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Costa Rica Rental Cars Tips & Scams

Costa Rica News – With Semana Santa upon us in Costa Rica, both locals and foreigners will be travelling to the beautiful beaches and other locations in Costa Rica. Many of you will find having a car necessary or convenient, here are a few  tips for renting a low budget or luxury vehicle from one of the many rental car agencies in Costa Rica.

costa rica rental carYou will want to reserve in advance. During high season it is possible that all of the agencies will be running low on inventory. If they try to give you a more expensive one just walk away and you will most likely find that the one you originally requested will show up become available. You should read the contracts carefully to be sure that you won’t be charged for damage on your credit card a month late.

Drive carefully, always looking all directions before crossing an intersection and always looking for potholes. Get an SUV if possible. Road conditions and weather change drastically and quickly. Check that your car comes with a spare tire and equipment to change it. The mandatory insurance covers almost nothing so make sure to get a second, more comprehensive insurance. If it is from your home country make sure to have it in writing with you. Before accepting the car make notes of all damages on the actual contract so you can’t be charged later.

Expect the price to be close to double your quote unless you asked for all charges to be included. Once mandatory insurance, license plate fees, airport concourse fees, and fees for additional drivers are added in the price is much higher than in the original quote. You will also have to pay for secure parking, tolls, and possibly ferry costs. Be aware that there are no taxes on rental cars. There should be no mention of taxes on your receipt.

One last piece of advice- test drive the car a few blocks. Most cars are inspected regularly but you don’t want to be half way to the beach in the middle of the night stranded. If there’s a funny sound or it pulls one way or another don’t accept it.

You need to watch out not all the rental car companies are true professionals. There are those that are just scams. Some of these scammers work under the names of the major brands that you are familiar  with in the US and are enrolled in their loyalty programs.

Some of the best are those that are NOT names you know and provide service above and beyond anything for which you may have thought you paid. They have actually saved both lives and thousands of dollars on credit card charges for their clients.

Many of these rental car companies have their contracts based on volume, unlike booking a hotel, you can actually get a better deal (and better service) by going through a Costa Rica Travel Specialist. So do your home work.

One specific scam to watch out for is the “punctured tire trick”. These scammers send someone to puncture your tire at the first or second light before the highway and they are following you to “help” relieve you of all your luggage and money. If you have a flat right after you leave the rental agency DO NOT STOP but proceed to a gas station or return right away to the car company on the bad wheel.




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