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Frequently Asked Car Rental Questions

 

Little confused?  We understand.

Information Sign

There’s an overwhelming amount of traveler advice out there — especially when planning a vacation to another country, but having all that info in front of you doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to comprehend.

Look, we all need guidance at some point; there’s no shame in that.  We’ve created the following (and ever-growing) list of the most asked car rental questions along with answers written plainly.

If we’ve missed one, please let us know in the comments section below and we’ll post the answer straight away!

1.  How old do I have to be?

Minimum age for all drivers is 18 years.  We have no set maximum age for senior drivers; as long as you are in good health and confident driving in a foreign country, then go for it!

However if you, or any authorized drivers, are between 18 and 20 years old, the Basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) deductible is doubled ($1,950) and the Full CDW (zero deductible) option is unavailable.  Return To Contents

2.  How much is the deposit?

Vehicles in Costa Rica are more expensive than most other industrialized countries due to the high import tariffs.  As such, rental deposits may seem higher.

Depending upon the selected insurance (which may be viewed here), either a $100 (minimum), $750 or $2,000 (maximum) rental deposit will be placed on your credit card.  This credit card will not be charged until you pick up the vehicle.

This amount will be refunded upon the safe return of the vehicle; typically within 2 to 5 business days.  Return To Contents

Payment Chart

3.  What holds are placed on my credit card?

There are two types of holds placed on the renter’s credit card at the time of vehicle pick-up (check-in).  The first is the rental deposit and the second is the total rental.

To learn more regarding the three rental deposit amounts based on the chosen insurance, please refer to this section above.

The total rental hold, as agreed upon at the time of pick-up, allows the opportunity to adjust any online reservation to better adapt to the renter’s changing itinerary; i.e. an additional day’s rental, for example.  Upon return of the vehicle (check-out), a new total rental charge will be billed; including any further adjustments; i.e. cleaning fees, fuel level, etc. and the previous total rental hold will be released just like the rental deposit hold.

From the renter’s point of view, this process will create three separate charges:  one hold for the deposit, one hold for the check-in rental fee and the check-out total rental charge.  The hold/deposit may appear as a charge on the credit card statement, but in reality it is not.  “Hold” and “charge” are two separate terms.  Just like every other reputable car rental agency, we make a check-out charge as the bank turns the initial hold into a transaction.

TL; DR:  We will generate three credit card holds/slips:  two holds (rental deposit and check-in rental) that will be released as soon as the renter’s bank allows, typically 2-5 days, and one purchase (check-out total rental charge) transaction.

Please be aware that these two holds, and the final bill, may occupy a large portion of that credit card’s available limit, so it may be useful to have a backup credit card for purchases during the vacation.  Return To Contents

4.  What types of payments do you accept?

The method of payment available to the customer depends on the coverage options selected.

If the customer decides to waive in-house CDW with a proof of coverage letter from their credit card supplier, then the credit card CDW is only valid if the customer pays both the deposit and final payment on the same credit card.  Only one car rental per card holder is allowed in this case.

If the customer chooses to purchase CDW coverage from the car rental agency, then although the deposit must be made with a credit card, the final payment may be made with a debit card or even cash.  In this case, multiple vehicle rentals may be made by a card holder just as long as the available balance can cover both the deposits and final bills for the combined rental cars. Return To Contents

5.  Which credit cards do you accept?

Vamos accepts VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Discover.  The type of credit card; i.e. raised/non-raised numbering or chip, is unimportant.

Some of these companies also offer rental car protection plans which include a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).  Please see our Credit Card Insurance Programs summary for more information.  Return To Contents

6.  Can the rental deposit be placed on a credit card that is different from the credit card used for payment?

According to American Express’ documentation, part of the requirement for obtaining CDW coverage in the first place is that the deposit AND the final bill will appear on the SAME credit card.  We cannot speak for all credit card companies, so please contact yours prior to reserving a vehicle.

It also goes without saying that the ‘driver’ is the card holder.  If that is not the case, then make sure the one who will be operating the vehicle is added to the rental agreement as an additional driver.  Return To Contents

7.  Can I put the deposit on my debit card?

The short answer is that we used to, but due to the nature of debit cards, we no longer do.

Since most of them do not offer a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) as a member benefit, renters needed to purchase our insurance in order to have more coverage than just the country’s mandatory minimum.

Furthermore, it may take the bank up to twelve (12) weeks to release a deposit, making its use impractical.  This is considerably longer than the 2 to 5 business days for a credit card hold to be released.  This is not how we’d like to be treated, so we’ve moved away from using these cards as part of our deposit process.

One may pay the final bill using a debit card — just not the rental deposit.  For a full explanation, please see the accepted payments section for more information.  Return To Contents

8.  How Safe is My Info?

While no company likes to divulge their security protocols, we do want to inform our customers on the steps that we take to protect their interactions with Vamos.

