Car rental is a hot topic for vacationers headed to Costa Rica. Recent research conducted by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) indicates that, after accommodations, renting an automobile is the largest expense, averaging $702 for an eleven-day vacation.
The Internet is buzzing with negative reviews discussing overcharging, poor customer service and mechanical breakdowns. You may have even written one yourself!
A typical midsize (3 – 4 adults) 4X4 rental runs between $58 and $65 daily with alternative party insurance and rates can vary up to 20 percent among car rental companies, so reading a quick review will be time well spent once you calculate the savings.
Therefore the question is; which rental company offers the best balance of fair price, capable customer service and reliable vehicles? I’ve researched it all for you, so keep reading!
Disclosure: This research was conducted in May – July 2013. The following companies were selected because they are the most widely used in Costa Rica. Some are local companies; others are international franchises of recognized brands. Comparisons include: customer service, pricing and the reservation process. The companies are listed alphabetically rather than predicated on personal or online preferences.
Think about this information before renting:
One of the biggest causes for complaints is from the stack of unforeseen charges presented to the renter once standing at the rental company’s counter. Vacationers are typically tired after a long flight and then are confronted by costs which were not anticipated, explained or budgeted.
Topping the set of grievances is the non-disclosure of fees associated with the mandatory third-party insurance at that time the reservation is made.
According to Costa Rican law, every driver is required to carry liability coverage to insure against injuries to third parties. Car rental companies generally refrain from disclosing the cost of this policy in the quoted rental rate to seem more competitive. Mandatory third-party insurance can sometimes be as much as double the vehicle’s rental cost. The only real guarantee against insurance confusion would be to inquire if your estimate includes the 3rd party insurance and insist upon a written quotation.
Cost of Mandatory Insurance (also known as Third Party or SLI)
Be prepared to pay between $12 and $15 daily because of this insurance, based on the make and style of the rented vehicle and the rental car agency. This can be a legal condition of your rental agreement and is normally not covered by bank cards and cannot be waived. It goes without saying of renting a car in Costa Rica.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
As the name suggests, this is not insurance, but a waiver, which relieves the renter from any liability for damage to the rental car after the deductible is paid (usually from $750 to $1,500). rent a car Some agencies require renters to purchase their CDW policy; thereby negating any credit card program. For an additional fee, many agencies do offer a zero liability option where in fact the renter will be freed from paying for any harm to the car. Some companies may put pressure upon renters to get the zero liability coverage; however, it really is entirely optional, unless it is in the fine print of their rental agreement.
Charge card insurance programs may cover the CDW for accommodations vehicle. Consult with your chosen rental car company to find which proof of insurance is needed and then request that from your own credit card company prior to arriving. If you use your credit card’s CDW policy, expect to pay a higher deposit on the automobile; around $1,500 to $2000 is common. The bigger deposit ensures that the charge card holder has enough financial reserves to cover damages if needed. It is important to consider that if using CDW coverage supplied by a credit card (in lieu of the rent an automobile operator), all damages will undoubtedly be billed to the renter’s credit card. The credit card company will reimburse the card holder for damages.