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How much is a car rental in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is the most popular tourist destination in the world mainly for its amazing national parks where visitors can enjoy several exciting adventure activities. Apart from its reputation as a picture of paradise with immense biodiversity, this Spanish-speaking country is also renowned for different rental car agencies that offer unbeatable prices.

Jumbo Car is one of the largest car rental companies in Costa Rica that can offer you a great selection of rental cars at competitive costs. As the prices for rental autos vary depending on several factors, here is the complete information that you need to know before renting vehicles in Costa Rica.

What Price Should You Be Expecting? 

car rental prices costa rica

When you are in Cost Rica and want to opt for car rental services, the first thing that comes to your mind is the expected prices. The costs can greatly change by the firm, type of autos, time, location, and insurance you choose. In the hot season, the price is in general around $850 per week but it can change depending on the types of cars.

Moreover, when you visit this country in the low season and desire to rent a beautiful car, you should prepare the amount of around $250 per week. These costs are generally estimated which can vary depending on the agencies. They include the basic insurance that is mandatory in this country so you can purchase supplemental and full coverage insurance.

How much will it cost to rent a car in San José ?

As San José is the capital of Costa Rica that serves international flights, the majority of the rental car companies have main offices near this large city. In general, prices are higher in the peak season but the costs drop during the low season. The high season or peak season is between mid-December and the end of April so you have to expect to rent the most expensive prices when you rent a car in San José. Here are the estimated weekly prices in US dollars of some common cars in San José.   

Categories of vehicles    Low season    Hot season
Mid-size SUV                          $300             $600
Full-size SUV                          $420             $650
Minivan                                    $437             $582
Sedan or Compact Sedan       $483             $700


How much would it cost to rent a car in Liberia? 

Located in the northwest of Costa Rica, Liberia is the largest city in the Guanacaste Province popular for its sightseeing spots and international airport. The beautiful monument "La Ciudad Blanca" (The White City) makes Liberia the most visited place. This white gravel that was built to make the town's roads and colonial houses has become the top-rated tourist attraction.

Thus, everyone who wants to travel to Costa Rica can find many car-rental companies with a massive directory of cars in better deals and lower costs in this great city. Let’s look at the estimated prices per week of some popular car models in Liberia. 
Categories of vehicles    Low season    Hot season
Premium SUV                      $430                $700
Economy                              $350                $650
Family                                  $450                $650
4x4                                       $500                $800

 How much does it cost to rent a 4x4 in Costa Rica?

cost to rent a 4x4 in Costa Rica 

You probably wonder whether you need 4WD when you explore Costa Rica. Actually, there is no need to pick this car model as the country boasts flawless road coverage. Anyway, you are free to choose your favourite car whether an SUV or 4WD. Costa Rica has been reputed for renting the largest selection of four-wheel drive cars to allow visitors to discover this country of vibrating colours and stunning landscapes. The rate of renting 4x4 averages $50 per day but it can change depending on the location you rent it, the model of the auto, and the rental period. The table below gives you a clear idea about the cost of renting a 4WD within Costa Rica.

Types of 4x4                  Models                                                      Price/day
Full-size large 4WD       Ford F-150                                                   $50-$60
Mid-size 4WD         Daihatsu Terios/Daihatsu Bego/Suzuki Vitara    $50-$60
Small size 4WD             Honda Civic                                                  $25-$30

Are car rentals cheap in Costa Rica?

 car rentals cheap in Costa Rica

If you are planning to visit Costa Rica for vacation or business, you need to rent a car there. Instead of struggling with public means of transport, renting a vehicle is a reliable option enabling you to admire the country’s beauty in a hassle-free way. The main benefit of choosing a vehicle rental option is that you won’t be limited to anyone’s schedule as you are able to go where you desire.

The good news is that car rental in Costa Rica is well reputed for offering the best price because this growing business is under fierce competition. As a matter of fact, the average price per week is around $260. Nonetheless, if you book a car during the Low season, in (May, June, September, and November), the cost will decline up to 75% which can be $45 a week.

How much does it cost to rent a car for a day in Costa Rica?

cost to rent a car for a day in Costa Rica

Car rental in Costa Rica is an excellent option to visit and discover the most beautiful places with family or friends. Exploring new places is always an exciting moment and will remain a memorable experience. In the touristic trip, choosing your favourite car from an automobile rental firm has become a trend. This country located in southern Central America is globally known for its marvellous beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and jungles. When you rent a car there, the cost of a mid-size SUV for a day is around $23 in the normal season, which is in October and December. Moreover, in the peak tourist season from January through early May, travellers can expect to pay double prices.

San José 

When the words Costa Rica are mentioned, we immediately think about its crowded capital San José. Located in the Central Valley, this capital with more than a third of the population is the nation's largest city.  San José is in the broad, fertile Valle Central which is the centre of political and economic activity. Aside from its biggest international airport, the various great car rental companies make it globally famous. If you want to book a vehicle there, the table below summarizes the daily auto rental costs in San José. 

Types of car     Hot season    Normal Season    Low Season
Sedan                       $45                  $37                       $6
Minivan                     $55                  $40                       $10
Mid-size SUV            $41                  $35                       $6
Full-size SUV            $64                  $45                       $15


Picking SUV and 4WD is the best option when you want to visit Liberia because the rainy season can damage the roads. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that this lively city is difficult to visit. On the contrary, Liberia is extremely fascinating with many several wonderful places. Renting automobiles there is easy as a walk in the park because not only do the car agencies facilitate the process but a wide range of models is also available. Those who are interested in renting vehicles in Liberia should check the prices that are shown in the following table.
Types of car    Hot season    Normal Season    Low Season
Sedan                    $40                 $35                        $5
Minivan                  $55                 $37                        $10
Mid-size SUV         $41                 $35                        $5
Full-size SUV         $64                 $40                        $15

WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING? - Rental Prices & Insurance

Rental Prices & Insurance

Car rental and insurance are inseparable like pen and paper so when you are thinking to book a car, be sure that you will pay insurance. Customers usually experience confusion when they want to book a vehicle because of the different types of insurance that are bundled with the rental agreement.

