Sometimes I just don’t understand businesses. With this blog, I feel the need to make sure all of you are satisfied with your purchases of our itineraries, get the best information, and are fully aware of everything involving traveling in Costa Rica. I guess what I’m saying is transparency is essential to me. When other businesses don’t operate the same way, I get so sad and frustrated. In our experience, there are some things you need to know before renting a car in Costa Rica so you don’t end up dealing with these types of lying companies.
Our first experience renting a car in Costa Rica was horrible and unfortunately, I think most travelers have the same experience because they don’t know before renting a car in Costa Rica that a lot of companies will scam you. Once we smartened up to the rental car companies scams we were able to find a better way of renting a car.
Here’s what you need to know before renting a car in Costa Rica so your experience can be amazing…..
Know Before Renting a Car in Costa Rica – First Experience
My mom came to visit last year for a week and at that time Thomas and I had only been living in Costa Rica for a few months. We didn’t know much about the country yet, but we figured renting a car would be the best way to get around (which it definitely is).
I looked on a popular search engine (I’m not going to name names but just insert any of those search engines that have flights, hotels, and car rentals on one page) and found incredibly cheap rates for renting a car. I’m talking $1 a day cheap. Seriously, how good is that?!? We were so happy that it was so cheap and we booked a car right away.
When my mom arrived at the airport Thomas and I met her and took the free shuttle provided by the rental car company to their nearby office. When we arrived we stood in line and realized that everyone in front of us was arguing with the employees behind the counter. My mom then started to panic because she wasn’t sure if she had enough proof of her insurance so that we also wouldn’t be charged more.
Sure enough, when we (finally) got to the front of the line we discovered that there is a mandatory rental car insurance which every person who rents a car in Costa Rica needs to pay. This fee added several hundred dollars on to our total. At that point what could we do? We had already made our travel plans and needed a car so we were forced to cut our losses and pay the ridiculous fee.
We were also charged a $1,000 deposit on our credit card in case something happened to the car. I later found out this is also standard in Costa Rica. I can understand the need for a deposit in case something happens, but with a company I already didn’t trust, I didn’t like the thought of leaving this deposit.
Anyway, the car turned out to be fine and we had a great vacation, but we were both left with a really negative feeling toward rental car companies in Costa Rica.
Know Before Renting a Car in Costa Rica – The Process
Alright, I want to show you what your process will be like when you rent a car and how the companies here scam you.
I just tried to rent a car on five different popular search engines and got the same results. I also tried on some specific Costa Rica rental car company sites and got the same results on the ones I tested.
So here is the search page on a search engine and what I entered for my search.
$1 a day! That’s unheard of. Booking that!
OK so I selected my car, let’s see the total.
Not really sure how a dollar a day for 7 days comes out to $4 total, but I’m not complaining (yet). Also not really sure why an extra hour is $15 but an additional day is $1, but OK, let’s just go with it. So, I clicked Reserve. Let’s see what happens now!
Woot woot! The price went down to $3.50 for a week. Hellz to the yea! OK, now we have to scroll down to reserve.
Oh just came across this for collision protection. Naw, it’s fine I have protection from my credit card company. All good. Let’s keep scrolling to reserve.
OK right before I click reserve I see this above the reserve button. “Your rental car may have mandatory, local insurance requirements.” OK let’s click that and see what this is all about.
Scrolled down a bit once I clicked and found the same message again. Let’s click it again.
Alright, now I get this incredibly vague reference to the mandatory liability insurance in Costa Rica. As someone that has never rented a car before in Costa Rica I’m probably going to think I can just use my regular rental car insurance provded by my credit card (you can’t). Also, there is no information about how much this Liability Insurance will cost.
So that’s it. You hit Reserve and think you’re getting an absolute steal for your rental car. You arrive in sunny Costa Rica ready to start your vacation in paradise and the first encounter you end up having is at a rental car counter where you are informed that you will actually have to pay several hundred dollars more than you originally expected.
