Renting A Car In Mexico City

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If you’re planning a trip to Mexico City and want to explore its hidden gems, renting a car can be a good option. And even if you’re not planning a full road trip, having a car will allow you to move around and discover some amazing sights not usually accessible by public transport. So the first question is whether you need car rental in Mexico City. 

Car Rental In Mexico City

Best Mexico City Car Rental

car rental mexico city traffic blur
Should you rent a car in Mexico City? If you’re confident navigating a lot of traffic, go for it.

When booking your Mexico City car rental online, use Discover Cars to find the best deal. The site searches international corporations and local companies to list cars that suit your circumstances.

Do I Need To Rent A Car In Mexico City?

In bigger cities like Mexico City, driving can be chaotic.

Renting a car would not necessarily be our top option for exploring the city because navigating heavy traffic and dealing with limited parking can be a nuisance.

Public bicycles, taxis or Ubers or the highly-affordable Mexico City Metro are your best bet for getting around Mexico City itself.

However, if you plan on taking a road trip, visiting the numerous archaeological sites nearby, or travelling in a larger group, renting a car is certainly worth considering.

Pros

  • Freedom to explore places not easily reached by other transport
  • Mexico has good roads and it’s easy to navigate
  • Cost-effective for larger groups
  • Saves money on taxis and tours

Cons

  • Must get local insurance
  • Stress of having to deal with the rental car company and possibility of being scammed

One of the biggest pros of renting a car is the freedom it gives you to explore destinations, beaches and towns that may not be easily accessible by other modes of transportation.

Mexico has a robust road network that is surprisingly easy to navigate, so you’ll have the convenience of being able to go wherever you want, whenever you want!

Another advantage is that renting a car can be cost-effective, especially for larger families or groups.

It can often save money compared to using taxis, tours or buses to get around, especially if you plan on visiting multiple destinations.

However, you should be aware of some cons to renting a car.

One of the biggest frustrations for car renters in Mexico is the requirement to purchase local Mexican insurance, as your national car insurance will not cover you.

Additionally, rental car companies in Mexico have a bit of a reputation for ‘scams’, such as charging damage fees for minor scratches or cleaning fees for sand in the car.

This is why it’s essential to do your research and read reviews before choosing a rental car company and document any existing damage before you drive off the lot, but we’ll cover this again later.

Overall, renting a car in Mexico can be a great way to see the country, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and take precautions to avoid any surprise fees.

Choosing the right rental company is essential to ensure a hassle-free experience, which we hope to help you with today.

Okay, so you’ve decided to rent a car, well then, read on!

What’s Required To Rent A Car In Mexico?

hand passing over car key for car rental contract
If you’re looking for cheap car rental in Mexico City, check out the Discover Cars comparison site

If you’d like to rent a car in Mexico, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.

A Valid Driver’s License

First, you’ll need a valid driver’s license that uses the Roman alphabet, whether it’s from the US or any other country.

If you’re from a country that uses a character alphabet, like a Middle Eastern country or Japan or China, you’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

A Credit Or Debit Card

Secondly, you’ll need a credit or debit card as most rental car companies will require a deposit in case of any damages.

Using a credit card is recommended as the hold is typically placed on the card rather than the funds being removed from your account in the case of a debit card.

If You’re Under 25, Check If There Are Fees For Under-age Drivers

You must be over 18 years old to rent a car but some companies have age restrictions up to 25 years old.

If you’re under 25, you may need to pay an additional daily surcharge, so checking the rental car company’s policy and associated fees for underage drivers is best.

Third-Party Liability Insurance

All drivers in Mexico are legally required to carry third-party liability insurance issued by a Mexican car insurance company.

Your insurance policy from your home country won’t be sufficient for rental cars in Mexico.

Some car rental companies may require you to purchase it from them before they allow you to take their car.

Although car rental companies cannot legally force you to buy insurance from them, they may refuse to rent you a car if you don’t.

To avoid headaches during your trip to Mexico, buying insurance from the same car rental company you’ve chosen is the least hassle.

Typically, Personal Liability Insurance costs about 10-12 USD per day, while full coverage insurance can cost around 20 USD per day.

Personal Liability Insurance covers the minimum legally required amount but usually comes with a high deductible of 2,000 USD or more.

On the other hand, full coverage insurance often has a deductible of 0 USD which is the best option.

If your insurance policy has a deductible of 2,000 USD and you cause 2,250 USD in damages to the car, you’ll have to pay the 2,000 USD deductible, and the insurance company will cover the remaining 250 USD.

The most recommended insurance option is, of course, full coverage insurance.

When renting a car in Mexico, it’s important to ensure you have the right insurance coverage and understand the terms and conditions of your policy.

If you’re unsure about anything, ask the car rental company for clarification so that you can drive with peace of mind during your trip.

Collision Damage Waiver / Loss Damage Waiver Insurance

In addition to the required third-party insurance, most car rental companies will require Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) insurance to protect you against theft or damage to the rental vehicle.

