Carmine Savarese
Carmine Savarese
Essentials icon category

Renting a car in Mexico: What you need to know

For the most part, bus travel is an ideal way to get around in Mexico, but there are times when driving makes the most sense. If you’re on a tight schedule, you can cover more ground in less time. If you’re not on any schedule, you might want to explore and make up your itinerary as you go. And even the second-class buses don’t always cover every place you want to visit. The Yucatan, for example, is especially suited to driving: Many beaches, barely developed ruins and intriguing villages lie a good distance from the main road. Highways are well-maintained, constantly being improved, and so straight that the slightest curve bristles with warning signs and reflectors.

Arm yourself with some knowledge about prevailing driving habits and road signs, and driving in Mexico is nowhere near as treacherous as its reputation would have you believe. Renting a car is much the same as renting in the United States, and you’ll find most of the major players — Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Budget, Thrifty, et al. — as well as local companies. Similar rules and advice apply: You need a major credit card (or a boatload of cash for deposit), driver’s license and passport; book online at least a week in advance for the best price; drivers under 25 pay more; airport pickups and drop-offs cost about 10 percent more; always inspect the car with the agent to mark every existing ding or scratch so you won’t be charged for it, and check to make sure the headlights and windshield wipers work as well.

Renting a car in Mexico has one big “gotcha,” though, and that is the minefield of the country’s famously mandatory insurance. Mexican car rental rates look wonderfully cheap on comparison websites, but they don’t include insurance, which can easily double, and in some cases triple, the cost. Declining to buy the insurance (some of which is mandatory, anyway) is foolhardy to the extreme, but buying the full package without knowing what you’re buying is only slightly less so.

Mexican car rental companies offer various levels of insurance, and only one is mandatory. Here are the basics (costs listed are typical but variable):

Basic personal liability: Sometimes called third-party liability insurance, this is the one, incontrovertibly mandatory insurance. It covers claims for injury or damage you cause to another driver, car or other property damaged in an accident, but it does not cover injury to you or damage to the rented vehicle. Mexico does not accept liability coverage from U.S. auto policies or credit card insurance. You simply cannot rent a car without buying Mexican liability insurance. But here’s what most renters don’t know: By law, the mandatory liability insurance is already included in the rental price. Cost: Included in rental rate.

Supplemental liability insurance (SAI): Sometimes called additional liability insurance, this is not mandatory, though many rental companies will tell you (or let you assume) it is. Still, it’s worth considering. The basic liability coverage is usually 50,000 pesos, or about $3,800, which won’t go far in anything beyond a fender-bender. Cost: $13 per day.

Loss damage waiver (LDW): Also called collision damage waiver (CDW) or LDW/CDW. This is actually not insurance, but the rental agency’s agreement to waive some of the cost of theft or any damage you inflict on the rental vehicle. This one requires some research and some careful thought. If your own auto policy or credit-card insurance benefits cover collision damage, you can pass on LDW/CDW, but keep some caveats in mind.

You are responsible to the rental company for any loss or damage to the vehicle no matter what the cause is or who is at fault. You will be detained until money matters are settled, and if you lack liability coverage, your most memorable vacation sight could include the inside of a Mexican jail until you pay off your obligation. Before you decline LDW/CDW, verify that your auto policy or credit card insurance is valid for rentals in Mexico, and that it includes loss of use. To collect on your credit-card insurance, you must use that card when you rent the car and when you pay the final bill. Carry proof of coverage with you, though rental companies don’t always require it. You must also explicitly decline the offered insurance, which is not possible with companies such as Avis or National, which include LDW/CDW in their rates or bundle it with the required liability.

Besides saving a bundle, your deductible will be limited to the amount stated in your personal policy — credit card insurance often has no deductible — while the rental agency’s LDW/CDW insurance usually carries a deductible equal to 10 to 20 percent of the vehicle’s value. (Many offer a deductible reduction or complete coverage option, which will add $15 to $35 a day to the cost.) On the down side, some rental companies put a hold on your card for the amount of the deductible. And in case of an accident, you will have to carry the full cost of damages on your credit card until your bank reimburses you, so you will need a hefty credit limit. And your insurance won’t cover every situation; clauses excluding damage to cars driven off-road have been used to deny a claim for a car damaged in a dirt parking lot. Read the exclusions carefully. Read them twice.

