You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…
If your ATM card is linked to the Plus or Cirrus systems, your card will work in thousands of cash machines throughout the country. 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. That said, have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work.
You can use most credit cards in Europe but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express and Discover cards are not accepted in Britain but AmEx Offices can assist you with cashing US checks. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.
Travelers checks can be helpful in case your wallet is lost or stolen, or for an initial monetary amount on opening an Irish bank account, but are not recommended for everyday use.
The Arcadia staff in Dublin will walk you through the process of 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 in the Republic has, on its campus or close by, a branch of Ulster Bank, AIB or Bank of Ireland; and in The North, campus banks are: Ulster Bank, RBS and Danske. 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.
Wire Transfer is the fastest way to speed up the process. It takes a day or two for the money to go through. It takes a week for the Irish Debit Card to get to you. Opening the account takes roughly an hour.
Be aware that deposits of anything other than travelers checks will take some time to clear, when opening your account. You should 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.
When the program is in session, our Dublin office can make 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 U.S. citizen).