How to Rent a Car in Costa Rica

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How to rent a car in Costa Rica

It is easy to rent a car in Costa Rica:  I am going to tell you some things to make it easy.


1.   Renting a car in Costa Rica is expensive, more than in the USA  or Canada.  ABOUT INSURANCE on rental cars in Costa Rica.  When you ask for the quote for renting the car ..this quote will not include the 2 insurances required to rent a car. 1.collision insurance 2.liability insurance.

Liability insurance is mandatory and will be added at the time you rent the car- to the basic rate of the rental of the car. Choose the 100% liability coverage and it costs  approx $10 per day.

You can get collision insurance by contacting your major credit card company before departing from your home country and requesting collision coverage on a car you are renting in Costa Rica.  (also you can purchase collision insurance in Costa Rica from the rental car agency.  However this comes out to be more expensive.

If you are involved in an accident do not move the vehicle.  Contact the police by dialing 911.  The police will write up a report and you MUST HAVE A COPY OF THIS REPORT to present to your insurance when you get back home.

Then call the rental car company and report the accident.  They will arrange delivery for  another car.

You can pay for the rental with major credit card  (check ahead if they accept American Express-not all rental car companies accept it.)  Very Important–every rental company in C Rica requires a deposit when you rent the car which is put on a credit card signed by you. “You are required to sign the credit card voucher with this amount” .  If you have an accident -this is your deductible and the car rental company will keep this money. (and you will need to collect this deductible amount from your collision insurance when you return home)  This amount depends on how expensive the vehicle is that you rent.  Average is around $850-$1000

At the time you return the rental car and there has been no accident, the company rep will tear up (in from of you) the credit crd voucher you signed for this deductible.  Make sure they do it.

There will be a hold put on your credit card for this amount of the deductible at the same time you sign the voucher. When you return the car (with no accident)  this amount will be released from “hold” on your credit card.

If you drive the car thru a river bed and damage it or drive while drunk or under influence of recreational drugs, non of the insurances will pay for damages if you have an accident.

So you see:  It is VERY IMPORTANT to keep a copy of all the paper work when you rent the car….and especially ALL THE REORTS IF YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT….


If your are planning to drive outside the city you will need a SUV and most SUVs have 4 wheel drive. Specify is you want straight shift or automatic. They are different sizes of SUV to rent.

If you are going to stay in the city-a vehicle that is not a SUV will suffice. There are many selections of small to medium size cars.

You can rent a GPS with the car..However if you take your smart phone you can download ahead an app named WAZE…it is the best navigator in Costa Rica.

ARE THE ROADS BAD?  In the city all the roads are good.  The roads which lead you out of the San Jose and Alajuela area to the NW Guanacaste beaches are good.  The roads to most tourist destinations outside Alajuela and San Jose are good.

In the more remote areas the roads are dirt-gravel and have some pot holes.

In summary–most of the roads in Costa Rica are now paved and in good condition, except for remote regions..

Important things you should know When driving keep with you at all times your passport and drivers license from your home country.

Observe speed limits esp in the smaller towns (usually 25 miles per hour) and watch for the very large speed bumps at every school and every hospital. A traffic violation can be a very expensive thing…much higher than USA or Canada…(hundreds of dollars)  so be sure to observe the speed limits etc.

Road signage is getting better but not all the roads are well marked nor named.

Lock the car..Dont’s leave any of your valuables visible inside the rental car…Common to have the car broken into to get your valuables.

Try not to drive at night-Drive during the day.   Park car in designated parking areas only. Roads are mountainous, with curves,  and some are narrow with one way bridges.  Driving distances on a map look a lot shorter that they actually are.

Don’t pick up hitch hikers.

If you have a flat tire beware of people stopping to help you and then steal the belongings from your car..purses, cameras, etc.

Don’t pay any traffic violation tickets to the cops at the site of the incident.  Get a copy of your traffic ticket and then contact l the rental car company and they will explain what to do.

DRIVING HABITS of Costa Ricans:  “Bad”   common:  passing on curves, tailgating,  speeding, motorcycles passing in incorrect lanes weaving in and out of the traffic.

Gasoline is expensive in Costa Rica, average $5 to $5.50 per gallon (is sold in liters at the pump).  Check your credit card voucher before signing it for accuracy of charges.

If you try to rent a car over the internet:  just remember you will be quoted the basic rate of the car per day.  They will not tell you that you have to add all the insurance costs to it. Nor will they explain anything else.

Ann, The Costa Rica Expert will be happen to assist you in renting a car in Costa Rica. She will strive to get the best rates and walk you thru the different steps of the rental process. She is owner of The Costa Rica Learn Adventure Travel Agency.  She is a vacation planner for Costa Rica.She will arrange for the vehicle to be delivered to your hotel  or at the airport. and also p1000056-1-c-rica-bad-road-signspicked at your hotel.  Please contact  Ann









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