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How long should I keep the rental car?

monterey, ca
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15 posts
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How long should I keep the rental car?

Hello all,

I am considering renting a car mid trip from Tobias Bolaños Airport and driving to arenal. My plane lands at 3:15pm, so by then I will have missed all the 25pp shuttles to arenal volcano. I have decided renting a car is the only option because a private transfer costs 119 each way, not including the costs of taxiing around in la fortuna. I figure i would actually save money if I rent a small economy car. The question is: Should I drop off the rental right after the trip to arenal or should I keep it to get to heredia(peace lodge) and alajueja (vista de valle plantation inn) for 2 nights or should i just keep the car until i leave? I have read that the roads to la foruna are paved, what about around peace lodge and alajuja? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

thank you!!!

NY
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1. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

There is a small problem with the beginning of your plan - your flight arrives at 3:15, at which time you want to rent a car and drive for 3 1/2 to 4 hours to Arenal area, but it gets totally dark by 6 pm and driving through the mountains in the dark would be a bad idea. You will need to spend the night and then drive to Arenal area in the morning.

Are you going to Arenal area, then the Peace Lodge, then Vista de Valle Plantation Inn, and then SJO International airport? Then I think you should keep the car until your departure. You will not pass the airport on your way from Arenal to the Peace Lodge, so where did you want to drop off your car? If you return it you will spend money on transportation between those places. And while at the Peace Lodge you should go to Poas Volcano and if you want go to the coffee plantation for a tour. You can drive to those places rather than pay for a "tour", basically transportation from the Peace Lodge.

By the way, the Peace Lodge is not in the city of Heredia and Vista de Valle Plantation Inn is not in the city of Alajuela. And all the roads there are paved. You should be fine driving. Do get a good driving map. We got one from www.mapcr.com and it was very useful.

monterey, ca
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2. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

Travel 1000- thank you so much for your advice. I have changed my return flight from nature air to sansa, which has an earlier flight. Your suggestion was so valuable, thankyou! also, good idea about keeping the rental car and saving money by touring ourselves around! i really appreciate the advice. pura vida!

monterey, ca
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3. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

one more question- I see that most car rental companies require a 1000 deposit on a credit card. Does this tie down the 1000 from your card during your trip? thanks again, melissa

NY
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4. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

I think so, just ask them.

Chicago, IL
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5. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

travel1000,

do you have any advice on what sort of insurance i should get renting a car in costa rica. didn't want to kill myself financially buying unnecessary inurance, while at the same time don't want to pay for damages. any advice would be wonderful. thanks.

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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6. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

Not sure of all the price considerations of what you're asking about. Do you know what the extra fee would be for returning the car to a different location than where you rented it? Three days of car rental would probably be less than 2 X $119 + local transport in the Arenal area, but bear in mind when you do the math that you'll need to add gas, which is very expensive in CR, and possibly full insurance to the equation. Also $119 may not be your best alternative for your return, as taking the $25/pp shuttle may be an option by that point. As for the roads in the areas that you'll be, they are all paved. A bigger issue is how well marked they are and finding your way around on your own. Getting to Fortuna is not so bad, but I find the various roads in the hills north of Alajuela going towards the Peace Lodge can be a bit confusing.

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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7. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

Re: insurance, for me personally I never bothered with the extra insurance and never had to pay an extra dime in damages, but then I don't mind living a little "dangerously" and having a $1000 hold on my card is a non-issue for me since I have plenty of credit and pay my bill in full each month meaning no interest charges. They say they only check your credit availability, run the card and just hold the slip and I don't recall ever seeing the deposit showing up on my bill, but you never know. I suggest you try to use a card on which you don't carry a balance and check to see that the hold does not run over the end of your billing cycle to avoid any possible hassles.

I should qualify my own opinion with the fact that I know many others that feel much more comfortable carrying the extra insurance. So don't say I didn't warn you and try to send me the bill if something DOES happen. Only YOU can decide what level of risk you're willing to take. Again personally, I liken it as SOMEWHAT similar to flight insurance or car rental insurance back home - very pricey for the actuarial risk involved. Admittedly on a per mile basis the risk of driving in CR is greater than getting into a car accident back home or being in a plane crash, but still not all that great. Maybe there is someone here with bad experiences to the contrary, but that is still anecdotal. There are many more who drive in CR without serious incident. Of course if you're one of those unlucky few, that extra $20/day will seem like a bargain. How many miles have you driven back home since your last insurance claim and how many miles do you plan to drive in CR? Even with a statistically greater risk of accident it might not be worth it but YMMV.

NY
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8. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

chicago6 - Call your credit card companies and see which one covers car rental insurance in Costa Rica. Get a letter from them to show to the rental company as proof.

NY
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9. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

Actually, I just found my earlier response to the same question:

If you have gold/platinum credit card then the card would cover you for CDW (collision damage waiver). You should ask your CC to send you a letter stating the coverage and show that letter at the rental counter. That's what we did. LDW (liability) is mandatory and is not covered by CC. The charge for LDW depends on the size of the vehcle.

There are no taxes on car rental in CR, so when you see the company advertize that taxes are included it's really "legal missinformation". There is however airport tax if the company has a counter at the airport property, so you might want to rent from the one that is outside of airport. I could be wrong but I think there is no rental car lots really at the airport property, some companies just have a counter there and still take you by a shuttle to the rental location.

Salmon Arm, Canada
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10. Re: How long should I keep the rental car?

I do not know about San Jose airport, but at Liberia airport, all car rental companies are offsite of the airport. When you arrive, they are at the exit area holding up signs, and shall drive you to their offices. In my two weeks visiting Costa Rica (we just got home last week) I did not see one accident. People drive a little more carefully, and slowly on most roads, because of the many, and various-sized, potholes. We had a sedan, and as long as we took it easy, we didn`t have any problems. Just don`t follow the car/truck in front of you too closely, because you may not see the next pothole! Even with full coverage, for everything, even thievery, on the car, if the car is stolen, and not found, the renter is still responsible for $1,000 to be paid to the car company. This was with Dollar...I imagine the other companies have the same policy.