Question: Do any credit cards cover collision damage waiver (CDW) for a car rental in Ireland?
Answer: Many credit cards, especially airline and travel rewards cards, cover the collision damage waiver (CDW) for international rentals. In fact, there isn't room here to list all the cards that cover CDW almost anywhere in the world. (These include most American Express cards, and most of the well-known travel rewards credit cards such as Chase cards).
The operative word, of course, is "almost." Some countries are apparently deemed just a little too risky for credit card issuers to cover possible damage. And some countries have laws that require the driver, not a third party, to purchase collision insurance.
Ireland falls into the latter category. So the short answer to your question is no. As best as I can tell, you'll need to pick up the tab for that yourself if you plan to rent a car in Ireland.
Collision damage waiver
The collision damage waiver, CDW (or loss damage waiver, LDW) is that fun little extra on your bill that basically relieves you and your insurer of total responsibility if something goes wrong on your trip and your rental is damaged or stolen. Some waivers have deductibles and limits on what they'll pay for.
In some countries, high incidence of loss makes it undesirable for credit card companies to provide that kind of coverage. For instance, according to a 2006 article in the New York Times, Italy and Slovakia were having a lot of problems with car thefts, enough so that buying theft insurance was made mandatory on rental cars.
The same article also mentioned that other nations, such as Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, require people to buy CDW directly from the rental car company, and so it makes no sense for a credit card company to offer that protection.
A MasterCard representative told me they covered CDW in Ireland until 2006. Diners Club also used to, but no longer, contrary to what I've read in some very current travel materials. According to Diners Club spokesman Ralph Marranca, card holders are "protected by collision damage waiver insurance in all countries around the world except those where local laws explicitly mandate that damage protection be purchased directly from the rental car agency in that jurisdiction." Ireland, as we've seen, is one of those countries.
But as Marranca cautioned, and this is good advice for any cardholder planning on renting a car abroad: "Local laws and policies can change. We advise cardholders to check with local rental agencies before they finalize their travel plans."