Renting a Car in Costa Rica: Clearing Up the Confusion

If you’ve looked into renting a car for your trip to Costa Rica, you may be uneasy about the details. Maybe you’re unsure about the process of renting. Maybe you’re confused about the prices. Or maybe now you’re questioning your quote after hearing stories of getting charged more money upon arrival. If this sounds like you, this article has the answers.


Renting a Car in Costa Rica: Clearing up the Confusion


First, don’t be discouraged. Renting a car doesn’t have to be stressful and is a great way to explore Costa Rica. In our years living in Costa Rica, we have rented dozens of times from at least 5 different rental car companies. We also deal with rental car agencies on a daily basis for our clients and know what to watch for. Below we’ll give you the latest information about renting a car in Costa Rica and provide the resources you need to check your quote or get a new one (with a discount).

Rental Car Agencies in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has more than 30 different rental car agencies (and probably upwards of 50 if you include the very small ones). Some of them are global corporations that you might recognize like Alamo, Enterprise, Eurocar, and Hertz. Others are quite small and may have names like Mango J’s Car Rentals. The point is, with all this competition, there is a lot to sort through.

Going with a bigger company has its advantages. These agencies usually have multiple locations around Costa Rica and more support staff. They also tend to have newer cars in better condition. Some of the discount or smaller agencies may use older models that are less reliable. 

IMPORTANT: If you are looking at prices for one of the bigger companies, make sure to search for their Costa Rica website if they have one. The quotes that come from big corporate websites are often lacking Costa Rica-specific charges like insurance (more info below). Same goes for third-party websites like Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Holiday Autos. Their rates may seem outstanding but are rarely accurate.

The company with one of the largest fleets in Costa Rica surprisingly is not a global giant. It is a Costa Rican company called Adobe Rent a Car. This is who we recommend all the time because of their transparency and customer service. We also offer a great discount through them for our readers. Adobe has 16 offices around the country and all new cars in their fleet. We’ll talk more about some benefits of them throughout this article.

Where Can You Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

Most of the rental car companies have main offices near the San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) airports. The larger companies have additional field offices around the country in popular destinations. It is possible to rent in one office location and drop off at another. You just have to pay a fee, which varies by company and pickup and drop off location. Some people also just shuttle between destinations and rent a car locally for shorter periods during their trip.

Airport Pickup

If you are picking up at one of the international airports, it is important to note that none of the rental car agencies have actual offices there. Instead, they have desks or representatives that will meet you. These employees will direct you to their complimentary shuttle van, which will drive you 5-10 minutes down the road to their actual office. These vans can hold your entire traveling party, with luggage. Some companies charge an airport pickup fee (more on this below).


Airport Pick up for Rental Cars in Costa Rica
Typical airport shuttle van


Process of Renting a Car in Costa Rica – What’s Required

To rent a car in Costa Rica, you will need the following:

1.) A Valid Driver’s License – Most travelers can use their driver’s license from their home country to drive in Costa Rica. But be sure to check with the rental car company for their specific requirements. Some companies require you to have had a license in your home country for at least two years. You may need an international driver’s license if your license is in an alphabet other than the Roman alphabet (e.g., Mandarin).

2.) Passport with a Valid Immigration Stamp – A current passport with a valid entry stamp is required. You’ll receive this stamp at the immigration desk when you enter the country and it is normally valid for 90 days.

3.) Minimum Age – Drivers must be a certain age to rent a car. This varies by company. Some have strict policies and others charge extra per day for young drivers. Here are some examples:

  • Adobe Rent a Car – Minimum age 23
  • Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz – Minimum age 21 (between ages 21-24, an additional fee applies)
  • Economy and Poas Rent a Car – Minimum age 18 (between ages 18-20, an additional fee applies)
  • Toyota Rent a Car – Minimum age 21

4.) Credit Card – You also will need a credit card (in the driver’s name) to put down a deposit. A few companies will accept a debit card as well, if it is a major card company (Visa, Master Card, etc.). Deposits vary but are typically around $1,000-$2,500. This hold is released when you return the car but could take several days or up to a week to process.

How Much Should You Expect to Pay?

Prices for rental cars fluctuate greatly by time of year, type of car, the company, and supply and demand. In general, prices are higher during peak travel months when inventories are lower (December to April, and also July). Be sure to rent several months in advance when visiting during the busiest times (especially Christmas, New Years, and Easter Week) because cars do sell out. On the other hand, prices in the low season can be very appealing, especially in September or October when tourism is at its slowest. Here is some general information about what you can expect to pay.

Estimated Cost of Renting a Car in Costa Rica
   High Season 4×2 Sedan $250 to $450 per week
   High Season 4×4 SUV $650 to $850 per week
   Low Season 4×2 Sedan $200 to $300 per week
   Low Season 4×4 SUV $300 to $650 per week


These prices are general estimates to give you an idea. They include the basic insurance that is mandatory (more on this below). If you’re seeing prices that are drastically lower, keep reading to find out why.

Rental Prices & Insurance – WHY IS IT SO CONFUSING?

When getting a quote for a rental car in Costa Rica, you will see huge differences in price from one website to the next. The biggest reason there is so much confusion is insurance. A certain level of insurance coverage is required by Costa Rican law and not all companies or websites include this cost in their quote. In fact, many of them hide it!  

According to ACAR (the Costa Rica Car Rental Association), most online travel booking sites rarely include the mandatory insurance.

“For pricing to appear competitive, often fees, taxes and surcharges are buried in small print or dismissed in a vague statement.” –ACAR

Adding up to as much as $25 per day, this mandatory insurance can increase the overall price of your rental car by hundreds of dollars. When you arrive in the country and suddenly find out that your quote did not have this, you have two choices: waste your precious time trying to find another rental car agency or pay the extra money and drive away with a bad start to your vacation.


Watch out for the fine print on rental car contracts!
Beware of the fine print!


The above example is one of the biggest reasons that we advise our readers and clients to use Adobe Rent a Car. Like we mentioned above, this company is completely transparent with their quote. They include all charges, including mandatory insurance, right from the beginning. Additionally, we offer a discount of 10-20% off their base prices, which makes them a great value compared to competitors.

What to Look for on Your Rental Car Quote

Base Price and Required Insurance

Regardless of the company, every rental car quote for Costa Rica should have the following three items. The first two are fixed/required charges and the third may be avoided if you can meet the requirements. If any of these charges are left off your quote, you should look further at the fine print. They WILL charge you for them when you arrive.  

1.) Car Base Price – This is the daily price for the car itself, before any insurance or add-ons. It typically ranges from as little as $1 per day to as much as $75+ per day. This is always included so don’t fret over this one.

2.) Liability Insurance – This is the third-party liability insurance that is required in Costa Rica that we talked about above. It covers damage you cause to third parties and their property. Coverage is limited and there is often a deductible so be sure to check the specifics with the company you are using.

This is the most common insurance that is not included in rental car quotes. It can add hundreds of dollars to your quote. The price varies depending on what type of car you are renting but typically ranges from $12 to $25 per day. Usually the larger the vehicle, the more expensive it is. Depending on the agency, this insurance might also be called:

  • Liability Protection (LP)
  • Third Party Insurance (TPI)
  • Third Party Liability (TPL)
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)
  • Additional Liability Insurance (ALI)

3.) Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) – This is not an actual insurance but is a waiver of financial responsibility for damage to or theft of the rental car. So basically it covers damage to the rental car itself if you’re in an accident or the car is stolen. It has certain coverage restrictions (often does not cover vandalism, towing charges, etc.) and usually has a deductible.

CDW or LDW is required by all rental agencies but often can be declined if you show your own coverage. People with major credit cards often have this benefit through their card agreement. Visa, for example, provides CDW coverage. To decline, you will need to show proof of your own coverage through a letter from your credit card company. This is something that can be done with a quick phone call. They have a form letter that they usually can email to you. Most rental car companies require that the letter have the name and the credit card information of the primary driver.

Be aware that your credit card agreement may contain restrictions or caveats (e.g., definitions of major roads and “off-roading,” type of vehicles that are covered, time limits to the rental period). These special terms may make filing a claim more complicated. CDW/LDW is typically around $5-$15/day if you choose to get it through the rental car company.

