Renting a car in Mexico

It is a wonderful adventure to rent a car and discover Mexico. Wherever in Mexico your trip takes you, you will want to be able to use the rental car without any worries. Which rental company do you choose and what do you pay for the car? We will tell you later in this blog.

We have rented cars at roadtripcar.com all over Mexico. We want to share our experiences with you and tell you about insurances, age requirements and more. Through our tool you can easily find the right rental car.

Renting a car in Mexico and traveling around.

Mexico is larger than Western Europe: it is a gigantic country. During a holiday or road trip, a rental car is therefore no unnecessary luxury. Between states people usually travel by bus or plane. A rental car comes in handy to visit the beautiful places and tourist attractions.

Are you searching for specific information about a certain topic? If so, click on the link in the table of contents below to navigate to that specific chapter. To read all information on this page, just scroll through.

  1. Insurance options in the rental agreement
  2. Rent a car in Mexico from the age of 18
  3. Is a credit card required to rent a car?
  4. Requirements to rent a car in Mexico
  5. What are the rates of a rental car in Mexico?
  6. What kind of rental car do you choose in Mexico?
  7. Roads, traffic rules and safety in Mexico
  8. One-way car rental
  9. Is it allowed to take the rental car over the border of Mexico?
  10. Tips for renting a car in Mexico, what you need to know!
  11. Different locations
  12. How to rent a car in Mexico, tips and advice
  13. Want to know more? Also check these pages

Insurance options in the rental agreement

You are going to rent a car in Mexico and do not want any nasty surprises. So, it is useful to insure your rental car properly. Unfortunately, rental companies have made it exceedingly difficult, by using different terms in an unclear way in their terms and conditions. To create clarity, we have created the following explanation.

Having a good rental car insurance is important in Mexico.

In Mexico it is wise to insure your rental car properly.

Full-coverage insurance of your rental car

The best thing is a rental car insurance where you do not run any risk. This is possible with some rental companies when you choose the most expensive insurance option of the contract. The price of such a rental car is often high, but there are cheaper ways to insure with full coverage.

There are 3rd party companies that offer cheaper full coverage car rentals. You book the rental car with the full coverage insurance through the intermediary and you can then pick up the car at one of the well-known rental companies. Your point of contact remains the relevant 3rd party, so it is an easy way to rent a car. Take a look at our list of rental companies to find out who offers this.

With full coverage insurance you have no deductible and the deposit is a lot lower. Of course, you still must abide by the rules of the contract and the local traffic laws.

Maybe you do not want to insure the car with zero liability but choose specific individual options to suit your needs. What individual insurances are there for rental cars in Mexico?

Standard rental contract

With a standard rental contract, you are responsible for the damage incurred, including income lost by the rental company because of the damage. Rental companies will include legal liability coverage as standard here (see next point). With a base rental contract, however, you are not properly insured.

Third Party Liability (TPL)

This is the civil liability cover. Damage to third parties is covered up to the maximum amount, above that you are liable yourself. It is a legal obligation to obtain TPL, except when the renter can present a valid liability insurance for driving vehicles in Mexico.

Please note it is usually not allowed to use third party insurances, such as travel websites, for this purpose.

Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)

This option increases the liability coverage towards third parties (i.e. the TPL). This option can be useful, since the standard TPL often only covers a claim of a few tens of thousands of dollars.

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)

The LDW (a combination of Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Waiver) limits the maximum amount for which you are liable in the event of damage to the car. Damage to the vehicle may be caused by collisions, accidents and theft. The remaining deductible depends on the car.

Please note that the LDW often does not cover the lost income of the rental company.

Windows and Tires (WWI)

With the WWI you are covered for damage to tires and windows, caused by accidents and bad road conditions. Theft of these parts is excluded from this insurance option. Sometimes a deductible is charged, which is reduced to 0% by full coverage insurance (i.e. with SPLDW).

Super Loss Damage Waiver (SLDW)

This option reduces the LDW deductible to 0%. The condition is that you adhere to the rental contract. Damage caused while driving under the influence is excluded. Often, driving on sand or in water is also excluded.

Personal Accident/Effects (PAE)

This option compensates for damages to occupants and personal belongings.

Roadside Assistance (RSA)

By choosing this option you have access to urgent roadside service. For example, you can call for service if you have a flat tire or dead battery. For most services there is an extra charge, even if you paid for the RSA.

