Explained Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica

“My time’s limited… how do I choose? ”

Car rental is a hot topic intended for vacationers headed to Costa Rica. Recent research conducted by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) indicates that, after accommodations, renting a car may be the largest expense, averaging $702 for an eleven-day vacation.

The Internet is buzzing with negative reviews discussing overcharging, poor customer service and mechanical complete breakdowns. You might have even written one your self!

A typical midsize (3 – four adults) 4X4 rental runs between $58 and $65 daily with third party insurance and rates may differ as much as 20 percent among car rental companies, so reading a quick evaluation will be time well spent as soon as you calculate the savings.

So the question is; which rental company provides the best balance of fair cost, capable customer service and reliable vehicles? I’ve researched it all for you, therefore keep reading!

Disclosure: This research has been conducted in May – July 2013. The following companies were selected because they are the most widely used in Costa Rica. A few are local companies; others are worldwide franchises of recognized brand names. Reviews include: customer service, pricing and the reservation process. The companies are listed alphabetically and not based on personal or on the internet preferences.
Consider this information before hiring:

Insurance

One of the biggest causes for problems is from the stack of unexpected charges presented to the renter as soon as standing at the rental company’s counter-top. Vacationers are typically tired after a long flight and then are confronted by expenses that were not anticipated, explained or budgeted.

Topping the list of grievances is the non-disclosure of fees linked to the mandatory third-party insurance at the time the reservation is made.

According to Costa Rican law, every driver is required to have liability coverage to insure towards injuries to third parties. Carrental companies generally refrain from disclosing the cost of this policy in the quoted rental rate to appear more competitive. Obligatory third-party insurance can sometimes be as much as dual the vehicle’s rental cost. The only real guarantee against insurance confusion is to inquire if your estimate includes the third party insurance and insist on a written quotation.

Cost of Mandatory Insurance plan (also called Third Party or SLI)

Expect to pay between $12 plus $15 daily for this insurance, according to the make and model of the rented vehicle and the rental car agency. This is a legal condition of your rental agreement and is usually not covered by credit cards and cannot be waived. It’s a fact of renting a car in Costa Rica.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

As the name suggests, that isn’t 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). Some agencies require renters to buy their CDW policy; thereby negating any credit card program. For an extra fee, many agencies do offer the zero liability option where the renter will be freed from paying for any harm to the car. Some companies may place pressure upon renters to purchase the particular 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 particular CDW for a rental vehicle. Seek advice from your chosen rental car company to find which usually proof of insurance is needed and then demand that from your credit card company just before arriving. If you use your credit card’s CDW policy, expect to pay a better deposit on the vehicle; around $1, 500 to $2000 is common. The greater deposit ensures that the credit card owner has enough financial reserves to pay damages if needed. It is important to think about that if using CDW coverage provided by a credit card (in lieu of the rent a car operator), all damages will be billed to the renter’s credit card. The particular credit card company will then reimburse the holder for damages.

More Insurance plan

Tires and windshields are rarely included in insurance policies, although additional policies may be taken out for covering these often damaged items. Neither the interior neither the underneath of the vehicle might be covered. Always read the fine print.

Standard Treatment

Your credit card will be charged, or a ‘hold’ placed, for the rental vehicle during the time of the rental agreement; i actually. e. from picking up the rental until you return it. Debit cards commonly are not acceptable.

Additional Charges

Most companies possess surcharges for additional drivers, car seats/boosters, cell phones, coolers, GPS and/or roof racks. The costs vary from company to company, consider these extras are billed in a daily rate, it is worth checking the total cost — additional options can add up very quickly! A GPS NAVIGATION is around $8 to $10 daily; however , some operators may offer discounted units. Expect to pay about $5 daily for a child seat and a few dollars a day for all the some other ‘niceties’. Vamos is notable regarding offering most of these options and, throughout some promotions, even the GPS leasing complimentarily. Alamo, Budget, Hertz and National charge the most for such additional options; whereas the other companies listed, charge more reasonable prices.

Surcharges

Most companies add small incremental expenses, such as license plate and environment fees, into the total tally. Be skeptical of operators who insert these types of additional charges into the small print from the rental contract. Vehicles rented direct at the airport incur airport fees, which are a whopping 12% of your leasing cost!

