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Rental Cars

It is important to know that there is a plethora of rental car providers in Costa Rica so it is important to research them a little and ask for recommendations to avoid companies that have poor service, rude employees, and can ruin a vacation or business trip.


Many people are afraid at first to rent a car in Costa Rica,  simply because driving in Costa Rica can be a little to hectic. Instead, they prefer to go with a tour company to drive them around in a tourism van, small boats, or take them on chartered flights.

However, if one is a brave soul who wishes to take on the crazy streets of San Jose or have an adventure on the highways out to the beaches then here is what one will need to know in order to rent a car:

  • Websites and personnel at car rental places will most likely be bilingual.

  • Research rates online from the top companies that offer service here including: National, Dollar, Alamo, Budget, Payless, Avis, Adobe, Europcar, Hertz, Hola, Avanti, Mapache, or Economy.

  • Look for the company that has the best locations for specific travel plans, dopr off and pick up areas.

  • Some areas may not offer the type of car one would like for a trip or they could even be fresh out of cars for busy times, this is especially common during Christmas and Easter week.

  • Reserve a rental car online. The companies explain that customers get significantly better rates for making a reservation online.

  • Do not be afraid to ask for free upgrades and additional services sometimes the staff are so nice they give customers a little something extra.

  • If one knows they will be renting more than once and have found a company they like and trust, customers can sign up for bonus rewards programs which could include a few free days on a rental.

  • If someone requests that the rental car picks them up at the airport they will pay a significant surcharge. Honestly, this is not necessary since many of the companies have free shuttles from the airport to their offices which are nearby.

  • It is important to note that deposits on rent a cars in Costa Rica are significantly higher than in North America and are usually around or above $1000 which one is required to put on a major credit card.

  • IMPORTANT! When they do the inspection make sure to take part in this and just to be safe one may want to take some digital photos of how the car was when picked it up. Make sure to check over, under, and inside the car even inside the glove box. Make sure all previous damage is noted and nothing is missing already even on the engine.

  • If this is the first time for someone driving in Costa Rica, it might be a great idea to get the GPS system.

  • It is a great idea as a new driver in Costa Rica to really ready through the insurance policies they offer and consider some of their additional insurance policies.

  • If there are any problems with a rental car, call the company they are required to help, unless it is something minor like a flat tire which can be fixed quickly and inexpensively. A flat tire could be fixed  for $3 in less than a half an hour.

  • When in a rental car, be careful with it and keep it safe by leaving it in well lit areas and keep the doors locked and alarm on when not in the car.

  • To avoid speeding tickets try and drive the speed limits. Try and avoid speed traps and accidents by paying attention to the oncoming traffic. Sometimes they will flash their lights warning you to slow down as there could be a traffic cop, accident or something else dangerous in the road. Visitors are required to pay any tickets before leaving at the local police station.

  • Many people opt to bribe the traffic police to avoid having to spend their vacation waiting in line to pay a ticket. Never pay the cops looking for a bribe, it just encourages more corruption. Also, sometimes people end up paying the official more than the actual value of the ticket.

  • All of the rent a car companies have very different policies about returning the car with gas in them, so please check those rules out before returning to turn in a car.

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