It can also take longer to sort things out if you don’t have insurance purchased by the rental car agency. A few years ago, I bought full coverage because I had just changed credit cards and insurance carriers and hadn’t had time to research my coverage in Mexico. My rental car was later smashed to bits by a drunken driver on the street in front of my hotel. I filled out a police report in the morning, called the rental agency, and was on my way in a new car 90 minutes later. It might have been worth a delay and some additional paperwork to save the money if I’d known I was covered, but it’s one factor you have to weigh. Cost: $15 a day.

Personal accident insurance (PAI): Neither the included nor the supplemental liability insurance covers injury to you or your passengers. This optional insurance does, including ambulance, doctors and hospital. This might be covered by your health insurance — again, verify — and it is not required. Cost: $4-$7 a day.

Good to know:

—Mexico’s Secretary of Communication and Transportation offers an excellent online “Point-to-Point Routes” tool that can make the difference between an itinerary that works and one that messes up your entire vacation. Select your starting and ending points, add some intermediate stops if you like, and click “Find Route” at the bottom of the page. The map where your best route appears is a bit clunky; the real payoff is the detailed itinerary showing distances, driving times (evidently Mexican driver times; I always add 10 to 15 percent), toll fees and estimated fuel costs.

—You’ll rarely, if ever, find an owner’s manual in the glove box, so ask the stupid questions before getting behind wheel: What makes the car alarm go off, and how do you stop it? Any tricks to removing the key from the ignition? How do you put the car into reverse if it’s a manual? Add anything else that isn’t obvious from a quick glance at the dashboard.

—Make sure a copy of the insurance policy is in the glove box and is up to date.

—If you book online, print out the confirmation and show it when you pick up your car to be sure they don’t try to charge you a higher rate.

—Try to get your rate quoted in pesos. Prices quoted in dollars will be converted to pesos for payment, usually at more than the going exchange rate.

—The rental agency will give you a 24-hour, toll-free number to call if you need help. U.S. cell phones often can’t dial Mexican toll-free numbers, so if you’re traveling with your own phone be sure you have a local number as well.

Tiplr Highlights

Discover more Essentials travel tips in Mexico

México D.F.

Don’t rely on technology only

Travel tip I learned was if you don’t speak the language make sure you take a translation book everywhere just in case you don’t have cell service (it happened to me!) trust me it will save you

Enter email and new password

By continuing you agree to our Terms and Policy

The Tiplr Travel Groups on Facebook

The community of smart travelers is real and ready to help you travel smart. We are active on several specific Facebook groups. Join us now yo get direct travel tips about the most exciting destinations

Oh there you are!

Login via Instagram will be removed soon

If you previously created your Tiplr account using Instagram, we kindly request that you change your login access using one of the options below, in order to keep using your Tiplr account with all of your data and tips. Thanks!
Have an account using Instagram? Login here

OR

By continuing you agree to our Terms and Policy

Contest Official Rules

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Void where prohibited by law. Subject to all federal, state and local laws. Contest begins at 12:01 a.m. US Eastern Time (“ET”) on 5/8/2018 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on 7/31/2018. (the “Contest Period”). Sponsor’s computer is the official time keeping device for this Contest.

1. Eligibility: The Tiplr’s Best Travel Tip Award (the “Contest”) is open to all the users of the digital platform Tiplr who are 21 years of age or older as of time of entry. Employees, officers, and directors of Tiplr, Inc., and any of their respective parents, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliated companies, dealers, sales representatives, licensees, service agencies, independent contractors, advertising and promotion agencies, web hosting and service and fulfillment providers (all of the foregoing, collectively, “Contest Entities”), and their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses) and those living in the same household of each (whether legally related or not), are ineligible to enter or win the Contest. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to these Official Rules and to Sponsor’s decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Contest. Winning the prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein. Sponsor reserves the right to verify the eligibility of the Grand Prize winner.

2. Sponsor: The Sponsor is Tiplr, Inc., 195 Plymouth St. Brooklyn, NY 11201

3. How to Enter: There is NO PURCHASE NECESSARY to participate. A purchase does not increase your chances of winning. There is one (1) way to enter the Contest:

Via microsite: To enter, visit https://tiplr.co/award, complete all required fields of the onscreen registration form and follow the instructions to receive one (1) entry into the Contest. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on 7/31/2018 to be included in the Best Travel Tip contest.

