Banking in Ireland
You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions. Regardless of how much spending money you plan to bring, you will at some point want quick access to your funds. You will also want to protect your money against loss. This section covers your banking options. There is no single, complete way to manage your money, but we find that a combination of services meets the needs of most students.
The Irish unit of currency in the Republic is the euro [€]. The currency is made up of eight euro coins and seven euro notes. The coins are issued in 2 and 1 euros, as well as in 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cent pieces. Each coin displays a common face on one side and a participating nation's motif on the opposite side. Regardless of the national motif imprinted, you can use euro coins anywhere within the 12 member nations.
In addition to the coins, seven euro notes are circulated in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 euros. Unlike the coins, the notes have a common design on the front and back. Like the coins, they are considered as legal tender in all member nations.
Additionally, the euro's official abbreviation will appear as EUR. For more information about the euro, check out the following websites:
In Northern Ireland currency is on a decimal system in pounds sterling [£] and may be referred to as "sterling" (the money standard) or "pounds" (the currency itself).
You can check today's rate by visiting this exchange rate currency calculator.
You can change dollars into euros/p.st. at the airport just before departure (there will be hefty commission charges, though) or upon arrival in Ireland. Your American ATM card is also a very convenient way to access funds while overseas.
If you wait until you get to Ireland, you can change money at a local bank or building society (which will give you the best rate but will only be open from 10:00 to 3:00) or bureau de change (many have evening and weekend hours). Independent travelers can exchange their money at the bureau de change located at the airports or train stations when they arrive in Ireland. (If you arrive with our group, you won't have time to do this at the airport, because our buses depart just as soon as all students and baggage are loaded.)
You can use credit cards in Europe for everything from drawing cash to buying dinner. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express for daily purchases. All these organizations offer their card holders some very useful financial services. Check with each company for more information before you depart.
With an AmEx card and your passport, you can go into any American Express office and write a personal check (in $US) using your checkbook from your checking account back home. This service is not available to Optima cardholders. You will receive a portion of your funds in local currency and can purchase travelers checks with the rest. This is a simple way for your family to transfer money to you while abroad.
Just leave deposit slips with your family and take your checkbook with you to Europe. Your family can also cable money to you through American Express at one of the offices listed below. Where you see an * (asterisk), this denotes that the location is a Representative office which may not have cash availability. Call first.
- Dublin: American Express Travel Service, 41 Nassau Street Dublin 2. Tel.: (1) 679-9000
- Killarney: American Express Travel Service, International Hotel, East Avenue Road. Tel.: (64)35722
You can go into any Visa-participating bank in Western Europe, present your Visa card, and draw immediate cash.
MasterCard is readily accepted by almost all major banks across Western Europe and in tourist areas of the Eastern European countries. It may be used to draw either cash or MasterCard travelers checks. In addition, it is widely accepted by local merchants in Western Europe and you can request an International Directory outlining (by country) the scope of merchant acceptance, number of cash advance locations and lists of banks which provide cash advance services.
Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. If you are planning to take out cash advances with your credit cards while overseas, you may want to pay money into your account in advance to avoid finance charges which begin to accumulate as soon as the charge is reported to your card issuer. Check with your credit card company about its policies on pre-payment and cash advances.
The drawbacks to credit cards
While you could certainly manage most of your financial affairs with an array of plastic, there are some very real drawbacks to total dependence on credit cards. Even with careful planning and strict adherence to a set budget plan, it is still frighteningly easy to overspend, and finance charges can add up quickly if you extend payment on goods or take out cash advances. Loss of the card causes severe inconvenience.
Obtaining a major credit card. The card you present overseas must be in your own name as given on your passport. At a cardholder's request (your family), most major lenders will issue a dependent's card. Be sure that your family requests the additional card in time to have it arrive before you leave and that it is ordered to be made out in your name as it appears on your passport. Many lenders now issue credit cards to students whose family co-sign for the line of credit extended. These accounts usually have a limited line of credit. In any case, your family will have to pay your monthly bill while you are away.
Irish Bank Accounts
The Arcadia University office in Dublin will instruct you about opening an account at an Irish bank. In order to set up a bank account, you will need your passport and student identification, which will be provided to you during your university orientation. Accounts can be opened with cash or travelers checks.
Each university site has, on its campus or close by, a branch of the Bank of Ireland and in The North, Ulster Bank. Once you arrive at your campus, you will need to go into the bank and deposit your money. You will be issued an ATM card within one week of opening your account.
The one drawback to an account is that your deposits of anything other than travelers checks will take some time to clear, despite what your US bank tells you. This should not be a problem as long as you allow ample time (4-6 weeks) for this process and have back-up resources in the form of travelers checks and/or a major credit card. There should be no waiting period if you use travelers checks to set up your account.
Once your account is opened, you can deposit and withdraw money as you like by going to the bank any weekday between 10:00 and 4:00. Deposit accounts usually pay some modest interest.
Cash machines (ATM's)
The easiest way to handle your money is with an American ATM card. The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. You should check with the issuer of your ATM card to make sure your NUMERICAL personal identification number (PIN) will work abroad. You can only draw from a primary (usually checking) account. The issuer should be able to provide you with a list of overseas outlets where your card is accepted. Be sure to ask what the fees are for each transaction.
You can open a bank account with travelers checks, but for future transatlantic deposits, you may want to consider other options. Transferring money does take some time, but this delay can be shortened if your transfer is made in euros or pound sterling and if the draft (or cable) can be made out to include your account number at a specific bank, the complete bank branch address, and the bank's 6-digit sort code or routing number.
Euro or Pound Sterling drafts
One way to transfer funds is to purchase a bank draft (inter-bank check) made out in euros or pound sterling drawn on one of the major Irish banks. You should be able to obtain a euro or pound sterling draft from any US Federal Reserve Member Bank. If your own commercial bank at home does not issue euro or pound sterling drafts, they ought to be able to arrange the purchase through a larger bank with whom they are linked to provide specialized services. The draft should be made "for deposit to the account of ---(your name)---." The funds should clear and be credited to your account in about 3-4 weeks (or less). Once you are overseas and your account has been opened, the bank manager can tell you the best way to transfer additional funds from home.
Other kinds of checks
If you deposit any other kind of check (a personal $US check, or even an euro or pound sterling draft drawn on an American bank in Ireland), it could take as long as three to six weeks to clear and have the money credited to your account. Students can only cash their own checks (drawn on an Irish account) at their bank/branch.
Cabling Money. After you have established a bank account, funds can be cabled to you by your home bank. This method is reasonably fast (usually about 4 days), but carries a high service charge. In order to send money by wire transfer, your home bank will need the name and address of your Irish bank branch, the sort code of the bank (6 digits), and your account number.
In an Emergency
When the program is in session, our Dublin office makes emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a US citizen).
To do this, your family must wire money through Western Union or their bank, or send a cashier's check or money order to the State Department in Washington, DC. A trust account is established and a telegram is sent to the appropriate US embassy or consulate abroad authorizing next workday disbursement to you. There may be a small fee for these services from the State Department.
For further information about this service, visit the State Department's website.