Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Beware Visa Debit charges on Irish records transactions

This is something that I first got wind of a month or two ago, but hadn't quite twigged the scale of it...

I made a couple of purchases a few weeks back for records on RootsIreland (, at a cost of five Euros each, both made as separate transactions - I had no idea when making the first purchase that I would shortly after be making a follow up. When I looked at my bank statement not long after, however, I noticed that in addition to the two separate purchases at five Euros each, I had also been charged an additional one Euro fifty cents for each transaction. I wasn't quite sure what the extra charge was for, and hadn't yet had the chance to follow it up yet.

However, I am currently in County Kilkenny for a few days, and only last night did I realise what was going on. In the Republic of Ireland, from what I have been told, it seems that for any transaction made using a Visa Debit card, there is a charge of one Euro fifty cents - whether taking money from an ATM, making a purchase in a shop or one online. It's done so often that my sister in law and her husband always use a credit card for such purchases, for which there is no transaction cost. It seems that it is not only UK issued cards for which this charge applies.

This is not a RootsIreland issue - it's a Visa Debit issue. So if using RootsIreland, or any Irish vendor, for example applying for certs from the GRO in Roscommon, it may be worth making the purchase via Switch, Maestro or a credit card, to save on such costs. I was fairly shocked when I heard about this last night, as there are never any Visa Debit charges in the UK - and my cards now only offer Visa Debit as an option, having previously offered Switch.

I've no idea how long this has been the case, though I certainly only noticed the additional payments on top of my RootsIreland purchases recently. But forewarned is forearmed, and all that...

UPDATE - see comments for further on this, including use of Visa, and on purchasing Antrim and Down BMD records via the Ulster Historical Foundation, rather than RootsIreland, to save costs.


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And FindmyPast - please reinstate the original Scottish census citations on your new site.


  1. Mmmm, thanks for that Chris. Just looked at my online banking statement and realised I'd the same charge added to my bargain 1 euro offer for a month's access to that site! Still a bargain but a good point to be remembered for the future. Thanks

  2. Caution: There may also be an extra charge when you use a VISA credit to pay in a currency other than your home currency. It seems to be pro rata with no de minimus and this is not so hurtful.

    My spouse sits down with our accounts every month so any behavior changes by card issuers etc are noticed pretty rapidly. And she looks at our online banking two or three times a week. Altogether good practice for all.

  3. Thanks Stewart, useful to note.

    One further thought - if researching Antrim and Down ancestors, many of the BMD records available on RootsIreland are also available via the Ulster Historical Foundation (, at a cost of £4 each, as opposed to 5 Euros - though as this is offered within the UK, £4 should mean £4...!