Actually, when you rent a car, the laws require a certain level of insurance coverage. It is undeniable that the insurance obliges you to charge extra costs apart from the rental prices. However, have you already thought that you may face the risk of having an accident in a rental car? That is the reason why the insurance is established to protect you against the cost of injuries and damages that may happen when renting an auto.

According to ACAR (Costa Rica Car Rental Association), the majority of online travel booking agencies rarely include compulsory insurance on their websites. As a result, the customers are frustrated when they have to pay high prices to car rental companies. The INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros) is a state-owned entity established to regulate and supervise car rental insurance. In conformity with the laws there, when you rent a car, you are required to purchase liability insurance otherwise; you are not allowed to book a vehicle.

Unfortunately, this mandatory insurance provides very poor coverage so you have to buy supplementary insurance from the car rental firms to sufficiently offer coverage for the cars you rent in Costa Rica. For instance, when your car rental costs $35 per day, this overall price can double to $70 because you have to pay the required and additional insurance. Therefore, when you desire to visit Costa Rica and rent a car there, the confusion is now clarified.

Why are car rentals so expensive in Costa Rica? 

car rentals so expensive in Costa Rica

Some visitors who want to rent cars in Costa Rica usually wonder why they have to pay a significant amount of money. The answer is that added to the auto rental costs, you have to pay different types of insurance regardless of the agency you choose.

The car rental daily base price can range from $6 to $150, depending on the company, the auto, and the season. This cost won’t stop there because you also have to buy the compulsory insurance known as liability insurance. Actually, liability insurance is designed to offer particular protection to the insured and is the only required insurance coverage in Costa Rica. This mandatory policy comes with four insurances such as SLC, API, TPL, and SLI.

However, this common policy offers low coverage so the renters need to purchase additional insurance to adequately protect them. For this reason, car rentals are expensive for travellers in Costa Rica. 

Base Price 

The car base price varies relying on the car rental company and the car model you choose. This daily cost runs from $1 to $75 before any insurance is added. It deserves to mention that the auto rental firms only show the base price on their websites. This results in frustration to see the increased cost when you make a payment on your vehicle rental. 

Required Insurance 

As stated above the law in Costa Rica required car rental customers to acquire insurance under the name of liability insurance. This liability insurance includes SLI, API, TPL, or SLC, ranging from 10 to 20 US$ per day. These four insurances are interdependent to protect car renters against injuries and damages caused by drivers, individuals, or third parties. 

Other Issues to Consider When Using Your Quote

Issues to Consider When Using Your Quote

Big Deposits and Credit Card Holds 

Apart from the car prices and the different sorts of insurances attached to the rental cars, there are important matters that you should consider before renting an auto. In the rental car step, you may face an annoying experience when you make deposits or use your credit cards.

As the rental price packages can be up to $2,500, credit cards are the reliable payment methods. In fact, when you move a huge sum of money, you may charge fees for your deposit, which can be high depending on the amount you transfer. The higher the amount deposited, the higher the transaction fees you have to pay. 

Hidden Fees and Additional Charges 

With car rental base rates that are fused to mandatory insurances, your deposits keep going up. This cost continues to rise when you purchase optional insurance offered by the agencies. These supplement insurances are not obligatory but they are important to adventure-minded travellers.

The Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), and Full Coverage provide further coverage to you and other individuals. Anyway, several factors push you to use your credit card. It won't bother you until you notice that some companies add on charges without your approval. You ought to watch out for your quote otherwise you will be ruined.


Some rental cars come with unlimited mileage allowing you to drive as many miles as you want. In fact, the US autos are renowned for unlimited mileage as well as an additional cost that range from $0.10 - $0.25 for every additional mile.

This option can, hence, be adverse for those who want to book the cars for every day as it can increase your rental charge. One of the agencies is Hertz which opts for mileage restrictions and associated charges for a short period of rental, one to two days.

Fees at airports 

Another essential thing that you have to take into account is the fees that you must charge when you are at an airport. Aside from the automobile rental price, airport fees will significantly impact your quotes. With this fee, some firms charge their clients up to 13% of the total price while others require higher.

Thus, when the base price is $600, this can rise up to $ 800 due to airport and insurance charges. It is worth noting that several rental agencies don’t charge an airport fee. Some of the renowned names include Enterprise and Alamo.

License Plate Fee 

A car license fee or license plate fee means a fee for vehicle registration charged by the local government. This means that the rental agencies have to pay the taxes. However, some of the firms include the auto license fee in their customers’ bills. So, before choosing a car rental company, think about checking or ask the fees that you will expect to pay.

Pick-up/Drop-off Fees 

An important fee that you need to charge is pick-up fees known as drop-off fees. When you go to another location, there are fees that you have to pay which are between $20 and $100. So, you should make sure that these charges are included in your quote before you sign the rental agreement. Some of the biggest car rental companies provide a list of particular fees like drop-off fees on their websites.

Car Seats for Kids 

Vacations with family or friends are often more interesting than solo travel. If you want to travel to Costa Rica with children aged 12 and under, you should take into account that there are fees for the kids’ seats. The biggest rental vehicle agencies customize their cars to provide bucket convertible seats to babies, boosters with a back, and bucket seats.

As for the older infants, they will benefit from the backless boosters. These baby options will charge the customers from $5 to $10 a day. An important thing to consider is that some budget brands may not have baby seat packages so if you have your own comfortable seats, you should bring them.