How do I find a car hire service in Costa Rica ?

Exploring the spectacular landscapes and hidden treasures of Costa Rica is a dream for many travellers. Renting a car is often the most convenient and rewarding way to explore this breathtakingly beautiful country. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer or a holidaymaker looking to relax, finding the right car hire service can make all the difference to your Costa Rica experience. Here's a complete guide.

Define your needs

Before you begin your search, take the time to clearly define your rental needs. This will help you narrow down your options and choose the service that best suits your trip. 

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Type of vehicle

An SUV or 4x4 is essential if you plan to venture onto unpaved roads or into mountainous regions. For a city trip or a road trip on main roads, a compact car may suffice.

Length of hire 

The length of time you will need the vehicle is a key factor to consider. If you hire for just a few days, you can take advantage of preferential rates and flexible packages. 

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On the other hand, for longer stays of several weeks or months, hire companies will offer long-term contracts, which are often more advantageous. The rental period will also influence the type of contract offered, with specific insurance and clauses depending on whether you opt for a short or long-term contract.

Number of passengers 

Before choosing a vehicle model, carefully assess your needs in terms of passenger capacity. A couple or a small group of friends will be happy with a compact city car, while a large family or group will need the generous space of a minivan or family car. 

Make sure that the model you choose has enough seats and adequate boot space to carry all your passengers' luggage in optimum comfort.

Available budget

Setting a realistic budget is the key to finding the most suitable rental solution. Rates can vary considerably depending on the type of vehicle, its options, the season and the rental period. Compare offers from different hire companies by carefully considering all the costs, with or without insurance. 

Don't hesitate to negotiate on the basis of competing quotes. Finally, bear in mind any subsequent costs, such as fuel, which will be added to the rental price.

Specific features of the trip 

The intended conditions of use of the hire vehicle will also have an impact on the choice of the right model. If you plan to take to the road during a period of inclement weather with rain, wind or snow, opt for a robust vehicle, preferably with all-wheel or 4-wheel drive. 

Similarly, for routes on rural, mountain or poorly maintained roads, an SUV or crossover type vehicle will give you better ground clearance and essential off-road capabilities.

Searching for rental services

In the digital age, searching for car hire services has become easier than ever. A number of online comparison services, such as Kayak and Rentalcars, allow you to compare rates and options from different agencies in just a few clicks.

Don't forget to check customer reviews and ratings on specialist sites such as TripAdvisor and Google Reviews. These reviews will give you an idea of the quality of service, the condition of the vehicles and the overall experience of other renters.

Finally, travel forums and blogs specialising in Costa Rica, such as, can be invaluable sources of information and recommendations. You'll find expert advice and reviews from other travellers who have rented a car in the country.

Checking the rental conditions

Before finalising your booking, please read the terms and conditions of each rental service carefully. Pay particular attention to the following points.

Fuel policies

Some agencies offer ‘full/full’ options, while others apply a ‘full/empty’ system. Make sure you understand the implications of each policy.

Mileage limits

Mileage restrictions may apply and additional charges may be levied for exceeding them.

Vehicle return conditions

Check the authorised return times and locations, as well as procedures in the event of delay or damage to the vehicle.

Cancellation policy and booking changes

Find out about cancellation conditions and any charges if you change your booking.

Insurance and cover

Make sure you understand the different types of insurance offered by the rental company and compare them with the cover included in your credit card or travel insurance.

Consider additional options such as collision, theft and liability insurance for complete protection.

Price comparison

The price of hiring a car in Costa Rica can vary considerably from one agency to another, depending on the season, the type of vehicle and the insurance options chosen. Take the time to compare the prices of several agencies before making your choice.

Don't forget to take into account the inclusions and exclusions in the price, such as insurance, GPS, child seat, etc. Also check for current promotions and special offers.


Once you've chosen your rental agency and compared prices, make your reservation online or by telephone. Make sure you confirm your booking and receive a confirmation email with all the details (date, time, pick-up and drop-off location).

Prepare the necessary documents, such as your international driving licence, passport and credit card.

Collecting the vehicle

When collecting the vehicle, take the time to thoroughly inspect the general condition of the car, including the interior, exterior and mileage. Report any damage or anomalies to the hire company before setting off.

Read the rental contract carefully and make sure you understand all obligations and responsibilities. Make a note of the emergency contact numbers in the event of a problem.

During the rental

Driving in Costa Rica can present some challenges, including winding roads, steep inclines and changing weather conditions. Be careful and obey the rules of the road.

Plan your journeys in advance and take driving time into account, especially in mountainous or rural areas. Don't forget to find out about the nearest service stations and recharging points, especially if you're driving an electric vehicle.

In the event of a breakdown or accident, remain calm and contact the hire company or emergency services immediately.

Returning the vehicle

When you return the vehicle, inspect it again with a representative of the agency to identify any damage or additional charges.

Settle any outstanding charges and ensure you receive a final receipt.


Renting a car in Costa Rica gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore the country at your own pace and to your heart's content. By following these key steps and being prepared, you can find the rental service that best suits your needs and enjoy an unforgettable driving experience in Costa Rica.