Optional Insurance

Just like with cars you have rented in your home country, there is always some type of higher coverage you can purchase. Considered something of a full or premium coverage, this insurance typically gets rid of the deductibles for third-party liability and CDW/LDW. It may also increase coverage limits to a high dollar amount.

People often ask us if they should pay for this. The truth is, it is a very personal decision and one you have to make on your own. Many people do opt for the extra coverage for peace of mind, while just as many go without. The price for this insurance ranges from around $13-21 per day, so it can add up. Depending on the agency, it may be called Extended Protection, Super Protection, Deductible Protection, Limited Loss Waiver, or something else.

Here’s a quote that includes all of the necessary options:


What to look for on a rental car quote in Costa Rica


Other Things to Watch Out for on Your Quote

Big Deposits and Credit Card Holds

Almost all rental car agencies will put a hold on your credit card. The amount depends on the type of car but normally ranges from $1,000-$2,500 (Adobe’s is $1,000-$1,500). We first learned about giant deposits being charged when we met a nice couple visiting Costa Rica for the first time. They told us they were having a great time aside from getting their rental car at the airport. They used a small company (unknown to us), and when filling out the paperwork, were told the deposit was $5,000! This couple was planning to use that credit card for purchases during their trip, so a hold like that was devastating. They eventually figured out a solution, but it took several hours and some scrambling. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it to their first destination that night because of the time they had wasted.  

Extra Charges and Hidden Fees

Sometimes the price of your rental car includes the insurances listed above and seems like a fair deal. However, once the rental car agency starts adding on charges (sometimes hidden), your price keeps going up. Keep an eye out for these extra charges that can really hurt your wallet.

Airport Fees

Some companies charge up to 13% of the total price for this fee. So a $500 rental (base price plus insurance) can become $565. Note that most companies don’t charge an airport fee. The ones that we know of that do are Alamo and Enterprise.

Environmental Fees

These are not very common and usually less than $1/day but add up on longer rentals.

License Plate Fee

We have seen this one on Alamo and Enterprise as well. They were charging $1.50 per day for this.

Mileage (Distance)

Most rental car companies have unlimited mileage but at least one that we know of, Hertz, has mileage restrictions and related charges for shorter rentals of 1-2 days.

Pick up/Drop-off Fees

These fees are normal, if you are picking up at one location and dropping off at another. They can be as little as $20 or upwards of $100 (for a cross-country journey). Just make sure that they are included in your quote from the beginning and aren’t exuberant. Some companies, like Adobe, have a list of the specific fees on their website.

Local Delivery

Some companies may charge you if you request car delivery to your hotel. Others, like Adobe, will deliver to hotels or rentals within a certain range of their office for free.

Optional Add-ons

Some add-ons are not so scary and will actually help you during your trip. Most companies offer the same options. This is one area where being a Two Weeks in Costa Rica reader really can be beneficial. Not only do we offer the rental car discount of 10-20% mentioned above, but many of these add-ons are either discounted or free when you book through our site.

Extra Driver

Having an extra person be able to drive can be really nice, especially on long hauls. Most companies charge around $10-$13/day for this. Our readers get 1 extra driver (2 drivers total) free of charge through Adobe.  


GPS works fairly well around Costa Rica, but if you’ve ever had one, you know that they sometimes can take a while to get the hang of. Be patient setting your course or ask the rental car associate to help you before heading down the road. Ten minutes of technical stuff can save you hours if you get lost. GPS devices range from $12-$15/day for most companies. These are $6/day when rented through our link.


This is not offered by all companies but is really cool. It’s a small portable stick that works off the local cell phone towers (like your phone does) and makes a hotspot in the car. Wifi ranges from $10-$15 per day. This is great for navigation. You can download the Waze App on your phone, which works really well here, or follow along on Google Maps (fairly accurate but can take you down some backroads). It is also beneficial if you have Internet junkies in your family or someone who needs to check in with work (hopefully not!).

Cell Phone

A handful of companies offer cell phone rentals for around $10/day. When you rent through our link, a cell phone can be requested, free of charge. These phones are nothing fancy. They’re a basic track phone that you can use if you need to call a local number or the rental agency. These are loaded up with a few hours’ worth of minutes and you can add more at most supermarkets.

Car Seats for Kids

These are an important add-on and are required in Costa Rica for children 12 and under (up to 57 inches/145 cm or 79 pounds/36 kg). Our post Traveling with a Baby in Costa Rica has more on the specific requirements.

Most rental car companies have infant bucket seats, convertible seats, boosters with a back, and backless boosters for older kids. Some of the smaller, budget companies may not have all these options so be sure to ask if you’re not sure what they are offering you. If you are uncomfortable with unfamiliar brands (the types offered vary), we suggest bringing your own.

Our readers receive free car seats when booking through our discount link with Adobe. Other companies charge around $5-$10 per day for these.


Renting a Car in Costa Rica and Car Seats
Examples of the car seat types available through Adobe


Surf Racks

If you’re coming to Costa Rica with your surfboard, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper vehicle to carry it. Surfboard racks can be requested from many agencies. If you’re using our Adobe link, you can request one free of charge. Just be sure to communicate with the reservations department ahead of time since these are limited and only fit certain car models.


Costa Rica’s car rental industry is indeed complex. But if you know what to look for, you can cut through the confusion. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to pick a reputable company with a strong track record. Double check your quote, read the fine print, and make sure you understand what’s going to happen (and what you’ll be charged for) when you arrive.

If you need a quote or want to switch companies, we highly recommend Adobe Rent a Car. We’ve used them ourselves, for friends and family, and have had thousands of readers and clients use them as well—all with excellent feedback. They lay it all out for you beforehand and have great customer service if you have questions. When renting through Adobe, be sure to use our discount to take advantage of those savings and benefits that we mentioned above.

And most of all, leave the rental car confusion behind and enjoy Costa Rica!  


Adobe banner 3Book through our Adobe Link to get the following benefits:

  • 10-20% discount on car prices
  • Discounted GPS (only $6/day)
  • Free second driver
  • Free delivery to hotels nearby
  • Free cell phone
  • Free car seats for kids
  • Free surf racks
  • Free cooler
  • Awesome customer service!


This article is based on our knowledge of the rental car industry as a travel agency and website. It is only intended to be a resource for what to look for when getting a rental car quote in Costa Rica. We are not experts on insurance. If you are unsure about any of the coverages and limitations with the company you are booking through, we recommend doing your own due diligence and contacting them directly.

Have a question about renting a car in Costa Rica? Post your comment below. (Subscribers, click here to post your comment online.)

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  1. My friends & I visited Costa Rica last year & I am still trying to figure out when I can get back.. but thanks to your blog & all of the information provided we felt very comfortable renting a vehicle. We had many people telling us prior to our visit that we are crazy if we rent a car. WE ARE SO GLAD WE RENTED A CAR! We rented through Adobe (thanks to your suggestion & discount) & it was such a pleasant experience with them, starting from the pickup at the airport til the end returning the car. Thank you as always for the detailed information you provide, from one of probably thousands of visits.. it is very appreciated!

    1. Hi Kristin, That’s great to hear that you had such a good experience with Adobe and were happy that you rented a car! A car is the best way to see the country for sure, if you’re comfortable driving. Hope you can get back soon. Pura vida!

    2. Only 10 minutes out of the Enterprise lot at Liberia airport, approaching a stop light going 5 miles per hour, presses the break peddle to the floor and car would not stop! It was like hitting a patch of ice! Rear ended another driver. Made to wait 2 hours roadside for police and insurance inspector. Enterprise would not come get the car for two hours! Then they told me there was nothing wrong with the car! I told them I did not feel safe renting a vehicle for them and they continued to charge me a full day at 200 dollars!!!! Unbelievable bad experience with Enterprise. So dishonest!!!!!! DONT RENT FROM THEM!

      1. Just tried the link. It was still cheaper through Alamo, Even with the Airport tax. We get a free driver with Alamo too when you sign up for the free insider program. I have had good luck with them in CR in the past. The SLP is only $11.95/day.

    3. Where can you rent a car without a creditcard? I have one but I won’t have my driver’s license long enough in October to rent a car. My mother does but she only has a prepaid card and we can’t fine anywhere where we can rent a car without a credit card.

        1. Hi , We are going to Costa rica in 2 weeks , but I have small problem with renting a car … we don’t have credit card , only debit visa and no one rent company accept debit visa for security deposit while picking up the car in Costa rica … but , I found one : economyrentacar , which wrote me back in the e-mail that they accept debit card . Do You an experience with such payment ?

