But when we compared all the alternatives for a trip to Orosí, we decided to rent a car for a day and drive ourselves. We ended up driving ourselves a little crazy :).
We knew about some of the major “gotchas” - the car rental agency charges your credit card just over $1000 as a security deposit, along with the rental fee. Basic insurance is mandatory, and not always part of the quote. Optional insurance (as everywhere) is a *lot* and not part of the quote.
Here’s what we didn’t know. We had asked for a car for 10:00, and so were told the driver would come to us then. We didn’t exactly know what this meant, but it turned out that a van pulled up (almost half an hour early! Fortunately, we were ready to go.) and, after several more stops, took us to the car rental agency. We went in, and filled out a *ton* of paperwork. We each needed passports (copies were ok; for some reason, cédulas were insufficient), driver’s licences, and a credit card. At the end of all the paperwork, we were presented with three credit card slips – these had the imprint of our card, but were otherwise blank, and we were told to sign them (!!!). Something about not signing blank checks clicked, and we said no can do… Well, the upshot was that we ended up not renting the car. Fortunately, they did ask if we needed a ride back, so we were only stuck there a bit longer. However, it was an hour and half after we had been picked up, and the people who were in the van with us *still* didn’t have their car! We did find out that at least one other rental agency does not require you to sign blank credit slips, but most have a minimum rental period of 3 days. So our plan for renting a car for the day was canceled. Beside that, by the time you actually *get* your car, and account for *returning* it, how much of the day do you actually have left?
- Think about taking a taxi to and from the agency (you pay, but your time is your own)
- Have a low-balance account just for car rentals and small miscellaneous items.
- Don’t try to rent a car for less than 3 days.
- When you book a car, ask if they require you to sign blank credit slips – if so, call the next place.
- Check your credit card balance often to make sure the deposit has been refunded. If it hasn´t within 3 or 4 days, go to your bank (especially if you use a Costa Rican bank, like Banco National) and open a dispute – they will (hopefully) take it from there.
Note: If you have an account with a Costa Rican bank, you are responsible for all fraud committed with your credit/debit card. The law here is *not* like it is in the