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Car Rental Advice in Costa Rica

Car Rental Advice in Costa Rica

Old Jul 31, 22, 6:46 am
  #1  
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Car Rental Advice in Costa Rica

Hi Everyone,

I've searched this forum, but couldn't find anything recent on this topic. Leaving Friday for Costa Rica. Just noticed that Avis wants a $2,000 deposit for my rental car in Costa Rica! I don't mind a couple hundred dollars, but a couple thousand to me seems a bit outrageous. My primary insurance covers my car and I rent with AMEX and get the AMEX coverage, which also acts as primary. Anyone have any RECENT experience renting a car in Costa Rica and not paying an egregious deposit? I don't mind a couple hundred dollars, which is pretty standard. Any suggestions on other rental agenices?

Appreciate any advice here!

Thanks a bunch!

Drew
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Old Aug 1, 22, 12:47 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Jose, Costa Rica
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Deposit amounts vary, but $2,000 is common. I've never heard of any figure less than $1,000.

On the topic of insurance, you must purchase Costa Rican liability insurance. Neither your back-home insurance nor your credit cards will cover that. It's required by law, and that's just the way it is. Of course, that's coverage for any damage the renter might cause to other people, vehicles, or property. It doesn't cover any damage to your rental vehicle itself. For the rest of the coverage, your credit card should suffice, but it needs to be very clear to the rental office what your card does cover. If not, you'll be forced to purchase more local insurance when you pick up the vehicle.

Having covered tourism in Costa Rica for 25 years now, I'd say this topic is the biggest source of complaint and frustration among visitors. Rental costs frequently end up higher than anticipated, and it leaves a bad taste in the visitor's mouth. There's no one standard for the way companies have to display their prices, and customers can be surprised at the price when they pick up the car. Get through that stage, and have a great trip.
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Old Aug 1, 22, 12:53 pm
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Depending on where you plan to go, when you see some of the roads and driving conditions, you'll want to have the best insurance coverage possible, whether it's local or foreign insurance. Look at the policy carefully. You will not be allowed to ford a stream, for example. The insurance would be invalidated if you do something like that and cause damage to the car. (Not that you'll have to ford a stream, but I know of stories where it's happened to drivers in remote areas.)
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Old Aug 1, 22, 4:16 pm
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Thanks for the advice. I found a place that has reasonable rates for the week and the insurance costs are not too high. I have the premium AMEX coverage, so that will save about $250. From what I saw, U-Save deposits run from $500-1500 and I'm hoping that with all the coverages, it'll be on the lower end of that. I have rented cars all over the world and have never seen such egregious deposits anywhere. I'm prepared to pay for the insurance through the rental car agency if it saves $1,000 in a deposit.

At the TLV airport, they try to scam you with a ton of 'required' extras, and act like they are doing you a favor, so I always head into town and rent from there...saves literally a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case here. We are heading to La Fortuna straight from the airport...don't anticipate any stream crossings, but got a 4WD in case of rain and poor road conditions.

Thanks again.

Last edited by divrdrew; Aug 1, 22 at 4:30 pm
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Old Aug 1, 22, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by divrdrew View Post
so I always head into town and rent from there...saves literally a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case here.
There's a base price of required fees that'll be the same whether you rent at the airport or in town. You can't get around it.

The agent who checks you in at pick-up at the rental place will walk around the vehicle and make note of any scratches or anything out of the ordinary. Walk with him or her, and if you notice something they don't, make sure it gets noted on the rental form. When you return the vehicle, they will do another inspection. You want it to match exactly to the form they filled out when you took the vehicle.

