You should know About Renting a Car in Mexico
Are you planning to rent a car in Mexico? It can be a bit nerve-wracking if you’ve never done it before. After all, driving in a foreign country has its own rules, safety issues and possible scams. However, it doesn’t have to be a daunting idea. It’s actually surprisingly easy to rent a car in Mexico, and this guide will help you stay safe while avoiding being scammed.
Advantages of renting a car in Mexico
You have more freedom to move.
It almost goes without saying, but having a car in Mexico means you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about chasing buses to get from place to place or tours that leave only a certain amount of time at each stop.
When I went to the coast of Oaxaca from the city of Oaxaca, I liked to stop along the way in the small villages. I had the freedom to do what I wanted, which I could not have done if I had taken a bus.
You can think outside the box.
Especially if you are traveling to tourist hotspots like Cancún, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, you will feel like you are traveling to a Mexican version of the United States in some places. If you want to get off the overcome track in Mexico, you may need a rental car.
Renting a car allows you to get to smaller towns and villages that would otherwise be difficult to reach by public transport. You can also access secret beaches, secluded cenotes and other natural areas that are much less visited.
Take, for example, the Riviera Maya. If you have a rental car, you can go to places such as Xpu-ha, Punta Allen and other small resort towns that other tourists do not visit so much.
You can see more of Mexico.
If you want to travel from one city to another, renting a car is a great option, as buses that travel long distances often take several hours longer than just driving. Renting a car allows you to go further, faster. You will be able to see more in less time, enjoy every moment and truly enjoy the magic of Mexico.
My favorite road trips have all been to Mexico. I love how the terrain changes dramatically here, making it a challenging road trip, whether you’re a couple, with friends or solo. If you are open to adventure, you are sure to find many spontaneous stops along the way. You may come across an elote stand along the way, a nature reserve or a pueblo mágico (“Magic City”).
With a rental car, you can really enjoy the trip without focusing too much on the destination, which is a fun way to discover Mexico.
Disadvantages of renting a car in Mexico
It can be expensive.
Especially if you choose Omnium insurance without excess (we’ll talk about this after), the daily cost of renting a car in Mexico can become quite high. Keep in mind the ever-changing price of gasoline, and it can even be difficult to predict how much you’re likely to spend on a rental car.
Forget about driving in the city.
I do not recommend renting a car in Mexico City if you plan to use it in the city. The traffic is absolutely crazy, and driving there is not only stressful, but can take longer than jumping on the subway. It is also very peril to navigate in Mexico City if you have never driven there before, as many drivers do not follow the traffic rules. It sounds stressful because it’s stressful.
Small towns like Oaxaca and Mérida are much easier to drive, but unless you plan to leave the city, a car isn’t quite necessary because most small towns in Mexico have decent public transportation.
You can only drive during the day.
For safety reasons, it is not a good idea to drive your rental car in Mexico at night. There’s no explicit law or rule that says you can’t, but I don’t recommend risking it.
For example, the highway between Tulum and Bacalar becomes peril at night, as organized delinquent groups are known to create blockades and extort drivers. This also happens in other regions of Mexico, especially on poorly lit highways and in areas where there is no mobile reception.
In a city or town, it probably doesn’t matter, but avoid highways as much as possible if you absolutely have to drive in the dark.
Avoid Hidden Costs
If you’ve Googled “rental cars in Mexico” and you’ve seen companies advertising rates as low as day, I promise it’s too good to be true. Some car rental companies use these low base rates to attract customers to their site. This rate of day does not include insurance (mandatory in Mexico) or other costs. If you fall for it, you will probably arrive to pick up the car you booked online and be hit with a much higher bill than you imagined.
The minimum you can expect to pay per day on insurance alone is for the minimum coverage. See why a day for a rental car is too good to be true?
To avoid falling for this scam, check out various online companies and make sure you pay close attention to what the daily price includes. Do you need an additional driver? How much does the insurance cost? Is there a franchise?
Where to rent a car in Mexico
A reputable site that is ideal for surfing and booking rental cars is Discover Cars. This gives you a complete picture of what you’re paying for, with no hidden costs. The site allows you to see the options of different companies, which makes their comparison easier than ever.
An interesting feature of Discover Cars is that you can partially pay when you book, and pay the rest when you pick up the car at the airport or in the city. (This feature is not available for all cars; some rental properties require full payment at the time of booking.)
At the airport
If you want to wait until your arrival in Mexico to book your rental car, the airport is often the best place. Not only do you have different companies in the same place for easy comparison, but you also don’t have to worry about getting to and from the airport. If you are traveling to a place like Cancún, but plan to spend most of your time elsewhere, this is the best option to save time and money.
Another advantage of waiting to get to the airport is that you can talk to a real person when deciding which car to rent, which insurance to buy, etc. Most of the employees of these companies at airports also speak English and can answer all your questions.
Companies I have used
I rented cars in Mexico through Alamo, Avis and Europcar without any problems. I found these three companies equally useful and simple.
I rented a car with Alamo in Tulum with some friends, and it was super quick to pick it up and deliver. If you use Avis, I personally recommend booking, as people often book cars on their website only to arrive at the body location and receive another (more expensive) car. However, this did not happen to me, because I rented at Tuxtla Gutiérrez airport.
The last time I rented a car, I went through Europcar at a body located in the center of Oaxaca. It was the best experience I’ve had so far, as the employees went the extra mile to walk me through the cost of everything. They were also very responsive when I called to ask questions while I had the car.
Cost of renting a car in Mexico
Car rentals in Mexico usually start at per day for basic economy manual vehicles and the minimum insurance requirement. Full coverage insurance costs about per day, depending on the vehicle, in addition to the basic cost of the car. Keep in mind that automatic vehicles cost more and are harder to find than manual vehicles. If you drive with a stick, now is the time to save money!