By entering, you agree to receive emails and join the newsletter lists of Sponsor. No information regarding entries, other than as otherwise set forth in these Official Rules, will be disclosed. Limit one (1) entry per person/email address per method of entry. Any attempt by any entrant to obtain more than the stated number of entries by using multiple/different email addresses, identities, registrations and logins, or any other methods will void such entries and that entrant may be disqualified. Use of any automated or computer system to participate is prohibited and will result in disqualification. Normal Internet access and usage charges imposed by your online service may apply. If entering via mobile device, normal phone/data and usage charges imposed by your phone service may apply. Standard data rates may apply if entering via mobile device.

Incomplete, corrupted, or untimely entries are void and will be disqualified. Sponsor and its agencies are not responsible for late, illegible, incomplete, or misdirected entries; lost, interrupted, or unavailable network, server, or other connections; or miscommunications, computer or software malfunctions, telephone transmission problems, technical failures, garbled transmissions, damage to a user’s computer equipment (software or hardware), or other errors or malfunctions of any kind, whether human, mechanical, electronic or otherwise. Proof of submission will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by Sponsor. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of an entrant, the authorized account holder of the email address used to enter will be deemed to be the entrant. The “authorized account holder” is the natural person assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, Internet service provider, or other organization (which may include an employer) responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted address. Potential Grand Prize Winner may be required to show proof of being the authorized account holder. Entries specifying an invalid, non-working, or inactive email address will be disqualified and ineligible to win.

4. Selection of Grand Prize Winner and Winner Notification: One (1) Grand Prize Winner (“Grand Prize Winner”) will be assigned to the “Best Travel Tip” created on the platform Tiplr (website or iOS app) and the winner will be defined on writing and other skills basis by a panel of judges selected by Sponsor and communicate via email or web channels before the end of 2018 . The potential Grand Prize Winner will be selected from the Travel tips submitted by contest participants on Tiplr during the Contest Period. The potential Grand Prize Winner will be notified via e-mail to the e-mail address provided on the contest entry form. Potential Grand Prize Winner must respond to the email within 48 hours of notification attempt or prize will be forfeited and an alternate Grand Prize Winner will be selected and notified. Once the potential winner has responded, Sponsor will send, via email, an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release which must be executed and returned within 5 days. The contest will be conducted by Sponsor, whose decisions on all matters relating to the Contest shall be final and binding. At the sole discretion of the Sponsor, disqualification, forfeiture and the selection of an alternate Grand Prize Winner may result from any of the following: (1) a potential Grand Prize Winner’s failure to respond to any email notification by the deadline stated within the notification; (2) the return of an email notification as undeliverable after three (3) attempts; (3) potential Grand Prize Winner’s failure to provide Sponsor with satisfactory proof of age, identity and residency; (4) potential Grand Prize Winner’s failure to confirm address and validly claim the prize by the deadline stated within the notification; (5) the potential Grand Prize Winner’s failure to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability/Publicity Release by the deadline stated within the notification; and (6) any other non-compliance with the Official Rules. In the event of prize forfeiture, the Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, award or not award the forfeited prize to an alternate Grand Prize Winner. Prize will be awarded, provided that it is validly claimed within a week from the announcement, after which no alternate Grand Prize Winner will be selected, nor will an unclaimed prize be awarded. Potential Grand Prize Winner is subject to verification by Sponsor, whose decisions are final and BINDING IN ALL MATTERS RELATED TO THE CONTEST. An entrant is not the Grand Prize Winner of the prize unless and until entrant’s eligibility has been verified and entrant has been notified that verification is complete.

Tip’s Creation Guidelines

Tips must be in English (Quality of English will be evaluated and any tips in another language will not be accepted)
Each tip must be at least 150 words
Topic of tip must be travel
Each entrant must create at least 10 tips using their Tiplr account (But there is no limit to the number of tips created)
Each tip must have a good quality photo (When using the website, photos should be at least 800 pixels in width)
Best Tip’s Evaluation Criteria

Quality of text (i.e. well-written, in fluent English, unique/original, off the beaten path, avoids mainstream travel topics, etc.)
Authenticity of information provided
“Smartness” of tip
Title catchiness
Picture quality
Ability to select the proper category and location for each tip

5. Grand Prize is a Gift card valued at $1,000 (USD) and it will be delivered to the winner via regular mail or digitally.