Mexico has a particularly good free roadside service called the 'Ángeles Verdes' (green angels). Read more about these heroes in the 'tips' section of this article.

Rent a car in Mexico from the age of 18

Also in Mexico you must deal with different age categories as a renter. Maybe you see yourself driving along the Mexican beaches as an 18-year-old, but are you allowed to rent a car at all? And what do you have to consider when you are older?

Below you can read the answers to these questions per age category.

What age do you need to rent a car in Mexico?

18 to 21 years old

In Mexico you must be at least 18 years old to rent a car. And you are lucky: there are several companies who will rent you a car. As a young driver you will often have to pay a surcharge. The most expensive rental price applies, even if you are not the first driver in the contract.

Would you like to know which companies you can contact and what surcharge you will pay? Look it up in our handy overview of rental agencies in Mexico.

21 to 25 years

You can contact any company if you are 21 years or older. The rental company will charge you a surcharge because you are a young driver. Luckily, most models are at your disposal. A typical surcharge is $10/day.

Before you finalize your booking, please read the terms and conditions carefully. There are companies who require young drivers to be in possession of a driver's license for at least 3 years.

25 to 75 years

People in the category from 25 to 75 years old can rent a car anywhere. The only requirement that usually applies is that you must be in possession of a valid driving license for at least 1 year.

over 75 years old

There are companies who do not rent cars to people over 75 years of age. There are also companies that add a surcharge between $5 and $10 per day. Generally, you can just go to the major parties to rent a car.

Blog about car rental in Mexico

Is a credit card required to rent a car?

Want to rent a car in Mexico without a credit card? This limits your choices enormously. Rental companies will ask for a credit card deposit to ensure that any fines or damages are paid by the renter.

The only way to rent a car in Mexico without a credit card, is by 'debit card', also known as prepaid credit card. The disadvantage of renting with a debit card, is that it takes much longer before you get your deposit back. In addition, you have less choice between rental companies and rental cars.

Renting a car in Mexico with a credit card is the most convenient option.

Requirements to rent a car in Mexico

You need the following documents to rent a car in Mexico. This applies to all ages:

  • A valid driving license for at least 1 year;
  • A valid passport or identity card;
  • A credit card.

In practice, insurers impose mandatory conditions on car rental companies. As a result, it sometimes happens that with some rental companies you can choose from fewer models if you have had your driver's license for less than 2 years. Sometimes this limit is even 3 years.

Is an international driver's license necessary in Mexico?

To drive a car in Mexico, a valid driver's license from your home country is acceptable. An international driver's license can be useful when a translation of the driver's license is required.

What are the rates of a rental car in Mexico?

It can be difficult to find a clear cost estimate of a rental car in Mexico. There are rental companies that use hidden costs to appear cheaper. In addition, it is a chore to request a price from all the rental companies.

How do you know if you are paying the right price for the rental car?

What are the costs of a rental car in Mexico?

To be able to give you a clear cost estimate, Roadtripcar periodically carries out research into rental companies. For the estimate below we compared rental cars, which are fully insured and have a €0 deductible.

The list below is an estimate. Actual prices may vary, especially during busy periods.

Pay close attention if you find a rental car that is considerably cheaper than the prices below. Take a look at the table on the page car rentals in Mexico to see which one is the cheapest and best fits your needs.

The cost of a rental car in Mexico with full coverage insurance:

  • €20 ($23) / day for a small car, such as a Volkswagen Gol (indeed, without "f");
  • €25 ($28) / day for a medium sized car, such as a Hyundai Accent;
  • €70 ($79) / day for a van, like a Kia Sedona;
  • €60 ($67) / day for a 4x4, like a Jeep Patriot.

What kind of rental car do you choose in Mexico?