  • Website:
    – Current SSL technology to encrypt data flow.
  • Servers:
    – Uses the latest firewall/anti-virus software.
    – As robust as any American e-commerce site.
    – Handles all internet usage; including employee and clients’ local wireless connections.
  • Paperwork:
    – Duplicate Rental agreements (RA); each party retains a copy.
    – Client’s copy has zero credit card information on it.
    – Carbon imprints/written numbers are recorded only on our office copy.
    – Current RAs are kept locked in the office.
    – Once completed, the RA goes to Accounting to be secured for up to four years as required by law from the Ministerio de Hacienda (Costa Rica’s IRS department).  After which, it is securely shredded.
  • Customer Service:
    – We never ask for the 3-digit security code/PIN, nor write it down.
    – Customers use a hidden keypad to enter the PIN directly into the software; only ‘stars’ (***) appear on the screen.

If you encounter suspicious activity or if a member of our staff acts outside of our protocol, please contact us immediately.

For further details regarding our collection and usage of personal information, please review our Privacy PolicyReturn To Contents

9.  Can I Rent Multiple Cars?

Yes you can if you chose our in-house CDW.

Since Vamos is assuming the responsibility for the damages, then multiple vehicles may be rented by the same person, using the same credit card — as long as the available credit limit is sufficient to cover both the deposit ($750 for Basic CDW and $100 for Full CDW) and final bill for the combined total amount of rented cars.

On the other hand, if the renter elects to use the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) that their credit card offers, then only one car rental per person is allowed — since the ‘driver’, as defined by the CDW, is the card holder.  Return To Contents

10.  Can We Split the Cost of a Car?

“Yes, but…” is typically our answer. It’s not us, but the insurance that determines the hows and whys.

A vehicle needs to have a (1) Collision Damage Waiver (either from a credit card company or one of our in-house versions [Basic/Full]), along with the country’s (2) Mandatory Insurance, normally referred to Third Party Liability (TPL) or Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI).  These two parts are required.

Furthermore, a car has one primary driver and a credit card is required for the deposit.

If a credit card CDW is used, the name of the driver AND the final method of payment must be made with the same card used for the rental deposit.  The perk of the credit card company’s CDW is reliant on the card paying for the rental — in its entirety.  Two persons cannot be listed as the primary driver so that they can claim CDW coverage via their credit cards.  No spilt payments are possible with Vamos, but the two parties can make whatever arrangements they wish in order to reimburse the other.

If our in-house CDW is chosen, the final payment may be billed separately using two credit cards, etc., but the deposit starts and stays attached to one person’s credit card.  There’s no way around this point.

We can put both names on the rental agreement, but one will still be the primary, while the other will be listed as an ‘additional driver’.

TL;DR:  If you want to split the bill, then select one of our in-house CDW options.  Return To Contents

11.  Can We Combine Discounts?

I love the movie The Fifth Element, but unlike Leeloo, Vamos does not have a ‘multi pass’ … meaning that while we may have several promotions or seasonal discounts occurring at the same time, we will only apply the highest one to your reservation.  For example, if you’re a wedding party renting a quantity of vehicles to qualify for our top 25% discount AND you were arrive during a 20% seasonal discount, we would deduct 25% from your car rental rate; not 45% since we do not add them together.  Return To Contents

12.  What is Express Check-In?

If you provide us with the information needed to prepare the rental agreement in advance, you may depart right away towards your next destination.  Start your rental — and vacation — even faster!  Return To Contents

13.  How Much Luggage Can I Fit?

The amount of accommodated luggage is referenced with our numbered baggage icons for each vehicle — look for the x # notation.  As the number of bags allowed per airline differs, along with your variable amount of carry-on items, please take this often overlooked ‘total’ into consideration when planning an appropriate car size.

For those clients who need seating for seven passengers in our Premium SUVs, our staff advises them to pack light or to take advantage of our free roof racks to transport their additional luggage.  If so, please request these roof racks in advance so that your departure is not delayed unnecessarily.  Return To Contents

14.  Do you allow pets?

Yes we do and with no additional fees — provided all goes well.

You’re going on vacay and your pets are just as much a part of your life as your children (sometimes more), so it’s understandable to want to share the experience with them.

Pets are welcome to ride in the car, doggie heads sticking out of the windows and all, but be aware that pet owners of all sorts may incur additional charges due to glass smears, shedding, accidents and/or interior damage from claws or teeth caused by their animals.

This is why Vamos strongly recommends the use of pet carriers or crates as much as possible to avoid any extra cleaning fees or damages to the car since, ultimately, it’s the renter’s responsibility and not covered by any insurance plan.  Return To Contents

15.  Is there a cleaning fee?

Typically no, because our clients are mindful.  However, accidents do happen.

