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Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

Los Angeles...
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Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

Just a word to the wise traveler doing their research before booking car rentals in Costa Rica, where I just returned from. Here are a couple warnings I wish I'd known about before renting a vehicle in the country for about 2 weeks:

1) The rental car companies, even the brand name ones, do not respect reservation prices. I spent an hour getting upsold by Hertz in Liberia where they tried to sell me every imaginable type of insurance. They even made me get my credit card company on the phone to explain their CDW insurance. After trying steadfastly to sell me the third part liability insurance for an additional $170USD they finally caved in and gave it to me for $2USD extra. TWO DOLLARS! So, stick by your guns and don't give in to that BS. It's pure profit for them so they have the ability to negotiate down to almost nothing.

2) WATCH OUT for the currency tricks they play. I booked my car rental in USD, it was reconfirmed in USD (after the insurance shenanigans), when I returned my car the final invoice and receipt was spelled out in USD. Then, when they went to charge my card they did so in Costa Rican Colones at a completely arbitrary (and one-sided) exchange rate - which happened to be 550 colones to 1USD (the international exchange rate that day was 495 colones). So, any quotes in USD are completely useless if they decide to charge you at the very end, likely when you have to get to the airport and don't have time to argue, using a completely profit driven and arbitrary exchange rate.

Watch out. These car rental companies are independently owned franchises of well known American companies and don't play by the rules. Elite status isn't respected and they *will* try to nickel and dime you. So, get everything in writing, confirm the price in both USD and the local currency and use a credit card that will help you sort through any BS after the fact.

I was glad I used Amex as they quickly credited me back for the BS currency conversion rate.

Other than these shady car rental companies you'll LOVE Costa Rica.

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

You are just wrong about so many things!

Mainly, the insurance. There is a mandatory, by law insurance that you must take no matter what other insurance you have. It runs about $10 to $18 a day. The car rental company must pay for this insurance to INS, the government insurance company in Costa Rica. So if you got it for $2, you ripped off the rental car company. Shame on you. They have to pay for it so they had to make up for what you didn't pay. You should be praising them for giving you such a discount!

San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

Dear hawh...

So sorry..but hopefullly next time is going to be better!

roadadvsior

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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3. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

I am aware of the obligatory insurance but does it really costs 10$ - 18$ per day ??? For example, in my country we also have obligatory insurance for every car that want to be registered and thus part of the traffic, and the price is between 0,5 - 1,0 Eur per day. I am quite sure that same system is used in Costa Rica also. Roadadvisor, how much is a yearly amount of obligatory insurance for one of your cars? I am reluctant to believe that a Tico has to pay say 3650 US$ per year for obligatory, state insurance. I do think that hawksblue has a point here. BTW, I have rented from Wild Rider and they have both, obligatory third parties and CDW insurance included in their price, and this price was same in 2008 as it was in 2011. Thus I suspect that obligatory insurance itself cannot cost them 10$ - 18$ per day.

Edited: 25 November 2011, 08:09
Costa Rica
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4. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

The obligatory liability insurance I wrote about is for rental cars.

If you own a car in Costa Rica, you pay your "registration" fee annually, known as "marchamo" and your insurance is included there. This is a basic insurance that everyone pays but many of us have additional insurance also.

The real problem is that some rental car companies include the insurance with the quote and some don't.

People looking to rent a car should be certain that the mandatory insurance is included in their quote.

Melbourne, FL
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5. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

I agree with Hattie, shame on you. Every time I read about a rental car company scam in Costa Rica it is about mandatory insurance. I just went to the Costa Rica Hertz web site and within two clicks they disclose mandatory insurance and the cost of it. This topic has been discussed many times, but still someone will post a scam alert.

Nowhere
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6. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

Argh, it's painful to read a thread that is meant to be helpful but ends up giving all the wrong information. What you read here are mostly misconceptions by a person obviously unfamiliar with international travel, variations in law, and intricacies of international business.

As others have said, third-party liability is mandatory. This is not up-selling. Cost depends on the vehicle.

In some cases, the rental company needs to confirm with a credit card company that CDW coverage exists - simply because not all cards provide this coverage.

The OFFICIAL currency in Costa Rica is the Colon. Charges made in Costa Rica MUST be made in Colones (with very, very few exceptions). It does not matter that the price is quoted in US Dollars. US$ are accepted as an unofficial currency - often for the sake of convenience. Thus, anything that is quoted in US$ and charge to a credit card MUST be converted back into Colones. The rate you get depends on the individual company but is always oriented along the official exchange rate.

Your bank, in turn, will then also charge a conversion rate on top of the actual charge. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything or anyone in Costa Rica. If you charge an item in Euros, your card will charge you a conversion rate, too.

None of this is a scam.

The only thing problematic here is the OP who is completely misinformed.

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7. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

Charges must be made in colones? I don't believe that statement is true.

All tax filings must be made in colones. As a result it is easier if the original transaction is in colones. This means there are no exchange rate issues when filing out the tax documents. However to say all transactions must be made in colones is incorrect.

Most businesses have the ability to charge a credit card transaction in DOLLARS or COLONES. We have this ability and choose to charge almost everything in dollars. Those who charge colones are using their own exchange rate when converting dollars to colones. I assume most use a reasonably fair exchange rate.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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8. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

I agree with Marlin del Rey and yes the credit card should be charged in US$ some companies are just trying to get more money, as they are even using a exchange rate of $550.00 this is a rip off. (It would be fine to charge in Colones should they use something very close to the exchange rate). So sorry hawksblue you had this bad experience

Manuel Antonio...
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9. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

How many times on this forum has this topic come up.....so I think we can all agree that there is room for improvement when quoting customers whether by internet or verbally. There is nothing worse than being charged more …and I personally do think this is done on purpose by some companies. And about the OP “ripping off” the rental car company….NOT Likely! This forum is for everyone’s opinion....no shame in that.

Costa Rica
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10. Re: Watch Out for Rental Car Companies In Costa Rica

QueposPooch: Don't you think that if someone renting a car "negotiates" a liability insurance charge of $2 that someone is being ripped off? The rental car company still has to pay the proper insurance fees to INS so -- where is that money coming from? Just "the cost of doing business?"

And, as you point out, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. My opinion is that to avoid paying this insurance charge and stick the rental car company with it is shameful. My opinion.