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Car Rental Tips

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If you rent a car from an international car rental agency, you can probably reserve your car by calling a toll free number or visiting the company's web site (see list). You will be quoted a price and given a reservation number. Typically a car rental agency will give you a 10% discount off the regular price for any of a variety of reasons. When you pick up your car in Mexico, the clerk will often attempt to write the contract for the full rate unless you object. If you made the reservation in the U.S., you were probably quoted a price in dollars and of course in Mexico the charge will be in pesos so you will need to be prepared to check the rate in pesos. Here's one way you can breeze through the process:

Before departing, print up a document on your computer with the name of the car rental company and their customer service telephone number in the heading. Add all the other pertinent information below, i.e. your name, the type of car, the reservation number, dates, and the rate you were quoted in both dollars and pesos. Use the currency converter. You can either present your "document" to the clerk when you pick up your car or just refer to it to check the price. You won't be overcharged.

Car rental agencies can be flexible. Once when attempting to claim my reserved rental car (without my document in hand), I found the booth for this particular company to be vacant. As I waited for the clerk to return, a representative for a different rental agency asked me what price I had been quoted. Not wanting to sound like an idiot (I didn't remember), I made up a figure which turned out to be quite low. The representative quickly accepted and rented me one of his cars at my price.

The rental agency will want you to have a credit card. They may run the card twice, once for the rental amount and a second time just in case of damages with the amount left blank. When you return the car in good condition, this blank charge slip should be returned to you or destroyed in your presence. If you have a gold or platinum credit card, the credit card company may provide rental car insurance free of charge for car rentals paid for with the credit card. Check you credit card information to see if you have this coverage and review the terms before renting the car and you may be able to save the cost of insurance. If you have a debit card, you may be charged a deposit on the car rather than running a blank ticket. This can seriously deplete your available funds while on vacation.

Renting a car in Mexico is generally trouble-free and is a good way to enjoy the freedom to explore the country.

Car Rental Comments

Advantage in Huatulco

Well folks, here is an ugly one. We came to Huatulco in the high season in December and had a car reservation with Advantage. We were supposed to pick the car up at the
airport and go to Oaxaca. When we arrived, there was nobody at the rental desk. Eventually, somebody was nice enough to call them in the city and the manager told me that they didn't come because they don't have any cars. In fact, she said, they didn't even get my reservation. She said she will help me out the next day. We slept in a dump as we had no reservations and everything was fully booked. In fact, the dump where we stayed was also booked for the next night. So next day comes and guess what: still no car. I told the lady that she will have to find a place for us to sleep. She got scared that we WILL sleep in her office, so she got us a car. And now the punch line: as we are waiting someone else comes and offers more money and almost gets the car!!!!

But by now I really make her employees mad and I insist that the reservation must have come. She pulls out about 20 reservations and says: Here these are all reservations to be filled!!!!! Of course mine was in there also! After a lot of arguing we do secure the car. Of course we get charged for the whole week as THAT'S HOW THE RESERVATION IS! (no refund for the day lost). You think it's done! Well hold on to your seat. We return the car 6 days later to the airport and again there is nobody there at the time that the contract expires. So we leave the keys with the rep from Budget and the way we go. I finally got my credit card statement. They overcharged me by 100%. So I call the head office in Texas and tell them what the problem is. My feel is that they know about these problems and advise me to write everything down and they will investigate it within 2 MONTHS!!!! So I just called my credit card company and reported it as fraud.

Beware the bit of saving over Avis/Budget will be lost big time.


2008 Huatulco Update

There are several car rental companies in Huatulco including Dollar, Hertz, Thrifty, and Eurocar. They are mostly located on Blvd. Chahue. The car rental business in Huatulco is characterized by high prices ($90/day in 2008), requiring that you purchase insurance even if your credit card already covers it, and a failure to honor reservations (a longstanding problem in Huatulco). Eurocar is particularly aggressive about searching for extra dings and scratches to charge you for. Cars are usually not available for walk-in customers (or even if you made a reservation for that matter) during the tourist season. Consider that for what it costs to rent a car, you could have a taxi with driver for the day. Puerto Escondido is a better place to rent a car if you must.


Hertz in Huatulco

More than one reader report having good experiences with Hertz in Huatulco.

June 2010

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The Pacific Coast of Mexico www.tomzap.com Tom Penick:  tom@tomzap.com