Read your rental car agreement’s fine print (Costa Rica adventures part 1)

My fiancée and I went on a trip to Costa Rica over my school’s winter break in order to get some warmth, beach time, and relaxed exploring of a new country. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that I look forward to writing about for some time on this blog.

For this first entry I want to focus on the rental car that I had reserved for this occasion. The flight down was uneventful (United airlines from Newark) although we were pleasantly surprised to have video on-demand service on the flight even though everything I had read told me otherwise. When we arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, we retrieved our bags relatively quickly after customs and were taken on a shuttle bus to the Avis location off-site.

We arrived and I immediately walked up to the Avis Preferred area (there was no line otherwise but I know I am an Avis Preferred member). I began discussing the rental costs with the agent and discovered quickly that I would be mandated to pay for insurance I did not want.  The Costa Rican government has required these payments to cover damage to other people’s cars in case of a collision. This was written quite clearly in the terms and conditions of my reservation:

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 11.06.51 AM

Since I had not contacted my credit card company ahead of time in order to get the letterhead statement of insurance coverage, I had to pay the minimum amount of $19/day in this case.

Then, based on something the rental agent told me I did some quick research on my phone to discover that because I have to take this mandated insurance, I am no longer allowed to use the insurance from the credit card that I have:

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 11.12.16 AM

Visa is a company that requires you to decline the rental company’s insurance. Therefore, with this scheme in place, in order to be covered for the other vehicle as well as my own car, I had to pay $34/day to get fully insured.

The final unfortunate blow came when I was told I could not use the credit card I normally use to earn double points (my Chase Sapphire Preferred) because it does not have raised numbers. Even though it worked everywhere else in Costa Rica, at the rental agency they use the old-style credit card slider-with-carbon-paper and require the ridges of raised numbers. This, along with a warning about debit cards, was also listed in my terms and conditions:

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 11.15.26 AM

Suffice it to say that I learned a lot about my rental car insurance during this trip to Costa Rica. I will be doing more thorough research in the future to ensure I do not get scammed again. And, when return to Costa Rica (because it really is a beautiful country), I will be getting a letter explaining the waiver to use my credit card’s insurance.

More blog posts to follow about our Costa Rica trip. Check out Part 2 soon regarding how we actually booked our tickets with miles!

2 thoughts on “Read your rental car agreement’s fine print (Costa Rica adventures part 1)

  1. Pingback: The beauty of isolation (Costa Rica adventures part 2) | Gate B3
  2. Pingback: Avis Preferred works! And the Coastside Inn in Half Moon Bay | Gate B3

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