Got Wheels? A Guide to Cabo Car Rentals
Renting a car in Los Cabos is an ideal option for an active holiday if you arrive without your four-wheeler. There are many spots, beaches, and attractions within a short driving distance you should check out. And many of them line the Tourist Corridor running between famed Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
Mexican car rental agencies and authorities accept US driver licenses. But before you get to it, be aware that there is more to renting a car in Mexico than the price tag suggests. As it happens, you came to the right place since you can find useful tips about Cabo car rentals here.
Should You Rent a Car in Los Cabos?
Whether renting a car in Cabo is the right move depends on what type of traveler you are.
If you’ve come to spend most of the time in a luxury resort or villa and check out a few neighboring beaches, you don’t really need a car. You can hire Uber or a taxi for a few quick excursions from the base.
But if you wish to do beach-hopping and explore everything from photogenic El Arco in Cabo San Lucas to Cabo Pulmo National Park, you really should rent a car. Otherwise, you will need a big holiday budget to accommodate the pricey taxi services that will add up in a flash.
Cabo Car Rentals Basic Recommendations
The documents you will need to rent a car in Cabo and Mexico are a passport, driver’s license, and a major credit card.
Prioritize reputable companies when renting a car in Los Cabos. Avis, Budget, Alamo, Thrifty, and Enterprise are some of the big brands. Think twice before choosing the off the grid car rental company offering tempting deals – they’ll likely come with risks you may not be able to predict.
Furthermore, you’d do well to reserve your vehicle online at least two weeks in advance, if not earlier, especially in these pandemic times of ongoing shortages. In this regard, confirm with your chosen agency to see if they offer free cancellation. Moreover, booking ahead of time allows you to see whether they have efficient customer service.
Los Cabos Car Rental Prices
Car rental prices in Cabo will surprise you for sure, but only at first glance. For example, renting an economy car for a week may set you back around $40. Yet, you’ll need to buy extra insurance because Mexican authorities will not accept US insurance policies, even if they cover all the damage. And that usually multiplies the cost of the deal by unexpected amounts.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll receive a free upgrade even if you’re a frequent traveler or have a shiny Platinum American Express card. Still, ask and see what answer you’ll receive, there’s no harm in that. Also, your credit card may cover collision damage as an added back-up measure.
Finally, frequent travelers to Cabo and Baja California Sur recommend purchasing the most expensive insurance offering full coverage. They state that tourists, especially those who do not speak Spanish well, should opt for this type of insurance. Sleeping well is worth a few extra pesos.
Mexican Car Insurance Coverage and Costs
Here, we give a short overview of Mexican car insurances and agreements for you to decide which one suits you best.
- Basic personal liabilityis mandatory insurance included in the rental price. Also called third-party liability insurance, it covers damage or injury you inflicted to another participant in an accident. However, the insurance doesn’t cover you or your injuries. In Mexico, you can’t rent a car without this insurance.
- Supplemental liability insurance (SAI)isn’t mandatory, but car rental staff may lead you to believe it is. Still, you should consider buying this insurance, which covers you with 50,000 pesos (roughly $2,500) in case of an accident – enough to manage just minor damage. The rate is around $13 per day.
- Personal accident insurance (PAI)protects you and your co-travelers for less than $10 per day, so consider purchasing if your health insurance doesn’t cover it. For the price, you get transport to a hospital and medical treatment in case of an accident.
- Collision or Loss damage waiver (CDW/LDW)is an agreement confirming that the rental agency waives some or all the damage done to the car. If you have this particular insurance through your US credit card, keep in mind that most such insurances aren’t accepted in Mexico. The price of CDW is about $15 per day.
Securing insurance online a week or more in advance may bring a more favorable deal than on-site purchase.
Things to Know Before You Hit the Cabo Road
When you complete the car rental formalities, inspect the car before leaving. Report any scratch or damage you find and take a photo of them. Usually, the scratch has to meet a certain size to be considered damage, but better safe than sorry.
Signs in Mexico denote speed limits in kilometers (km), not miles. And these typically range from 60 km (37 mph) to 90 km (55 mph) per hour, depending on the road width, whether the highway is straight, and other factors.
All road signs are in Spanish, but you shouldn’t have trouble deciphering them. Some of the basic ones are:
- Alto = Stop
- Entrada = Entrance
- Prohibido = Prohibited
- Retorono = Return
If you become unsure about the right direction at some point, most signs in the Baja lead to Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and further away to La Paz.
Gas Stations Service
Self-service at gas stations in Mexico? Not so fast. And that includes Los Cabos. You’ll need to wait for the attendant to get fuel. You can pay with your credit card but should prioritize pesos, if you have them, to make the process seamless and save time.
Of course, check how much fuel you have in the tank before leaving the car rental agency in the first place.
Parking in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo
Parking in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo may strike you as challenging at first glance. Yet, there are places where you shouldn’t struggle to find a spot.
In Cabo San Lucas, find parking in the multi-level building at the Puerto Paraiso Plaza shopping center in the downtown area. The price is 15 pesos a day.
Downtown San Jose del Cabo has many street parking spots, but you should count on the complications of congestion and narrow byways. Alternatively, put some distance between you and Avenue Centenario. That way, you can still park near enough to the central plaza, while ginning up an appetite for gourmet tacos and primo tequila during short the walk from your rented car. See our Los Cabos villa rentals here.
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