All current account providers charge interest if you use your overdraft.

Interest rates vary but currently range between 11.85% and 15.55% for an arranged overdraft and 11.85% and 27% for an unauthorised overdraft.

ATM fees

Even if ATM withdrawals are free with your account, Government Stamp Duty is charged at a rate of €0.12 per ATM transaction. Government Stamp Duty only applies to ATM transactions carried out within Ireland and is due annually in arrears.

This charge is capped at €2.50 per year if you use your debit card for ATM transactions only and capped at €5 if you use your debit card for both ATM transactions and purchases.

Opening a bank account

How to open a current account and the documents you’ll need.

Ways to open a bank account

There are several ways to open a current account.

  • Online using your laptop, PC or tablet
  • Via a mobile app
  • In a branch
  • By phone
  • By post

Some providers only offer online accounts, but the main banks still allow you to open an account in person.

What do you need to open a bank account?

Whether you are opening an account in person or online you will need at least one document as proof of identity and separate documents for proof of address.

If you are opening an account online or via an app you may need to provide more than one piece of evidence and Photo ID.

What counts as proof of identity?

Your identity documents need to be in date, valid and legible and the name must exactly match your proof of address. Some examples are:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • EU driving licence
  • EU national identity card
  • Public service card

If the date of birth isn’t shown on your ID, you may also need to provide your birth certificate as supporting evidence.

What can be used as proof of address?

Proof of address needs to be less than six months old, but banks may accept 12 months for mortgage statements or home insurance documents. Some examples are:

  • Utility bills, e.g. electricity, gas, telephone, broadband, waste collection
  • Letters from a regulated financial provider, e.g. mortgage or credit card statement
  • Government department correspondence, e.g. LPT letter
  • Insurance documents
  • Tax credit certificates

How to get the best current account

Tips for finding the right current account and switching your bank.

Choosing a current account

Whether you want to open a bank account for the first time or you’re thinking of switching, take time to fully compare bank accounts and think carefully about which best suits your finances.

You should consider:

  • What’s the main purpose of the account? Is it for receiving wages and purchasing or do you need to set up lots of direct debits, make transfers and pay in cheques? Some banks charge for these, so a flat fee and free transactions may suit you best.
  • Account fees and transaction charges: Would you prefer to pay a higher monthly account fee or be charged for individual transactions? All banks have a web page and leaflet outlining their charges in full, it’s definitely worth reading the small print.
  • How you manage your money: Do you prefer to use mobile apps on the go? If so, one of the newer providers may suit you. If you’re more comfortable phone banking or visiting a branch, opt for a more traditional bank.
  • Your preferred payment method: If you favour mobile payments, opt for a bank that offers free Google or Apple Pay. If you like to use cash, go for a bank that offers free ATM withdrawals.
  • Do you need regular or easy access to a branch network? If so, choose a bank with branch near you, and opt for the closest or easiest to get to.
  • Perks and other rewards: Some current accounts offer perks like cashback on bills and purchases. If this could benefit you, then opt for an account that offers the best incentives.
  • Do you need an overdraft? Choose the bank that offers the cheapest overdraft fee and interest charges. Some of the newer providers don’t offer overdrafts at all.

Virtual Debit Card with Online Bank Account

Open a free N26 online bank account & get a virtual Mastercard debit card to use in store & online, accepted worldwide. T&Cs apply.

How to switch your current account

The Central Bank Switching Code ensures that switches have to be completed by the bank within 10 working days.

This includes the transfer of all direct debits and standing orders. It takes the hassle out of switching and an assurance that you won’t miss any payments.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Choose your new provider
  2. Apply for the account
  3. Read any T&Cs carefully and check you understand the fees and charges
  4. Tell your new bank about any overdraft you may need to transfer
  5. Agree on a date for switching (don’t pick the days you pay bills or get your wages)
  6. Complete an account transfer form. This gives permission to the bank to transfer any active direct debits, funds and close your old account if required.
  7. Give your new account details to anyone who pays into your account, like your employer

It is likely you’ll be credit checked so your new account provider can find out how you have managed your money in the past. If you’d like to know more about your credit score, visit our guide, How to check your credit record?

Once your application is complete and your new current account has been set up, your new bank will order your new debit card and provide you with details about internet and mobile banking.

Current account FAQs

Can I do my banking at the post office?

Yes. An Post has more than 900 post offices across the country, providing a range of banking services for AIB and Ulster Bank customers.

This service is available from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

You can find out more about banking with An Post on their website.

Due to Bank of Ireland branch closures, the bank has recently agreed a partnership with An Post that will allow customers to make over the counter cash and cheque lodgements and cash withdrawals to ensure continuity of service.

Can I get a current account if I have bad credit?

The decision will be at the provider’s discretion, but if you are unable to open a personal current account, then you will be able to get a basic bank account. You can find out more about Basic Bank Accounts at CCPC.ie.

Can I get a free bank account?

Yes, you may be able to get a basic bank account which means you don’t pay any charges for everyday banking for the first year. You will need to meet certain criteria to qualify for one.

You can open a basic account if you:

  • don’t have another current account with a bank in Ireland
  • are legally resident in the EU
  • are over 18 years of age
  • can provide proof of ID and address

Can I switch my bank if I’m overdrawn?

It depends on your bank or provider.

Some request you pay it off before switching and others will take on your overdraft subject to your credit rating. It’s best to discuss it with your prospective bank before applying.

How do I know my money is safe?

All current account providers are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

All firms which hold an authorisation from the Central Bank of Ireland to provide financial services in Ireland are listed in their Registers section. Providers will provide their registered address and number on their website.

What's the difference between a debit card and a credit card?

A debit card is provided with your current account and can be used for everyday spending.

A credit card can be obtained from your bank or another credit provider for making purchases on a buy now, pay later basis. Interest charges may apply.

If you get a credit card, you’ll be given a credit limit based on your credit score, which will allow you to make large purchases, such as a holiday, and spread the cost.

Can I get a prepaid card without a current account?

Yes, you can. You don’t need a current account to have a prepaid card and you don’t need to be credit checked for a prepaid card as you would for a current account or credit card.

You may still have to undergo identity and age checks though.