Rental car quote - CR v. US website

Old Jul 16th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Rental car quote - CR v. US website

Several of the rental car companies have websites both for the US and for Costa Rica. Examples:
- versus;
- versus;
- versus;
- versus

The rates given are different between the US website and the CR website. The obvious answer is to go with the cheaper option, but I'm afraid that maybe I'm missing something. I'm checking to make sure both include the liability insurance. But can anyone else think of a problem using the US website quote versus the CR website quote?
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Old Jul 16th, 2008, 08:23 PM
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We prefer Costa Rican companies, and have for years used Tricolor for best prices, quote all-inclusive, no hidden costs. . .

We're getting a 4X4 this time, 12 days, for less than $400. Not bad. . . .
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Old Jul 16th, 2008, 08:24 PM
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Oops, try it without the "s". .
shillmac is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2008, 07:14 AM
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Thanks for the info on Tricolor. Being the engineer that I am, I made a spreadsheet of all the car rental companies, listing base rate, insurance, add'l driver, GPS, etc. and Tricolor is the second cheapest. The cheapest I have found (out of 19, yes 19!) companies is 4x4 Rent A Car ( They're barely cheaper than Tricolor (a few bucks a day), so I'll probably go with Tricolor since they get good review on this forum. I wonder if there's any way to publish my spreadsheet on this forum to help other people out.....
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Old Jul 17th, 2008, 08:16 AM
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Another good option for a 4x4 is Wild Rider, they rent the TERIOS and motorycles.
I am not sure if they rent GPS.
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Old Jul 17th, 2008, 09:57 AM
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Robicobi - do you have any idea which is the least expensive rental company with an office in Fortuna? I was interested in renting an SUV for 3 days while in Arenal, but it doesn't look like Tricolor has an office there.
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Old Jul 18th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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Xela59 - Frommers 2008 says that Poas ( and Alamo ( have rental offices in La Fortuna. When you get a quote, the Alamo quote will not include the $15/day mandatory liability insurance. The Poas quote will.

Just for sh*ts and giggles, I will list the ranking of all the car companies I have researched in order of cheapest to most expensive:
Europcar ( - not
U-Save (
Hertz (
Economy (
Advantage (
4x4 (
Avis ( - not
Thrifty (
Alamo ( - not
Dollar ( - not
Tricolor (
Payless (
Hola (
CR Save (
Budget ( - not
Poas (
Adobe (

These rankings are for a compact SUV out of the San Jose area, and include the mandatory liability insurance. Note that the rankings change if you need add-ons, like GPS, an additional driver, or the optional collision (CDW) insurance. If you want that info, let me know.
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Old Jul 19th, 2008, 12:58 PM
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I posted this a year ago. I went back and found it. Forgive the duplicate. I didn't want to type it again!


Welcome to the wonderful world of Costa Rica car rentals. My nemesis! I have been working in Costa Rica tourism for fifteen years, and I still pull my hair out over this one. There is a lot to tell.

Car insurance is a government monopoly, and their liability insurance is required by law. But all you can waive is the comprehensive coverage. Some companies will allow you to waive the comp coverage with CC coverage, and others won't. So it is best to check ahead of time.

It is important that you rent from a company that will accept this coverage. The amount you save by waiving the comp is not that much. But MOST credit card companies will pick up the deductible if you have a problem. This can be as much as $1500.00!

If you are not covered with a credit card, some companies also offer what they call "full coverage" for $10.00 more per day. This is actually not what we think of as full coverage. It is actually just something offered by the company. They will assume the huge deductible if there is an incident.

Here are some other unusual things that you will encounter. All companies will ask you to do something that North Americans are not used to. You are going to be asked to sign two credit card vouchers. One will be in the amount of the security deposit. The other will be BLANK! This is a little scary, but perfectly okay.

When you rent a car in the US, the language is buried in the contract that you will be responsible for the deductable/damage. But in Costa Rica, they are required to be more transparent. So you sign a voucher for the deposit. This is the amount that they reserve on your card. When you turn in your car, they will fill in the correct amount on the blank and give you back the voucher with the huge amount on it. Your card will eventually be charged the correct amount.

The only thing you need to really be concerned about is if you don't have space on the card. If you don't have enough, you could have problems at the pick up. Or you can find your card maxed out at the beginning of your vacation.

