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Ireland – It’s an Irresistibly Interesting Island of Intrigue: Currency

How do you prepare for International Travel? Passport, check! Credit card, check! Currency exchange, screech! No check!

My husband and I learned that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and therefore uses the British pound for currency. The Republic of Ireland, which is a separate and sovereign country, is part of the European Union, and they use the Euro. Did you know that? Ireland is an irresistibly interesting island of intrigue!

Map of Ireland
Ireland is an island divided.
There are two capital cities.
Brexit has made things complicated.

Our lesson in Currency Exchange

We were headed to southern Island, so we needed Euro. We read that we should trade our currency in the USA because the exchange rates would be less expensive. Our bank offers this service, so we headed there as soon as we got off work the day before our departure.

Everything was great until the Teller asked for a phone number to call when our Euro arrived. “Wait, what? How long does it take?” We asked.

“Three or four days.” She said.

“But we’re leaving tomorrow!” We explained.

“Well, we don’t keep foreign currency here.” She sounded like we should have known.

We thanked her anyway and she confirmed what we’d heard, that we could exchange our money at the airport for a slightly higher fee. I left “Exchange Currency” on my to-do list and asked God to help me remember in the excitement of departure.

God did not let me forget! But upon inquiry at our airport, we learned exchange services are no longer available there. I resigned myself to paying whatever it cost to accomplish this errand in Europe.

Window box with flowers
The Cobh Credit Union was a last resort for currency exchange. Can you see the reflection in the window which shows the apartments across the street and me with my phone/camera?

When we landed in Ireland, I asked an airport employee where we could exchange our currency. She said there was no place on site, but any major bank should be able to help. Over the next couple of days, we stood in line at 3 different Irish banks. They each refused us because we had no account with them.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

We never exchanged currency, and you know what? It was fine! Our credit cards were accepted everywhere we went. Every vendor from taxi drivers to shopkeepers made payment easy with tap-and-go technology. And the people to whom we offered tips did not mind receiving them in US dollars.

The only Euro I saw on my entire vacation was this coin I found on the street in Ireland. I mindlessly picked it up and put it in my pocket, thinking it was a ‘lucky penny’. I didn’t realize it was Euro until I got home.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. It was ironic that, as hard as I tried to acquire Irish currency, I couldn’t. And the Euro I did get, was obtained completely unaware.

So, here is the lesson learned. If we want to exchange money, we need to order it from our bank days in advance of travel. Also, foreign currency might not be necessary.

Note: Several vendors mentioned they do not take American Express. If that is the credit card you carry, it might be best to obtain currency for your destination.

Have you ever exchanged currency for travel? What kind of money did you get? How and where did you accomplish the task?

Curious how this Ireland trip came about?
Click here for the introduction post.

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22 replies on “Ireland – It’s an Irresistibly Interesting Island of Intrigue: Currency”

I guess you’re right about that. I try to avoid interest on my credit card by paying it off every month, but it does cost me an annual fee to have it. It didn’t cost me anything extra to use it in Ireland, though. At least not that I’ve seen yet! Lol! Are you telling me there will be surprise fees coming up?

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Anita and I have traveled in several countries and always calculate an approximation of what we will need about a month ahead. This gives our little banks in Lex enough time to gather our funds in Euros, Turkish lira, Mongolian tughriks, Japanese yen or Chinese yuan (or renminbi).
We never travel with much cash, and it would take a strip search to find it, other than a couple bills we take out when we expect to need it. 😃
We always carry multiple credit cards, including ones that minimize exchange fees. (Those can really hit your wallet when you get home, if you don’t know about them in advance!)
Soon, one will not need cash as the world is moving to a digital monetary system globally, which is one step away from removing credit cards (that can be lost) or bank numbers (that can be hacked). The ‘logical solution’ will be a Mark or Implant on the hand or the forehead, so that your digital account can be easily accessed only by you anywhere in the world. Sounds fun, right? 😯
❤️&🙏, c.a.

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Wow – you’ve been a lot of places! You are definitely an experienced traveler. And you’ve scared me that I might have exchange fees waiting for me on the credit card front. Grrrr… but I guess I was prepared to pay them one way or another. And agreed- the world is getting ripe for another piece of Biblical prophecy which sounded crazy, only a few decades ago!

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Yeah, we were planning an around the world trip after Anita retires, but now we think we might go somewhere else. 😂😂
Seriously, we were planning some overseas trips to places we have not been, including Ireland, the Nordic peninsula, the south island of New Zealand, a couple tours of SE Asian countries and some Mid-east stops. But with air travel being what it is, we are thinking more of just traveling here in the USA. We’ve only been to a handful of national parks and LOTS to see outside of those as well.
But Heaven is our final destination, as far as we can tell from this side.
❤️&🙏, c.a.

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Ah…I miss the Italian currency…you could feel extremely rich when you cashed your dollars into thousands of lire!! Ha!! We carry only a little cash on trips now because, as you said, cards are readily accepted. Always take more than one credit card account. We’ve been hacked on vacation, and I was glad I had a backup card!

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You should have been able to get Euros from an ATM at the airport but I’m pretty certain that the ICE currency exchanges are still operating at Dublin Airport so the information you were given may have been incorrect.. There is one in the baggage hall at Dublin’s T2. I’m sure it was still there in July when I was I over.

Amex can be a problem in Europe – some retailers don’t accept Amex because the charges are higher than for Visa and Mastercard.

I always like to have some local currency with me when I travel – just in case. I got caught out in Stockholm a few years ago when the taxi company’s system went down and the driver couldn’t accept cards! I had a mix of UK pounds, Euros and Swedish Kronor – a combination of which was perfectly acceptable to the driver!

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I was in Cork airport – not sure if they actually had currency exchange or not. Glad it didn’t matter! I’d love to explore Dublin, if I ever get to go there again. Thanks for the explanation about which credit cards are better for travel.

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I haven’t been in Cork airport since before Covid. Unfortunately, they still haven’t resumed flights to Cork or Shannon from Birmingham so my only choice is Dublin.

Cork is good but you should definitely visit Dublin. And the West Coast of Ireland is beautiful. Then there is the North – Titanic Exhibition is worth a visit in Belfast. You probably need a few months next visit!

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