When traveling in Mexico, it can be more convenient and economical to rent a car than to take cabs or public transportation, or even to fly, especially if you want to visit remote locations. However, if you do not make a proper comparison, it can be counterproductive for your budget in Mexico, because the type of car you want to rent, the levels of rates at the time of rental and additional fees that may be applied, such as insurance or airport access fees, make in our opinion a big difference between what you can cost the service from one establishment to another.

Car rental in Mexico in 2022

Louer voiture au Mexique

If you’re wondering whether or not you should rent a car in Mexico, then in our opinion, this is the article for you! Find out all the tips and everything you need to know about renting a car in Mexico in our guide to renting in Mexico!

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Book your rental car in Mexico

Find the best rental car for your trip to Mexico through our partnerships with the best site to book your car: Discover Cars. They offer competitive rates because they search all major car rental companies and find the best price.

Book your rental car in Mexico

Find the best rental car for your trip to Mexico through our partnerships with the best site to book your car: Discover Cars. They offer competitive rates because they search all major car rental companies and find the best price.

Is it dangerous to rent a car in Mexico? 

Renting a car anywhere in the world carries a bit of risk. It is important to drive carefully and be prepared for the different traffic regulations, as this is a foreign country. Speed limits are clearly marked and road signs are easy to follow. Many travelers are afraid of being stopped by corrupt police, but if you can indeed get arrested, follow our tips during your trip by looking at our article: Is Mexico Dangerous? Should you be afraid to travel to Mexico in 2020?

To make a long story short, no, you won’t be kidnapped and carjacking is not common – these are things that uninformed people tend to say without having any real knowledge. Also, places like Playa del Carmen, the city of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas or the city of Tulum in the Yucatan for example are extremely safe. Do not panic if you are stopped by the police as random patrols are quite common in some areas. They may ask you a few questions, such as where you are going and where you are from, and let you go. Unless you are obviously speeding, driving while on the phone or breaking other rules.

Requirements to rent a car in Mexico

To rent a car in Mexico, the following initial requirements must be met:

  • Official ID: Present a valid official ID such as your passport.
  • Driver’s License: Present a valid driver’s license at the time of rental and until the end of the contract of the person who will be designated as driver.
  • Minimum age: Must be over 25 years old. Persons between the ages of 21 and 24 will be subject to a minor driver charge.
  • Credit Cards: Present a valid credit card at the time of contract opening. VISA, MasterCard and American Express credit cards are accepted. Department store credit cards validated by VISA or MASTERCARD are accepted.

At the time of contract opening, you will be asked for a credit card to make a pre-authorization for the rental guarantee, which starts at 5,000 pesos depending on the car category, the number of rental days, the protections and additional services contracted, as well as the final charges resulting from the rent. For the rental guarantee, debit cards are not accepted. They will only be accepted as payment upon return of the vehicle.

In Mexico, protection against third party damages (civil liability) is required by law on all vehicles. This coverage can be purchased at the rental agency, and will cover damages caused to third parties. The acquisition of said coverage will be mandatory unless you present valid proof of specific third party liability coverage or valid liability insurance in Mexico issued by an insurance company with presence in Mexico. Liability insurance purchased from third party travel websites and credit/debit card insurance are not acceptable forms of coverage.

If the customer provides acceptable proof of TPL coverage or liability insurance in Mexico and declines to purchase the TPL coverage offered at the branch counter, the minimum guarantee amount of The rent that will be withheld from the credit card will be 50,000 pesos or US$2,500.

Where to rent a car?

If you are traveling to Mexico, you will most likely arrive at the following airports in Mexico:

  • Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport
  • Cancun International Airport
  • Monterrey General Mariano Escobedo International Airport
  • Tapachula International Airport
  • Angel Albino Corzo International Airport in Tuxtla GutiĂ©rrez

You may wonder if it is more convenient to rent a car directly from the airport. And the answer is: it depends on your schedule and the time you want to stay in your arrival city (because you don’t necessarily need to be motorized there). However, in most cases, it is more convenient to pick up your rental car directly from the airport (even if it is often more expensive) or directly in the city of your arrival (by taking a free shuttle from the airport), which will save you from having to pay for the transfer by cab or bus.

Which agencies to book with?

There are excellent car rental price comparison services that do all the research on car rental companies for you. With them, you will find the cheapest car and you will save a lot. With this search, you will have access to all the major companies in Mexico in seconds. This is the best way to find the best price among all the companies, to find sometimes incredible promotions and to save a lot on your car rental in Mexico. 