There are valid reasons for the vast disparity in rates. Some companies import their own vehicles, and sell them when they get too many miles on them (Usually, to other rental car companies) So a car that is deemed to old for one company, is the newest car on the lot at another! So keep in mind that just because a car is the same year and model, that doesn't mean they are equal.

Also keep in mind that some companies support multiple offices, and 24 hour help lines. This is important if you have a problem. If you have a breakdown in a remote location, you want to know that help is close by. You also want a company with a large fleet, so that they have a replacement if necessary.

The bottom line, is that you get what you pay for. You are paying a lot for your trip to Costa Rica. If your cheap car breaks down and you lose a day or two because you can't get support, what good is it? The difference is usually not that much. I always recommend that you spring for the extra few bucks a day. It is worth it.

There are two scams that the smaller companies sometimes pull, and you need to be aware of them. The first is the damage scam. They will find something on the car, and make you pay for it. You are usually on your way to your international flight, and don't have time to argue. They have you over a barrel, and they know it. So it is very important that you go over the car at pickup, and note every tiny scratch or bit of damage.

The other is more difficult. You call the toll free number, and talk to someone. The person on the other end quotes a great price, and assures you that insurance is included. So you arrive at their offsite office, with luggage in hand. Only to find that the actual price did not include the insurance. The person at the desk tells you "Of course you must pay insurance, everybody pays insurance. You must have misunderstood." You are kinda stuck here. You are sitting on your luggage, in a strange country. You are going to have to pay insurance no matter who you rent from. You are eager to start your adventure, so you just bite the bullet and accept it.

To avoid this. Get your advance quote in writing, with the insurance specified. Get the person's name that quoted it too. This might help.

One last little money saver. There is a 12% tax charged for vehicles picked up at the airport. This is levied on the rental, the insurance and any other fees. It adds up quickly. You don't actually pick up the car at the airport, all of the companies take you in their van to the offsite office. The smart way to do this is to arrange to pick up your car at the office. This is usually only a mile away, and the $3.00 cab ride will save you a bundle. Stay out of the van!

Better yet. If you are staying in San Jose for the first night, have them deliver the car the next day. You don't need or want a car in San Jose. Get it the next morning, and save the day's rental and the tax.

Whew! This was a long one! I hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel Professional)
Pat_Hewitt is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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summer specials.10% off one day
free.They have the most locations also.

Be sure that any quote includes
liability collision and theft insurance thoseare the frequent add ons along with GPS cell phones.Some will throw in those for free.

Recently bare bones did a Nissan Sentra with U-save with everything
one week $198.00 including mandatory
liability insurance $12/day plus base rate $100 week.

Adobe Alamo sometimes have good specials.
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Old Jul 20th, 2008, 12:43 PM
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Forgot also Mapache others will accept your credit card CDW for
car rental you can save a ton that
way like $15-20/day that is what I do.Certain 4WD vehicles are not covered so be careful and check with your cc company.
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Old Jul 20th, 2008, 05:38 PM
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Thanks All - this was very helpful.
Xela59 is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 11:31 AM
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Gotta save this thread! Thanks.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2008, 03:57 PM
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Last minute help please?

I'm looking at leaving tomorrow morning to SJO from LGA. I just purchased my tickets today - yes, I know...a bit impulsive.

I'm figuring out the car rental and need an automatic 4x4.

So far, Tricolor has quoted me $334 with the mandatory insurance and the best I could do through search engines was a $220 from Advantage without any insurance quote at all.

Any advice here?


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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 03:27 PM
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Steer clear of Thrifty. We rented for 10 days in Costa Rica this month (March 2009). Nowhere in the emails did it tell us we had to purchase liability insurance for $19.95 per day. We purchased the extra Amex Premium Ins, but they say it's the law to have their special liability insurance, and they'd call a taxi to take us back to the airport if we refused it(we took their shuttle to Thrifty). No one in the long line was prepared for the extra $20/day either.
In Jaco, we found out that others, like Avis, charged $12/day.
Just FYI.
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Old Jan 20th, 2011, 06:37 AM
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A good option to rent a car is use of I recommend!!!

car rental costa rica
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Old Jan 20th, 2011, 08:42 AM
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prisva19 posted the same spam on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree yesterday. It drew an immediate response from someone I believe to the effect that renta4x4 left him stranded without a working vehicle for days and did not return phone calls.
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