Renting a car in Cabo San Lucas is straightforward. You need to reserve a car, sign an agreement with your ideal car rental company, and then drive your rental responsibly. The best rental companies are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Firefly, Hertz, and Thrifty, and you can find all of them and compare conditions and prices on DiscoverCars.
There are some things you want to keep in mind, however. In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of renting a car from start to finish, so you will be able to pick the ideal rental for your needs, protect yourself from potential scams, and hit the road confidently.
Yes, tourists can indeed rent a car in Cabo San Lucas. Under Mexican law, everyone who is of age, has a valid driver’s license, Mexican car insurance, and sufficient funds available to cover the rental cost are able to rent a car in Mexico.
Cabo San Lucas is not a small town, but it’s also not a sprawling metropolis. It’s a mid-sized resort city located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.
Many famous attractions, restaurants, and stores are easily accessible by foot, so walking or riding a bicycle are great choices if you intend to remain mainly in downtown Cabo San Lucas. The city also has a public transit system, including buses and taxis that will take you to areas other than the central area, such as nearby beaches or attractions.
On the other hand, if you wish to explore more isolated locations, visit neighboring cities like San José del Cabo or nearby attractions such as Todos Santos, La Paz, or the East Cape, then renting a car would be the more flexible and convenient option.
Ultimately, the final decision is yours. If you intend to stay mostly in the downtown area and only have a few excursions planned, you may find that walking, biking, or taking public transportation is enough. However, if you are interested in exploring the surrounding area and visiting various attractions at your leisure, renting is the choice for you.
There are eight crucial steps to renting a car in Cabo San Lucas, each of which helps to make the procedure simple and smooth.
These steps include: gathering the right documentation, choosing a car rental company, selecting the right car, picking insurance for the car, picking up the car and signing the agreement, obeying local traffic laws while out and about, and finally, returning the car on the agreed-upon date.
Let’s go through each step in detail.
To drive at your own pace in Cabo San Lucas, you first need to gather all the right documentation so that the Mexican car company is able to rent you a car.
Here’s what you need:
Proof of age: Tourists need to be at least 18 years old to be able to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas. Have your ID and/or passport to prove that you are old enough to drive a car.
Driver’s license: Travelers need to have a valid driver’s license written in Latin or an International Driving Permit (IDP) if their license is in a character language, such as Chinese.
Mexican car insurance: This policy covers liability in the event of an accident. You need this car insurance issued directly from Mexico. The one from your home country won’t be accepted. You can get this car insurance directly from the company you choose to rent a car from — we have a whole section on this down below.
A valid credit card in your name: This card is used as a security deposit for any potential additional charges, such as fuel, unpaid fees, or damage to the vehicle. You need to have sufficient funds on it so that the company can withdraw a sum that would be enough to cover all the potential charges you haven’t paid. If there are no extra charges, your balance will be untouched.
Cabo San Lucas offers a variety of rental companies, ranging from international to local options. These rental companies have offices in Cabo San Lucas and user-friendly online platforms, giving you the flexibility to make arrangements either upon your arrival in Cabo San Lucas or in advance through their websites.
The top rental companies in Cabo San Lucas are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Firefly, Hertz, and Thrifty. They offer various vehicle types to cater to different needs. Some of them are more expensive, while others offer more budget-friendly options. All of them offer Mexican insurance policies and frequently have discounts for online reservations. The online booking is straightforward — type in your pick-up and drop-off destination, time, and date, and the website will list all the cars available for the requested period.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure which rental company to choose, we recommend booking through another platform — DiscoverCars. Here, customers can find all the rental companies, their services, and cars listed in one place, making it incredibly convenient to compare prices and car options without the hassle of opening numerous browser tabs.
The total price displayed on their platform includes every possible expense. Plus, they occasionally provide exceptional discounts that may even make their rates more budget-friendly than booking directly with the rental company.
DiscoverCars also offers flexibility in payment options. You can choose to pay the entire price upon booking, or half of the amount when you book and the remaining when you pick up the car. Additionally, they provide a 48-hour window for free cancellation if your plans change.