          1. Yes, almost all rental car companies in Costa Rica require a credit card for the deposit. If Economy will allow you to use a debit card, we’d go with that. They have a fairly good reputation.

    4. Hi ! My husband and I have a trip planned to Costa Rica for this month. We are really excited but I am also a bit nervous just since there’s a few requirements, we are looking to rent a car and will most likely go with adobe since you talk so highly about it! We are flying into San Jose and driving out to la fortuna, after 3 days in la fortuna we will drive over to tamarindo. Would you recommend for us to get a 4×4?

      Also a few other questions I’m sorry to bother lol are things with covid, are a lot of excursions and business requiring vaccination proof?
      2. Have you heard anything about magic mountain hotel in la fortuna? I can’t find any outside reviews or pictures from Expedia

      Thank you ahead of time 🙂

      1. Hi Yvette, Thanks for renting your car through our site. You probably don’t need 4×4 for those destinations unless you plan on exploring back roads.

        Not many businesses are requiring vaccination right now. We have only heard of a handful of hotels that are (Nayara, Tabacon, and Holiday Inn Express SJO). Here’s a link to our Covid Travel articles with lots more info on current numbers, restrictions, and where to get a Covid test for return travel.

        We have not personally stayed at Magic Mountain or sent clients there. But it has a good reputation and is in a convenient location not far from the downtown.

        Hope you have a great trip!

    5. Hello- I came across Car Rental Costa Rica and USA. Do you have feedback of the company? Is it a reliable company? I read Adobe does not have hidden fees. Wondering if Car Rental Costa Rica and USA works the same way to your knowledge.

  2. Unfortunately we had one of those bad unexpected experiences. Feb 2018 rented a small SUV for 10 days at the Liberia airport from Economy, booked through Expedia. Quoted rate $170.31 CAD. Total charged with insurance $1,076.54 CAD – ouch!
    Will definately take your advice next time. We love CR, but the car rentals…not so much.

    1. Hi Edward, That’s too bad that you got charged so much more. Those third-party sites should really be more transparent with their pricing! Thanks for sharing your experience.

        1. Hi Vaughn, Yes, Adobe gives the full final price when you book through the widget on our site for the discount or if you book directly through their site. They include all required insurance and fees.

  3. Very good advice and I followed it! And everything worked out great! Most important – bring a gps map program or rent one. I’m cheap so I almost tried to go without the gps but I would have been miserable without it. Getting around San Jose is impossible without it and it took all the stress out of driving. Adobe staff were always friendly and helpful.

    1. Agreed Jack! We almost always have our Waze on when driving in San Jose. Signage is bad and it’s so easy to get lost – and then it takes forever to get back on track because of traffic. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. My husband and I were in CR this past May. We loved your blog and found it very helpful. I realized the car rental situation was going to be different than what we are used to, so I read up on several sites to get an idea of how to handle it. We ended up renting through Budget, through which included one type of insurance, and things worked out pretty well. In the past when we have rented out of the country, we were able to use our coverage that our credit card company provided. I called Budget and asked about it before we left. They said it would be fine, we didn’t need to purchase anything more. I also read where others went that way, one having to make a claim and it worked out just fine and another story of buying the expensive “extra” insurance and it didn’t cover damage that they caused. So quite a confusing thing, what to do! We ended up not buying extra insurance after a hard sell. They still put the $3000 hold on our card. Our total for 10 day trip, Toyota Rav 4 was $250. Now in our case, the car, which had less than 1000 miles on it, was pretty beat up. We made note of all the dents and scratches, so we wouldn’t be at fault. We drove on some pretty rough “roads” so I will say that you really should get 4-wheel drive when people suggest it. After reading reviews of most of the car rental companies from CR, I found that it can be SO different for everyone. Even with Budget, there were awful and wonderful reviews. You need to do what makes you comfortable and you certainly don’t want your trip ruined by a bad rental experience!

    We had a great first CR trip and found that WAZE was a godsend. It tripped us up a few times, but overall we would have been really lost without it. We had to get a $10-a-day plan with our phone provider in order to use it out of the country, but ended up making calls and other things as well, so worth it. We also purchased a fairly current lamenated map. Check the dates on the maps, I almost bought one at AAA that was from 2010. Amazon had a 2017 version. We tried to drive only during daylight when possible as finding places can be really tough. We found that lots of streets aren’t marked, really rough roads show up unexpectedly, there are some very narrow shoulders with people walking and riding at all hours and steep, scary drop offs on some roads. Thanks again for your helpful site!

    1. Hi Julie, It sounds like you did your homework, that’s great. Glad that the rental worked out for you. That’s strange that the car was so beat up but glad they didn’t give you a hard time about any of the damage when you returned it.

      Yes, Waze is so useful. We use it a lot here. It works well in San Jose and many other areas. Once in a while, it won’t know what to do in rural areas. We’ve heard from people getting lost using it to get to smaller national parks. In that case, it’s good to cross-reference Google Maps or use a hard copy map. That one you can get on Amazon is great. We recommend it in our packing list 🙂 Thanks for all the detail about how renting a car worked out for you!

  5. Good Article, and we did reserve our car for our next trip with Adobe, but they do not accept Credit Card letters according to their FAQ. Still a more transparent operation.

    1. Hi Dave, Adobe does accept letters from credit card companies to decline the Car Protection insurance. You have to show proof of CDW coverage through your credit card and the letter has to have the name of the cardholder on it and say that you’re covered in Costa Rica. We have done this before when we’ve rented through them and our clients do regularly as well. Their FAQs is a little confusing but we think they are just saying you cannot decline ALL insurance (i.e., basic liability insurance) with credit card coverage. Also, when you go to rent a car through Adobe, on the last page under Car Protection, it talk about how you can decline the Car Protection with written proof of coverage, then it refers you to their Terms and Conditions webpage, which says this: “The Car Protection (LDW) may be declined upon presentation of a letter from the credit card company that states coverage for a rental car in Costa Rica. Please consult: for further information.” Hope that helps!

      1. Hello….. how do we get this letter from our cc company? We called and they say they have no idea what we are talking about. Told us to print the 50 page document that explains ALL of the coverage provided with that cc.

        1. Hi Kristen, That’s strange, you must have gotten someone who didn’t know what they were doing. We’ve had many clients who we help with our Itinerary Service do this without any problems. Try giving them a call back and ask for the letter proving CDW coverage through your credit card. If it’s a VISA card, it will be through VISA, and not your bank.

      2. All right Matt and Jen, I read your website article about driving in Costa Rica. I have my drivers license and a copy of my passport on my phone when I get pulled over, waved over actually, you know. Turns out your article is wrong, if you don’t have your passport with the tourist stamp in it you’re in violation. Thanks, now I have to drive to Liberia, pay the fine at BAC, then go to the police and get my car’s license plates back. If you actually do know anything about Costa Rica you know that’s gonna take all day. Anyway, please update your article. In the future if you don’t know find out before you write articles that other people are going to read and trust.

        1. Hi James, Sorry that happened to you. It is rare that a police officer will not accept a copy of a passport. It’s a bad idea to tell tourists to carry their passport with them at all times since it’s much more likely they will get stolen or lost. So that’s why the majority of resources about travel in Costa Rica tell people to carry a copy only. You have to have a copy of the photo page and entry stamp, showing you are legally in the country. If our article was not clear about the entry stamp part, we will update it.

          Before we had legal residency in Costa Rica, we showed copies of our passport at roadblocks several times and it was fine. Same for friends of ours. We’ve heard that at least for US citizens, the US and Costa Rica have an agreement that the police need to accept copies. This is also supposedly the official policy of Costa Rica’s Transito police – they are supposed to accept legible copies and if for some reason they don’t want to accept it, they’re supposed to follow you to your hotel to see the physical passport. Again, like anything else, it often depends who you get and how well informed they are. The US Embassy website doesn’t address this, but this Tico Times article talks about it.

          In the times we’ve heard of this happening in the 10 years we’ve lived here, though, we’ve only heard of the officer giving the person a hard time and eventually accepting a copy. We’ve never heard of them taking license plates.

    2. So, Dave, since Adobe doesn’t accept the credit card letters, what did you do? They say on their website to bring the letter.