We have an average range for clean-ups, depending if it’s a $20 ‘got sand on the seats and floor’ occurrence to a $100+ deep cleaning caused by an overturned fish cooler…  It’s happened.

This policy applies to pets as well.  Vehicles should be returned free of pet hair and clean to avoid any further fees.

Furthermore, our vehicles are all non-smoking in keeping with Costa Rican law, so do light up outside the vehicle — the dashboard ashtrays are purely decorative.  Charges will be incurred if a vehicle’s interior smells of smoke on return.

You don’t want to pay it and we don’t want to clean it up, so treat our cars with a little love — and shake out those beach towels pretty please.  Return To Contents

16.  How can I pick up my rented car?

Pick up arrangements may be made for either the San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) airports.  We offer this service free of charge.  One of our representatives, holding a sign displaying your name, will “Meet and Greet” you outside the Arrival terminal.  Please inform us of your flight information during the reservation process.  From this info, we’ll monitor the airport schedules for your arrival date.

Alternatively, you may take a taxi to either of our office locations.  Our main office in Alajuela is approximately 3-5 minutes away from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) and the Liberian branch office is 5 minutes away from the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR).  You will be responsible for the taxi fare.  Return To Contents

17.  What happens when our airplane lands somewhere else?

In the slight chance that your flight has been diverted to another airport due to volcanic activity, storms, etc., don’t worry, we’ll generally know what’s happening on the ground before you do!

Nevertheless, we’d certainly appreciate a quick call, text or email letting us know of your new arrival.  Like a worried parent, we’d like to know that you’re alright.

In the past, the airline has bused the passengers down to the appropriate locale.

No matter how you eventually get here, your reservation will remain open and your vehicle will be waiting.  Return To Contents

18.  Do you have an office in Liberia?

Yes, we do have an office in Liberia.  Please see the section, “How can I pick up my rented car?” for more information.  Return To Contents

19.  Do you have an airport location?

The simple answer is no, we do not.  The reason why is because maintaining offices at the airports would require us to raise our rates due to the 12% airport tax.  Our clients like saving money and we bet you do too!

The solution:  we arrange to meet you there.  Please see the section, “How can I pick up my rented car?” for more information.  Return To Contents

20.  Can Vamos Rent-A-Car deliver the car to me?

Yes, we can deliver the vehicle to all regions of the country for a reasonably priced fee.

Please see the Vehicle Delivery Fee Table at the bottom of this page for typical destinations and corresponding rates.

Whether it’s your hotel, bed and breakfast or vacation home, we will prepare all your paperwork in advance.  Take possession of your car right away, all without having to wait!  No lines, no hassles.  Return To Contents

21.  Can I return the car to a different location than where I picked it up?

Yes.  You may receive the rental vehicle at one location and return it to a different location, although separate fees may apply.

For instance, if you wanted to receive the car at our San Jose office, but at the end of the rental, return the car in Liberia (or the other way around), the fee would be $50 (as seen on the following chart).  Return To Contents

22.  Can I return the car earlier than your office hours?

Yes, of course.  We have different times depending on which office you are returning the vehicle.

  • Our San Jose office closes at 10:00 PM, so 9:30 PM would be a more appropriate time to drop-off the vehicle.  We will reopen at 6:00 AM and approximately thirty minutes later, you’ll be on your way to the airport.  TL;DR:  Flights leaving at 8:40 AM or earlier from SJO will be pushing it timewise.  Please consider using a ‘Plan B’ below.
  • Our office in Liberia closes at 7:00 PM, so again, thirty minutes prior would generally allow enough time to close out the rental agreement.  Their normally scheduled opening time is 7:00 AM.  TL;DR:  Departures leaving at 9:40 AM or earlier from LIR will be at jeopardy of missing the flight unless another option below is used.

In some cases, these times may not allow for the completion of the return process (allow up to 30 minutes depending), transportation to the airport (5-10 minutes), and going through security/check-in (two hours minimum) in time, so here are three options to accommodate this request:

  • Return the vehicle the night before and stay in a hotel with an airport shuttle for less stress in the morning.
  • For a modest $20 fee to cover our employee’s overtime, we may schedule an early office opening.
  • As a last resort, we can make arrangements to retrieve your rental from the airport parking lot.  Please be well aware that the renter is still responsible for the car (and any accessories:  cell phone, keys, gps, etc.) up until the time we collect it, as well as paying for the parking time.  We recommend that you take pictures of the rental car for your peace of mind although we’re known to be more than understanding when considering scratches and regular road wear.  If this is the *only* option you have, then taking our Full Collision Damage Waiver may be your best choice.  Return To Contents

23.  Are there any special rental restrictions for ferry crossings?

Nope.  River crossings performed by professional services, such as the ferry at Puntarenas, are fine.  And in which case, we suggest being at that port at least 45 minutes before the ferry’s departure in order to purchase a ticket — and to secure a spot onboard.