Not the best way to start your travels.
Fair? Good business tactic? I think not.
Know Before Renting a Car in Costa Rica – Our Research
After this happened to us, we started doing some research into rental car companies in Costa Rica. We then came across the website for Adobe Rent A Car. We talked to some other Costa Rica bloggers who we trust and discovered that they also use and love Adobe. For the next visitors (my dad and sister) we decided to try out renting with Adobe.
The price was obviously higher than with the other companies at first glance, but we had heard that Adobe was completely transparent with their fees and the price they quote you is the absolute total price. Their price usually comes out to be cheaper than other companies once everything is added on.
Know Before Renting a Car in Costa Rica – Try Number Two & Three
Thomas and I were completely exhausted when my dad and sister arrived in Costa Rica for their first visit.
The day before we had taken a train from Hamburg Germany to Frankfurt, spent the night in Frankfurt, flew to Madrid, ran through the Madrid airport with two friends and their babies to catch our flight to San Jose, flew 11 hours to San Jose, arrived to find our luggage hadn’t made it, drove home during crazy San Jose rush hour, cleaned our apartment after not being home for three weeks, and headed the airport three hours later to pick up my dad and sister. Yes, we are insane.
When we arrived at the airport I saw that I had a text from my sister saying their flight was delayed. They eventually arrived two hours later than expected, but by this time it was almost eleven o’clock at night and I knew the Adobe office was closed by then.
I figured we would just take an Uber home and go pick up the car in the morning, but I was so surprised and thankful to find a nice man with an Adobe sign waiting for us. I told him I was so surprised he was there and he said, “Well you gave us your flight number when you booked your car. We knew the flight was delayed a few hours. Of course we would stay open to wait for you!” After such a long 48 hours I almost cried of gratitude.
We took the free Adobe shuttle the five minutes to the Adobe office. Paid for the car with our credit card (the exact amount we had been quoted online), put down our $1,000 deposit on our card (which I actually felt fine about because I was already so impressed with them and knew by then that this was standard in Costa Rica) and drove home to finally get a good night of sleep.
Everything went absolutely perfect with the car and when we returned it ten days later my dad received his $1,000 deposit straight back on his credit card.
We then took the Adobe shuttle back to the airport, said bye to my dad and sister, waited twenty minutes for Thomas’s parents to arrive on their plane from Germany, went back to the Adobe shuttle with them (the driver looked at Thomas and I like we were crazy, which we pretty much are) and picked up our next car for five days. This next experience was also wonderful.
Know Before Renting a Car in Costa Rica – Car Rental Discount
We started this blog because we think that traveling in Costa Rica is an amazing experience that we want you all to have, but we want it to ACTUALLY be an amazing experience. This means knowing how to save money, how to not get scammed, knowing the best places to visit, and more!
That being said, we reached out to Adobe to ask if they would like to partner with us to give you all a discount on renting a car. They were extremely receptive and have given us a 10% and 20% discount depending on season and demand to pass on to you all.
The rate you will get by booking through our blog is not only 10% to 20% cheaper than the rate on the Adobe site, but we also have some great bonuses for you. If you book your car through our site you also get:
-a second driver for free (it’s usually $4 per day)
-0% deductible as part of the Liability Protection (it’s usually 20%)
-and a free cell phone to use!
↓ RENT YOUR CAR AND SAVE 10% TO 20% ↓
If you still have some questions about renting a car, check out our rental car FAQ page.
Or leave your specific questions in the comment section below.
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Note: This post is completely our opinion here at Costa Rica VIbes and does not reflect the beliefs of Adobe Rent A Car. We have partnered with Adobe on an affiliate basis. This means that if you rent a car through our website we will receive a percentage of the profits. This allows us to keep making great content for you on budget travel in Costa Rica. You also get a discount and a car rental through a company we love. All disputes with your car rental are between you and Adobe.
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