      1. Hi Janice, Adobe absolutely accepts credit card letters to decline the Car Protection. If you have any questions, we recommend emailing ( or calling (1-855-861-1250) them directly.

      2. Yes I am going to take Jenns advice and get the letter anyway. Even without that their price is lower than the major agencies ( No airport fee)

    3. Hi Jenn and Matt,

      Can you tell me what current road conditions from the Liberia airport to Nosara are currently. I will be arriving in the evening thus will be driving at night. I would appreciate any advice.

      1. Hi Maureen, We highly recommend against doing that drive at night. We don’t recommend driving long distances after dark in general, and that drive in particular, shouldn’t be done in the dark if you are unfamiliar with the terrain because the roads are very dark and some are rough dirt. Read our Driving Tips post for more info. As for conditions, if you go via Route 21 to 150, most of it will be well paved but the last stretch from the Samara area to Nosara will be dirt. We recommend an SUV with higher clearance and 4×4 wouldn’t hurt!

  6. My flight out of Liberia airport is at 6:45 am on 12/10/18. I see they open at 5:00 a.m. Can they get me there in a comfortable time to check in to get home to the U.S. ?

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Steve, That would probably be cutting it too close since you’re supposed to be at the airport 2 hours before your flight. We’d recommend dropping off the car the night before. If you’re renting through Adobe, they can pick up the car for free for you at your hotel near LIR. Just specify you would like this when making the reservation.

  7. Hi,
    Your blog has been very helpful, but one thing I can’t seem to find anywhere as far a rentals and budgeting for Costa Rica is any information about gas prices and availability of gas stations in more rural areas. I am planning on renting a 4WD vehicle and I have no idea how to budget for gas. Also, in the US I use gas buddy to find cheap gas prices… are there any similar apps for Costa Rica (I know that’s a long shot).

    1. Hi Dana, Great question. Gas prices are regulated by the government so they will be exactly the same everywhere you go. The price fluctuates but is usually around 680 colones per liter, or $4.40/gallon. You will find gas stations along all major highways and in smaller towns in between, but it’s best to fill up beforehand if you’re driving a long distance. In general, though, there are plenty of stations around.

  8. I think that I rented a car through Adobe, but I have received confirmation. How can I tell if I sent the Information to Adobe or not?

  9. Hi, Jenn. Reading this blog and others’ questions has been so helpful. Thank you! I have read the Adobe website as thoroughly as possible, and I can’t find where they might mention what they determine what would be billable damages. What do you they consider when releasing the full amount of the deposit hold? I noticed they included “excessive dirt” as not included in insurance, and as we are renting a 4×4 and visiting during the rainy season, I would imagine the car would get excessively dirty. Do you find them to be fair in their assessments for returning the full amount of the deposit? Thank you!

    1. Hi Liz, We have been working with Adobe for several years now and have never received any complaints about deposits being unnecessarily withheld. If there is new damage to the car, they will charge you, but normal wear and tear and dirt should be fine. Everyone brings back the cars with some sand from the beach and a little jungle grime 🙂

  10. Hey Jenn and Matt,
    Thanks so much for this amazing resource that you’ve put together. So my family (myself, wife, and three children – 4yrs-10yrs and my in-laws) will be travelling to Costa Rica at the end of March. We’re flying into Liberia and will be travelling to Nosara for 10 days. I’m just trying to figure out our transportation options and wondering if you have any advice around that. Our initial plan right now is to do the majority of our vacationing in Nosara and hanging out at the beach. We did want to do a few excursions such as the Wildlife Refuge, visiting a national forrest, etc. In terms of cost effectiveness, I’m wondering is it cheaper for us to rent a car in Liberia for the entire duration of our trip vs shuttle there and back to Nosara and rent a vehicle in Nosara for our day trips? Any thoughts you might have around this would be great. Thank you!

    1. Hi Dan, Either option would work and the price would probably be similar. Depending on where you are staying in Nosara, you might want to have a rental car to get around town for restaurants, etc. It’s very spread out. Usually we recommend a car for people unless they are staying right in Guiones. If you decide to rent a car, be sure to check out our discount (we get free car seats for our readers too). Or if you need help with shuttles, send us a request through our Private Shuttle Booking page. Private shuttles are more economical for bigger groups.

  11. Just wanted to thank you for your wesome website, full of such great info! Just completed booking a trip for our family of 6 including 2cars using your links to Adobe. You have taken much of my stress about booking all away! We are so excited!

  12. So can you not rent a car if you don’t have a credit card? I personally don’t use credit cards at all and pay all cash (debit card) for all my purchases. Will I not be allowed to rent a car? I use Chase and have a Visa Debit if that helps at all?

    Why such high deposits/holds?

    1. Hi Lars, We think you do need a credit card to rent a car for the deposit, but you could contact Adobe to find out for sure. Their email is reservas(at)adobecar(dot)com.

      Cars have a very high value in Costa Rica so that’s the reason for the high deposits. New cars cost around 30% more on average.

  13. Your tips were helpful for me.

    Renting cars is about the most frustrating thing in Costa Rica. It feels like a scam, but with some additional info I think the challenges can be avoided.

    TPL [aka Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)] – There is no way around this. It’s mandatory, regardless of what coverage your credit cards provide or other personal insurance you have. Most online rental agencies leave this number out of their prices, whether that’s Expedia or directly from the big rental car company site (Budget, Alamo, etc.). They’ll use some generalized version of ‘additional local charges may apply’.

    I used Booking dot com (branded Rentalcars dot com) and rented from Avis because they included TPL in the final price. I had to dig into the details to determine that. If your contract includes TPL, bring a hard copy of the invoice that indicates such. The only way to find out what the TPL charge would be if they are not included, would be to contact the local office of whatever company you’ve rented from and get the rates.

    CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) – No rental car companies include the CDW in the fees you see online. Your credit cards may have coverage to take care of the CDW the local agents say is mandatory, but you need to bring a hard copy letter from your credit card company stating that you have coverage. You may get away with providing the credit card company’s generic policy statement that says rental car insurance is included, but a letter is better. The letter should have the name of the credit card company on it. Local agents will tell you that one of the major credit card companies name’s has to be there because this is the only additional insurance they accept.

    Please note, personal 3rd party liability insurance, which should give you the ability to decline all rental car coverage was not applicable. Even if your coverage is from a company like Chubb (the biggest insurance company in the world), they will not accept it. It needs to be from a credit card company. See above.

    I watched a couple get dinged for $300 in unexpected charges at the time of rental. What an awful way to star a vacation.

    Side note. Rent a 4×4. The roads here get rough sometimes, so if you’re going further than Tamarindo, like Nosara or Santa Teresa you might prefer something larger. You could get by with the cheapest 4x4s they offer (Begos, Terios), but going slightly larger to something like a Nissan X-Trail will make you more comfortable.

    1. Thank you, yours is the most helpful post describing insurance situation and what might be the way to avoid overpaying.

  14. Hi there! Thanks for the informative post! I have a trip coming up soon with a car rental and had a question of a global liability policy that I have through my insurance at home – do you guys have any experiences with the waiving of the mandatory portion of the insurance policy (provided of course that I bring all the documentation to prove I am covered?) I’m booked with Budget – I would have gone with Adobe but they were all booked up! Also, do you know what the minimum insurance one must carry is? 1 million? 2 million? Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Hi Monique, As far as we know, you have to pay the mandatory liability insurance no matter what kind of other coverage you have. Your best bet would be to ask Budget directly if they’ll accept your global policy.

  15. Your website is so awesome and provides so much valuable information. Thank very much ! We have booked our rental car at Adobe via your website. It is wonderful to get the discount and other perks such as the free cell phone, free 2nd driver, and also a peace of mind.

    Questions: Does Adobe take credit cards that do not have the raised numbers ? Our credit cards now have the flat printed numbers only.

    Similar questions for other businesses in Costa Rica.

    Thank you very much for your help

    1. Hi Angela, Thank you for renting the car through our site! Yes, Adobe and just about all other businesses accept cards without raised numbers. They can do cards with chips. Hope you have a great visit!

