Reality Check


Car Rental Pricing – The "Hidden" Economics

We’ve known that there are questionable pricing practices in the car rental industry and that’s why Vamos incorporated its transparent, "No Hidden Fees" motto a few years ago.

When we launched our Price Match Guarantee in the summer of 2013, we received numerous requests to match rates that appeared deceptively low.  So low in fact that we researched the marketplace and found that travel comparison websites were advertising $6 to $17/day rentals.  That sounds great to be sure, but from a business standpoint, the quotes appeared unrealistic.

Some rental agencies rely on one or more of the following four methods to create the impression of a low rate.

  1. Neglecting to include Mandatory Insurance in quote

    Costa Rica requires every rental vehicle to be insured against third-party claims.  This is a mandatory policy.  So no matter what you’re told, this charge will appear (in one form or another) on your final bill.  Expect to pay between $10 to $25 per day, depending on the make/model of your rented vehicle.

  2. Conditionally requiring additional insurance or waiver

    This usually appears as an in-house version of what your credit card program would provide, but instead, it is added on top of the Mandatory Insurance AND it’s a requirement to rent their vehicle.  Although the online quote will automatically include this in-house policy, it may be refused by presenting sufficient proof of coverage at the counter.

  3. Failing to mention the added airport tax

    Officially, the airport tax for San José is 12%; Liberia is 3%, but some agencies do charge more…a lot more.  One globally recognized brand, in particular, charges 13% airport tax for their rentals in San José; 14% for Liberia.  Other hidden surcharges exist as well, such as license plate fees, environmental fees and more, but finding this information generally requires sleuthing skills, as it is rarely listed in regularly-sized print anywhere near the quote.  See our Compare Fees chart for more details.

  4. Offering "teaser" rates via third-party websites

    Well-known booking portals, such as Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, etc. will decline any responsibility for undisclosed taxes or charges that a local rental car company may charge upon your arrival.  In other words, it’s more than likely that those rates will increase at the counter.

An excerpt from a well-known internet-based travel website is shown below.  It is representative of other related websites that offer car rentals.

The rates are for a midsize 4×4 (Daihatsu Bego or similar) for a 7-day rental (the typical rental duration).  We have "decoded" some of the fine print legalese that is responsible for an increased rental bill.

Typical Hidden Fees

Our intention is to help you, the consumer, to make informed decisions.  While comparing rates, it pays to research all mandatory or conditional extras beforehand.  Also ensure that you have a copy of all written correspondence.

At Vamos, we stand behind our pricing.  We are the only car rental company in Costa Rica that publishes their rates for the entire year in advance!  We do not change our rates according to a whim or availability.  If you want a real guarantee, see what Vamos can do for you.

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We’ve also been ranked in a recent survey of recommended car rental agencies in Costa Rica.  Although the comparison lists do not show the final tally (where we truly shine), Vamos’ rates are still competitive with the brand name franchises.  All car rental operators provide vehicles, but our service is what genuinely separates us from the rest.

Chat with Allan on Live Chat or call our toll-free number and speak with Luis or Melissa for an honest and transparent quote.  We’d love to speak with you!

P.S.  If you’ve experienced a similar story that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or you may email us directly.  Help more people to avoid being disappointed on their vacations.  Please "pay it forward".  Karma does work!  😉

Customer Testimonial
Vamos Rent-A-Car 5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 1 user reviews.
Vamos Rent-A-Car
Getting a rental car in Costa Rica can be challenging and frankly, nerve-wrecking if you read reviews online… you are susceptible to high rates and bait and switch tactics.
Luckily – I found Luis at Vamos Rent-A-Car.
He answered emails in a timely manner and is a man of his word  - what he had quoted me via email was what we ended up paying (and it was far less expensive than other options).
Luis greeted us at the airport (despite him working in San Jose, he still managed to go out of his way and set up the reservation in person).
The car and the services were phenomenal and I am already referring 2 friends who will visit Costa Rica in the upcoming year to Vamos.
I’d also like to note that they pick you up and drop you off in a shuttle free of charge.
I cannot say enough good things about Luis and Vamos – both his services and his English were of top-grade.
Luis, thank you for everything, sincerely are in a league of your own.
Until next time –
Sep 07, 2016
via Email
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Ricardo Vargas

Webmaster at Vamos Rent-A-Car
Ricardo posts rental comparisons to demystify confusing disclaimers.  If you encounter a tricky quote, let him know, so he can help!
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