Guide to Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica 2015

Guide to Car Rental Companies in Costa Rica

Rate Comparisons for 2015

Car rental in Costa Rica is a chance to discover the distant seashores and quiet corners of this breathtakingly stunning nation. Travel with out the restrictions set by public transport timetables and with freedom over group excursions. For the unprepared traveler; nonetheless, automobile rental prices and providers could be a impolite shock and a blow to that trip finances.

Renting a automobile to your trip will most likely be the most costly a part of your finances, so understanding the phrases and managing expectations is essential. The info beneath isn’t meant to be an exhaustive handbook, but it surely ought to set you on the trail in direction of an knowledgeable determination to your automobile rental wants in Costa Rica.

Why is automobile rental so costly?

Visitors from outdoors of Costa Rica are sometimes stunned by the price of automobile rental. While lodge rooms, restaurant payments and excursions are decrease than the costs paid at dwelling, it could seem unusual that automobile rental ought to be extra pricey.

There are two easy causes for this excessive value:

  1. All autos in Costa Rica are imported and a tax is imposed. Due to this heavy taxation, the price of buying a automobile is greater than it might be in different industrialized international locations. There are some automobile rental operators who hire older autos so as to cut back their prices.
  2. The value of obligatory insurance coverage (see beneath).

Factors that Affect Car Rental Costs

Mandatory Insurance

Third-party insurance coverage, which can be referred to as TPI, PDW (Partial Damage Waiver), SLI (Supplementary Liability Insurance) and different acronyms, is a authorized requirement. Car rental operators should cost the client for this protection which can or will not be clear within the citation obtained by the client.

The insurance coverage itself isn’t the problem. After all, many different international locations require automobile renters to pay a compulsory insurance coverage; together with: New Zealand, Italy and Mexico, in addition to various the U.S. states, like California. The situation that causes rivalry in Costa Rica is that this value isn’t at all times displayed clearly on the automobile rental operator’s web site or in a quote. Customers then uncover the extra value of their rental upon arrival.

The value of obligatory insurance coverage varies from firm to firm and can rely upon the automobile class that’s being rented as effectively. The value for a small sedan could also be as little as $12 per day, whereas a premium 4×4 automobile may very well be as a lot as $25 for insurance coverage per day. This is along with the rental value.

Credit playing cards in North America often supply automobile insurance coverage as a further perk to the bank card holder and so North Americans particularly, are unused to having to pay for insurance coverage on prime of rental prices. However, no bank card will cowl this insurance coverage requirement.

Do ask if the given quote consists of third-party insurance coverage and examine the costs on the automobile rental operator’s web site.

Collision Damage Waiver

This isn’t insurance coverage, however a waiver. The fundamental degree will include a deductible that varies, however may very well be as a lot as $1,500. For the next every day charge, a zero deductible CDW could also be bought to alleviate the renter of any monetary accountability in case of injury to, or theft thereof, the automobile.

Many renters will get hold of their CDW via their bank card. However, it’s price noting that the accountability for making any insurance coverage declare is on the client and never with the automobile rental operator. Some renters might select to buy further in-house protection to keep away from having this accountability.

There might be automobile rental businesses which arduous promote their very own protection plans via guaranteeing peace of thoughts, however in the end, that is the renter’s determination. It is price remembering that automobile rental firm staff, like in different components of the world, will typically earn fee for insurance coverage gross sales.

If the client’s bank card doesn’t present CDW, the client might be required to buy this in-house protection.

Car rental operators require written proof that the client’s bank card offers CDW. Ask the automobile rental operator for the precise particulars of what they require and in what kind. Some might settle for a forwarded e-mail from the bank card firm, however others might ask for a printed copy to be offered on the time of rental.


The deposit quantity required will rely upon whether or not the client chooses to make use of the automobile rental operator’s in-house CDW or takes this protection via a bank card. Expect to pay a a lot greater deposit if the in-house CDW is declined. The deposit may additionally rely upon automobile mannequin rented. This quantity, which might be held on the renter’s bank card till the tip of the rental interval, may be from $750 as much as as a lot as $3,500. The deposit ought to take not more than 5 days to be refunded to the bank card on the automobile’s return. Some automobile rental businesses will settle for debit playing cards for deposit maintain, however the return time for this quantity can take weeks.

