You'll probably rent your car from an international car rental firm, either directly or
through your travel agent as part of a package. Or you may rent on-site, thinking you'll
get a better deal. No matter what your choice is, renting a car in Mexico can be expensive if you don't shop around.
Rates vary greatly from city to city and even from location to location within the
same city. For example, a Volkswagen Beetle, two-doors with no air conditioning, can rent
in Cancun from a high of $81 per day with
Hertz, to a low of $29 a day with Budget. The same model in Mexico City rents for $81
with Hertz and half that with Budget.
Lower prices are generally found with smaller local companies, but the ability to speak
Spanish is a definite asset. Discounts are available for smaller cars rented for longer
periods and sometimes if they are reserved a certain number of days before your
arrival--usually seven to 14 days, but often less. You also will get a break by paying at
the time of booking, renting by the week, and returning the car to the same location.
If you only plan to rent for a day or two, the best deal may be a flat
per-day/per-kilometer rate. An increasingly common alternative is to get a certain number
of free kilometers each day and then be charged for those over that number. The best deal
for Mexican touring, however, is a flat, per-day rate with unlimited mileage (this can
refer to miles or kilometers), especially if you're planning on driving more than 100
miles. But make sure that the low, The old, reliable, virtually indestructible Volkswagen
Beetle is the most common rental car in Mexico.
The daily rate is indeed a per-day rate in Mexico. Often the lowest price advertised is
for a minimum three-day rental. The type of car also influences cost. The number one
economy car is the Volkswagen Beetle. Other makes include Japanese models not available in
the United States. The same makes and models available in the United States usually are
not offered in Mexico.
While charges may increase only a few dollars a day for the different categories of
subcompact and compact cars, rates increase considerably as you move into full-size,
luxury models. Automatic shifts are almost always more expensive. Also, don't forget
drop-off charges and one-way rental fees.
The actual rental procedure is the same as anywhere else in the world. However, the
implied meaning may be slightly different. You must have a valid driver's license and be
able to convince the rental agency of two things: that you are personally creditworthy (a
valid credit card in your name usually will do), and that you will return the car on time.
Of the five major international companies-Hertz, Avis, Budget, Dollar and National-none
will let you rent a car without a credit card. National requires that it be in your name.
And even if you prefer to pay in cash, leave your credit card imprint as a deposit and
settle your bill upon returning the car.
In addition, the minimum renter age, ranging from 21 to 25 years, differs from one
company to another, even though the minimum driving age in Mexico is 18. There may also be
an upper age limit of 69 to 75 years. Budget's maximum age is 70, the other international
companies have no upper limit.
The CDW or collision damage waiver insurance will add to your bill-running from $9 to
$13 per day. You may be responsible for the full value of the car being rented. Before
making your rental car reservation, check with your auto insurance company to see if
rental cars are covered on your policy. Also check with your credit card company to see if
it's covered on your card. Specific terms differ sharply from company to company.
Unfortunately, many international companies are now including the cost of the CDW in
their quoted prices. The disadvantage is that you'll probably not have the option of
refusing coverage, even if it's included in your own car insurance policy or credit card.
Don't be surprised if your advance, confirmed reservation with an international
company isn't waiting for you. Or if the class and make of car you reserved isn't
available. This just adds to your adventure and with patience you'll be on your way.