Mexico is probably quite different from your home country. Besides enchanting views and nature, the road network is also hugely different. Maybe that is why you are not sure yet what kind of car you want to rent. Below we share our own experiences of each type of car:

  • When you are with 2 or 3 persons, a normal car (hatchback or sedan)smaller car is very suitable for long distances, as most of the roads on which you will travel are paved. Of course, the car is also handy to visit local attractions.
  • For a road trip in Yucatan and Quintana Roo with 5 people we rented a minivan. This turned out to be the right choice. In a normal car the luggage could not even have been taken! Are you with 4 or 5 people, then a larger car is really recommended. In Mexico you will soon spend hours in the car to get to another city. If you also must store luggage, then you and your fellow passengers will be happy with some extra space.
  • Most roads in Mexico are paved, so a 4x4 / off-road car is not necessary. Usually only the last bit to a tourist attraction or a beach are unpaved. Pay attention to which route you drive. In some states (e.g. Baja California) there are unpaved roads. If you have a normal car there, the fillings vibrate out of your teeth, so a 4x4 is handy.
  • To complete your Mexico experience, you can travel around and camp in a motorhome. On a white beach under the stars and falling asleep next to a campfire, that is as good as it gets. Make sure you find out in advance where you are camping. In Mexico it is not safe to just park your camper and spend the night.
  • It is possible to visit the area without a rental car by "collectivo", which is the city and regional transport in Mexico. Keep in mind, however, that you spend much more time than if you have a rental car.

In Mexico, American minivans are often rented out, such as large Dodge Caravans. These cars are wonderfully comfortable and also very suitable on unpaved roads.

Renting a minivan in Mexico can come in very handy during your road trip.

With a minivan a road trip is comfortable and cozy.

Larger distances between two states can be done by bus. For the very large stretches a domestic flight is often a good solution.

Roads, traffic rules and safety in Mexico

Roads and traffic rules

Mexican roads are generally paved. Be prepared from the start for two common causes of problems:

  • Holes in the road: Just about every road in Mexico has potholes. Especially when there are shadows on the road it is difficult to see them. A flat tire is easy to occur;
  • Topes (speed bumps): "topes" are notorious in Mexico. The first time you see a sign with "tope" on it, you do not know what it is yet, but you will find out soon enough. These sneaky speed bumps are often barely visible because they are the same color as the road.
Watch out carefully for the topes in the Mexican roads.

Do not miss the warning for the tope!

There are a few toll roadsmajor roads you will be on are 80 km/h roads with businesses, shops and restaurants along the side. Pay attention because the entire verge is seen as an entrance and exit!

In the city there are dual highways, with a maximum speed of 60 or 80 km/h. These roads have truly short entrances and exits. It is normal to stop on the entrance ramp and wait for an opening, then pull up hard and insert yourself into traffic.

In Mexico, cities and neighborhoods use a grid of one-way roads. For Mexicans this is quite normal, for us it sometimes feels unnatural. Pay attention to signs on the ground where roads meet and to symbols on street signs to discover the direction of travel.

Also keep an eye out when driving in the countryside. We have come across similar intersections more often, on a road that is seen as a priority road for us.

In Mexico, at similar intersections, it is normal for everyone to stop for a moment. Cars from different roads then drive through one by one. In practice, however, the right of the largest car usually applies.

Is it safe to drive in Mexico?

In general, it is safe to drive a car in Mexico. During the day and in the tourist areas you will not easily be bothered by criminals. It is not recommended to drive outside the city at night.

You may be arrested by an agent who appears to have an invalid reason. It is possible that this is an attempt by the agent to provoke bribery. Corruption is a known problem in Mexico and is especially common among local police. Be aware that you are punishable when you try to bribe the cop.

Being stopped by corrupt cops is relatively common. It has happened to us, too. Read on to the next page if you want to know about corruption and what to do if you are arrested.

The most dangerous thing that ever happened to us was a collision with a cow in Baja California. At twilight a lot of animals enter the road, it is good to keep that in mind. Adjust your speed where necessary and pay attention to the edge of the road.

Renting a car in Mexico without a credit card.

One-way car rental

It is possible at any larger rental company in Mexico to return the car at a different location in Mexico. The additional costs charged depend on the distance between the two locations. The exact costs can be communicated to the rental company when processing the request.

Do you want to book a one-way car rental in Mexico? Make sure you book the car at least 3 days in advance and let the rental company know your one-way destination. Car rentals have complex schedules. It is therefore possible that the one-way booking will not be accepted if you arrive too late.

Is it allowed to take a rental car over the borders of Mexico?

Mexico is incredibly versatile and large, but maybe you will also want to cross the border with the rental car! In the north, Mexico borders the United States of America (USA). In the south, Mexico has the tropical neighbors Belize and Guatemala.

What if you want to enter one or more of these three countries by rental car? You can read about it per country below.