  16. Hello Jenn and Matt,

    I just came across your blog and found it very interesting. We (my wife, my brother and his wife) are travelling to Costa Rica in March for a month. We have a condo rented and I have booked a car at the airport in Liberia. The broker agency is Economy Car rental. The actual company providing the car is called ‘Payless Car Rental’. My question is do yo know anything about this rental company? As far as I know the third party liability insurance is included in the price as I did an online chat with a rep who assured me it was included however a $2500 hold will be put on my credit card even though I have the coverage with my credit card company. I would appreciate any information you have regarding this company as it is still not too late to cancel and get my deposit refunded. We are really looking forward to this trip but do not want to start off with a downer because of the car rental. Thanks for any information you have. Regards, Peter

    1. Hi Peter, We have used Economy Car Rental before and had a good experience with the local office we used, though we have heard of others having not-so-great experiences. Not sure how they may be related to Payless Car Rental now. We don’t know anything about them. That’s good that you checked about the liability insurance being included. A hold on your credit card is normal and the amount doesn’t seem too outrageous.

  17. Hi Matt and Jenn, thank you very much for your quick response to my question earlier on credit cards without raised numbers. I have a couple more questions:
    1. What is the best way to contact the Adobe car rental company in Liberia ? I have called them a few times during office hours, but the line kept ringing with no one answering. The number I had called from the U.S was: 011.506.26670608.

    2. How often do thieves try to cause a flat tire on a rental car, in order to rob the owner later, when they pretend to help ?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    1. Hi Angela, Sorry for the delay in responding to this. That’s strange that you couldn’t get through to Adobe’s Liberia office. That is the right number that you have. You could also try their toll free number: 1-855-861-1250. Let us know if that still doesn’t work. We hear very rarely from anyone who has actually had that flat tire scam happen to them. I think it has been maybe 3 times in the past 5 years. It is something to be aware of but we wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  18. Thanks to your extensive blog we rented a car through Adobe. This was our 2nd time in Costa Rica and only found your site a few months ago. So much helpful information. Adobe rental was seamless, smooth and employees so helpful. GPS is necessary – the few extra dollars is worth it.

  19. My situation is a little complicated and I am wondering if you have any suggestions. I am traveling to Costa Rica with my three kids, and my 22 year old son wants to do most of the driving (I am nervous to drive there and he enjoys it so this makes the most sense). The problem comes because he is 22 and doesn’t have a credit card. Since he doesn’t have a credit card, I think I have to be the renter. I plan to use my credit card and be called the primary driver, and then put my son as an additional driver. It seems like Adobe won’t work for us because the minimum age is 23. Or is that only for the primary driver and not an additional driver? Do you know if the additional drivers always have the same age limits? And, is it really financially unwise to arrange the rental this way? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Melanie, We think the minimum age to drive through Adobe is 23, for both the primary and any additional drivers. So you will have to find another company, unfortunately, if your son is going to be doing the driving. I think this is typically the case but there are other companies with lower minimum ages.

  20. Argh! This was the one page I didn’t read on your blog before our trip. We totally got slammed by insurance costs with Enterprise upon arrival at 11:00pm at night when we were exhausted. It even became a joke amongst our family that we needed to put use to the insurance. So when we were eating an amazing meal at, Ronny’s in Manuel Antonio, we joked that if the bull actually rammed our car as it seemed about to do, then at least we’d use the insurance. Insane car costs aside, it was fantastic to have the freedom of our own car. Google Maps came through on the entire trip!!

  21. How long does it take for adobe rental car to send the reservation email? It’s been about 4 hours, but I haven’t received anything yet. Any help you can give is appreciated!

  22. Hello,

    My partner and I are arriving October 19th and planning to drive most of our two weeks, even though we are first time visitors. I have read all your articles, and have actually been on and off your blog for a few years now! When I first looked into coming to Costa Rica. Long story short, I am still not confident on what vehicle to rent. I have read 4 wheel drive SUV at least or 4×4, and have also been told from people they were fine in a regular sedan car. We are planning to pick up our car in Guapiles, after busing from La Pavona boat docks. Our routes are: pick up spot to Cahuita. Cahuita to Puerto Viejo (with day drips to Punta Uva, Manzanillo) Then our final stretch is Cauhita to La Fortuna, and La Fortuna to San Jose airport. We will probably use bikes to get around during the day as well.

    Do you think we would make it around in a regular car? I am trying to work out the budget and SUV rentals are definitely more expensive. I have read that the Caribbean side is drier in October, so I was hoping the roads wouldn’t be as washed out. I apologize if this is asked a lot. I gained so much information from your articles on driving, just not certain on the choice of car.

    Thank you so much,


    1. Hi Kyla, Thanks for following our blog all this time! With that itinerary, you can get away with a regular sedan. All the main roads between towns will be paved (except part of the road from La Pavona, which is flat), and if roads are washed out (hopefully they are not), they will be closed and impassable in any kind of car. So you can save your money. Hope you have a good trip!

  23. Hi! Thanks for this great post! I’m trying to budget for my trip with my 2 young kids (2,7)…I’m wondering if I need a 4×4 or if i can get away with a sedan…we’re traveling for 18 days in January 2020 and will be going from SJO to Poasito (to visit Poas and La Paz Waterfall), then to La Fortuna and to Playa Flamingo, and finally Manuel Antonio Park and back to SJO. Thank you in advance for your input!!!

    1. Hi Marina, the road to the Poas area is mountainous but paved and fine in a regular sedan. All the rest of your destinations don’t require 4×4 either unless you want to do some exploring on back roads. Hope that helps!

  24. Hi -We are going to be going to Costa Rica in April and I have a quote for a rental car from Enterprise. I am trying to figure out if it includes the mandatory insurance. Can you help me figure this out if I send you my estimate? Thank you!
    It says “Third Party Liability” is included. The total price for 8 days is $332.

    1. Hi Bridget, That price seems low for 8 days but it does sound like the mandatory liability insurance is included. We’d be happy to take a look at the quote to confirm. Just send it to info(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com.

  25. Hello you guys
    We are planning 13 days Dec 27 2019 to Jan 9 2020…kinda soon.
    There are 4 (3 worldly ladies and I) of us plus luggage and we’d like a comfy 4×4
    Adobe doesnt have anything suitable…can you suggest an alternate company?
    Ive subscribed to your site.


    1. Hi Charlie, You could check with any of the bigger companies. Just avoid small ones you’ve never heard of. You could also shuttle to your first destination then pick up a car there. A lot of times that opens up availability, since you’re not renting from the airport. Hope you can find something!

  26. Is there anyway to know what the hold on your credit card will be beforehand with Adobe? My highest limit card is only $1000 and I would hate to get there and not be able to rent the car because they were holding more than that. My plan is to take a shuttle to La Fortuna and then rent locally for 4 days.

  27. We are a party of 9 and we saw a van for 12. Would this work for driving from La Fortuna to Monteverde and then from Monteverde to SJO?

    1. Hi Kenny, We think so but haven’t personally driven in one these vans in Costa Rica so we would just confirm with Adobe that there will be enough space for the 9 of you plus luggage. The vans are not 4×4, but they should still be ok for the drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde.

  28. Hmmm…Adobe just told me that they always charge a credit card hold of $2500 and charge an airport fee of $15 coming and going, will only pick me up from hotel, not Airbnb. Still getting different answer from everyone I speak to at Adobe.

    1. Hi Debbie, Adobe’s hold is always $1000 as far as we know and they definitely do not charge an airport surcharge. We make reservations for clients all the time and never see that when booking through our rental car discount page. Let us know if you’re seeing this charge on your end and we can look into it.

  29. HI Jenn and Matt,
    Thanks for your great site! We are coming to Costa Rica in February. We are flying into Liberia, 9 days in Playa Hermosa, 4 days at Hacienda Guachipelin and then flying out of Liberia. Should we rent a car? I’m not sure if shuttles make more sense or if there is enough to do in Hermosa that we won’t need a car. We will want to cook our own food, so we will need groceries.

    1. Hi Emilie, With nine days, we’d rent a car because there’s not a ton to do in Playa Hermosa. That way you can explore area beaches and attractions. You won’t need a car at Hacienda Guachipelin, though, so you could return it and then shuttle for the rest of your trip. I hope that helps! Be sure to check out our rental car discount if you do get a car or reach out if you need any help booking shuttles.

