Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Rose Morah
You’re probably wondering, is renting a car in Costa Rica a good idea? Or is it safe to rent a car in Costa Rica?
To help you through your car renting process while in Costa Rica, this article is going to cover the following:
- Pros and cons of renting a car in Costa Rica.
- Tips for renting a car in Costa Rica.
- Pros and cons of renting a car in Costa Rica
- Pros of renting a car in Costa Rica
- Tips for renting a car in Costa Rica
- 1. Don't expect to pay the same rates you see online on the rental car company websites
- 2. Avoid booking a car on 3rd party websites in Costa Rica
- 3. Use Waze as an alternative to GPS
- 4. Hire a local driver
- 5. Know some common Spanish terms
- 6. Always have an emergency number
- 7. Your license
- 8. Check the rental car before leaving the lot
Pros and cons of renting a car in Costa Rica
Pros of renting a car in Costa Rica
- Renting a car is very convenient for any tourist. It is a great way of exploring the country, especially if you’re planning to visit many different places in Costa Rica.
- Driving around Costa Rica is an adventure in itself.
Cons of renting a car in Costa Rica
- Availability of the rental car is limited, especially if you are looking to book last minute.
- When you book early there’s a risk of the rental company not honoring your reservation and you may end up paying more to get another car elsewhere. I have come across many tourists who have experienced it.
- Driving in Costa Rica for the first time may end up being the worst experience of your trip.
This is because of the rough roads and rather confusing traffic rules, especially if you’re coming from the states. There are also no road signs in most places, and drivers are not keen on following the traffic rules.
And again, when driving on crowded/congested roads it can be quite chaotic, with a series of honks and failure to understand the local language making the matter worse.
However, if you plan on visiting local areas that are not that crowded, you are sure to have a smooth and enjoyable trip than driving in crowded cities.
- The GPS is usually not that reliable mostly because the key address does not work very well.
If you plan to use GPS, I would recommend that you always find a point of interest and follow the direction.
You may also like: Does T-Mobile Have Service In Costa Rica? (Everything You Need To Know)
Tips for renting a car in Costa Rica
1. Don’t expect to pay the same rates you see online on the rental car company websites
The cheap rates that you see online will more likely double when you go to pay at the counter.
This is because you will be required to pay for insurance, which is expensive, plus other insane costs that are added to your original quoted price.
Additionally, in most cases, the insurance is not an option even if your credit card has “rental coverage”.
So, there are some tourists who will complain as they feel like they are being forced to buy insurance for the rental car. This should hence not come as a surprise to you.
For example, you can be quoted $2/day but after insurance, it adds up to $50/day.
2. Avoid booking a car on 3rd party websites in Costa Rica
This is because the probability of having the worst experience or paying a lot of money for a rental car is very high.
Therefore, I recommend booking directly with the car rental company.
3. Use Waze as an alternative to GPS
Waze is normally very up-to-date and can help you avoid roads that are under construction, with heavy traffic, police, and so on.
This will as a result help make your trip a lot easier.
4. Hire a local driver
Hiring a local driver to drive the rental car in places that you are not comfortable driving will help make your trip better and more enjoyable.
See also: Read This Before Renting A Car In Iceland.
5. Know some common Spanish terms
When renting a car in Costa Rica, the more you understand Spanish the better. Knowing some basic Spanish terms will sure come in handy.
6. Always have an emergency number
An emergency number will help you in case you get stranded on the road, especially if the rental car develops a mechanical problem or a puncture.
7. Your license
Make sure your license is up to date/current.
8. Check the rental car before leaving the lot
Carefully inspect the car for dents/scratches and take some digital photos as evidence, or notify the rental agent before taking the car.
This is because you may end up paying extra for damages inflicted by others, especially if you did not take the insurance. This may end up too costly for you.
We have an article on what to check before picking a rental car. Be sure to check it out.