United States of America

The United States of America is the easiest country to visit with a rental car from Mexico. At more than half of the rental companies it is possible to drive a car in the USA. It is often limited to cars rented in the northern states of Mexico.

Rental companies charge extra fees to take the car to the USA. In any case, there is a third-party liability insurance surcharge from $10 to $15 per day. More expensive rental companies will also charge an additional border insurance fee of around $10 per day.

Allow for long traffic jams to enter the United States by car.

Renting a car in Mexico and crossing the border to Guatemala or Belize.

Belize or Guatemala

During a tour through the south of Mexico you will soon get to Belize and Guatemala. The only large rental company we have discovered that allow border crossings to these countries is Europcar. It is then mandatory to rent a car in one of the Europcar offices in southern Mexico (such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mérida and Chetumal). The exact offices can be found in their terms and conditions.

To travel to Belize or Guatemala, it is mandatory to send a letter or e-mail to the office 48 hours before picking up the car. So, do not forget this because crossing borders in Latin America is not as easy as in Europe for example.

There may also be conditions as to where you may cross the border. In Guatemala, for example, this is often only allowed via Tapachula. Check this in the conditions of the company/rental contract.

Other rental companies generally do not offer border crossing in Central America. This is because their own insurance companies do not insure this. It is therefore not possible to drive from Mexico to Honduras or El Salvador with a rented car.

Tips for renting a car in Mexico, what you need to know!

Gas price and refueling

Fuel stations are state-owned in Mexico and the price of fuel is regulated. As a result, every filling station has a comparable price. The brand of the pump is "Pemex". A liter of petrol costs a little less than one euro there.

If you are going to refuel in Mexico, it is customary for an employee to do this for you. If you want a full tank, you can say "lleno de magna, por favor" (pronounce: jee-no de manja, por faa-voor) for normal petrol. If you want the more expensive variant, say "lleno de premium, por favor". It is customary to tip the pump attendant a few Pesos.

Tampering scams

You may run into a sneaky pump attendant trying to scam you. Do you want to know what tricks they use? Then read our most important tips for carefree car hire.

Standing still without petrol

Mexico is a big country and sometimes you do not come across a gas station for a long time. It can happen that you run out of fuel. Make sure you do not completely empty the tank, because that can cause engine trouble.

Look for a local resident and ask for fuel. It is often possible to buy a few liters of fuel from someone nearby.

Topes (speed bumps)

We have already mentioned them in this article: topes. A tope (pronounced: too-pee) is a speed bump in Mexico. The problem is that they can be very heavy and often you do not see them coming. Keep an eye on signs on the roadside to find out if a tope is coming.

Tip

A golden tip: usually a tope does not come alone.

To have a stress free road trip in Mexico, rent a reliable car.

You can even encounter topes on small unpaved roads.

Children with rope on the road

Especially in the poorer areas you will see this more often: children stand on either side of the road and pull a rope over it. Slow down, but do not stop. The children will lower the rope just before you hit it. The first time it is scary, but you get used to it.

Fines

It can happen that you get a fine, sometimes an offense is minor. In Mexico, the fines are linked to personal income but of course they cannot trace this from you. Therefore, an average income will be assumed.

If you receive a fine, it is advisable to pay it quickly via a designated office in a town or village. In Mexico you will get a discount on your fine if you pay it earlier than the deadline.

Cash money

Always carry some cash money with you. Often, you will have to pay cash at the gas-station and on toll roads for example.

Ángeles Verdes (green angels)

The Ángeles Verdes is a roadside assistance organization funded by the Mexican government. They patrol all federal roads and toll roads. You can reach them by calling "078" in Mexico, this can be done from any phone. They come to help you free of charge and speak to you in English or Spanish.

What can you call the Ángeles Verdes for?

  • Car trouble;
  • Medical help;
  • Information about roads or tourist attractions;
  • Assistance in case of accidents and natural disasters.

Be open to surprises

When driving around Mexico, it is advisable to keep your eyes wide open. Sometimes you drive through small villages with beautiful markets or restaurants, which are worth a visit. Keep some time in your planning to discover these hidden gems.

Driving in Mexico City

To combat poor air quality in Mexico City, there is a law prohibiting cars from driving in the city. The ban applies one day of the week, plus one Saturday a month. To whom the ban applies, depends on the last digit of the license plate (calendar).

Ask the rental office if this restriction also applies to your car. Some rental cars are excluded from this restriction.