  30. Hey folks. So many car rental companies out there – DO NOT rent a car from Budget. There is zero consistency with what they advertise to what you may or may not get. NEVER EVER EVER rent from them in Costa Rica. What they don’t tell you – NOT even in the fine print but only if you speak to them – is that they have an age maximum. Heaven forbid you are 75 or older and want to rent a car. Why they would treat customers so poorly is beyond me. Please heed my advice and go with another company. We were also told that they will use any excuse to make more money on the cars they have so if you paid a lower price than what someone will pay that day, you might lose your reservation. Budget doesn’t deserve your hard earn money. I have travelled to 40 countries and NEVER will return to CR. Shame really, that one company can destroy a country’s amazing reputation.

  31. I am so confused by all the info regarding rental cars.Your site is great,but any updated info?
    I am arriving SJO 11/12/20 and I still have not settled the car situation.Adobe seems much better price wise than Alamo,but I do not know what to do..Traveling from SJO to Manuel Antonio area for 8 days’.Thank you for any info you can share.Thanks again,and great site.

    1. Hi Edward, No changes, all this info should still be current. Only new information is that Adobe will let you cancel up to 24 hours before now due to Covid. They have more offices around the country (including in Quepos next to Manuel Antonio) and good customer service, so if they are cheaper than Alamo, we would just go with them. They aren’t an international company like Alamo but are well respected in Costa Rica and have been around for years.

      1. Thank you very much.I have booked with Adobe thru your site.Appreciate the great tips.I am sure I will reference the site often during the next 10 days.Cheers!! Edward

  32. “GPS works fairly well around Costa Rica”
    You obviously have no fucking clue how ‘GPS works’
    Global Positioning SATELLITE.
    GPS gets its signal from SATELLITES

    1. Wow, what an angry comment. We understand how GPS works. What we meant is that a device like a Garmin will work as long as it is compatible with Costa Rica’s best GPS maps (some other companies’ maps are not as compatible so won’t work well). There’s also potential problems with user error. For example, it can’t be set to avoid tolls or go shortest distance because then it might take you straight over a mountain, just because it’s the shortest way by mileage. We have heard of this happening to many people.

  33. Jenn & Matt, we will be arriving at the SJO Airport at 10PM, probably off the plane and thru customs by 11PM. Do you know if Adobe, or any other Company accommodate pick-ups after 11pm? If not, are there other options at that time?

    1. Hi Matt, I think the latest Adobe does pick ups is 10 pm and I don’t know of another company that will allow it at that time of night either. We don’t recommend driving that late anyway so you could just stay at a hotel near the airport then have Adobe deliver the car to your hotel the next morning (this is a free service). Here’s a link to our post with some good options for airport hotels in case you decide to do that.

  34. Hi Jenn & Matt, thanks for all your great articles on Costa Rica! Very much appreciated. I’ll be renting my car through Adobe for an upcoming trip. My Canadian car insurance covers rental damage as well as I have car rental coverage with my credit card. What documentation does Adobe require for me to be able to waive their $15/day car protection insurance? Thanks!

    1. Hi Chris, You will need a letter in the name of the primary driver saying you are covered in Costa Rica. Be sure to print it out. Usually you can get this through a quick phone call to your credit card company and they email it to you.

  35. Thank you for this great information and website. We just got back from 2 months in Costa Rica and your website has been so helpful. We used Adobe through your site for our booking and they were wonderful and friendly every step of the way, including when we had to extend car hire on 2 occasions due to cancelled flights. Really recommend them. Keep up the great work on the site. Pura Vida!

  36. Hi – I reserved with Adobe for this weekend but didn’t have to give any CC info. I received a confirmation email. Is this normal?

    1. Hi Kevin, Yes, that’s normal. In the email confirmation they sent you, there are instructions towards the bottom of the email telling you to add your CC info either online through the link they gave or by phone. You should do that as soon as you can so that they hold a car for you.

  37. Hi Jenn and Matt – I’m planning on renting a car on my upcoming visit to Costa Rica and wanted to know whether you thought I needed to specifically get a four wheel drive vehicle. We’re driving from SJO to La Fortuna (where we’ll be driving to the La Fortuna waterfall and Mistico hanging bridges), from La Fortuna to the Andaz Papagayo, and then finally to LIR. Any thoughts? Thanks so much!

  38. I just submitted a quote with Adobe rental car for two weeks in Costa Rica. I do not see the discounts you mentioned on your site reflected in the quote.

    1. Hi Margaret, you should know if the quote has the discount because it will say “TWO WKS IN CR” in the “fare” part of the quote. If it didn’t work for you, try a different browser, that is usually the problem. People check the regular Adobe site to compare pricing using the same browser and the system gets confused. For the free extras, you just need to write which ones you would like in the comments part of the reservation. If you are still having trouble let us know by email info(at) and we can help you out. Thanks!

  39. Hello,
    Do you have any information on a charge for loss of license plate? We arrived back at Budget rental and one license plate was Missing. We were charged $339 in addition to being charged for UPSL (extra insurance charge?) charge of $173.65

    1. Hi Lauren, We’ve never lost a license plate or had a client lose one so aren’t sure of the exact cost. But we’ve heard it’s a huge pain. You have to go in person to the Registro Nacional to get a new plate and have a declaration from a lawyer. What they charged you is a little high but probably fair. We’re not sure why they would charge that additional insurance charge. Why would you be charged for insurance after the fact? This may all be covered in tour rental contract with them so you could check there.

  40. I appreciate your site very much, and especially your recommendation of Adobe car rental. We just completed a two week rental from them, and our experience was very good. First, their agent delivered the car to our hotel, which was extremely helpful. He also allowed us to use his wifi to download a map which was a big help to us. On our drive back to San Jose we unfortunately had a flat tire. I was deeply grateful that Adobe had an excellent quality spare tire in the car as well as an excellent quality jack and lug nut wrench. When we returned the car their staff were very considerate and helpful.

    1. Hi Bruce, Glad you had a good experience with Adobe! That’s great that you were able to get the flat fixed easily. That can be stressful. Thank you for renting your car through our site!

  41. Quick question. I pay an added premium to extend my Canadian car insurance coverage to car rentals worldwide, which includes $2m liability and other insurance coverage. Is there any way this will be accepted by car rental agencies in Costa Rica to waive the 3rd party liability coverage?

    1. Hi Ritesh, You would need to talk with the specific rental car company in Costa Rica you are going through. But from what we have heard talking to Adobe Rent a Car, most rental car companies in Costa Rica will not accept foreign insurance coverage because it is very difficult for them to recoup the money from the companies in case of a claim. Most of these companies do not have a presence/office in Costa Rica. The one exception is CDW coverage through Visa, which is generally accepted in Costa Rica. However, we have been hearing (though haven’t confirmed yet), that Visa may not be providing this coverage anymore as of July.

    1. Hi Kwamina, No, the rental car discount is still valid. It could be that Adobe was updating their website. Try again now and if you are still having problems, feel free to email us at info(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com Also be sure that you are not using the back button. That can confuse the system.

  42. Hi, Six of us (all adults) are visiting Costa Rica next Feb and are renting a vehicle. We are looking at renting a Chevy Trailblazer through Adobe. What does it mean when it says “5+2” for the number of passengers? If the vehicle holds 7, why put “5+2”? Thank you.

    1. Hi Lisa, The car holds 5 people with plenty of room for luggage or 7 people if you’re using the optional third row in the back that can hold 2. It would work for the six of you only if you have just a little bit of luggage, since the back row will have someone in it. I hope that makes sense.

  43. I read that Adobe will not rent a car to anyone 75 or older. I am 78. Is this true and is the norm with other rental companies?

    1. Hi Vincent, Yes, Adobe’s official maximum age to rent is 75 years. Other companies have similar policies. We checked with Adobe and they will rent to people older than that, no problem, as long as they seem able to drive. They also need a valid (not expired) license. They actually just rented to one of our parents who was visiting and is older than the maximum.

  44. I noticed Adobe doesn’t list Visa as a valid credit card to use for CDW coverage. I have a Visa Infinite card which does offer this coverage. Will Adobe take this?

    1. Hi Dean, We have not confirmed this but have heard that Visa stopped offering CDW coverage internationally starting in July. So that is likely why. We haven’t confirmed it, though, like we said, so it’s worth a call to your credit card company.