The rental vehicle must be returned with the same amount of fuel, except if otherwise indicated. If not, companies might charge above gas station rates for missing fuel.

Vehicles

There exists a debate over the vehicles supplied by rental companies: Older cars allow the motorist to blend in more than a shiny, new car. Having an older model may have the particular indirect benefit of being less looked at by car rental agencies for current nicks and scratches, unlike a more recent vehicle. However , a newer vehicle might be more roadworthy. This debate continues into the different vehicle makes and models. Generally, Costa Rican firms are able to lease their vehicles for a lower rate because their cars are typically three to five years old (versus two to three). Online reviews would suggest that the local firms have no more complaints regarding vehicle quality than transnational franchises; research on forums, such as TripAdvisor. com, seems to indicate that clients frequently appreciate driving a less-than-new vehicle through the wilds of Panama and nicaragua ,. The reasons are plenty, from street conditions to the notion of less-then-new vehicles blending in better — a newer vehicle may draw more unwanted attention.

The choices of rental cars in Costa Rica are mostly limited to makes and models that maintain a competitive resale value, are a common brand in the country, and are inexpensive to maintain. As such a rent-a-car operator’s fleet tend not to become as diverse as the United States. Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai constitute the mainstay brands of most rental fleets.

Sometimes, drivers are billed for supposed ‘damages’ to the vehicle upon return. Once receiving the vehicle, renters should meticulously check for pre-existing flaws and compare it with the vehicle inspection document used by the rental car representative. Some renters recommend photographing or videoing the vehicle through all angles, to avoid any difference between pre-existing and recently damaged items.

Pricing

Car rentals within Costa Rica are pricier compared to other countries. Duties on vehicles are high (as much as fifty percent of their value! ), parts are costlier and unforgiving road problems contribute to higher wear and tear, generating increased maintenance costs.

The rule is that you simply get what you pay for — additional options than those rental companies listed here, but they are not listed for a good reason. They simply fail to offer simple customer service and/or a suitable vehicle condition required for a (nearly) trouble-free holiday.

When comparing rental car charges, it is best to go directly to the Costa Rican site of the rental car company, rather than wanting to use their international format or an intermediary (Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, et al. ). For the similar vehicles and reservation dates, the rates offered by the respective international vs . Costa Rican websites intended for Alamo, Budget, Hertz and Cash conscious differed substantially.

To avoid confusion, print all correspondence with the car rental business with whom you have reserved a vehicle and bring this to the leasing office with the quote given at the time of reservation.

The following top ten chart rates the companies from highest priced in order to lowest and it includes the mandatory insurance plan charge. In the cases of Alamo and Hertz, the figure contains their CDW fee as it is among their rental requirements. This price comparison is based on a week’s leasing of a Daihatsu Bego, where obtainable (Dollar offers the Suzuki Vitara) from September 14th – 21st, then again in December to view both Green plus High Season rates. The list rapidly demonstrates that the price variation is dependent greatly on the company — to get basically the same service. These prices were obtained in June/July 2013.

Rental Car Companies Ranked According to Price

September

10. Alamo $650. 96
9. Hertz $514. 27
almost eight. Adobe $449
7. Budget $455
6. National $428. 01
5. Thrifty $421. 05
4. Assistance $374.
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3. Vamos $370. 30
2 . Dollar $364
1 . Wild Rider $350

December

10. Alamo $650. 96
9. Nationwide $597. 51
8. Hertz $566. 52
7. Budget $555
6. Dollar $532
5. Thrifty $506. 58
4. Service $494. 43
3. Vamos $461. 30
2 . Adobe $459
1 . Wild Driver $395

Alamo ranks number ten for both seasons, making it the most expensive company. Budget, Hertz and Nationwide also rate low on the scale for economical rental options.

Business Summaries

Adobe

Website is clear and straightforward to use, but pricing and even the vehicles listed are not the same as all those given by an office representative over the phone. Mandatory insurance costs are not shown using the list of vehicles and rental fees, but they are clearly displayed within the following page as a customer movements towards booking a reservation. Combined customer reviews online. Email reaction is less than 24 hours, but might not provide all requested information.

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