Other Car Rental Programs (ie. Alamo, Enterprise) - Rental Options In LIR - Costa Rica
Sep 19, 11, 8:51 am
I honestly do not know where to put this topic being its about Alamo, Costa Rica, etc, so if the mods feel like it belongs elsewhere, then my apologies.
Okay, I took that nice UA deal recently for Costa Rica and will be in LIR in mid Dec. Usually I drive a Jeep Wrangler or a small suv when I am out of the USA. I also mainly (if not always) use Alamo. But being that this is the first time for me in Costa Rica, I am unsure if Alamo would be my best option in terms of availability and price. I looked at a few car rental sites and they don't even list Alamo. Although I did find the CR Alamo site elsewhere. The prices for SUVs left me jawdropping.
Therefore, for those that have gone to Costa Rica (and more precise via LIR),.. what would my options be.
1-Are there on site rentals? or are they offsite? (Seems that they are)
2-Would a CR National brand be more better than US Brand like Alamo?
3-Do you have a favorite rental you use in CR.
4-Are their deals and or coupons one can use?
5-Would I even need a suv/4x4 in Costa Rica. (Mind you I'm from NYC, so I am used to some roads not smooth)
Sep 21, 11, 7:54 am
We are headed to CR, LIR specifically, at Christmas and have reserved a car through Alamo.
Through UA to the Alamo U.S. site, I used this link: https://www.alamo.com/index.do?action=/hotDealsTemplate&msg=alamo-united-2011-15off
Standard Automatic SUV was $330, inc. taxes, for a week's rental. Hardly jaw dropping. Compact Automatic was like $166.
Keep in mind that you are going to pay $10 a day for mandatory CDW no matter what to you do or where you rent from.
Dec 2, 11, 10:44 pm
A few things re: renting from Alamo in Liberia, Costa Rica from my recent experience.
1. Backup Reservations Needed: Make a backup reservation elsewhere (especially if you need an automatic) as several people in front of me as well as myself arrived with reservations from Alamo.com but they claimed there was no reservation in their system. The gentlemen in front of me reserved an automatic SUV (Alamo claimed they was no reservation in their system) and they had none on the lot so he had to go elsewhere to find his rental. They claimed they didn’t have my reservation in their system and would match the reservation price but I had to pay $5 more per day for a Toyota Yaris since there was no compacts on their lot. It appears that the lowest class car they had on the lot was a Yaris but this should have been a free upgrade. I suggest making a back-up reservation at Dollar or Toyota-Rent-A-Car since they are on the same off-airport lot. National is also there but they are the same company and share the same cars. Both National and Alamo are owned by Enterprise Holdings. I followed-up with Alamo.com on my return re: the lack of reservation plus the upcharge and I was told that according to Alamo in Liberia that I requested the upgrade at $5/day due to extra luggage. It wonder if it is a scam the counter agents run as they may be compensated for selling upgrades like Enterprise. Do yourself a favor and make reservations at all three locations so you can just walk away. PS. Double check any prices on the contract before signing. Somehow my reservation with the extra $5 per day for the force Yaris upgrade and $10 per day for PLI insurance (see below) came out to $50 more than it should. It was corrected when I pointed the “mistake” out when reviewing the contract. Lastly, Alamo charges your credit card in local currency, Colon, and they have a set exchange rate of $1 = 520 Colon, which is 5% above the standard market exchange rate of 498. Therefore, you reservation will be 5% more when they charge your credit card.
2. Insurance: Insurance is a tricky add-on for any car rental company in Costa Rica. Insurance is more of less mandatory and the cost varies from rental agency to the next. At Alamo, mandatory insurance is $15 per day unless you have documentation that your credit card company covers CDW in Costa Rica. Call them and have them issue a letter to you as they have an entire department to handle these issues. If you have proof of collision waiver then Alamo will charge you $10 per day for something that is called PLI. It is mandatory according to Alamo. I looked at Economy Rent-A-Car, which had the cheapest rates at $17.50/day for car rental but insurance fees were $20 more per day. Thrifty also had cheap rates but their collision and damage is $8.99USD plus taxes and supplemental 3 party claims is 19.99 a day plus taxes. If you decline their insurance coverage in Costa Rica you will need to provide written proof from your insurance provider or credit card Company stating you are covered by them while in Costa Rica. Also along with the letter they require a deposit of 5,000USD along with the estimated total of rental.
3. 4-Wheel Drive Not Needed: In Liberia a 4-wheel drive vehicle is not needed. In general the main roads, including roads to Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa and Tamarindo (plus beaches near there) are quite good. They are paving the road to Rincon de La Vieja National Park and the unpaved parts are rocky but passable with a compact vehicle. I think the chatter of needing an SUV in this area is a little overdone.
4. Car Inspections: Inspect your car thoroughly before signing the documentation on the car. Take pictures and make sure every little scratch and dent are marked on the form no matter how they say it doesn’t matter when writing up the contract. When you return they will check for front/back floor mats, spare tire, tire change hardware and any other little thing on the vehicle. I locked the car doors at all times and left nothing inside the car overnight so I had no problem with the car or break-ins. I did find it curious that the front two doors didn’t look from the inside—only from the outside using the key. There are gas stations on the way to Liberia so fill up before dropping off your vehicle. Also, budget for extra time as dropping off the vehicle can take a while (especially if there is a line) and you still need to hop on a bus back to the airport, where you will need to pay your export tax, have your passport inspected prior to check-in and emigration. One last note, Alamo says they want super gasoline in the car when refilled – not sure why.
5. Liberia Airport – Pick up some food for the airplane prior to arriving at Liberia Airport. They are building a new terminal but its opening has been delayed a few months (to date). It should be opened sometime either late December or January but at the old terminal there is one snack bar and the line is 20 people deep at all times. Plan ahead and get takeout from a local restaurant to take with you on the plane. It will cost less and taste better. We had lunch at a restaurant called Abbocato on the way to the airport and purchase to go sandwiches for the plane.
Just my 2 cents. Criticize as you like….
-AMEX Business Platinum had no coverage in Costa Rica – at least for my card. Visa Signature had coverage and they were happy to email written proof with my name, address and date.
Dec 3, 11, 4:04 pm
^ Awesome post. Thanks for the info.
Dec 13, 11, 9:58 pm
One thing I have found helpful is to use your camera or cell phone to photograph the auto from all angles, trunk, etc. upon renting and upon return. This saved me a pretty piece of change when the rental company claimed I had returned the car with a broken up side mirror (which was documented on the "cheat sheet" for damages, but - oh, hmm, they lost it).