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Demystifying Car Rental at Dublin Airport (2024 Guide)

Demystifying Car Rental at Dublin Airport (2024 Guide)

Getting your head around car rental at Dublin Airport can be both confusing and stressful.

In fact, renting a car in Ireland, and anywhere else for that matter, is deliberately confusing, in our opinion.

But it doesn’t have to be. In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know about renting a car at Dublin Airport.

Just make sure to pay particular attention to the warnings around the insurance!

Some quick need-to-knows about car rental at Dublin Airport

how to rent a car in ireland

Right – let’s get you up-to-speed on renting a car at Dublin Airport nice and fast with the points below:

1. Figure out if you actually need on

If you’re spending 1 day in Dublin or 2 days in Dublin, you don’t need a car. Public transport in Ireland isn’t great, but it’s very easy to get around the capital. See our guide to getting from Dublin Airport to the City Centre.

2. You get slapped with a pick up charge

Yes, one of the biggest disadvantages of car rental at Dublin Airport is that you’re forced into paying a €22 charge. This is payable at the pick-up desk. It’s ridiculous, we know!

3. Insurance is a nightmare

Dublin Airport car rental insurance can cause endless stress. You often get fooled into thinking you’ve gotten a good price, only to be told that the insurance isn’t adequate. We explain the different insurance in very simple terms below.

4. Beware of requirements

Not everyone can avail of Dublin Airport car rental. Rental companies tend to have a minimum age of at least 25. You’ll also need a valid driving licence and ID, and more often than not, you’ll need to use a credit card.

5. How to compare prices

The handiest way to check how the different Dublin Airport car rental companies stack up against each other is to use a comparison website. Discover Cars (they have a 4.5/5 rating on Trustpilot from 80,000+ reviews) is our go-to for this. If you do book a car through them, we’ll earn a small commission that’ll help keep the site up and running, so thanks for that!

6. Follow our very quick 8-step process

The easiest way to avoid stress with car rental at Dublin Airport is to be informed before booking. However, there’s lots of info to take in. Don’t worry, though – we’ve made the process very easy to understand below.

Step 1: Ask yourself ‘Do I really need one?’

best 2 days in dublin itinerary

This sounds like a ridiculous question, but a large number of people that ask us about car hire in Dublin Airport don’t actually need a car.

There’s endless things to do in Dublin and, as the city is well served by public transport, you can get around easily enough.

If you look at the map above, taken from our Irish road trip library (we have hundreds of itineraries that start in Dublin) you’ll see how easy it is to move around without a car.

If you’re starting your Irish road trip from Dublin and you’re getting around Ireland by car, grabbing a car hire in Dublin Airport makes sense.

Step 2: Check if you meet the requirements

requirements for renting a car in Ireland

If you decide that you do want to grab a car hire in Dublin Airport, the next step is to suss out if you meet all of the requirements.

The main requirements are a valid ID and licence, a credit card and then that you meet the age requirements.

1. Valid ID and driver’s licence

  • You’ll need a full, valid driver’s licence in order to avail of any Dublin Airport car rentals.
  • By valid, we mean that it’s in date and has been issued by a recognized authority.
  • Licences issued in any EU or EEA member state and the UK enable you to drive in Ireland indefinitely.
  • Licence holders from outside of these areas, such as the U.S., Canada, and Australia, are able to drive in Ireland for up to a year.

2. Minimum and maximum age restrictions

  • Different Dublin Airport car rentals have different age limits, but for the most part, if you’re under 25 you’ll probably not be able to rent a car.
  • In fact, some companies have a minimum age limit of 30, so be sure to check ahead.
  • You might also come across rental companies that apply extra rules for drivers over 75 years old.

3. Credit card requirement

  • If you’re looking to grab a car rental at Dublin Airport, you’ll need a credit card
  • Many companies won’t accept a debit card, so make sure to check in advance

Step 3: Understand insurance without the stress

ireland car rental insurance tips

One of the stumbling blocks for people looking at car hire in Dublin Airport is the often mind-boggling rental insurance.

Fortunately, with a little know-how, you can avoid any nasty surprises. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Car Hire Excess

Car Hire Excess is the amount of cash that you’ll have to pay towards repairing any damage that takes place when you have your rental.

All Dublin Airport car rentals will include the most basic insurance in the price but, if something goes wrong, you’ll be liable to pay a fixed amount towards repairs.

Car Hire Excess is basically the amount of cash that companies offering car rental at Dublin Airport won’t cover if you need to file a claim.

2. Third-Party

Every car hire in Dublin Airport includes Third-Party Cover – this is required by law.

This insurance covers you for damage to someone else’s property as well as any injury cause to a third party.

Note that this doesn’t cover your rental, so you could be caught with a hefty bill if something happened.

3. Collision Damage Waiver

The CDW is essentially an extra type of insurance that you can take out for your car rental at Dublin Airport.

Some companies add this as standard while others require you to pay extra (so make sure to check).

When purchasing CDW, make sure to check what the excess is. It’s usually the case that the more it costs the less excess there is to pay if something were to happen.

4. Super CDW

Super CDW can reduce your excess to zero. However, it tends to come with at a hefty price and is usually charged on a daily basis.

Is it necessary? It all depends on your appetite for risk and whether you want to be liable for any costs if something were to happen.

Step 4: Save yourself time, hassle and cash

Ireland car rental tips

I know this guide to Dublin Airport car rentals seems a little long-winded, but it really does only contain the essentials.