Ultimately, whether you decide to rent a car directly from a rental company or opt for the convenience of DiscoverCars, the choice is yours. DiscoverCars only simplifies the process, offering a one-stop solution to find the perfect rental service for your needs in Cabo San Lucas.
Each rental company in Cabo San Lucas offers a diverse selection of car brands, ranging from Nissan and Chevrolet to Volkswagen, Kia, and more.
Every rental company shares a common practice of categorizing their vehicles into different groups based on the specific purpose for which you intend to rent a car — making it more efficient to make a choice.
So, the main categories you’ll find at each rental company, including DiscoverCars are economy, compact, mid-size, full-size, SUVs, luxury, convertibles, minivans, off-road, electric, or hybrid cars.
Each category has its own set of characteristics that may cater to specific needs. For example, economy cars are small and fuel-efficient models, great for traveling on a budget. Full-size cars are bigger and provide more comfort, ideal for family trips. Convertibles have retractable roofs, allowing you to enjoy open-air driving.
Once you know how you like to travel, choosing the right car becomes easier. For example, if you travel alone, you don’t need a big car meant for larger groups. On the other hand, if you have a big family and plan long trips, picking the cheapest compact car may not be the most comfortable choice. So, consider how many people will be in the car, how far and for how long you’ll be driving, and how much you’re willing to spend. Then, select the right car for your needs.
Having Mexican car insurance is mandatory by law. When you pick your ideal car, you’ll be presented with several insurance options, including:
Third-party liability insurance: Covers damage you cause to others or their property.
Collision insurance: Pays for repairs to your car if you crash into something.
Comprehensive insurance: Protects your car from theft, vandalism, animals, and natural disasters.
Theft protection insurance: Covers you if your car is stolen.
Medical insurance: Pays for medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident.
Full-insurance coverage: A comprehensive policy that combines all these coverages into one.
The first option, third-party liability insurance is the minimum insurance requirement that’s mandated by law — so you have to have this, no exceptions. While many tourists opt for this because it’s the cheapest option, it only covers the other party in an accident, not the driver or the car. If you want more protection, you need to choose additional insurance options alongside it.
For instance, if you want coverage for your own vehicle in an accident, you can combine third-party liability insurance with collision coverage. On the other hand, if you don’t like buying separate policies, you can get the full insurance that covers it all — third-party, personal injury, theft, natural disasters, and more.
Ultimately, it comes down to how safe you want to feel on your vacation. If you’re comfortable with basic coverage, that’s a common choice. But if you want extra protection and can afford it, choose full coverage.
Most of the time, when people want to rent a car, they book it ahead of time. This means they contact the rental company to let them know when and where they want to pick up the car, and the rental business has the car waiting for them on the agreed-upon day.
However, if you didn’t plan ahead and just showed up at the rental office, they can still help you, but you might not get the exact car you wanted because it could already be reserved by someone else.
Either way, you’re now at the rental car company to get your car. You’ll need to show all the necessary documents required for renting a car, and a company representative will escort you to the car you want to rent.
Take your time to carefully inspect the car’s condition. Don’t rush this step. If you notice any scratches, dents, or other damage, it’s important to immediately inform the staff. Otherwise, they may hold you responsible for the damage and you might have to pay for it. While you’re at it, take pictures and videos as evidence that the damage was already there before you agreed to rent the car.
If the car is in perfect condition, even better. Then, it’s time to sign the rental agreement.
The rental agreement is like a rulebook for renters, covering things like how much you’ll pay, what’s covered by the insurance, fuel policies, and mileage limitations. The agreement might also mention extra charges for things like returning the car late or using special stuff like GPS or child car seats.
It’s super important to read the whole agreement carefully. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into and what to expect while you have the rental. If anything in the agreement is confusing, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Only sign the agreement when you’re 100% sure you understand all the rules.
Once you’re sure you can follow the rules, sign the rental agreement, and you’re ready to start your journey.
Driving laws are here to ensure the safety of all road users, including tourists. So, as soon as you pick up your rental car, your top priority should be to follow the driving laws and avoid accidents, fines, or even jail time.