Do make sure that the deposit is calculated within the trip finances as an surprising maintain of some thousand {dollars} on a bank card might in any other case severely minimize into trip spending.

Airport Taxes

Customers that hire from a automobile rental operator’s counter inside an airport constructing are obliged to pay the airport tax.

Those automobile rental operators with a counter at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) are: Alamo/National, Budget, Dollar, Economy and Hertz. These firms will add a further 12% tax to the rental value.

Those automobile rental operators with a counter at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) are: Avis, Budget and Economy. These firms will add a further 3% tax to the rental value.

To keep away from this tax, take an airport shuttle with the automobile rental operator to an workplace situated outdoors of the airport grounds.

Surcharges and Other Taxes

There are various different compulsory charges that automobile rental operators might add into the rental value, show on-screen or present within the quote, or depart undisclosed till the client’s arrival. These probably hidden prices could seem small when considered individually, however these are sometimes every day charges, so they may add up quick!

These might embody:

License Plate Fee: Less than $2 every day, however differs from firm to firm.

Environmental Tax: Less than $1 every day.

Sales Tax: All gross sales transactions in Costa Rica are subjected to a 12% government-imposed gross sales tax.

Car Washing Fee: Bring again an exceptionally soiled automobile and the cleansing payment could also be added onto the ultimate cost. One automobile rental operator fees $20 for this extra service.

Fuel Charges: If the gas tank isn’t stuffed to the identical degree because it was in the beginning of the rental interval, then the automobile rental firm will cost (often to the closest eighth of a tank). This cost is dictated by the automobile rental operator and it isn’t topic to the governmentally set gas worth that might be discovered at any gasoline station.

Where Should I Reserve the Vehicle?

A standard confusion for vacationers reserving a rental automobile is the discrepancy between worldwide web sites for automobile rental operators and the Costa Rican web site for a similar model. Frequently the worldwide web sites are unaware of, or fail to reveal, insurances, taxes and surcharges that might be charged on the counter. This could also be because of the truth that many acknowledged automobile rental operator manufacturers in Costa Rica usually are not a overseas department of the branded automobile rental operator, however as a substitute are a franchise operation. This issue can be price contemplating when it comes to expectations regarding customer support and different finer particulars. The Costa Rican franchise workplace might have their very own type of working, aside from the identical insurance policies and pointers that the client might have skilled in different components of the world.

Understandably then, a web-based reservation is greatest made via the native web site and never the worldwide website, wherever doable. Quite a lot of firms do not need a neighborhood web site. In this case, do examine the main points with a neighborhood employees member through the phone and ask for written affirmation of the quote. Experience with reside chat on the worldwide web sites means that whereas employees is skilled on phrases and situations governing the principle workplace (often U.S.A.); they perceive little of the insurance policies that should be adhered to in Costa Rica.

Car Rental Comparisons

In May/June of 2013, I in contrast the pricing and providers of various automobile rental operators in Costa Rica and revealed the findings. To my shock, the article continues to be being plagiarized often throughout the Internet which means that it’s nonetheless helpful and so an replace was required. The costs for this comparability have been obtained in December 2014 and January 2015.

The ICT (Costa Rican Institute of Tourism) states that there are thirty registered automobile rental operators with eight others pending approval. However, there are lots of extra businesses that hire automobiles to guests. The automobile rental operators chosen are these that are most ceaselessly utilized by vacationers:
















Wild Rider

Exclusion of Companies from Final Comparison

Budget, Economy, Payless, and Toyota have been contacted, however these 4 firms didn’t present correct on-line charges. Economy and Budget’s web sites have one worth, whatever the dates entered and prospects want to order a automobile to ensure that them to honor the worth proven. Toyota’s web site was sadly solely working up till March. Beyond that, the pricing displayed $zero for the rest of the 12 months. Payless has this disclaimer on their web site: “Taxes and surcharges are not within our control and may change without notice.”

Sending particular person inquiries for every time interval resulted in inconsistent outcomes: Budget provided the identical worth for all three investigated time durations when receiving an e-mail request, which is very unlikely; Economy responded with completely different quotes for a similar dates from completely different members of employees; and Toyota’s emailed quotes for time durations previous March’s costs indicated on-line didn’t correspond to the March charges quoted (maybe the emailed quotes contained taxes that weren’t proven on-line). Payless can present quotes through e-mail and phone, however weren’t per pricing for various seasons.