Different locations

Rent a car in Cancun or Playa del Carmen

Cancun is a good location to rent a car and start your tour. It is the largest tourist city in the region, which gives you a wide choice of rental cars. Most rental companies are located near the airport and often organize a free shuttle for you between the airport and their offices.

Also, in Playa del Carmen there are offices of most rental companies, as it is a very touristic place. However, you often have more choice of cars in Cancun.

Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Cancun that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our research on suppliers of car rental in Cancun.

In the surroundings of Cancun, you can see and experience great things. There are beautiful "cenotes" (sinkholes) to admire from above and under water. And what about the adventurous Mayan ruins in Tulum and Coba? With a rental car you can visit more than by public transport, especially on the Riviera Maya.

Rent a car in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico and therefore has many rental companies. From Guadalajara you can make adventurous day trips or start a tour through the beautiful sites in the area.

Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Guadalajara that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of rental companies in Guadalajara.

Some road trips we made ourselves from Guadalajara are:

  • A weekend to Puerto Vallarta and the hippie villages in the area. Especially for people who are surfing this is a must;
  • A day trip to Tequila and a visit to a Tequila distillery. Keep alcohol in mind when planning your visit: during the tour you will drink a lot of Tequila, so do not get into the car right away!
  • A weekend to Michoacán, to experience the most deserted beaches and authentic villages. It is strongly discouraged to drive in this area when it is dark.

Rent a car in La Paz (Baja California Sur)

Baja California Sur is excellent for an exciting road trip. Most people will land at one of the airports in La Paz or Cabo San Lucas. In both cities you can easily book a rental car, as some of the well-known rental companies have offices there.

Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Baja California Sur that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of rental companies in Baja California Sur.

In Baja California there is a lot to do. A classic desert filled with cacti and spectacular underwater life (snorkeling with whale sharks!). Be careful when driving through the desert, especially when it is dark: there are often animals on the road. We ourselves once had a collision with a cow there! It all ended well for us, and for the cow, but be aware of this danger to avoid a lot of inconvenience.

Rent a car in Mérida

In Mérida most of the well-known rental companies are present, but also local parties. Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Mérida that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of rental companies in Mérida.

The city itself is nice to visit, but there are many tourist attractions in the area that are worth a visit. Explore the ancient Mayan ruins and look for monkeys in the jungle. A visit to Yucatán can be combined with a route through Quintana Roo.

Rent a car in Mexico City

Mexico City is the second largest city on the American continents, so there are plenty of car rentals. Think carefully about when you reserve the car. In Mexico City itself, it is much better to travel by public transport or one of the well-known taxi apps. From Mexico City it is quite easy to start a tour through Mexico by yourself.

Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Mexico City that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of rental companies in Mexico City.

From Mexico City you cannot miss the pyramids of Teotihuacán, but this place is easy to visit by public transport from the city. A lot further you will find the beautiful Puebla, a typical Mexican city that is worth a visit. When you are there do not forget to eat the delicious "Mole" (pronounced: mo-lé)!

Rent a car in Valladolid

Are you travelling to Valladolid and want to rent a car? We recommend you rent a car in Merida or Cancun. From there you have a decent choice of rental cars. Moreover, you can visit incredibly beautiful places on the way to Valladolid!

How to rent a car in Mexico, tips and advice

You want to make the best choice for a rental car in Mexico. Roadtripcar.com continuously researches rental companies and has made the following handy overview. This makes it easier for you to find a good rental car. We select companies that rent cars in Mexico based on experiences and score, prices, possibilities and conditions.

At some rental companies we read about bad experiences of customers more often than at other companies. Do not be put off by this at first. People quickly tend to post bad reviews when the problem could easily have been avoided.

Sometimes there are rental companies where there is a particularly large number of negative reviews. We advise not to rent a car from such companies. If you do, we advise you to pay extra attention and follow all the tips.

Our article on the most important tips for stress free car hire including checklist will help you minimize the chance of an unpleasant experience.

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What is roadtripcar.com?

Roadtripcar.com consists of a team of passionate travellers. We believe that a holiday or trip becomes even more valuable when you have a car at your disposal.

However, we also know that a rental car can cause a lot of hassle. We have rented cars all over the world and are happy to share this experience with you. With our tips, renting a car is no longer a stressful moment, but the start of a great adventure on wheels!

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