Time spent reading the points in Step 4 is worth its weight in gold. They’ll likely save you time, money and hassle in the long run with your car rental at Dublin Airport.

Understand the Ts&Cs of your rental

If you only take one nugget of info from our car hire in Dublin Airport guide, be it this one.

Don’t just read the Ts&Cs – understand them. It’s hugely important that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

The people you see complain most about Dublin Airport car rentals are the ones who just hit ‘Book Now’ online and then, when something went wrong, discovered an issue that was clearly explained in their Ts&Cs.

Compare prices for better deals

Another obvious one, but comparing the price of car rental at Dublin Airport in advance of purchasing is always advised.

We’d recommend having a look at Discover Cars (they have a 4.5/5 rating on Trustpilot from 80,000+ reviews).

Cheap generally doesn’t = good

Always beware of a cheap deal when looking at car hire in Dublin Airport. You’ll usually just be shown the base price and that’ll then increase as you move through the booking process.

Make sure to check cancellation fees, what insurance is included and whether there’s any other charges you’ll be hit with (e.g. some Dublin Airport car rentals include the €22 airport surcharge).

Automatic vs manual

When comparing prices for your car rental at Dublin Airport, keep in mind that manual cars are more plentiful than automatic.

If you leave it last minute, the chances are you’ll find it much harder to get an automatic car hire in Dublin Airport.

Charges for entering Northern Ireland

One of the most annoying additions to Dublin Airport car rentals (and any Irish car rentals) is the surcharge for crossing into Northern Ireland.

The worst part of this is that you get charged for each crossing and you’ll often not even be aware that it’s happened.

Step 5: Ready to book? Here’s what to do!

things to look out for when booking the rental

Now you’re fully up-to-speed on how to grab a car rental at Dublin Airport, it’s time to book.

There’s some other bits and pieces to be aware of at this point, the most important of which is the drop-off.

Compare prices

We’re like a broken record (sorry – but this helps keep this website running!) but compare prices for a better deal.

We’d recommend having a look at Discover Cars (they have a 4.5/5 rating on Trustpilot from 80,000+ reviews).

Collection point

If you’re picking up your car hire in Dublin Airport, you’ll have to head straight to the car rental desk when you get into arrivals.

These are easy enough to locate. The chances are you’ll then need to collect the car itself from outside of the airport grounds.

Know what you have/haven’t paid for

Information is power. When getting a car rental at Dublin Airport, make sure you know what’s been paid and what’s left to pay to avoid any nasty surprises.

We’d always recommend having a good look at the Ts&Cs first and then having a digital or physical copy to hand.

Beware of the fuel policies

All Dublin Airport car rentals give you the option of refilling the car yourself or dropping it back empty/half full and letting them fill it on site.

Always choose to fill it yourself. It’s cheaper and there’s plenty of places to refuel close by.

Step 7: Collecting your car hire in Dublin Airport

a checklist for when you pick up your rental

So, you’ve booked and you’re about to collect your car rental at Dublin Airport.

At this point, there are a few things that you need to do/take note of.

Make sure to check for any existing damage

When you’re taken to the car you’ll generally be shown a diagram that outlines where any existing damage is on the car. 

Make sure to check the car and see if there’s any damage that hasn’t been mentioned. If there is, get it added to the diagram.

Take photos dents, scratches etc.

It’s always worth covering your back. We’d recommend that you take photos of all damage, inside and out, before setting off.

This way, you’ll have a leg to stand on if they try and claim you did damage to any part of the car.

Tolls, fuel and emergency contacts

You’ll want to also check if your rental comes with a toll tag. If so, happy days – you won’t need cash for the tolls (they’ll likely be charged to your account).

a costly mistake some people make with a rental is that they fill it with the wrong fuel. Most Dublin Airport car rentals have the fuel type written above the fuel cap.

Make sure that you also find out who to call in the event that you need help or advice about your rental.

Step 8: Drop-off time

What to do when dropping your car hire back

One of the most important steps when getting a car hire in Dublin Airport is the final stage – the drop-off.

This should be relatively straightforward, but there are several things to be aware of.

Check for damage (and take a video)

Personally, any time I drop off a rental I’ll do a final sweep insight and outside the vehicle.

Once I’m happy all is OK, I’ll take a final video showing inside and outside the car. This seems excessive, but it comes in handy if there’s any issues.

Dropping-off outside of working hours

An out-of-hours drop-off is quite common with Dublin Airport car rentals, so don’t worry. However, make sure you know the process.

Companies generally have a specific drop-off zone along with a spot to leave the keys – ask about this at the collection stage.

Watch your credit card

We’ve heard many stories of people that have taken a car rental at Dublin Airport and that had zero issues.

Then, weeks later, a random charge hits their account for some damage (usually wheel related). It’s important to watch out for these.

FAQs about Dublin Airport car rentals

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What’s the easiest pick-up location?’ to ‘Where’s cheapest?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the best car rental companies at Dublin Airport?

In our experience, they’re all the same – the only real difference is when it comes to price and what is/isn’t included. You can, of course, compare the reviews of each online, too.

Is there a surcharge for car rental at Dublin Airport?

Yes. If you’re collecting your car hire in Dublin Airport you’ll pay a hefty €22 fee. Some companies include this but others require it to be paid when you arrive at the desk.

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