Renting a car in Mexico- good or bad idea?

Posted this in Asylum, but it was suggested I try here too.

My son is getting married this coming weekend and they are flying to Cancun, with hotels in Riviera Maya and Tulum, then flying back out of Cancun. They’d like to have a car at their disposal but have been concerned about inurance costs and liability issues vs. high cost of shuttles.

I can usually get good Info through Google, but thought I might get lucky with the world travelers here. Thanks in advance for any info.

It seems to be the habit in Mexico to rent cars at a very low rate, and then make up the difference with very high mandatory insurance. All the same, the ~$40/day we paid total last visit seemed within reason.

P Hickner

There used to be one or two car companies that included the insurance in the quote, so you can compare apples to apples. Beware, though, even the American-branded companies are franchisees, so it’s not like Europe. The car we were given was pretty banged up, and the driving was fairly hairy, with shifting or nonexistent lane markers, poor signage, and the “topes” are always lurking. If I had to do it again, I’d cab to the bus depot, take one of the first-class touring buses, and then cab around my destination. The cabs were much less scary than the roads.

When I went around there, I relied on the (very nice, except for the fact they were playing Twlight on the little TVs :p) buses for longer distances, and the regular city buses otherwise. We also hired a guy to drive us out for a day of more out of the way places. After being there, I think renting a car is definitely doable, and the roads are pretty good (watch those speed bumps though), but in my mind it was worth no worrying about it. I’m rather horrible with directions though, so for me it was worth it to be able to enjoy seeing what’s around me instead of stressing about where I was going. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here; it’s all in whats going to make it enjoyable for you.

We rented a car in cancun and drove it all the way down to Chiapas, over to the coast, and back up. We had no problems other than somebody stole our jack one night. We had to pay for the jack so we must not have gotten insurance through them. Driving was fine, and the roads in your area were better than back home. Signage is clear, drivers are fine. Driving in the city can be a hassle. Be attentive.

We rented for a week in Cabo and will do so again. Very cheap rates. Add in the mandatory insurance and was still a bargain

Done it three times. Would certainly do it again as we do not stay at resort and like to explore on our own. This was the mexican riviera. . Pretty easy driving down there and the fewer rules and police with machine guns makes it interesting. All in rates with insurance were not that bad. Use trip advisor for advice on who to use and rates. We never had any trouble parking or getting around. Left turns are often a no-no so read up on that.

If you are in a resort and happy to use those tour busses and their schedules then that is the other easy route.

We have done it and were satisfied. I usually decline insurance but since I was on their turf, I made an exception and took it.

Definitely recommend one, lots to see and do and much easier with a car. Never had any issues. Make sure to learn how to avoid the scam of police pulling over tourists for bribes. The rental car company should help you with this.


When we rent, I charge the rental on American Express and use the Premium Car Rental Protection plan. You do have to sign up for it but it is a flat $24.95 per rental (not per day and up to a 42 day rental). There are a few countries and types of cars they do no insure. Countries not covered are Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand. But if you don’t drive off road or exotic this is good coverage. This does not cover liability for all kinds of reasons but it covers just about everything else. Read the fine print but for most of us it works very well and it is cost effective. Used it for month long rentals in Costa Rica several times.

A taxi to and from hotel might be worth the expense so they can begin their honeymoon without a problem. Their hotel should have rental desk if they want to rent day by day. They should just check the car carefully when they take it out. Its an old scam in many tourist towns to charge for damage that was already there. Check the car and check the paperwork. But the roads are fine and it is much less expensive than a car and driver and definitely beats taking a tour bus.

Maybe not exactly the same, but I just returned from Cabo a few days ago. Initially, I was intrigued by the seemingly super low rates. But, as I read more, I came to realize that you need all kinds of super-insurance down there and it adds up quickly. A lot of the advice I read said that your home insurance and cc coverage were not enough and lots of trouble if you ended up needing insurance and didn’t have what you thought you had. (I didn’t look into the AE Premium insurance suggested by Michael.) Plus, I read about all kinds of gas station scams, theft, etc. In the end, we found having a private airport transfer and local taxi service to be about the same (or less) cost with none of the hassles and an nice experience. I guess I just decided to push the easy button since understanding everything needed seemed to be so much trouble. I could just see a vacation being ruined by “issues” that might pop up and negligible to no cost savings.

I have used the AE Premium insurance several times over the years. What I like about it is that it is primary not secondary. Admittedly, I haven’t had to file a claim but I do have a level of trust. The plan documents are thorough so there isn’t much guess work.

We ended up in Cancun and hated it. So we rented a car from our hotel and drove to Chichen Itza where we had a fabulous time staying at the Lodge at Chichen Itza for a few days. Driving out of the resort area of Cancun was no problem and we might have seen one car on the toll road that gets close to Chichen Itza. The roads in that area were easy to drive and we didn’t see much traffic. The only stressful time was coming back into town when I missed the turn to the resort area and ended up downtown. Traffic there was heavy and streets basically unmarked, not that anyone paid any attention to lines on the road anyway.

The cheap car I rented was a manual transmission, so be aware that you’ll probably pay more if you want an automatic.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, there was the small matter of my drivers license. When we were checking in at Chichen Itza I couldn’t find it. I was, to say the least, extremely happy when I got back and discovered I had left my license at the car rental desk where they were holding it for me but it sure added another level of stress when I had to drive back with no license and no way to know if it would be there.

Back in Cancun we took the bus into town and walked around the great market there. That was a lot more fun then anything in the horrible resort district.