Have a good time!
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Old Aug 1, 22, 4:47 pm
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Thanks...sounds similar to other places I've rented from. Would be nice if they standardized the charges up front so you knew exactly what you are charged for and what's required up front.
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Old Sep 5, 22, 10:23 pm
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Join Date: Sep 2022
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I used Adobe, negotiated rates, low deposits, and other freebies. I paid $700 for 15 days of use and got a 4WD Mitsubishi ASX SUV.
Great experience, best price and was accessible.
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Old Sep 7, 22, 1:18 pm
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Wound up going with U-Save. Total cost for the week with all insurance options on a compact 4WD SUV was $517 and the deposit dropped down to $500. Very friendly and helpful people. Got a ticket on the way back for following Google Maps and doing an illegal left turn which it told me to do. Total scam...cops were there just pulling people over. U-Save didn't charge extra...just the cost of the ticket. Overall, a great experience and just a few blocks from the airport! Will rent again from them when I go back.
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Old Sep 14, 22, 8:40 am
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Three questions:

1) Anybody have experience with National/Enterprise using corporate rates? My employer's corporate rate is FAR cheaper than the retail rates and my reservation on National's website says that Third Party Liability and Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection are included in the rate. Will I have any problems with attempted upcharges when I pick up the car at SJO or is the rate I see on the website what I'll actually pay?

I note that going through the Costa Rica site (natcar.com) as opposed to the US/global site (nationalcar.com) provides more granular options regarding insurance (it offers optional roadside assistance, $0 deductible and "maximum coverage" options in addition to the mandatory SLC or LDW/SLC options), but doesn't seem to let me use my corporate rate. I'm guessing they'll try to sell me on those. Is roadside assistance worthwhile if we're going to do a fair bit of driving in relatively remote areas?

2) We're spending our first night at an AirBnb in the middle of San Jose and then driving to Uvita and on to Osa. The AirBnb supposedly has secure parking. Am I better off renting at SJO on arrival (which will be pretty late--our flight doesn't land until 9:30pm) and parking overnight at the AirBnb, or taking a taxi/uber to the AirBnb and renting a car in the city in the morning? It looks like there's a National office pretty close to the Airbnb. Any big inventory advantage at the airport vs the city location? I want to make sure we have a decent SUV that will fit our family and work well on the Osa roads.

3) How well do Google Maps and Waze work in Costa Rica? We'll have international data on our phones and I'm familiar with downloading offline Google Maps for more remote areas. I also have an old Garmin GPS unit that I could load CR maps onto. Is it worth bringing the Garmin as a backup? Given that it seems many Costa Rica places don't have street addresses like in the US, how do I enter location info into the Garmin? Aside from that first day in San Jose, most of our driving is going to be on roads where there aren't many opportunities to turn, but it's awfully nice to be able to see on a screen where a turn is coming up (and to know how much farther it is).
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Old Sep 14, 22, 8:52 am
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Can't answer the first two, but for GPS, worked great, which is important since there are not a lot of street signs around many of the towns. I used my Verizon phone and paid about $10 / day for service. Coverage only blanked out a couple times, but came back pretty quickly - very windy mountainous roads. For us to find our airbnb, the host sent us a google map location which worked perfectly. That was how we got around. Found the place in google maps, then got directions. Worked every time. Very easy! I can't imagine what it was like there before GPS lol!

Have a great trip!
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Old Oct 14, 22, 10:29 am
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The whole process support was very well executed.

My congratulations and all the best wishes.
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Old Feb 28, 23, 9:00 am
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Back from my trip and can now answer my own questions.

Originally Posted by themicah View Post
1) Anybody have experience with National/Enterprise using corporate rates? My employer's corporate rate is FAR cheaper than the retail rates and my reservation on National's website says that Third Party Liability and Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection are included in the rate. Will I have any problems with attempted upcharges when I pick up the car at SJO or is the rate I see on the website what I'll actually pay?

I note that going through the Costa Rica site (natcar.com) as opposed to the US/global site (nationalcar.com) provides more granular options regarding insurance (it offers optional roadside assistance, $0 deductible and "maximum coverage" options in addition to the mandatory SLC or LDW/SLC options), but doesn't seem to let me use my corporate rate. I'm guessing they'll try to sell me on those. Is roadside assistance worthwhile if we're going to do a fair bit of driving in relatively remote areas?
I had no issue using my corporate rate with National. I booked directly through nationalcar.com using my Emerald credentials and my corporate rate code. A day or so before arrival I got an email asking me to fill out some forms ahead of time to speed arrival, which I did online. It gave me the option to purchase those other coverages and to add additional drivers. I went ahead and added mrsmicah as an additional driver, which was nice to be able to do online. At the counter they gently tried to sell me on additional protection benefits and the fuel purchase option, but I declined and it was no big deal. No issues upon return even though the car was pretty filthy from a lot of driving on dirt roads ("That means you really used it!"). Price was exactly the same

FYI National/Enterprise/Alamo all share the same location and shuttle vans (and probably the same cars, too). They have three separate counters at both the airport and the rental facility, but customers of all three brands were being served from the Enterprise counter at both locations when we arrived.

