Car Rental Costa Rica San Jose Airport

I lived outside of San Jose for nine years, but prior to moving full time I experienced more San Jose Car rentals than I can remember! Today I’m going to share with you the best car rental companies you can find in the San Jose international airport and hopefully help you create a stress free car rental upon landing in San Jose.

My #1 Costa Rica Rental Car Source
Why Discover Cars Beats Going Direct
  • Compare Local Rental Car Companies
  • Lower Prices 😎
  • No Hidden Fees
  • One Stop Shop With No Hidden Fees
  • Zero Hassle at Pick-Up (No matter who you choose)
  • Read Real Customer Reviews Prior to Booking
  • Free Cancellation

Car Rental Costa Rica (San Jose) Overview

If you are looking for a rental car in San Jose, you have many options. You’ll have more in comparison to the other major International airport in Costa Rica, the Liberia airport location called Daniel Oduber International airport. San Jose gets many more daily flights and is a very bustling airport that people fly into for business more than pleasure, so you’ll see a much higher need for car rentals in San Jose simply based on the volume of people who arrive each day.

San Jose Costa Rica is somewhere you can get around without a rental car, but if you aren’t staying in the city and opt for one of the nicer towns outside San Jose, like my old towns of Escazu and Santa Ana, you’ll definitely want a rental car. Or, perhaps you are reading this because you are flying into San Jose International airport and are headed to the Southern beaches like Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Dominical, etc.

I prefer rental cars in San Jose because the taxi’s are very sketchy at times and when you add in the cost, a rental vehicle makes way more sense. My only words of caution are to be careful in downtown San Jose, because it’s very busy and there are many one way streets. There’s also a lot of crime in San Jose Costa Rica, so keep your head on a swivel. But I do recommend you explore San Jose because it’s got a lot of history. Check out Barrio Escalante in particular, you’ll find a lot of cool venues and even local music and breweries.

With that cliff note added, let’s move on to talk about my recommendations for renting a car in Costa Rica, and in particular, San Jose.

Car Rental Deals in San Jose

For my money, there is no better way to get the cheapest rental cars than by using They are a third party travel website where you do your rental agreement with them directly on their website. Not only that, but you can select a rental price based on your budget, and that may land you with a rental car company that is globally known, like Hertz, Alamo, Budget, etc, or a local popular rental car company that you’ve never heard of, like Vamos Rent a Car.

What I can tell you is that by using this service you’ll not only save a TON of hassle with your vehicle rental, but you’ll also have the easiest experience at the San Jose Airport picking up your rent a car.

And best of all, the prices you get are better than any car rental agency will offer you directly! This is because they bring such volume to the rental car companies. There are many options when it comes to San Jose car rentals, but you’ll have the luxury of knowing that this rental car engine will not only show you transparent prices, but also reviews. You’ll see the most popular rental car options on their site as well as reviews of each car rental company, and even vehicle ratings!

I’m all for transparency and efficiency. I don’t have time to spend at a rental vehicle office doing paperwork, especially in a place as relaxed and slow moving as Costa Rica.

San Jose Airport – What to Do When You Arrive for Your Rental Car

Once you land, you’ll have to go through immigration and customs. As you pass the baggage claim, you’ll exit the San Jose airport, but before you do, there are a number of satellite offices where you’ll begin your car rental experience. Whatever car rental company you choose will have a representative there, so find them and present your voucher, which is a proof of booking you’ll obtain when you finish your online rental agreement.

San Jose Car Rentals

If you don’t see someone from the company you booked with, ask someone else. Many of these companies are run by the same firms and share employees. Further, they are all there and work together every day, so they all know each other.

San Jose Costa Rica Rental Cars – What You Must Know

It doesn’t matter which International airport you fly into, be it Liberia, or the capital city, San Jose, you’ll need the following:

  • Credit or debit cards – (Unless you follow my expert advice as someone who has done this for years and book with DiscoverCars. That’s all done by them!)
  • Rental Agreement – again, unless you book with Discover, then you’ll just need to show them your voucher.
  • Valid driver’s license – this is a must no matter how you book your car rental. You need a valid driver’s license in Costa Rica. There are no exceptions.