To be in accordance with the Mexican driving laws, make sure to:
- Drive on the right side of the road
- Follow the speed limits
- Respect road signs
- Put your seatbelt on
- Don’t use the phone while driving
- Have your kids in a child safety seat
- Activate the turn signal when overtaking another car
- Let pedestrians pass at crosswalks
- Don’t pick up hitchhikers
- Don’t drink and drive
- Have your driver’s license, passport, car rental agreement, and proof of insurance on hand at all times
And for a seamless driving experience, remember to:
- Drive on well-lit streets, main roads, and highways to avoid potentially dangerous encounters
- Avoid driving at night for optimal safety
- Book a hotel or rental apartment that has a parking spot included, as leaving your car somewhere on the road may result in theft
- Always plan in advance where you plan to drive and use GPS navigation so you don’t get lost
- Mexico is brimming with wildlife, which you may encounter while you’re on the road. If you do, slow down and be patient until the animals safely pass the road
- Speed bumps are very common on Mexican roads, so be alert and slow down when approaching them
- Keep your tank full at all times to avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere
- Self-service gas stations are uncommon in Mexico, so you do not need to fill the tank yourself
- Be polite and patient with other drivers
- Learn some basic Spanish
- If the police pulls you over, be polite, calm, and adhere to what the officer is requesting
Just as you did your due diligence and researched renting a car in Cabo San Lucas, we advise you to scoop around and learn how people drive there, read up on driving laws, road safety, etc. That way, you’ll know what to expect once you’re behind the wheel — just like learning a game before you play it.
This final step includes returning the car to the appropriate place and at the particular drop-off time. Many rental companies have strict return policies, and failing to return the car on time may result in additional fees — so make sure to be punctual!
Another thing to keep in mind is the fuel. If your rental agreement requires it, you may be bound to return the vehicle with the same quantity of fuel as when you picked it up. If you fail to do so, the rental company may charge you for refueling, which will typically cost more than the local prices at the gas station.
Once you return the car, the rental company will check it for damage or problems. If the car looks fine, they’ll give you a receipt to confirm it’s in good shape. Then you’ll leave the keys, review the final bill, and ensure that all payments are settled.
After that, all you need to do is figure out how you’ll get to your next place once you’ve returned the car. You can use a shuttle, taxi, or other transport options. That’s it!
Yes, it’s safe to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas. The city boasts well-maintained roads, signs, and well-lit streets, making it very simple to drive around. There’s also tourism police, who are there to assist tourists and keep things safe. If you ever need help or have questions, they can assist you.
The local driving habits in Mexico might be different from what you’re used to, so drive carefully, follow the rules, and be cautious, especially in places you don’t know well. Also, if you can, skip the night drives as much as possible to avoid drunk drivers or even worse — police chasing criminals. Plan your car trips for the daytime and park your car in safe, well-lit areas at night. Never leave valuable stuff in your car, and always lock the doors.
If you want to visit neighboring regions, take the main toll highways known as “cuotas.” Never choose shortcuts since you can come into danger, such as the presence of drug cartels. In an emergency, call 911 for police assistance and 078 for tourist help.
Car rental frauds abound in Mexico, especially when you’re trying to book online. These scammy companies are easy to spot because they advertise very cheap daily rates, like $5 per day. However, they usually hide additional costs such as insurance and fees, making you end up paying a lot more than you initially thought.
Another scam to be wary of is that some car rental companies may falsely accuse you for damage you haven’t done — only to charge you more. However, if you photographed any pre-existing damage, you’ll have proof that the damage is not your fault.
To avoid these shady rental companies, do your homework. Check ratings, and look for customer reviews. Most importantly, refrain from getting a super-cheap online offer! Rent from reliable and trustworthy companies — we’ve given you some excellent options in the “Picking a Car Rental Company” section above.
Renting a car in Cabo San Lucas is a great way to make the most of your trip.
Whether you choose to rent directly from a company or go for the convenience of a platform like DiscoverCars, that is up to you — as long as you stay alert for potential scams and double-check the reputation of the rental company, you’ll be just fine!
All in all, Cabo San Lucas is generally a safe place for renting a car. But remember, your safety also relies on your driving skills and awareness. Always drive with caution, stick to the areas you’ve researched, reserve your trips for the day, and always follow Mexican driving laws.
We wish you an incredible and safe journey to Cabo San Lucas!
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