We're spending our first night at an AirBnb in the middle of San Jose and then driving to Uvita and on to Osa. The AirBnb supposedly has secure parking. Am I better off renting at SJO on arrival (which will be pretty late--our flight doesn't land until 9:30pm) and parking overnight at the AirBnb, or taking a taxi/uber to the AirBnb and renting a car in the city in the morning? It looks like there's a National office pretty close to the Airbnb. Any big inventory advantage at the airport vs the city location? I want to make sure we have a decent SUV that will fit our family and work well on the Osa roads.
We picked up the car from the airport location upon arrival, which was fine.

How well do Google Maps and Waze work in Costa Rica? We'll have international data on our phones and I'm familiar with downloading offline Google Maps for more remote areas. I also have an old Garmin GPS unit that I could load CR maps onto. Is it worth bringing the Garmin as a backup? Given that it seems many Costa Rica places don't have street addresses like in the US, how do I enter location info into the Garmin? Aside from that first day in San Jose, most of our driving is going to be on roads where there aren't many opportunities to turn, but it's awfully nice to be able to see on a screen where a turn is coming up (and to know how much farther it is).
Google Maps and Waze worked great. They both were able to find all the places we went (hotels, Airbnbs, restaurants, etc.) and were quite accurate. I downloaded Google Maps for the areas we'd be in so it worked even when we didn't have a good cell signal. When we had a cell signal, Waze also worked great. I had also brought an old Garmin that I loaded up with open source maps as a backup, but never had to use it. One note on using a cellphone for navigation: in recent years I've mostly stopped bringing a mounting device for my phone when traveling as US rental cars almost all have Apple CarPlay/Android Auto built-in now. But our Toyota Land Cruiser Prado in Costa Rica did not have CarPlay, so I was glad I brought a little vent-mount for my phone.
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Old Mar 7, 23, 6:57 am
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Originally Posted by themicah View Post
Google Maps and Waze worked great. .
My only issue with Google Maps was on the way back from La Fortuna to the airport in San Jose, it told me to turn left onto a major highway. As soon as I did, there was a police officer on the side of the road waving people in. Turns out that Google Maps tells you to make an illegal left turn there...cost me a $90 ticket. There were a bunch of officers there...apparently they know there is an issue with Google Maps and just sat there pulling over tourists...Shenanigans has been declared!
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Old Mar 22, 23, 8:58 pm
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So Ive done a ton of research on this topic. Were going to LIR next month. Essentially just use the Costa Rican car rental company Adobe Rent-a-Car. Forget about your status with international car rental companies because it will count for nothing in CR.
See these 3 articles, the last two have links to get discounts with Adobe, but MyTanFeet seems to have a better discount:
https://costa-rica-guide.com/travel/...car-insurance/
https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/...ing-confusion/
https://mytanfeet.com/special-deals/...ar-costa-rica/
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Old Mar 28, 23, 1:02 pm
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Join Date: May 2008
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Does anyone have any experience with European car reservations in Costa Rica?

The reason that I'm asking is that in Europe, most people don't have insurance included with their credit cards, so car rental reservations made via European web sites always include mandatory insurance. E.g. if I search for cars for one week, 1-8 May, with Expedia.com, I get rates starting from USD 26. But on Expedia.se, the cheapest rates for the same dates are SEK 2030, which is about USD 196. And Expedia.se says that the price includes CDW and theft protection with a USD 1,000 deductible.

So, the question is whether I'll face the same shenanigans as visitors from the USA will do, with a prepaid booking with insurance made via a European web site?
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