Avis is barely excluded from the worth comparability, as they don’t have an intermediate SUV class of their fleet.

Comparison Information

Car rental charge, all taxes and surcharges, and third-party insurance coverage prices are (supposedly) calculated and ranked accordingly beneath primarily based on the week’s rental of a BeGo or comparable intermediate 4×4 from a San Jose/Alajuela location (not from the airport).

Rates are calculated on a weekly foundation and divided by seven to supply a every day value which is extra simply comparable. As not all pricing is totally clear, the costs are as correct as doable primarily based on the knowledge supplied from the automobile rental operators’ web sites, telephone calls, and/or emails. Airport taxes usually are not included in these figures.

Shoulder Season (Quote for July 13 via 20)

1. USave $43.37

2. Service $54.92

3. Fox $55.64

4. Hertz $58.17

5. Adobe $60.13

6. Alamo $60.99

7. Wild Rider $62.86

8. Dollar $63.35

9. Vamos $64.15

10. National $67.04

11. Thrifty $74.39

Low Season (Quote for May 13 via 20)

1. National $37.04

2. USave $43.37

3. Dollar $46.49

4. Adobe $52.57

5. Vamos $53.15

6. Service $53.49

7. Hertz $54.59

8. Fox $55.64

9. Wild Rider $55.71

10. Alamo $60.99

11. Thrifty $74.39

High Season (Quote for March 13 via 20)

1. Dollar $55.92

2. USave $56.22

3. Hertz $56.37

4. Fox $59.36

5. Thrifty $64.69

6. Service $66.63

7. Vamos $67.14

8. Alamo $69.56

9. Wild Rider $70.00

10. Adobe $70.63

11. National $73.90

Summary of Comparison

Interestingly, there may be not one clear costly or low cost firm from these in contrast. The variation in rating between seasons is marked and prospects ought to take into account their trip dates when selecting the automobile rental operator. For instance, Thrifty seems as the most expensive for each low and shoulder season, however are solely in fourth place within the rankings for High Season.

It can be important that pricing isn’t per rating with automobile rental operators in different automobile classes. For instance, Vamos’ pricing is the most cost effective for a premium automobile within the shoulder season; though they don’t seem to be first in any rankings for the intermediate class and Adobe which seems aggressive are the most costly for this time interval and automobile class.

Information on Car Rental Operators

Adobe Rent-A-Car is a neighborhood automobile rental operator that has eleven workplaces throughout the nation. The web site is straightforward and straightforward to make use of with no obvious hidden prices. The obligatory insurance coverage value is displayed as a part of the net quote. The firm receives combined opinions on-line, however extra constructive than damaging feedback are made. Emails obtain a reply inside 24 hours, however might not absolutely reply the questions requested.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-855-861-1250

Child Seat: $3/day

Booster: $1/day

Additional Driver: $3/day

GPS System: $9/day

Alamo works in partnership with National and has 13 workplaces throughout the nation. As with many massive names, Alamo Costa Rica is a franchise and never a department of Alamo itself. Third-party insurance coverage and fundamental CDW are included within the on-line citation, though the CDW could also be refused upon presentation of proof of protection via the client’s bank card. This makes the pricing appear excessive on first look, particularly when, not like different automobile rental operators, Alamo consists of airport taxes of their on-line citation and so their pricing is trustworthy, however seems a lot greater than different firms in consequence. Pricing is completely different on the worldwide web site of the corporate, though the phrases and situations do state the charges that might be paid on arrival. This pricing discrepancy is the lead reason behind damaging opinions for this firm. Emails are responded to inside 24 hours.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-855-533-1196

Child Seat: $3/day

Additional Driver: $6/day

GPS System: $12/day

Avis’ web site obliges one to pick a automobile safety possibility, but it surely fails to show a last citation complete or worth for the protection chosen on-line till an emailed quote is shipped. Coverage prices could also be obtained by clicking on the choice ‘Protections Explained’ on the backside of the display screen.

