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Rent a car in Mexico | 10 Tips

A renting a car in Mexico is the perfect way to explore the country! There are also numerous benefits associated with it. This way you are no longer dependent on public transport or a tour operator. With your own rental car you can go wherever and whenever you want!

A renting a car however, abroad can also be a bit scary, especially in Mexico. There are many horror stories about shady rental companies, broken cars and expensive bills afterwards. With a little bit of research and luck you will find the perfect rental car in Mexico and have the time of your life!

Renting a car in Mexico will allow you to discover many secrets.
Thanks to it rent a car in Mexico you will discover many secrets.

With these 10 tips for rent a car in Mexico, I'd be happy to help you through the process.

Also read: Chichen Itza | Mexico's Wonder of the World!

Tip 1: What do you need to rent a car in Mexico?

Easy: A valid driver's license, a credit card and a bit of guts. You don't even have to apply for an international driver's license from the municipality, your European driver's license is just as good. 

A rental car in Mexico gives you the freedom to explore the country well.
A rental car in Mexico gives you the freedom to explore the country well.

It is important that the limit on your credit card is large enough (+ €1000). When renting the car, every company will ask for a deposit. The amount of this deposit varies per company. The amount is reserved on your account. When the car is returned, the deposit will then be opened again. Also check this afterwards.

Tip 2: The right company and the right rental car

Ready for some detective work? Because the second step requires some research and planning! Now it's time to scour the internet for the right car rental companies. 

The car rental companies

Look for reviews and experiences from other travelers. What do other customers say about this company? What are the general experiences you find on Facebook or Google Maps? Admittedly, online reviews aren't always rosy and can sometimes give you goosebumps! Don't be scared, but look at the recurring complaints and see if this company would work for you. The service often really differs from office to office. Find the balance between price/quality for yourself. 

Renting a car in downtown Cancun was much cheaper than at the airport in Cancun.
A renting a car in Cancun downtown was much cheaper than at the airport in Cancun.

For example, I found my rental car at a company in Cancun via Google Maps. The good reviews outweighed the bad and they have a clear website. Thanks to their quasi-good reputation and fair prices, I chose them.

The rental car itself

What kind of car do you want to rent? In Mexico, many manual cars are still rented out, so if you want an automatic, you will have to look it up. Does the car run on petrol or diesel? And do you want to pick up the car at the airport or rather in a city? Know that airport car rental companies will cost a little more. I rented my car in Cancun itself, rather than the Cancun airport, and it saved me a lot of money.

Sunny Cars | All-inclusive car rental on holiday

Sunnycars is based in the Netherlands and is by far our favorite choice for car hire when traveling.

At Sunnycars you can rent a car carefree without having to worry about conditions and insurance.

Sunnycars only offers all inclusive car rental. This means that all prices you see include all other costs, coverage and insurance.

  • All inclusive car rental
  • Dutch company
  • Worldwide offer
  • Rent a car without worries
  • Not always the cheapest
Compare now
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase through our link(s), at no additional cost to you.

Also read: Roadtrippen | Cool used cars for the ultimate adventure

Tip 3: The price of the rental car

The most interesting is of course the price of the rental car. Prepare yourself: It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Mop, dude. I certainly don't want to scare you, but as you may have heard, rental car prices are very variable. If you search in Google: "cheap renting a car Mexico", then you will certainly see very good deals. But beware: The prices you see online should be taken with a large grain of salt. Rental companies are known for their hidden taxes – and not just in Mexico!

A cheaper rental car means more beer! Yay!
A cheaper rental car means more beer! Yay!

To know the real total price, it can help to contact the company beforehand by phone or email. But a good tip is to simply double the amount you see online. This way you more or less arrive at the actual price. 

What are examples of additional taxes?

There are a lot of things that come on top of the “rent”. For example, there is often an extra tax for young drivers (18 – 24 years). Are you traveling as a couple and would you like to drive alternately? Then you will have to pay a tax for the extra driver. And of course the biggest extra cost is car insurance.

Tip 4: Car insurance 

This is perhaps the most difficult part. It's quite a sandwich, but I will briefly list the most important insurance policies.

TLP Insurance

When rent a car In Mexico, car insurance is mandatory. The landlord will also indicate this. This is called TLP or “Personal Liability Insurance”. And no, your insurance cannot cover this. This basic insurance is a third-party liability insurance and therefore covers you in the event of accidents with other vehicles. Strange, but true: This insurance is required by law if you want to rent a car in Mexico. 

LWD Insurance

In addition to this insurance, LWD (“Loss Damage Waiver”) charged. This is an extra insurance that would protect you against theft or damage. This insurance is not required by law, but is often required by the rental companies themselves. Check carefully whether your credit card or travel insurance already covers this part - otherwise you will pay double. 

