Should you Rent a Car in Mexico? Make sure you know this first!

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car rental in Mexico

Deciding whether to rent a car in Mexico can seem daunting at first. There is all at once quite a lot of information out there and yet seemingly no helpful information at all.

I’ve rented a car off on on a few times while living in Mexico. Mostly I’ve rented in Baja California, Guerrero state and the Yucatan.

I could’ve avoided the pitfalls of renting a car in Mexico if I’d had the right knowledge ahead of time!

Do I really need to Rent a Car in Mexico?

Mexico is a huge country. If you don’t drive, it can be hard to get around without relying on buses like ADO or hiring a driver. Buses go everywhere but there are fewer options for smaller towns and bus tours might not suit your budget.

Renting a car in Mexico gives you the freedom of exploring all that Mexico has to offer while enjoying a cool road trip.

Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore resort destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas in Quintana Roo State to quaint little beach villages along the coast of Baja California Sur. Or head to history-rich cities like Guanajuato and Guadalajara.

Driving in Mexico can seem a little bit scary at first. Mexico City traffic is very chaotic so I would strongly suggest not driving in major cities.

But driving outside of these large metropolitan areas is just as easy (and sometimes even better) than it would be back home. Generally roads are well-maintained and driving should be relatively easy (although there are exceptions to this rule!)

car rental in Mexico

What are the Best Companies to Rent a Car in Mexico?

Personally, I always prefer renting a car with small locally owned places when it comes to Mexican rentals. This is for a few reasons but the main one being that they include everything in their quoted price; you don’t want to find additional insurance costs on your bill.

The quote you receive should also include any taxes or fees so its better than getting an unpleasant surprise at checkout time which could potentially cost hundreds more dollars! 

When it comes to bigger rental companies like Enterprise, overall customer service tends to be pretty good in Mexico. But of course, you get what you pay for and they tend to have the highest rate of most companies.

One of the most economical companies with the lowest rates in Mexico is a company called Sixt .

They’re probably the cheapest option but you do get what you pay for. The cars aren’t top of the line rentals but it will get you where you need to go.

Rent a car here

Other Companies for Renting a Car

There are many other options in Mexico too that will make sure your trip goes smoothly too.

There’s Europcar, Budget, Avis or Hertz- four great companies with different prices depending on what time it is during travel season as well as the age of the person renting the vehicle.

I also recommend checking out smaller individually owned companies located near where you plan to start traveling.

Large cities may offer discounts for pre-paying online before traveling and guarantee low prices once booked without hidden fees upon arrival.

With most rental car companies, you don’t have to worry about added expenses for insurance because it’s usually included in the price.

The only thing that might affect your decision is which cars are available–most of their fleet will be manual and not automatic.

Renting a Car in Mexico: What insurance do I need?

You may be tempted to book your rental car with companies like Expedia, Rentalcars.com or another of those discount travel websites. 

Make sure you’re covered by your credit card company for insurance. If you are not sure whether the insurance that comes with your credit card covers you in Mexico, it is a good idea to call them before booking anything.

Renting a car in Mexico: off the beaten path

Sometimes by booking through a third party website services you may be charged an additional fee for their own insurance.

Optional Insurance on a Rental Car in Mexico

You can also choose additional types of insurance once you get to the rental car desk. It is basically full coverage which will bring down your deductible and protects you from theft and any emergency. This is just an optional insurance though.

Just remember that if you opt out of this insurance there will be a higher hold on your credit card than if you choose to have the insurance.

The Best Way to Rent a Car in Mexico

One of the best ways to rent a car in Mexico is through booking directly with your chosen rental company.

The process can be done ahead of time or, if you are traveling during busy seasons such as Easter break and winter holidays like Christmas you can do it at the airport when you arrive. 

This ensures that there’s no hidden fees for insurance coverage other than what is specified on their website.

My opinion for whatever it’s worth is that this is the way to make sure you get the lowest price.

