Do you rent or use your own car? While tourists to Costa Rica don’t have their own vehicle as an option, your decision to invest in a car rental to vacation during Semana Santa (or at any other time) can have its advantages.
The beaches and mountain resorts at times require greater vehicle wear. Some roads are rough – unpaved, full of potholes, etc. Then there is the mechanical state of your vehicle to tip the balance.
The size of your vehicle’s engine and its fuel economy is another consideration. For instance, if you are going to travel great distances with your high cylinder engine vehicle, it may be more economical – even taking into account the cost of the rental – to rent an economical vehicle with a small engine.
The age and mechanical state of your vehicle play a factor.
When you rent, you are getting a late model vehicle. Even though the engine may be significantly smaller than that of your older vehicle, chances are it will have more pep and definitely better fuel consumption. The Chevy Spark, with its three banger (three cylinders) have enough pep to get up the Escazú mountains and then some.
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With a rental vehicle if something goes wrong, a replacement vehicle is only a phone call away to your rental company.
Renting also comes with safety features that your vehicle may not have, like safety bags all around, automatic locks and alarms, jack and spare tire and full insurance coverage.
If travelling in a large groups, it can make more economic sense to rent a minivan instead of using multiple vehicles to move the entire group. In this case, the economics of one engine running instead of four and keeping the group together is a distinct advantage.
For tourists in Costa Rica, renting a car can mean stops and changes on routes at any time, not to mention no timetables or schedules, leave when you want, arrive when you want.
Rental prices can range from as little as US$30 per day to up to US$200 or more, depending on the type and luxury of the vehicle. Car rental companies like Vamos Rent A Car offer a Toyota Yaris from US$28.95 daily and free additional driver. Mid size SUV’s start at US$53.95 daily.
For luxury, Toyota Rent A Car offers the Land Cruisers and the Sequoia, with full leather and every option available from Toyota starting at $135 daily. Avis offers the Audi Q5 starting at US$85 in the low season.
Added to the daily rental is insurance coverage. Choices are the LDW (Loss Damage Waiver), a protection that releases the renter from any financial responsibility in the event of collision, damages or if the car is stolen.; PDW (Partial Damage Waiver); ALI (Additional Liability); and, WTC (Windows & Tire Coverage). The different coverages can be purchased separately or combined for savings.
Insurance coverage can add US$40 per day or more. At Toyota Rent A Car, for instance, they offer a bumper-to-bumper, all inclusive, no deductible coverage on rentals of three days or more. With this coverage, in the event the vehicle suffers damage or loss, the renter – you – just walks away.
All car rental companies require a credit card with a minimum US$1.500* dollars credit limit, cedula (valid passport for foreigners) and driver’s license.
To entice customers, some car rental companies to make the driving experience a safe and comfortable one include the use of a complimentary cooler, baby seat, roof racks, maps and cell phone (air time not included). Some car rental companies will also deliver the car to the hotel, home or office and at no extra charge.
The decision to rent or use your own car is a personal one.
Editor’s note: Vamos, Toyota or Avis did not pay to be mentioned in this article. Nor was the Q offered any special incentive to mention their businesses. They are great companies to deal with and nothing more. Rates, terms and conditions are taken from their websites.