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What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

Huntington Beach...
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1 post
46 reviews
88 helpful votes
What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

I know this has probably been covered, but I need a good rental car company recommendation.

My husband and I are going early July for a week and I have heard horror stories from friends and family members about breaking down and excess charges.

We are only going to one hotel in Arenal and doing small day trips. I heard the road to Arenal does not require a 4x4, but was maybe considering renting one.

Right now I am tossing up between a 4x4 through Budget Rental and a compact car through Toyota Rental. Budget seems cheaper even with the mandatory insurance at $307 for a week. I am just not sure if I can pay in advance- which has been recommended. However, I heard Toyota has reliable cars...

Any advice would be appreciated.

185 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Playa Samara
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5,001 posts
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161. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

No Sam - there are two coverages:

1.) Liability insurance - which you MUST purchase through the rental company. No other insurance can be used. This is the law! Liability insurance covers damages to other people's property - but NOT the rental car.

2.) CDW - which can be provided by a credit card (but then has certain important caveats that should really be weighted before deciding whether to use a credit card or purchase CDW from the rental company). CDW is NOT required by the law - but it IS required by every single car rental company in Costa Rica. CDW covers damages to the rental car.

Together, both coverages ensure that your have either no liability or are only liable up to the deductible that you agreed upon when renting the vehicle.

There are quite a few differences to pay attention to. Some companies provide full coverage, others only provide 80% coverage, meaning that YOU are liable for the rest unless you purchase deductible reduction.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
1 post
8 reviews
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162. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

DO NOT USE BUDGET- They SCAM you in Costa Rica.

They will charge you for missing items that are not listed on any list that they give you. They make up items like tool kits and flashlights and then charge you for a replacement cost.

Very sketchy company.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
224 posts
163. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

Hello Ryan,

My name is Maria Jose and I represent the Costa Rican Car Rental Association (ACAR). I would like to investigate the issues that you have raised concerning your rental with Budget. It would be very helpful if you could contact me at info@acar.cr with your name and reservation number so I can follow up. Thank you

Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
4 posts
11 reviews
4 helpful votes
164. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

We used Target car rental and they were great. Prices were better than all the other companies. They met us at the airport and had to wait a few hours as we were delayed, but they stayed until we got there and took care of all our luggage. On the way to the agency they showed us a short cut to the highway to Jaco to avoid some of the crazy SJO traffic. The rental included a GPS and they programmed it with our condo location and the rental agency. They responded very quickly to all emails and gave us a discounted price for the long term rental. We had a RAV 4 for two months and had no issues. They checked it thoroughly before we picked it up and took note of all existing scratches. They are a CR company with great service and I would use them again.


San Diego, Texas
Level Contributor
22 posts
20 reviews
11 helpful votes
165. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

I know you asked your question years ago but renting a car in costa rica, like other places, seems to be so shady! Maybe what I have learned can help someone else. The rates posted on sites like expedia do not tell you anything. Most likely, the customer will not know the true cost until they arrive at the counter at the airport..tired from a long flight, having been thru baggage claim, customs and immigration. Plus, taking a shuttle to an offsite location for the car. Even if they say "counter in the airport" this just means you have to make an additional stop to do paperwork; you do not get your car there. So..haul your luggage and cranky kids and your tired self to yet another location. In Costa Rica there are airport fees and I am serious about this next one "license plate fee". These fees are usually separate from the price you are quoted. It is per day and can be as high as an additional $60 a day. Your credit card may provide some protection against damages to the car but none provide liability insurance. Please correct me if i am wrong...and tell me what credit card you have that provides coverage if you hit and/or damage another car or person. You have to really try HARD to find where it states the exact amount you will be charged per day, in addition to your quoted rate, and if it is there it is buried deep in a bunch of legal crap. These things are especially true with lesser known companies that always have an incredibly low daily or weekly rate advertised. Whatever you do..don't rent from Nu. It has 2 little dots over the u. Horrible company..read reviews about them if you even the least bit tempted by their advertising. Also common in costa rica, a $5000 security deposit on your credit card. I do not know how the deposit affects your account limit but I suspect if you have a credit limit of say $6,000...they will have taken $5,000 with their deposit and left you with 1,000 and the potential of "over the limit" fees being charged by your credit card. Having said all this..uber is alive and well in costa rica. Transparent pricing per trip in your language and currency.

Memphis, Tennessee
3 posts
166. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

I used Poas/Vamos car rental and because its not an international brand, their rates were so much better! Their cars and service as great too! Highly recommend.

Huntington Beach...
Level Contributor
1 post
85 reviews
34 helpful votes
167. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

Make sure you contact the rental car company in Costa Rica BEFORE you purchase anything here. In costa Rica they have their own laws that do not apply here in the US. Make sure you are getting THIRD PARTY LIABILITY INSURANCE, if you don't have it you will HAVE to purchase it at the time of rental. We paid over $1700.00 for a month stay on top of what we already paid for the car and your credit card DOES NOT cover this. BEWARE, make sure you contact the rental car company direct in Costa Rica.

Level Contributor
2 posts
23 reviews
10 helpful votes
168. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

We just returned from Costa Rica and rented from Vamos after reading several comments on the forums. These guys were great! They met us at the airport with our name on a sign and drove us to their office off-site (less than five minutes from the airport). The rental went smooth with no issues. The car (SUV) was nearly new but it was a manual transmission which wasn't a problem for us. They include a second driver for no extra charge and offer a cell phone for local calls. I highly recommend taking the insurance options and not rely on your personal insurance/credit card. It wasn't that much and our total rental with taxes and all the insurance worked out to about $40/day. Be careful using Expedia because the big name companies may or may not be associated with their American counterpart. As a result, you may run into issues if you have any problems. The only concern I had with Vamos is they made us sign two blank credit card slips in case there were any incidental damages. I wasn't comfortable doing that but they gave me the slips back at the end of the rental and I took them home to be shredded - no problems. Good luck!

1 post
169. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

Don't go with budget. Even if you have BOOKED they will probably don't have the car available when you come and will ask you to sit and wait until a car is available.

Level Contributor
21 posts
170. Re: What are the best rental car companies in Costa Rica

I booked with Budget for a 2 weeks trip in Costa Rica starting mid Dec , renting from SJO airport. It is coming out to roughly $45 /day if I add just the liability insurance.

But I'm now skeptical reading about Budget in this forum! Does anyone have GOOD experience with Budget recently ?

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