Renting a car in the USA is tricky enough when you are trying to get the best deal. Renting one overseas is even more so.
Issues with insurance is just one thing to keep in mind. It alone could easily double the total cost of your rental.
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when you are renting a car overseas.
- Your car insurance on your car at home probably won’t be valid overseas so you will have to buy insurance from the rental agency. The only option might be if your particular credit card gives you coverage when you use it when you rent. Even then the rental car company may not accept it for coverage and still require you to take out there insurance. This is where a lot of people run into issues and price hikes they were not expecting. See, when you reserve a car directly or online, most of the time the rate given is just the daily rental rate. When you pick up the card, the mandatory insurance and other “hidden fees” get added and can double the price you thought you would pay.
- Your car insurance from your home country probably won’t be valid so you’ll have to buy insurance from the rental agency. This is where most people run into problems. There are many insurance categories, including the collision damage waiver and loss damage waiver…sometimes even supplemental liability insurance. I always call the rental company myself directly to get details on the required insurance and the price. Do call your credit card company to see if they offer coverage. But make sure to explore all the caveats. For example, the insurance from the credit card may be voided if you drive on dirt roads—which is a given in most Central American destinations.
- Yeah it’s gonna cost you extra, but get the GPS. Say you are in San Jose, Costa, Rica. This is a sprawling city of 1.5 million people with inadequate signage, a maze of one-way streets, and horrible traffic. Take one wrong turn leaving the airport and headed into downtown where you could spent the next four or five hours hopelessly lost. With a GPS you will have been sipping margaritas on the beach all that time. In many countries, streets, even major roadways, lack adequate signage—sometimes there’s no signage at all. So save time and hassle by springing for the GPS. And, by the way, if you ever get lost—ask a local—people are friendly. Or you can stop at a taxi stand and offer to pay the fare so you can follow a driver to your destination.
- When renting in the USA and Canada, try to find a location off airport property and that will help in avoiding the airport taxes. You can normally return the car to the airport for no additional charge. When renting overseas, check to see if this option is available at the destination you are traveling.
- Finally, don’t rent more car than you need. Unless you plan to get out into the countryside, into the mountains, or in a region known for dirt roads…go for the less expensive compact car or sedan instead of a four-wheel drive, whatever will fit the members of your party and your luggage.