Ultimate Tips for Renting a Car in Costa Rica

renting car in costa rica

Discover crucial tips for a seamless car rental experience in Costa Rica. From pre-trip preparations to return procedures, ensure a hassle-free journey with our expert advice.

Before Your Trip to Costa Rica.

  1. Research and review when comparing car rental rates. Be sure to read the reviews of the car rental company you choose, as well as understand everything included in the rate and additional costs.
  2. Understand insurance coverage and hidden costs.If you see a rate that’s too good to be true, it’s probably because it doesn’t include mandatory liability insurance. That can add anywhere from $12 to $30 per day, plus the tax. Except for Sun Valley, which includes third-party liability insurance in all of its rates, as well as vehicle protection with a deductible.
  3. Location matters. Choose reliable car rental companies with shuttle or delivery at the airport, and/or confirm delivery options to hotels, considering any extra charges.
  4. Documentation checklist. Carry a credit card for deposits, and physical copies of your driver’s license and passport.

Picking Up Your Vehicle in Costa Rica.

  1. Read and understand the contract. Thoroughly review the rental contract, paying attention to exceptions for insurance, like driving on unpaved roads or going through water, also ask about the fuel charge and the cost of lost keys.
  2. Document essential information. Take a photo of your first page of your passport and the page showing your entry stamp. That way if you are driving without your passport or lose it, at least you have a photo to show the police. Also take a photo of your driver’s license.
  3. Vehicle Inspection. Many clients rush through the car rental process only to find problems later. Ensure a smooth experience by carefully inspecting the vehicle upon pickup. The representative will document any scratches or dents on a form you’ll sign, along with noting the fuel level. Prioritize checking essential items like the emergency roadside kit, spare tire, tire tread, fenders, mudguards, roof, and interior conditions. Test the vehicle thoroughly, including windows, locks, A/C, stereo, windshield wipers, and engine sounds. Familiarize yourself with the hood and gas tank lock release. Should any concerns arise, request a different vehicle to avoid disruptions during your trip to Costa Rica.
  4. Tech familiarity. Before departing, familiarize yourself with the car’s stereo system and Bluetooth connectivity options. A useful tip is to bring a phone holder, simplifying GPS navigation and ensuring a smooth trip in your rented vehicle in Costa Rica.

During Your Trip Through Costa Rica.

  1. Fueling up. When refueling, note that all gas stations in the country charge the same amount for both regular gas and diesel. Ensure you use the correct fuel type, especially for larger SUVs that often require diesel. Gas stations typically operate 24/7, with attendants filling the tank for you. Make sure the fuel pump reset and review the final charges. While attendants may accept US dollars, the exchange rate may not be favorable. Some may offer windshield cleaning, and a small tip is appreciated.
  2. Dealing with accidents. In case of an accident, wait for a police report, crucial for potential fines or repairs. Contact 911 for assistance, and refer to your rental contract for support. If you scratch or dent the car, take a picture of it right after it happens to prevent overcharges by the rental company.
  3. Handling traffic violations. In case of traffic violations like speeding (up to $560), not wearing a seatbelt ($80), or illegal parking (up to $160) during your trip to Costa Rica, promptly notify the car rental company, call or email them for guidance on payment. If the police confiscate your license plate, a common practice for illegal parking, inform the rental company to minimize fines. Adhere to speed limits on highways (80kph), turns and town entrances/exits (60kph), in-town driving (40mph), and areas near schools and hospitals (25kph).

Returning the vehicle.

  1. Time management. Allocate approximately 30 minutes for the vehicle return process and shuttle to the airport during your Costa Rican trip. Aim to return the car with a full tank; however, if not possible, the fuel charge is usually only slightly higher than the actual gas cost. This buffer time ensures a smooth departure, especially if you’re catching a flight.
  2. Documentation and receipts. When returning your vehicle be sure to get them to sign off on the form saying there were no damages to the vehicle, and keep a copy of it. Ask the rental agent for a copy of the receipt, and have him or her go over it with you so you understand everything you were charged for. The price should be the same as the quote of your confirmation.

When ready to rent, contact us for exclusive rates and book with Sun Valley Rent a Car for a worry-free Costa Rican adventure. Your journey begins with us!