Banking is a crucial part of setting up your life in Ireland. First and foremost, regardless of the job you get you will need to set up a bank account so that your employer can pay you. Most people in Ireland have their wages paid directly into their current bank account — if you are coming to Ireland from North America, you will likely refer to a current account as a chequing account. When it comes to banking in Ireland, there are many options to choose from.
On top of a current account, many people working in Ireland also use savings accounts to help manage their finances. Typically, most banks provide their customers with current and savings accounts together. This means that once you are set up with a job, you should be able to transfer money directly from your current account into your savings account. Putting a little money aside each month can help you finance a significant purchase, such as a car, or put a downpayment on your own home should you choose to do so.
Fees are a reality of banking in Ireland. However, these fees can vary from bank to bank, so you need to take the time to explore your options carefully before making a final decision on the right bank for you. As well as banking fees, other things to keep in mind when opening a bank account in Ireland are the quality of phone and internet banking services, debit and credit card transaction fees, and if weekend and late-night opening hours are available.
Much like sourcing accommodation and finding a new job, banking in Ireland is much easier if you take the time to do some research in advance of your arrival. Knowing your banking priorities can help you find the bank that best meets your needs, so don’t cut corners on this task.
Opening a Bank Account in Ireland
When you arrive in Ireland, opening a current bank account should be one of the first things you do. To open a current account in Ireland, you will need to show identification (passport, driving license, or national identity card), and proof of address (a recent utility bill should suffice). Upon opening your account, most banks will provide you with a combined ATM and debit card, as well as details on access to internet and telephone banking.
As mentioned above, banking fees in Ireland are bank-dependent, and many of the advertised fees or discounts are contingent on having a base amount of funds in your account. You may see that some banks will advertise ‘free banking’ accounts, however, these accounts will almost certainly come with terms and conditions. Make sure that you take the time to read the small print about which terms and conditions may apply. Typically, maintenance fees are usually charged either monthly or quarterly (every three months), while day-to-day banking fees can often be incurred from debit card transactions. Your bank may charge for ATM withdrawals, as will the government. However, banks that charge for withdrawals provide ways for customers to avoid fees, typically by maintaining a base amount of funds in their account.
Finally, if you are planning to open a bank account in Ireland as a non-resident then you need to know that there’s good news and bad news. First, the good news. Most banks know that non-residents often do not have an Irish address. As a result, they will often accept a recent utility bill, bank statement or official government correspondence with your home country address as proof. This definitely makes getting set up with a bank account much easier.
The bad news for non-residents looking to open a bank account in Ireland is that it is quite difficult to complete this process online, over the phone or remotely. Most of the time, a bank will require you to set up an appointment in order to open an account. However, it may be possible to open an account with some banks remotely. To do this you will need to complete a downloaded form, mail it back to the bank along with a certified photo ID and proof of address. For the purposes of opening a bank account, a certified professional can be one of the following: a chartered accountant, a notary public, a practising solicitor, a commissioner for oaths, or an embassy official.
Will I need a credit card in Ireland?
This is one of the questions that we receive most frequently at Moving2Ireland, and honestly, there is no right answer to this question. What you do need to know however, is that credit cards are not as essential in Ireland as they are elsewhere, particularly the United States and Canada.
The reason for this is that unlike North America and other parts of the world, many big-ticket items, like flights, hotel bookings, event tickets such as for concerts, and gifts from online stores can be made with your debit card. The contactless and cashback features also make debit cards an important part of your daily banking habits. This does not mean that credit cards are not popular in Ireland, they definitely are. However, many day-to-day and mid-level financial transactions can be completed without a credit card, and this can be beneficial when you first arrive as a credit card may require a credit rating approval.
Paying Bills in Ireland
After arriving in Ireland, you will need to get a mobile (cell) phone. If you rent your own place, you may also have to take charge of electricity, gas and internet bills. One of the most convenient ways of taking charge of these utility and personal bills is to set up a direct debit. As you may be aware, a direct debit is a pre-authorized instruction from you to allow the billing party (for example, electricity, gas or internet provider) to deduct your current account the amount due on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
In Ireland, direct debits are available through all banks and building societies, while An Post (Ireland’s postal service) also offers the comprehensive BillPay option.