QCOSTARICA TRAVEL – At Juan Santamaría International (San Jose) airport terminal, the five major car rental companies are represented.
The companies welcome you, confirm your reservation (if you have one) and after information on rates and current promotions, you are escorted to the rental car location, where they’ll deliver you your rental car.
The rental vehicles are not kept at the airport, and a shuttle will take you within a few minutes of the terminal building, while others are a little further, usually not more than a 10 minute ride.
What to rent
The type of vehicle depends on what and where you plan to go, and your budget. Typically an SUV is an all round vehicle for travel throughout the country. If you are going to be driving in the mountains, rural roads or in certain coastal areas, a four-wheel drive may be the better choice. Not all SUV’s are 4WD.
Choices range from a compact to full-size. Besides the rental cost, gas mileage is also a factor. A small SUV will get your better mileage. For larger groups and lots of luggage, a van would be the better option.
All rented cars come with the basics: air conditioning, power steering, power windows/locks, dual airbags, and a radio. Manual and automatic are options. Check to ensure your rental has a safety kit for accidents and flat tires. The kits should include jumper cables, rope, a flat tire kit, road triangles, and a fire extinguisher.
On this, make note of the car rental agency’s emergency number and their policy, like road side assistance, if you run into problems with your rental.
A GPS is a great option to consider. Unless you know the country, the device can save you time and money. You can use your own GPS or smartphone, downloading the maps from the internet. But, for a few dollars a day, the rental GPS is guaranteed with local up-to-date mapping.
Important to note
Before renting, read up on the rental policies. Ask the questions, but don’t it at the word of the agent behind the counter, that way you won’t get nicked for unexpected fines, like late returns and hold on your deposit.
Tourists can drive with their home drivers license for up to 90 days of arrival.
Each car rental requires mandatory insurance, usually above the price of the rental. The insurance can range from US$20 to US$40 per day. Supplemental full coverage insurance options are available, that can include 24 hour roadside assistance, bumper-to-bumper coverage for almost everything. Ask what exactly is included.
Deposits can up to US$2,000 with a major credit card. Some debit cards, not all, can be used. However, most car rental agencies will not accept a debit card for the deposit, check in advance.
In most cases the deposit is released immediately, however, at some car rental agencies the hold can last up to 3 to 4 weeks. In the case of an accident, the deposit is held until the traffic court rules on the case, could be a year or more.
Traffic fines should be reported to the car rental company on the return of the vehicle. This will avoid being dinged for additional costs added to unpaid traffic fines, which the car rental will charge your credit card, even long after the rental is returned.
Driving 20 km/h (12 mph) over the posted speed limit is considered speeding. Driving faster than 150 km/h (93 mph) is considered reckless driving and is a criminal offence. DON’T SPEED!
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offence. Driving with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.50 and 0.74 is considered driving under the influence, resulting in a hefty fine (more than US$500 dollars). At 0.75 and higher it becomes a criminal offence and could land you jail. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
U-turns, illegal turns, running red lights (between 5:00am and 10:00pm click here for In Costa Rica no need to stop for a red light at night), running stop signs, not wearing a seatbelt and talking on a cell phone, among others, are all fined in Costa Rica. The traffic police can and will issue multiple fines, ie running a stop sign and not wearing a seatbelt.
Children under 12 MUST be in a car seat. Not using a child restraint results in a fine.
Carrying excess passengers is prohibited. The circulation permit indicates the maximum number of passengers. A good rule of thumb is the number of seatbelts.
Drive safely and have a great vacation.
Another option to car rental is a car drive service.