Prize Restrictions: Prize cannot be substituted, assigned, transferred, or redeemed for cash; however, Sponsor reserves the right to make equivalent prize substitution at its sole discretion if any advertised prize (or portion of prize) becomes unavailable. Grand Prize Winner is responsible for any loss of prize or portion of prize after it has been delivered. Sponsor will not replace any lost or stolen prize. Any and all applicable federal, state, and local taxes and all fees and expenses related to acceptance and use of prize not specifically stated herein are the sole responsibility of the Grand Prize Winner.

6. General Conditions: By entering or participating in the Contest, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules, and by the decisions of Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. Contest Entities are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information or technical failures of any kind, (2) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Contest; or (3) any other computer, network, technical, human or other error, problem or malfunction that may occur in connection with the administration of the Contest, the processing of entries, or the selection or notification of Grand Prize winner. Further, if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned for reasons outside the control of the Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, may corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of the Contest (or portion thereof), Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest (or portion thereof) and in the event of cancellation, the prize will be awarded in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received prior to cancellation. Sponsor also reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify the entry of any individual found to be (a) tampering or attempting to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Contest or any website operated by the Contest Entities; (b) using any robotic, macro, automatic, programmed or like entry methods, which will void all such entries; (c) violating these Official Rules or the terms of service, conditions of use, and/or general rules of any Sponsor property or service; or (d) acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any other person. Contest Entities are not responsible for claims, injuries, losses or damages of any kind resulting, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the awarding, delivery, acceptance, use, misuse, possession, loss or misdirection of the prize; participation in this Contest or in any activity or travel related thereto or from any interaction with, or downloading of, computer Contest information.

7. Release and Limitations of Liability: By entering, each entrant agrees to defend, indemnify, release and hold harmless Contest Entities from and against any and all losses, demands, damages, rights, claims, actions and liabilities of any kind arising out of or related to (i) entrant’s participation in the Contest or (ii) entrant’s participation in any prize-related activities (including, without limitation, any property loss, damage, personal injury or death caused to any person(s). The Grand Prize Winner and travel companion(s) assume all liability for any injury, death, or damage caused, or allegedly caused, by participating in this Contest or use or redemption of the prize. Any disputes that may arise hereunder shall be governed in all respects by the laws of the State of New York without regard to the conflicts of laws principles of any jurisdiction. Venue with respect to any such disputes shall be had in the state and federal courts of the State of New York. All taxes are the responsibility of the Grand Prize Winner, who may receive an IRS Form 1099 reflecting the final actual value of the prize, if applicable.

Entrants, by participating, agree that the Contest Entities, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents will have no liability whatsoever for, and shall be held harmless by entrants against, any liability, for any injuries, losses or damages of any kind, including death, to persons, or property resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, misuse or use of a prize or participation in this Contest.

8. Publicity. As a condition of entry into the Contest, except where prohibited by law, each entrant and potential Grand Prize Winner by accepting the prize grants to the Contest Entities, a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free license and right, to publicize, broadcast, display and/or otherwise use the Contest entrant’s name, city, state, biographical material and Instagram handle in any media now known or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity for advertising and publicity purposes, without additional review, compensation, permission or approval of Grand Prize Winner.

9. Disputes: Except where prohibited, entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Contest or prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the United States District Court for the District of New York or the appropriate State Court located in New York; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Contest, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (3) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of New York or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

10. Privacy: The personal information collected through this Contest is subject to Tiplr, Inc. Policy, located: https://tiplr.com/privacy-policy

11. Official Rules and Winner List: To obtain a copy of these Official Rules or for Grand Prize Winner list requests, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “Tiplr, Inc. 195 Plymouth St. Brooklyn, NY 11201”. Requests for Grand Prize Winner lists must be received no later than three months after the end of the Contest Period.

The information you provide will only be used in connection with this Contest or in connection with promotional or other activities of Tiplr, Inc.

The Tiplr Travel Groups on Facebook

The community of smart travelers is real and ready to help you travel smart. We are active on several specific Facebook groups. Join us now yo get direct travel tips about the most exciting destinations

Oh there you are!

Login via Instagram will be removed soon

If you previously created your Tiplr account using Instagram, we kindly request that you change your login access using one of the options below, in order to keep using your Tiplr account with all of your data and tips. Thanks!
Have an account using Instagram? Login here

OR

By continuing you agree to our Terms and Policy