In CancĂşn (find our guide to renting a car there here : “Car rental in Cancun in 2021”), as well as in the main tourist destinations of the world, there are several car rental agencies that are market leaders and all are optimal and very similar. The best rental car agency in CancĂşn, in our opinion, is TouraCancun, a trustworthy, French-speaking agency that will offer you the best possible assistance on site. You will also find other classic car rental agencies in Cancun such as Alamo, Sixt, Fox, National, Budget, Dollar, Hertz and Avis, which are international and have stores all over the world. All of these car agencies have stores at Cancun International Airport and in Mexico City, which are the main gateways, and this is where most of them rent and return the cars. By making your reservation at one of these car rental companies in Cancun, you will not have much trouble. There are much smaller companies that are local, but we do not recommend them to avoid problems and security issues. In addition, these companies have stores in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico City, Cabo San Lucas, Cozumel, Acapulco, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Tulum, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Puerto Peñasco and in all Mexican cities.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Mexico?

Urban
Approximately $110 pesos / day, or 4.50€.

Compact
Approximately $128 pesos / day, or 5.27€.

Sedan
Approximately $183 pesos / day, or €7.30

Top of the range
Approximately $317 pesos / day, or €12.80

Minivan
Approximately $280 pesos / day, or €11.30

Luxury
Approximately $394 pesos / day, or €16

SUV
Approximately $243 pesos / day, or 10€.

Pick Up
About $739 pesos / day, or 30€.

Van
Approximately $487 pesos / day, or 20€.

What insurance should I take when renting a car?

If your travel style is to move around a lot and involves visiting several places in the country, the most common way is to rent a car. Before you sign the contract, the rental agency will probably ask you to take out insurance. Here are the types of coverage that exist and those that you must pay for. In Mexico, in the case of rental cars, there is no set policy: each company builds its packages with two or more coverages for a set price or lets you choose which ones you want to include.In the case of rental cars, there is no set policy: each company builds its packages with two or more coverages for a set price or lets you choose which ones you want to include.

Just like when you drive your own car, there will always be the risk of having an accident or facing situations beyond your control. In addition, no matter how long you stay, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of theft, which makes insurance essential.

What type of coverage can you buy for rental cars?

In the case of rental cars, there is no set policy: each company can build its “packages” with two or more coverages for a set price or let you choose which ones you want to include. It’s up to you to decide which protections you deem necessary. Among those you will find (although the name may vary) are: 

  • Public Liability. Keep in mind that by law, all vehicles operating on federal roads in Mexico must have basic liability insurance that covers both property and people. Because of this requirement, some companies already include insurance in the cost of their rentals or will not let you rent without it.

  • Property Damage. Also known as CDW (Collision Damage Waiver), it covers damage to the vehicle caused by a collision or rollover, whether partial or total. Some may consolidate the cost of TP (Theft Protection), which protects against total theft of the vehicle, resulting in CDW-TP or LDW (Loss Damage Waiver).

  • Occupant Medical Expense. It protects the driver and passengers in the event of an accident, providing medical care at no additional cost.

  • Deductible Waiver. By renting, you will be exempt from paying the deductible for property damage, but not for total theft.

  • Roadside Assistance. It can cover everything from changing a tire or repairing a mechanical breakdown, to sending a locksmith (if you left the keys inside) or replacing the keys (if lost), services that would otherwise incur an additional cost.

The easiest way is with your car rental company, either physically or via a website. However, this is not the only option, you can take advantage of other insurance you already have, for example

  • Third party liability extension to your car insurance . If you own your own car and have this coverage, it is possible to use it, just ask the rental company and check its existence. Also, you should read your policy and see the conditions, as they almost always require a car similar to yours.

  • Credit Card Insurance. Some CDRs, especially those for travelers and the Platinum category, have the option of insurance that would cover damage to the rental car in some cases. To make it valid, you must pay with your plastic for everything related to the car rental and decline the CDW/LDW coverage. Find out in which countries it applies, what it covers and how damages are paid in case of an accident, as well as the process to activate it, to see if it is right for you.

Important: If you choose insurance on your own or do not rent any additional liability coverage, the coverage or the amount blocked on your card until the end of the contract, will be higher, although when you return the vehicle as you received it, it will be returned to you.

Remember that all car insurance has exclusions, so read the clauses carefully and don’t let anyone drive the car unless they are in the contract as an additional driver. Finally, if you decide to rent abroad, it is best to look for a site that offers services in Spanish.

Some tips when renting in Mexico

  1. The first tip that applies to all locations is to rent the car as soon as possible! The earlier you book your car online, the less you will pay. If you leave it for later, they will have few cars available, the prices will be higher and you run the risk of not getting the model you wanted.
  2. Most companies do not include the cost of gas in their rates. Preferably, return the car with a full tank of gas (or as it was delivered); otherwise, the company will charge you the difference at a price that may be higher than at a gas station.
  3. Check that the car is in perfect condition; any defects must be indicated in the contract before leaving the lot. Also make sure the vehicle is equipped with a spare tire and tools.
  4. Do not use the services of a company that refuses to provide you with insurance information or any other specific information.
  5. If you are flying to your destination, look for rates from rental companies located outside the airport. These rates may be lower than airport-based rental companies that do not charge a fee for access.
  6. Check to see if your credit card has insurance when you rent a car. Also check to see if the insurance you have on your own vehicle covers you in these cases.
  7. It is convenient for you to prepay online. Some companies offer discounts if you pay in advance; this also allows you to control your expenses and insure your car; It is recommended in high season, as rates may be higher when you arrive at your destination.
  8. Be careful and check the existence or reliability of any company that offers low rates.
  9. Ask if the company has an emergency road service and if they have a phone number in case you need help.

