ATMs in Ireland Were Giving Out Free Cash. Here's How I Spent It

“I had a load of texts saying ‘you can get free money from Bank of Ireland’. I tried it as a joke and it actually worked.”
Bank of Ireland customers with their cash
Bank of Ireland customer Kevin (left) and an unnamed TikTok user with their cash. Photo courtesy of Kevin and screengrab via TikTok user @curlywurly4040

Imagine checking your phone one evening and finding out that ATMs are giving out free cash. That was the reality for people across Ireland on Tuesday, as a Bank of Ireland (BOI) glitch allowed customers to withdraw thousands of euros… even if their accounts were empty.

Free money? In this economy? Naturally, ATMs were flooded with chancers trying to take advantage of the hack and Irish TikTok was soon overrun with videos of BOI customers counting out fat wads of €50 notes, with Gardai officers assigned to clear cash machine queues


Some denounced those who took the cash out as criminals who’ll inevitably have to pay the money back. Others have said it’s only fair to take advantage of such a rare situation, especially given Ireland was recently ranked the most expensive country in Europe. With a vicious rental market and rising prices, can people really be blamed for trying their luck?

Bank of Ireland declined to give us an estimate just how much money was withdrawn during the glitch, but did say that “any customer who may find themselves in financial difficulty due to overdrawing on their account to contact us”.

We spoke to young people in Ireland about how they spent the money they withdrew during the glitch. Their last names have been withheld to protect their privacy.

Maebh, Dublin, 22

I left work and I had a load of texts on my phone saying “you can get free money from Bank of Ireland”. I tried it as a joke and it actually worked. I was going to give it back, because obviously they are all saying you have to… but I’m not getting paid until Thursday. So I booked to get full highlights done, [bought] a couple of t-shirts and some recording studio time. I can pay it back when I’m paid on Thursday. But right now on the app it doesn’t say I owe anything. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to pay it back now.

Sophie, 21, Dublin

I immediately booked flights to Spain. I thought I’d stop there, but decided to do some online shopping. Necessities only, though, [like] €80 sunglasses… Then I felt bad so I decided to get my friend a lip gloss that she really wanted, but then I copped on that I’d probably have to pay this money back, so I didn’t do that. But then I spent €180 on ASOS. Then I thought I’d get something useful so I got loads of stuff from My Protein for nutrition, so I also spent €90 there. 


Cillian, 19, Dublin

A friend came to me and said: “Bro, how much is in your Bank of Ireland account?” I said nothing. He told me to try and put €500 into my Revolut, to my surprise it went through and I could withdraw it. I’m not doing much with it, but I think that deserves a nice carvery dinner on Sunday. 

Kevin, 24, Kerry

I heard about it from a friend. I knew I didn’t have much in my Bank of Ireland account anyway so I just tried to add €500 to my Revolut and it worked straight away. The Bank of Ireland app crashed so I couldn’t see what had happened, but I thought I’d try take it out of an ATM to see if it was actually really and it worked immediately. I’m in Budapest too, so that amount of cash is crazy. I got beers and shots for everyone and I’m using it to pay for the booze cruise down the river tonight.

Ruairi, 22, Dublin

I took out batches of 100s, I got up to €450 and it started declining. I bought a round of drinks, spent about €50. Then I got a bit wary and thought ‘I won’t spend anything else’ because I saw all the articles saying they would take it back. Then my friend rang me saying I could try through Revolut, so I did and it just kept coming through. I was just trying my luck. It is their fault, but I think they should debit everyone otherwise the bank will be in serious trouble. At the end of the day everyone knew that it wasn’t their own money and a mistake was made, so it shouldn’t be a catastrophe.

Jen, 22, Dublin

I got a message from my friend saying: “Did you get 1k?” I was so confused. I knew he didn’t have my IBAN, so how could he send me €1,000? He explained the whole glitch, I was curious so I sent myself €15 even though my account was empty, and it worked. 

I just used it to top up my Leap Card [travel card in Dublin]. I had to – transportation in Dublin is expensive so that had to be done. I then sent myself another €85 and just went shopping on Depop and bought all the stuff in my basket. Luckily I get paid weekly, so if the overdraft does appear I can pay it quickly.