Renting a Car in Costa Rica- My Personal Experience 

  • by Ari Travels
Renting a Car in Costa Rica- My Personal Experience 

Renting a car in a foreign country can sound intimidating at first, although it was one of the best decisions we made when my friend and I went on our trip to Costa Rica. The easiest and cheapest way for us to see as much as we possibly could in this beautiful country was to rent a car and road trip.

Where do I Even Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

There are car rentals literally connected to the SJO airport, so all you have to do is reserve it ahead of time and pick it up at the company’s office. We rented our car through Expedia with Budget Rental. Avis and Enterprise are also good brands I would recommend. The workers were very nice, helpful and did not try and scam us. 

rio celeste waterfall in Costa Rica

How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Car in Costa Rica? 

The car rental itself does not cost much. About $20/day, although be aware that once you arrive at the rental place they will make you purchase country-mandated insurance in order to actually drive the car. The rental companies do NOT advertise this on their site. We got the baseline insurance which I believe was $200 extra. Make sure to bring the same credit card you used to pay for the rental car when purchasing the insurance in person. A credit card I recommend that won’t charge international fees would be the Capital one Journey.  

We chose to have the cheapest option which was a base model crossover. 

Overall, our car rental for 7 days with unlimited miles plus the mandatory insurance cost about $360. Our car was a standard car and could fit up to 5 people. Make note, that Budget Rental is less expensive than Avis. When I rented with Avis the second time I went to Costa Rica, it was $750 for 6 days including insurance. If you want to rent a car through Budget Rental, I recommend booking far in advance. 

Gas also is about $2.50-$3 per gallon which was not bad!

With that being said, the companies lease out nice vehicles and you won’t be stuck with something unreliable. Most of the vehicles are probably 2014 models and newer. They have Bluetooth and are equipped with safety features. 

orange rental car in costa rica

Do you need an International Drivers Permit? 

No, you don’t! I’m not sure of regulations for other countries, but if you have a United States Drivers License, this will be acceptable enough. 

Is it Safe to Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

I would say my overall answer is yes! I would plan on avoiding any major city (example: don’t just drive around in a busy city like San Jose) and if someone is driving aggressively you should let them pass you. Just be aware that when driving in Costa Rica the roads are not nearly as nice and can be bumpier or have very sharp turns. Slow down and take your time while driving if you need to do so and try to be extra careful driving at night. 

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