Questions about renting a car in Mexico?

Renting a car in Mexico online and hidden costs

If you look online, you’ll probably be impressed with the rates for car rentals in Mexico: $6 per day, $8 per day and even less than $20 per day for an SUV. Sounds perfect. But…

The problem is booking online. Once you get to the counter to pick up your car, you’ll suddenly be bombarded with an additional cost of mandatory insurance, service fees, and other things. Many major online travel booking sites will cheat you out of Mexican liability insurance, but it’s technically not their fault. It’s up to the rental agency to decide what they’re going to do and frankly, if you look like a tourist and don’t speak Spanish, there’s a good chance you’ll be charged extra. Several times I’ve had a car reserved for $5 online that was $200 upon arrival. Why?

Because most car rental companies in Mexico require you to purchase basic liability insurance, which costs, at the very least, about $20 per day. While there is a way out of this, there are a few things you should know. Don’t even bother booking insurance online at Orbitz, RentalCars.com or any other website. While these websites are excellent, their insurance works in other countries, it does not in Mexico. Mexico also does not accept liability coverage from credit card insurance. There is no problem as long as nothing happens, but if you get a flat tire or have an accident, you will have to pay a lot of extra fees.

If you choose to decline the extra insurance, you will run into another problem. Most companies refuse all extra insurance, it is a 2500 USD or more (or the equivalent in Mexican pesos). While for some Americans this is not a problem, many Europeans do not have such options on their credit cards.

Is there a penalty for returning the car early?

In general, companies do not refund for returning the car before your contract expires.

Will there be any additional charges if you return the rented car late?

You have to check with your rental company, but generally, the first 2 hours, an extra charge is made and, depending on the vehicle, after 3 hours it will be charged as a full day.

Do I need to refuel before returning?

You must refuel at the same level as when you picked up the vehicle. If not, it will be charged at the local company’s rate which is normally higher than the local pump’s price.

Where to get term insurance for your trip to Mexico

For your next trip to Mexico, you’ll need to get things in order very quickly. As you know, liability insurance is mandatory for all vehicles, but you can also choose other options for your temporary insurance policy. You can rent a car for 3 days or more for only 50 euros, even though you will certainly need much more time for a trip to Mexico! You should also know that it is possible to temporarily rent a motorhome in France for 50€, and even a truck for about 80€. It is indeed possible to temporarily rent any type of vehicle if, for example, you plan to move abroad. However, we recommend that you check with your insurance company to make sure that Mexico is one of the countries where your insurance is taken into account, even if some companies allow you to take out insurance in other European Union countries after three days.

To choose your temporary insurance for Mexico, it is very simple: you will not need to go to an agency or spend endless hours on the phone. All you need is your driver’s license and a copy of the car registration document for the car you want to insure, and you can even send this information by email or phone. Once you have signed up for term insurance and after signing your contract, you will receive all the supporting documents for term insurance.

How many days can you use a temporary insurance?

Of course, you can’t insure a vehicle temporarily indefinitely, and unfortunately that contract must come to an end. You can start a temporary insurance policy for one day only, but you can also go up to 90 days, which is almost 3 months in total. In cases where you go abroad and don’t know the exact date you will return, this can be very convenient! Indeed, it is not uncommon to see some professionals or individuals having to leave abroad without knowing exactly the duration of their trip. Unfortunately, in the case of certain seasonal trips that exceed 3 months and that can even involve half the year, it will not be possible to subscribe to a temporary insurance for your vehicle.

How much does term insurance cost for 3 months?

If you are going to be away for several months, you will need to compare the offers of the different providers who propose to insure your vehicle. Indeed, you will have to pay several hundred euros in total, which is a significant sum for the most modest households who have to count every euro spent. For a full month of temporary car insurance, for example, you will have to pay more than €162 in total, but for a full 90 days, you will have to pay a little more than €360 in total. Of course, this depends on the vehicle you choose to insure and we recommend that you check the different quotes you can get from insurance companies. Of course, the price of temporary car insurance also depends on the services you choose, just like with a classic insurer where :

  • A third party insurance will not protect you but will only cover the damages caused to other drivers.
  • A comprehensive insurance will be more expensive but will protect you from fire, theft, and maybe even natural disasters.
  • Intermediary insurances are alternatives that offer some additional guarantees to the third party insurance, it is not by chance that some insurers speak of “third party plus”.

Finally, we recommend that you specify that you wish to travel to Mexico with your vehicle at the last stage of your subscription to ensure that the insurance will work properly. Some countries like Mexico, Algeria or Morocco require special insurance.

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