  45. I was all set to rent from Adobe but the site says “no cars available” for my dates of Dec 6-Dec 16th. Seem strange-any thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Leigh, That’s strange. We just tried it for those dates for both San Jose and Liberia airports and options came up. If it still doesn’t work when you try it again, feel free to email us at info(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com or just reply again to this thread.

  46. I called Visa to ask if they are discontinuing CDW coverage internationally and no one seemed to know what I was talking about. The link Adobe car rental provides goes to a website that states an end date of October 1, 2021 for the coverage but I don’t know if it is a legitimate site. One would think that if Visa truly has this date posted that their customer service reps would be able to confirm it. This seems very fishy.

    1. Hi Leigh, We don’t see the link you’re referring to on Adobe Rent a Car’s website. But we know they have been following this issue about CDW coverage for a while now. They are not trying to take advantage of anyone. We have been working with them for about 8 years and they are not like that. Did Visa end up issuing you a letter saying you have coverage in Costa Rica for after October 1, 2021? If so, please let us know and we will talk to Adobe. Thank you!

        1. Leigh Anne – We have used Adobe 2x’s for rentals in Costa Rica and we have used the note from the Credit Card to decline the CDW insurance. I would love to hear what you have figured out in regards to this as we are planning a trip again in March 2022 and will need a rental car for that trip as well. We have a United Visa card which is not a Gold or Platinum Card and are the types of cards on Adobe’s website which Adobe states no longer cover CDW insurance. Any insight would be appreciated.

  47. Hi Jen and Matt, First, thanks for this helpful website! I am considering traveling solo in Costa Rica and renting a car for travel freedom. Any thoughts or advice as a female traveler? Is it safe?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Stacy, Costa Rica is a safe destination for solo female travelers as long as you follow the usual precautions. Here’s a link to our safety post for some things to watch out for. We can’t think of any specific tips for you on renting a car other than the normal recommendations like avoiding driving after dark and things like that. Here’s a link to our driving post with more tips.

  48. Hello! Thank you so much for the detailed post. I am trying to book the rental through your link but it appears with “no cars available” in both browsers I’ve tried using. Dates: Nov. 11 pick up 7pm and drop off No. 20 at 9:30pm at San Juan Airport.

    1. Hi Sara, Sometimes what we do for people when this happens is help them arrange a shuttle to take them to their first destination, then they can pick up a car there the next day. Rental car companies will usually deliver the car for free to your hotel/vacation rental as long as it’s not too far away. Often that opens up more options for cars. If you’re interested in this, feel free to email us at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com

  49. Hi!

    So glad I read this article! I had booked through expedia, but then realized didn’t want to take chances, especially driving in a different country. While I speak the language, its still different. So I used your link and reserved the car. Looking forward to going in a couple weeks!! Thanks so much!

  50. Its always iffy to rent a car seat, because sometimes they are pretty nasty and not cleaned. You would think in covid times they are cleaning them?! Have you had any feedback about car seats and their cleanliness with Adobe? When we visit, it would be nice to not have to travel with one!

    1. Hi Dina, Adobe is cleaning the seats; I think they are actually disinfecting them. From what we know about car seats, you actually aren’t supposed to use strong disinfectants so I would bring your own if you are concerned.

  51. Hi, I can’t find any information on Adobe’s cancellation policy from their website – only your own note that they are flexible if one needs to cancel because of COVID. Do you have more information in this regard?

    1. Hi Medhi, Adobe has a 72 hour cancellation policy. If you cancel with at least 72 hours’ notice, there’s no fee. If it’s less than 72 hours, you get charged for one day of the rental or $50. They are flexible if there is a problem with your flight. Here is a link with more information.

  52. Hi Jenn and Matt, thanks so much for your very informative website!

    My wife and I are arriving into San Jose at the beginning of May 2022 for 2 weeks. We are British and have something called Car Hire excess insurance which covers CDW and SLI for any car hire worldwide, do you think Adobe or other car hire companies would accept this? In addition, we are contemplating starting off near Drake bay area, visiting Corcovado national park for a few days and Cano Island then travelling up to Monteverde/Arenal and back to San Jose. Would we need a 4×4 for this trip or are we better off catching a bus to Drake bay and hiring a car from there for our trip up? Many thanks Chris

    1. Hi Chris, We’re not sure if Adobe or other companies would accept that but this has probably come up so it should be fairly easy to get an answer. We would recommend emailing Adobe to find out –

      A 4×4 is recommended for getting between Arenal and Monteverde in May since it will be rainy season, so yes, we would get one. We would price out the difference between hiring a car the whole time starting in San Jose vs. taking a van/the bus from San Jose and picking up a car in Sierpe after. Even leaving the car parked in Sierpe, it is often cheaper or the same price to just rent a car for the whole time. A shuttle van from San Jose to Sierpe is quite expensive (around $360). And you will be charged a fee to pickup the car in Sierpe since none of the rental car companies have offices there. Hope that helps!

  53. Hi Jenn and Matt, thank you so much for your very generous sharing of important information on traveling to Costa Rica. It is most helpful!

    My wife and I will be traveling to Costa Rica for the first time this June, 13-25, and are looking to rent a car.

    We are sticking mostly to the south, and our expected route will be San Jose – San Gerardo de Dota – Ojochal – Manuel Antonio – San Jose. We are wondering what type of vehicle you feel is necessary (Sedan vs. SUV, 4×4, etc…)?

    We want the appropriate vehicle, and certainly understand all the insurance requirements, but we also want the most economic vehicle appropriate for the trip. So if a 4×4 SUV isn’t necessary, and a sedan would be fine, that would be good to know.

    Thank you so much for any advice!

    For now,

    1. Hi Doug, We would get a 4×4 since you’re coming in June/rainy season. You don’t absolutely need one for San Gerardo or Ojochal, but one is nice to have and you will be more limited with where you can go without one, especially around Ojochal. If you do decide on a 4×2, we would still get an SUV so that you have some clearance for pot holes.

  54. Thanks so much for all of the information here! I just went to Adobe’s website to look into a 7 person SUV rental for 16 days (4 adults, 1 child plus luggage), and the total price is over $3,300! This is obviously significantly higher than any of the amounts I’ve seen referenced in your post or the comments. Do you think this is due to it being a full size SUV, or do you think prices have changed that dramatically? The undisclosed “add on” costs at other companies would have to be rather extreme to get up to this total of $3,300. Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

    1. Hi Carrie, Adobe’s prices are usually in line with market prices. 7 passenger vehicles are significantly more expensive but that seems high. If you can let us know your travel dates, we can try to figure out what’s going on. Feel free to reply here or email info(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com

  55. Everything about renting a car seems to be the companies getting you to pay more for vehicles. I have heard that if you don’t get all of the insurance options (not just SLI) then any scratch or dent will be scrutinized and you will end up paying. So what happens if you just concede and pay for the full insurance? Do you end up with the worst car on the lot because they know they can’t get you on any charges? Given the horror stories I have read it seems like those with limited insurance coverage will get the new cars with no scratches or dents because you will most likely dent or scratch the car on the roads in Costa Rica. Am I crazy?

    1. Hi Todd, That has not been our experience and we haven’t heard about it happening to anyone else renting through Adobe. All their cars are 3 years old or less and they aren’t choosing them based on the type of insurance someone purchases. We have been working with them for almost a decade now and have only heard a handful of complaints from customers about damage charges when they return the car. We used to rent through Adobe when we visited Costa Rica as tourists many years ago and never bought extra insurance. We didn’t have any problems.

  56. Adobe doesn’t seem to have a vehicle for a family of five. How can I get a larger car than the Hyundai venue?

    1. Hi Wally, We usually recommend a 7-passenger SUV for a family of five with luggage. Adobe usually has Chevy Trailblazers and Ford Explorers. But maybe they are unavailable for your dates? If availability is the issue, you could shuttle to your first destination and pick up a car there. That often opens up more options.

  57. Hi there. Your site is amazing. We are planning to rent a 4×4 from Adobe as you suggested. We are thinking of just staying in the the first night we arrive since it’s right beside Adobe and then we can get a feel for things before we start driving anywhere. Do you have any insight into this hotel? Okay choice for two adults too kids (7 and 10, don’t need fancy). Thanks!

    1. Hi Anita, Glad our site has been helpful!

      We haven’t heard of that hotel but it looks fine based on the online reviews. If you’re okay with something simple, we’d go for it. Most of the options right in that area are more basic anyway. Hope that helps!