As a word of advice, any car rental deals you come across will no doubt try to sell you some ridiculous insurance policy and you’ll have to leave a major credit card on file. This is another reason I use DiscoverCars, because they handle all of the liability insurance for you. Should there be an issue, they are you concierge and go-between with the rental car agency at all airport locations or wherever you pick up your vehicle rental. I can’t stress this enough. While Costa Rica is very first world in many ways, you’ll get the third world mentality of trying to take advantage of tourism. It’s unfortunate, but it happens, this is why I’m so adamant. Auto insurance policies vary, as does coverage, but DiscoverCars offers the best purchase insurance for your car rental you can find, at a very low rate. If any rental car deals are too good to be true, they are. You’ll get hit hard on the back end of your rental agreement at the San Jose airport for your coverage. It’s sad, but part of the game. I dont’ care if you go with a global brand, like Amigo rent a car or Hertz, it just happens. These are local franchises and the rental agreement looks much different than it does “back home.”

Car Rentals – Your Options

You have many options at Discover Cars, including:

  • Choose a local popular car model. You’ll see cars you may not be familiar with. For this reason the reviews really come in handy.
  • Long term car rental. Your booking can be one day, or one year. they offer it all.
  • Jumbo Car or large utility vehicle rental. You will find all options!

Again, remember that they also have no hidden fees, which are a big problem in San Jose and Costa Rica in general. I’m writing this so you don’t get taken advantage of on your car rental.  Renting a car when abroad can be a total nightmare if you choose the wrong company.

What to Know About Car Rental in San Jose

If you are visiting Costa Rica, know the speed limit. It’ll be posted on all major roads in Kilometers per hour.

Know the minimum age. You need to be 21, to 25, depending on some factors. Again, DiscoverCars lays this all out and shares with you the need for your International driving permit before you can even begin to rent a car.

Drop Off location. Known where to drop off your vehicle. Often times it’s a few minutes away from the San Jose airport, so allow time to drop it off. They will provide you with transportation to the airport, but leave time for this.

Third party travel websites – the only one I can vouch for is DiscoverCars. You won’t have much luck with your reservation if you book with Orbitz and run into an issue. They can be a nightmare.

What is the Most Popular Car Model In Costa Rica to Rent?

popular rental cars in costa rica
This is an actual search done on for San Jose, Costa Rica.

San Jose Costa Rica has many models of cars, and you probably won’t recognize most of them.

I always recommend a “Mini SUV” or “Mid Size SUV” for Costa Rica at the bare minimum. There are many potholes in Costa Rica, as well as long, winding roads that lead sometimes to a destination on a mountain, or down a remote area of a beach. You’ll find that the popular car models include:

  • Daihatsu Bego
  • Ford EcoSport
  • Toyota Rush
  • Suzuki Vitara
  • Suzuki Jimny
  • Nissan Kick

It doesn’t matter which car rental agency you work with, you’ll see they mostly offer the same vehicles with varied prices, which is why DiscoverCars is such a great site for booking car rentals.

Related Reading:  

What Car Do Most People Rent in San José?

The Nissan Kick and the Toyota Rush are two of the most popular rental cars in Costa Rica, and you’ll find plenty of them in San Jose.

How Much Do Rental Cars Costa in San Jose Costa Rica?

Car rentals range drastically in San Jose. You can find cars for as low as $5 per day but on average, you’ll find the average price to be around $42.

Do You Need to Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

It’s highly advisable to rent a car in Costa Rica.  You’ll get around much cheaper as well as be able to see much more of the country.

San José Car Rentals – Final Words of Wisdom

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a good choice when in San José. San José is a very special place to me, having lived there for nine years and being a perpetual tourist for over 23 years. This advice is based on real world experience, and not hearsay. You have many options when you choose to pick a rental car in San José, but for my money, there is no better place to use than Discover Cars.

Find your San José rental car now – – – >

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Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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