What we do have issues with are those drivers who take it upon themselves to navigate water using local assistance…or worse, on their own.  If you’d like to void your insurance and become 100% responsible for the well-being of the vehicle, then go right ahead.  Otherwise, keep the wheels out of the running water!  Return To Contents

24.  Can the car leave the country?

Generally rental cars cannot be taken out of Costa Rica without serious repercussions.  Latin America is not like the European Union; our neighboring countries don’t allow uncontrolled exchanges.

One renter drove a car into Panama where it was seized.  This is considered negligence and voids all insurance; thus, they were financially responsible for the vehicle.  Normally, that’s doesn’t sound too bad, but all the red tape didn’t allow the car to be recovered quickly — all the while, the meter was still running — until the car returned to the office.

So if you don’t mind paying for a car that you’ll probably never see again, then by all means.  Go right ahead and see how far you get, but if you’d like to save forty grand or so…you might want to heed our advice and don’t do it.  Return To Contents

25.  What if the rental vehicle experiences mechanical difficulties?

Our in-house mechanics perform a thorough, pre-rental inspection on every car, so our meticulously maintained vehicles are safe and reliable, but things can happen.

If your rental vehicle does experience mechanical issues, just contact us with the supplied cell phone (from anywhere there is cell phone coverage) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

We will either dispatch a replacement vehicle or have a mechanic resolve the issue on the spot.  Our main goal is to get you back on the road as fast as possible.  Return To Contents

26.  Are these tires safe to drive on?

Following our roadside assistance, tires undergo strenuous use in Costa Rica.  As such, Vamos has implemented the "Double Legal Limit" rule.

Equivalent to the state safety inspections and emissions testing in the United States, Costa Rica has their own authorized agency called the RTV, or RITEVE.  The agency has stipulated that tires must have a minimum of 2 millimeters of tread in order to pass standards.  Vamos’ mechanics will change out any tire if it’s below 4mm.  Safety is our number one concern.  Return To Contents

27.  Vehicle Delivery Fee Table :: Liberia and San Jose areas

We deliver all over Costa Rica!  If you do not see your destination on this reference table below, please contact us and our friendly staff will gladly assist you.

Deliveries (or returns) outside of our regular office hours will incur an additional $20 fee, each way, to cover staff overtime.

One-way drop-offs between our Liberia and San Jose branches:  $50
Deliveries (or returns) of rental vehicle to San Jose area hotels (including Heredia & Alajuela):  $9

Destinations Delivery Cost Destinations Delivery Cost
From Our Nearest
Office to:
Charges are
One-Way:
From Our Nearest
Office to:
Charges are
One-Way:
Arenal/La Fortuna $ 75 Montezuma $ 150
Atenas $ 25 Naranjo $ 35
Avellana Beach $ 35 Nicoya $ 50
Brasilito Beach $ 35 Nosara Beach $ 75
Buenos Aires $ 90 Ocotal Beach $ 30
Cabo Matapalo $ 200 Orotina $ 35
Cahuita $ 120 Palmar Norte $ 150
Canas $ 40 Pan de Azucar Beach $ 35
Carillo Beach $ 60 Panama Beach $ 20
Cartago $ 35 Papagayo $ 35
Ciudad Quesada $ 60 Paso Canoas $ 250
Conchal Beach $ 35 Penas Blancas $ 75
Corcovado $ 200 Playa Grande $ 35
Dominical $ 150 Playa Hermosa $ 30
Drake Bay $ 250 Playas del Coco $ 20
Esterillos Beach $ 60 Poas $ 30
Flamingo Beach $ 35 Potrero Beach $ 35
Garza Beach $ 50 Puerto Jimenez $ 220
Golfito $ 220 Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui $ 75
Grecia $ 35 Puerto Viejo de Talamaca $ 130
Guacimo $ 40 Punta Islita $ 120
Guapiles $ 40 Punta Leona $ 50
Guiones Beach $ 50 Puntarenas $ 50
Hacienda Pinilla $ 35 Samara Beach $ 75
Jaco $ 65 San Gerardo de Dota $ 100
Junquillal Beach $ 35 Santa Cruz $ 75
La Cruz $ 50 Santa Teresa/Malpais $ 160
La Paz-Waterfall $ 60 Siquirres $ 50
Langosta Beach $ 35 Sixaola $ 150
Limon $ 60 Tamarindo $ 35
Los Chiles $ 150 Tambor $ 120
Manuel Antonio/Quepos $ 110 Turrialba $ 75
Monteverde $ 120 Uvita $ 150

  Return To Contents

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Ricardo Vargas

Webmaster at Vamos Rent-A-Car
Delivering your vehicle -- and information -- wherever and whenever you desire is a priority for Ricardo and Vamos.
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