No Toll-Free Phone Number

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $9.99/day

Budget has a web site that’s simple to make use of, however the pricing given is as the identical for all seasons, suggesting that it isn’t right. Email responses have been usually quick, however some have been left unanswered. Emailed quotes confirmed the identical pricing for all seasons as the web site did. Mandatory insurance coverage isn’t included on the net quote, however the small print states that that is payable on the counter. Budget receives combined on-line opinions.

No Toll-Free Phone Number, however Live Chat is obtainable

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $14.99/day

Dollar seems to have very aggressive charges, however airport taxes might be utilized if the automobile is being collected from the airport’s counters. One might discover this of their phrases and situations, however not of their on-line quotes. Car washing cost is enforced for very soiled autos. There are 4 workplaces in Liberia and San Jose. Email response is inside 24 hours. Dollar receives combined opinions from on-line journey boards.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-877-767-8651

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $9/day

Economy has twelve workplaces across the nation. They haven’t any Costa Rican web site. Scroll down on their web page to seek out and click on on insurance coverage prices. Airport taxes usually are not included within the quote. Emails obtain both a fast response or no response in any respect. Economy has the worst on-line status of any massive title automobile rental operator in Costa Rica.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-877-326-7368

Child Seat: $10/day

Additional Driver: $10/day

GPS System: $15/day

Fox works in partnership with USave. Offices are situated at each worldwide airports. Emails obtain a response inside 24 hours. Online opinions are usually poor.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-225-4369

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $10/day (until partner)

GPS System: $9.99/day

Hertz has six workplaces within the nation. Reservations could also be made via a Costa Rican web site. Initial on-line quote doesn’t embody gross sales taxes, but it surely does embody the CDW — though CDW could also be waived with proof of bank card protection. Emails obtain a response inside 24 hours. Mediocre opinions on journey boards.

No Toll-Free Phone Number

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $13/day

GPS System: $12/day

National works in partnership with Alamo and has thirty workplaces in operation throughout the nation. The firm has a Central American web site, in addition to the worldwide website, which clearly exhibits the breakdown of pricing. CDW is included within the on-line quote, however it could be unchecked to get a quote with simply the obligatory insurance coverage. Note that the airport tax is included within the on-line quote as effectively. Instant responses to questions can be found via Live Chat on their web site. Reviews are combined, however there are extra constructive than damaging.

Free Phone Call Option Via Website

Child Seat: $6/day

Booster: $6/day

Additional Driver: $5/day

GPS System: $12/day

Payless is a part of the worldwide automobile rental firm and has no Costa Rican web site. Online quotes don’t embody third-party insurance coverage, though the knowledge on this can be discovered by studying the insurance policies for the San Jose location. Emails obtain a response in lower than 24 hours, however are likely to refer again to the web site, slightly than new info. Reviews are extra damaging than constructive.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-PAYLESS

Child Seat: $5/day

Booster: $5/day

Additional Driver: $10/day

GPS System: $9.95/day

Service is a neighborhood firm with 5 workplaces within the nation. On an in any other case clear web site, click on on ‘Reserve Now’ and never ‘Get a Quote’ for a web-based worth examine. Rember is the employees member talked about in opinions on journey discussion board for his useful customer support and the corporate usually will get good opinions. Emails are answered inside 24 hours and usually present requested info.

U.S. Phone Number: 1-305-897-3718

Child Seat: $3.50/day

Additional Driver: $3/day

GPS System: $7.50/day

Thrifty doesn’t have a neighborhood web site, thus info is thru the worldwide web site. Coverage choices or info relating to third-party insurance coverage isn’t supplied on the reservation webpage till one clicks ‘Protection Information’. Emails obtain a response inside 24 hours, however might not reply location-specific questions. Reviews are ceaselessly damaging because of pricing complaints.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-344-1705

Child Seat: $5/day

Booster: $5/day

Additional Driver: $12/day

GPS System: $11.99/day

Toyota is a giant title; nonetheless, though their web site seems skilled at first look, it merely doesn’t work, or at the least it was not functioning so as to get hold of quotations later than March 2015. Their on-line quotes don’t embody gross sales taxes. Emails obtain quick responses, however quotes for various seasons seemed to be contradictory. However, Toyota has a great status on journey boards. Eight workplaces are situated throughout the nation.