  58. Hmmm, is Adobe still in business? Yes, well, they have a website, but absolutely no cars available for our 10 day trip in November, low season. Disappointing.

    1. Hi Casey, yes they are still in business but November does start to get busy. You can try a different office perhaps. Can you maybe take a shuttle to your first destination and then rent a car from there?

  59. Did not see much in the way of comments re maximum age to rent a car in Costa Rica. We had the unfortunate experience upon arriving in Costa Rica that the rental agency would /could not rent us a car because of our ages – 76 and 78. Our travel agent did not check this with the car rental company. Fortunately, we were able to get a car from another company but with many additional charges. Not a good way to start a vacation for sure! BE AWARE

  60. i have a question, please. we’ll be in costa rica for a week in 2023. we’re renting a car and trying to figure out if the wifi option is necessary. if we have cell phone service through our US provider (T-mobile), won’t our phones receive the same signal that the car’s optional wifi system receives? so at any given moment if the car gets the cell signal our phones should get it too, right? so why pay the extra for wifi in the car? why not just use our phones for data and navigation? am i misunderstanding? will the car wifi somehow get substantially better reception than my phone? THX

    1. Hi Scott, If you get your phones enabled for use in Costa Rica through your provider in the US, there’s no need to get a Wifi stick. The Wifi stick is for people who don’t want to get their phones set up for use here due to cost, etc.

  61. I used your Adobe rental car link to get quotes for a 2 week rental in CR. Sadly, Adobe was the highest by quite a bit of the 6 companies I got prices from, and I was careful to include the comparable insurance coverages. Also, the price guidelines you show for insurance costs per day are less than half of what most companies are now charging for LDW, etc. Realizing your article is a few years old, you may wish to update the cost guesstimates. Regardless, you have some good info on your pages.

  62. Hi Jen and Matt. We are travelling to CR with our 7m old baby girl this February for ~3 weeks; your site has been incredibly helpful in planning our trip (especially planning with a little one!) Initially we were going to use private shuttles to get to each of our destinations, but have decided that renting a vehicle will be significantly more flexible (allowing for stops along the way, day trips, etc.) As per your suggestion, we plan to rent through Adobe. I’ve read your post on car seats in CR, but would like your feedback on the quality of Adobe’s car seats specifically. We are considering not bringing ours if Adobe’s are of reputable quality/reliable availability etc. Thank you!

  63. Good evening. Appreciate your rental car tips. We are renting from National in March. Looking at the estimate I see the airport fee (13.75%), environmental fee ($1.50 per day), license plate fee (.40 per day) and value added tax (13%). Do you know what “value added tax” is? Thank you.

  64. I wish I had seen your blog before my husband rented our “truck” through ACE. They are charging us $900 for the rental insurance. Seems like highway robbery, to me. Is this excessive? Any way to dispute this exorbitant fee? I would not have minded a reasonable fee, but $128.57 seems excessive.

  65. Hi Jen & Matt, I really appreciate all your guidance here! I am wondering about the Collision Damage coverage that is offered through the third party booking sites. Will this count as the mandatory insurance? I called Next Car and they said it will be $50 a day for basic, $70 a day for full coverage, but Orbitz is offering the collision damage for $11 a day. Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura, CDW is separate from the mandatory insurance. The mandatory insurance is a very basic liability insurance that covers damage to third parties, whereas CDW covers damage to the rental car itself. You just want to make sure that the rental company is including the basic mandatory liability along with the CDW in those quotes, since they are high. It sounds like the $11/day through Orbitz is only for CDW and doesn’t include the mandatory liability.

  66. Such a helpful article! We’ll be visiting CR in June and are planning to rent a car to drive from SJO to Puerto Jimenez. Do you know if it is possible to drop off a car in PJ through Adobe? It does not appear in the drop down menu on their reservation page. THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Sydney, Adobe unfortunately does not have an office in Puerto Jimenez but they can pick the car up there for an extra fee. They have to send someone from San Jose to pick it up so it is expensive because of the distance ($150 or more). The last time we checked they can do the pick up near the air strip in Puerto Jimenez only between 10am and 12pm. If you are interested in that option, I would recommend that you make a reservation using another drop off location (maybe Uvita since it is closest) and then reply back to the email you receive to tell them your special request and ask them about the cost and details. You can always cancel if it doesn’t work out. Hope it helps!

  67. Hello and thank you for your wonderful site; I’ve used it for almost every attraction I’ve booked in Costa Rica! Now I am trying to rent a car, however, and wonder if I have misunderstood your article. I did go with Adobe, which I still don’t regret, and have decided to go with the full, “Extended Protection” since I’ll be there in the rainy season. But they are trying to charge me for all three insurance types. I know Liability can’t be waived, but doesn’t the extended protection mean I don’t need the “car protection?” I’ve already struggled through one conversation with them and want to make sure I’m right before pushing the issue!

    1. Hi Kari, Glad our site has been helpful!

      I think you still need to get the Car Protection if you’re getting Extended Protection. The Extended Protection waives the deductible you’d normally pay if you only had Car Protection and it also increases the coverage amount to $4,000,000. You still need the base coverage, which is provided through Liability Protection (covers liability to other people and vehicles) and Car Protection (covers damage to the car itself). I hope that helps!

  68. Hi!! This is so helpful. We are coming to Costa Rica on June 28 and flying into Liberia — going to Santa Theresa. So If I choose the Car Protection Liability that covers what they “spring on you” when we get there, correct? Just want to make sure we are good!

    1. Hi Kelly, usually the general liability protection is what is left off of most 3rd party websites. That is the government insurance that is mandatory. The car protection is the one that can be declined with coverage from some credit cards. But yes, if you get a quote from Adobe, there will not be any hidden charges, the liability insurance is automatically included and shown as a line item.

  69. Hi, We will be going to Costa Rica in January and flying into San Jose and then flying to Liberia. Would it be a good idea to rent a car in Liberia and then return it in San Jose?

    1. Hi Mary Jo, Yes, that’s a great option if you’re flying into one airport and out of the other. The rental car company will just charge you a small fee for picking up and dropping off at different offices.

  70. Hi Jenn & Matt!
    Thanks a lot for putting this information together. It’s been helping a lot to feel more comfortable when booking.
    One thing I noticed, when creating the booking, they ask for the pick up and it can be as per your information also delivered to your location (e.g. hostel address). However, I am not sure whether it’s also possible to let them pick up – would you know?

    I don’t see a field to enter, so just wanted to make sure since it’s also mentioned on your side. Our plan is to drive down to Drake Bay and then return from their by local fligth back to San Jose. However Uvita seems to be last location to drop of the car. Not sure if they pick up from Drake Bay.

    Any tips would be appreciated!

    Best regards and best wishes from Germany!

    1. Hi Tobias, yes Adobe will pick up from a hotel as well, you just add the details for pick up in the notes section. In your case, it would be best to drive to Sierpe and take the boat taxi from there to Drake Bay. Information is in this post. Adobe will pick up the car in Sierpe from their Uvita office. So choose Uvita as your drop off and add a message in the notes about how you plan to meet them in Sierpe. They will confirm the details/logistics with you when you pick up the car.

      1. Thanks a lot for your feedback! Will explore your options for Drake Bay as well :)!

        Have you made experience with late arrival?
        I noticed we land at 21:41 (if in time) and Adobe offers pick up from airport till 22:00.
        Do you think, when mentioning upfront they will wait or not?
        I am no sure how much time to consider for collecting the luggage..

        1. Hi Tobias, it’s best to confirm with them before you arrive, but yes, we have had clients with late arrivals like that (or a flight delay) and the airport rental car office staff has waited for them. If they say they cannot do it, you could always have them deliver it to your hotel the next morning for free.

  71. Hello,

    we are going to CR in October and rented a 4×4 from Adobe. We got an information sheet saying that there is no insurance coverage on un-paved roads. We do not yet have the terms and conditions from Adobe to verify this.
    Is this really not covered by the insurance?

    1. Hi Tiane, If you are planning to use your credit card to decline CDW (Car Protection insurance), sometimes your credit card company will say that you’re not covered on unpaved roads so you would need to check with them. You’re covered on dirt roads under the mandatory basic liability that you automatically get through Adobe. One thing you’re not covered for is river crossings.

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