Renting a car is always an investment, but if you go during times when demand for cars are low then it might be possible to get better rates.

The best way of doing this is by simply showing up at the airport or rental office in person instead of making reservations beforehand.

Renting a car can often seem expensive and a bit unappealing for people who only need a vehicle for short periods of time, like a couple of vacation weeks. But, there are definitely easier ways to rent a vehicle which is a lot less hassle. Specifically, just showing up without prior reservations. Although you’ll have to hope they have what you need available or you could be out of luck.

Do I Need to Know How to Speak Spanish?

If you don’t speak Spanish, then I really recommend only renting a car in Mexico from airports. Airports around the country always have at least one or two people who speak English.

This is especially true if you’re in bigger tourist hub like Cancun or Cabo where there will be no problem with communicating your needs.

Renting a car in Mexico: Toll Roads

What about Toll Roads in Mexico?

If you rent a car in Mexico, be prepared to come across toll roads around the country. Most of these are only about 35-100 pesos but they can add up on longer routes; for example from Cancun to Merida is over 100 pesos. The best way to handle this is by keeping cash handy although you should avoid carrying very large bills.

Remember, Mexico is a cash society so cash is king!

You can also get an electronic toll tag from some car rental companies in Mexico. These tags allow you to use the fast-pass lane. This is much faster than waiting behind other cars and paying with cash or credit card. 

You prepay for these eTags before renting the car then simply pay the additional fees that are owed after returning the vehicle.

Renting a Car in Mexico: Types of Car

If you are used to driving with a manual transmission then Mexico is the place for you. If not, be sure to choose an automatic car when reserving your rental in advance of arriving at the airport. Otherwise you might get stuck pretty fast trying to learn how to drive a stick shift!

If you are planning to rent a car in Mexico, be sure that your credit card has a high enough limite and can withstand any necessary holds. Some companies charge extra for two people renting one vehicle; however, it may not affect the cost too much and will still be worth it.

As for a license, you don’t need an international driver’s license in Mexico as long as you hold a valid drivers’ license which is printed in Roman alphabet – so no Chinese characters allowed here.

You can’t rent a car without worrying about gas, just like you couldn’t travel to another country without getting your passport stamped.

So when you drop off your car just make sure its refilled before you let go of the rental vehicle. Also make sure before taking your vehicle that any dents and scratches are marked on the contract or you could end up paying for them as damages when you return the car.

Would you Rent a Car in Mexico?

Renting a car can be an excellent option for travelers looking for a great way to make the most of their time on vacation. 

Not only does it allow you to explore and discover new sights at your own pace but also gives you ultimate flexibility when navigating traffic in unfamiliar cities or countries.

One important thing that many travelers don’t realize before signing up for rental cars? Almost all companies offer unlimited kilometers included with your booking!

This means no nasty surprises upon returning your car. Any extra miles will be calculated from the cost of petrol per litre rather than being charged by each kilometer driven.

How do you feel about renting a car in Mexico? Does it make you nervous? Leave your comments below

Next: Best Travel Insurance for Mexico


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Silvana Campbell

August 25, 2021 9:16 pm

Yes, we have rented cars in Mexico in the past successfully with no problems. Rentals allowed us the freedom of road trips to explore the area, and to tour our out of town guests when they visit Mexico, to enjoy nature and the fresh air., meet the regional people and learn their culture.
During this pandemic year, renting and owning wheels was the safer method of transport, but we also supported the excellent local taxi service for local activities, events and shopping.
Driving a car also meant we could support local businesses ie rental agencies, car washes, car dealerships, parts stores, gas stations etc doing our part to contribute to the local economy for a win win.
We are very lucky here to have options to get around to explore beautiful Huatulco!

Shannon

August 26, 2021 4:37 pm

Absolutely…what stops people is fear of the unknown but once you get over your fear of doing something different the world opens up!

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