Free Phone Call Option Via Website

Child Seat: $5/day

Cooler: $1.50/day

Additional Driver: $3/day

GPS System: $10/day

USave works in partnership with Fox and has three workplace places. Insurance choices are proven for the net quote, but it surely should be chosen and ‘recalculate’ pressed, earlier than it’s included within the pricing. Emails obtain a response inside 24 hours. The firm obtain total poor opinions, though there are some constructive feedback made on journey boards.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-467-3659

Child Seat: $5/day

Additional Driver: $10/day

GPS System: $9.95/day

Vamos is a neighborhood firm that could be a fashionable alternative for Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet specialists due to their customer support and pricing. The web site is straightforward to make use of with itemized fees clearly displayed. The Live Chat possibility allows instantaneous personalised quotes and solutions from English-speaking employees. The firm has three workplaces.

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-950-8426

Child Seat: free

Booster: free

Additional Driver: free

GPS System: $8/day

Wild Rider is a small, native firm situated solely in San Jose. The web site is straightforward with third-party insurance coverage included within the pricing. At the beginning of this analysis, the pricing was not updated, however this has since been remedied. This automobile rental operator stands out by having solely constructive opinions and so is very advisable by journey discussion board customers. Owner, Thorsten, replies throughout the hour to inquiries throughout workplace hours.

U.S. Phone Number: 1-917-477-7712

Child Seat: $5/day

GPS System: $8/day

Overall Summary


Adobe, Alamo, National, Service, Vamos, and Wild Rider present clear and full charges on their web sites. The different automobile rental operators have been much less clear with surcharges or taxes, reminiscent of airport taxes or gross sales taxes. Pricing on further extras weren’t at all times simple to seek out, and Avis, Thrifty and Toyota needed to be contacted for these particulars.


Levels of communication have improved because the first comparability, though it might appear smart to request a neighborhood quantity and make sure solutions with the Costa Rica workplace of the worldwide automobile rental operators, as worldwide chat operators or these replying to emails, don’t at all times appear 100% assured about native insurance policies and will even give incorrect info.

Be ready to trade various emails so as to get full solutions to questions with various firms: Budget and Economy have been significantly vulnerable to this — requesting loads of info so as to give a citation. It isn’t unreasonable that members of employees working in a second language might miss points of an e-mail, so current questions in clear and easy language.

Live Chat on each the Budget and Vamos web sites imply info may be supplied immediately and continues to be documented, not like a telephone name.


The comparability above exhibits that the pricing between firms relies upon closely on the season and automobile class being thought of, slightly than a transparent minimize alternative between kind of costly rental charges.

Customers want to contemplate the pricing of different objects, reminiscent of further drivers or GPS system, and households will wish to examine automobile seat rental pricing. Wild Rider gives the primary further driver at no cost, Vamos don’t cost for any extras, besides the GPS, and basically, the worldwide corporations have greater fees for these extras than the native firms.

So Who Do I Rent From?

It is evident that the native automobile rental operators are nonetheless trumping the large names of their transparency and customer support when evaluating their web sites and on-line opinions. The distinction from the earlier charge comparability from a few years in the past is that the pricing has change into tougher to equate.

Adobe, Alamo, and National appear to charge effectively as worldwide automobile rental operators. It is price noting that National is the most costly in excessive season for the intermediate class, but the most cost effective in off-season. Adobe and Alamo are middle-ranked for pricing.

Wild Rider is outstanding in having zero unhealthy opinions, however is barely primarily based in San Jose and has a a lot smaller fleet of autos. Of the opposite native corporations, Service and Vamos come out effectively and Vamos’ free further extras will attraction to budget-minded vacationers and households with younger youngsters. Service additionally gives these extras at low every day charges.

Last however Certainly not Least…

If you might have made it all over this text, then you’re ready to start your analysis into your trip automobile rental, armed with details and able to acknowledge these costs which can be simply too good to be true! Have an exquisite (and inexpensive) trip in stunning Costa Rica!

Your Opinion Matters

Quality - 10


Total Score

Your feedback is important to us to improve our services. We constantly seek feedback to improve and evolve our service, whilst identifying opportunities to assist clients in realising their business objectives.

User Rating: 4.8 ( 5 votes)

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button