And then there are a lot of other non-compulsory insurance, such as roadside assistance. Read them carefully and see which ones apply to you. 

Tip 5: Read the fine print

With each car rental also includes a rental contract. And it certainly pays to read the contract carefully. Unfortunately, this contract is often as thick as a telephone book, but the fine print really does matter. Even though this will be given to you in Spanish, please ask specifically for an English version. This is important, because here you will find out all the conditions, plus the extra taxes and fees that will be imposed on you. It is important to know your rights, which insurances are mandatory and which are not, and what to do in an emergency.

My red rental car in the jungle of Mexico.
My red rental car in the jungle of Mexico.

Some examples that you should pay attention to: Do ​​I have to return the fuel tank empty or full at the end of the ride? Can I cross national borders? Is there a maximum number of kilometers or can I drive without restriction? What should I do in the event of an accident or a flat tire? 

You see: There is a lot involved in the rent a car and it is very useful to read well before you hit the road. 

PS With a rental car in Mexico you can NOT cross the borders.

Tip 6: Footage of the car 

Is everything in pitchers and you have signed the contract? Hurrah! Time to enjoy. The last precaution you can take before getting in is to thoroughly check, film and photograph the car.

Excuse me? Yes, that sounds a bit paranoid, but this is really a must. My car rental company in Mexico suggested it to me – which is a good sign! By filming the car on the inside and outside, as well as the petrol and oil meters, you can prove the original condition of the car. There are stories of rental companies charging their customers for old scratches and defects. So err on the side of caution and provide evidence. This way you can prove your innocence, if necessary.

Tip 7: Refuel in Mexico

When you refuel in Mexico, you will be served at your beck and call. An employee is at the pump and will fill up your car for you. You say how many liters you need, or you ask for a full tank (“llenado”† You are of course expected to tip these people and 10 pesos is customary.

Be careful when refueling in Mexico. (Photo: Erik mclean – Pexels)

PS Some petrol stations are known for their fraudulent practices with tourists. If you pay in cash, say what you pay out loud and count your change carefully. The money notes in Mexico are very similar and sometimes they are exchanged behind the back of a tourist. Also look closely at the pump to see if it is actually set to 0. Try to pay with cash, which is generally safer than with a card.

Tip 8: When and where to drive safely?

Mexico uses a special traffic system of Free, or “free roads” and Quota† paid toll roads. If you can, it is recommended to Quota to use. These are generally considered to be safer and of better quality. 

Do it like the locals do and only drive during the day. Should it be necessary to drive at night, stay on the highway and Cuota roads.

It is recommended to always drive during the day.
It is recommended to always drive during the day.

Tip 9: Watch out for the 'topes'

Topes are the Mexican version of speed bumps. And believe me, they are firm thresholds! Often there are signs to alert you and reduce your speed, but this is not always the case. So keep your eyes peeled for these bumps on the road. 

Tip 10: Woop woop – It's the sound of the police!

You may be familiar with the rumors about Mexican police: Some cops are corrupt and like to make extra money from unwitting tourists. Since Mexico works with written and – above all – unwritten rules, you can be sidelined by a small misstep. Stay calm and kind, whether you've committed a real offense or not. Pay the fine as soon as possible – instructions can be found on the form.

Also read: Rent a car in Mexico | How to deal with corrupt police

Police in Mexico: Stay calm, kind and stand up for yourself. (Photo: Pexabay)
Police in Mexico: Stay calm, kind and stand up for yourself. (Photo: Pexabay)

PS Keep in mind that fines are not settled on the spot. If the cop does ask, then you know you are dealing with a corrupt cop. In this case, you can ask to write out the fine, to go to the police station or, if you want to get rid of it quickly, to pay the fine. 

Finally: Time to enjoy!

A beautiful, hidden restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
A beautiful, hidden restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

If you've read this article carefully, you're ready to hit the road in Mexico! It's quite a sandwich, but don't let this put you off: Mexico has its own unwritten rules, but once you know them, it's not that bad. Mexico is a beautiful country with the friendliest people and most beautiful nature. It is definitely worth exploring this country at your own pace with a rental car. Viva la Mexico!

Mystical murals in Mexico can be found everywhere!

Also read: The 15 Most Beautiful National Parks in Mexico | From Volcano to Maya

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Ilse Praet

10 years ago I experienced my first hiking trip in Sweden. Since then I have been addicted to walking. Camping under the stars, swimming in icy lakes and tasting pure mountain water! Recently I have been traveling full time across America with my friend Ryan in his Dodge minivan. Together we write and film our adventures and enjoy everything nature has to offer.

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