CDW is not compulsory by law but it’s usually a prerequisite for renting a car and a mandatory item required by most car rental companies in Mexico.

Signing up for CDW insurance with your car rental agency when you rent a car is the most expensive option.

If you want to save a few dollars, buy it from a third-party booking site or your credit card company, but these options often require a large deposit or hold on your credit card.

Your regular travel insurance provider may also offer CDW coverage, so check your policy as you may save some money if it’s already included or is an option.

You need to always read the fine print to ensure you understand what you’re covered for before renting a car in Mexico.

A Valid Passport & FMM Tourist Card

It’s also important to know that you’ll need a valid passport and an FMM Mexican tourist card or visa.

Although the rental agency may not explicitly ask for the tourist card, it’s still necessary to have it on hand in case of an accident or for insurance purposes.

Bring your passport and FMM tourist card or visa to avoid any issues during your trip.

What cars can you rent in Mexico?

best car rental mexico city
Looking for car rental in Mexico City? Read this post.

The most common rental car brands in Mexico are Nissan, Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Kia.

Most rental cars in Mexico are automatic unless you’re after a speciality vehicle such as a dune buggy or luxury sports car.

Rent a compact car for easy city manoeuvring, a mid-size car for more space and a larger vehicle like an SUV or minivan if you’re travelling with a group or a lot of luggage.

You can also find eco-friendly options like hybrid or electric vehicles.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Mexico City?

Expect to pay around US30 a day for an economy car with full insurance coverage, but rates can fluctuate based on the time of year, vehicle type, and add-ons.

Make sure you compare rates across different rental companies to get the best deal on car rental that fits your budget and travel needs.

Best Car Rental Sites

car rental in mexico city
The streets can be quite busy in the city centre but car rentals in Mexico City are popular with those who want to explore the countryside.

Check out the Discover Cars website when renting a car in Mexico City to reserve a rental car a day or more in advance. 

For a same-day car rental in Mexico City, you’ll need to visit a rental car location in person and there are several throughout the city, especially on Avenida Reforma.

If you’re arriving in Mexico City by air, picking up a car directly from the airport to save money on hotel transfers is the most convenient option.

Mexico City International Airport (MEX) offers a wide selection of rental car companies and a variety of vehicles.

Depending on the season, renting a car at the airport can be more cost-effective than renting one elsewhere in the city.

Car Rental In Mexico City – A Step-By-Step Guide

Aerial view of Mexico City's historic centre and traffic
Wondering whether to rent a car in Mexico City? Read our tips.

Step 1: Booking Your Car Rental

Head to DiscoverCars.com and fill out the search form by entering your destination, dates, country of residence and age.

You will then see a variety of car rental offers from different companies.

Use the filters to narrow your options by car type, price and other personal preferences.

We highly recommend choosing a company with an ‘Excellent Car Rental Service’ badge, indicating high customer ratings.

Select “Full Coverage” to cover your deductible, towing expenses, repair costs (including mirrors, windows, and tires), and more.

It’s important to review the rental conditions before finalising your booking as this will give you details about driver requirements, deposit amount, payment methods and insurance coverage.

Once you’ve chosen the car and coverage that’s right for you, confirm the total, enter the driver details (including your flight number) and click ‘Book Now’ to make your payment.

Don’t forget to print a copy of the car rental voucher to bring with you when you pick up your rental car.

Step 2: Collecting Your Car Rental

When it’s time to pick up your rental car in Mexico City, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

First, make sure to bring all required documents, including your passport, driver’s license, credit card and car rental voucher. Refer back to our section above for ‘What’s Required To Rent A Car In Mexico?

Tip: It’s also a good idea to download a translation app beforehand to help with any language barriers.

The rental car company will require a security deposit for the car, which can be as much as USD 3,000, depending on whether you have opted for full insurance coverage.

If you use a credit card for the deposit, remember that the amount of credit equal to the deposit will be held until you return the car. If you use a debit card, the deposit amount will be withdrawn from your account and refunded later.

All drivers will have to provide valid documentation at the time of pick-up.

Remember to take photos of the car during the pick-up inspection and note any existing damage on the contract.

You’ll also want to check the amount of fuel in the tank and ask any questions you may have about driving and operating the vehicle, such as how to turn off the alarm.

Get the company’s 24/7 emergency number, just in case.

Step 3: Returning Your Rental Car

When returning the rental car, to avoid additional fees, ensure you fill the gas tank with the same amount of fuel it had when you picked it up as most rental car companies will charge you extra if the tank is not filled.

It’s always worth cleaning up the car before dropping it off by removing trash and dusting off sand or debris from the floor mats and seats to avoid being charged a cleaning fee for returning a dirty car.

When you return the car, scrutinise it with the rental car agent to avoid misunderstandings or false damage claims made by the rental company.

Taking photos of the car when you pick it up is an excellent idea as you’ll have something to show the agent to prove that any pre-existing damage was there before you rented the car.

When dropping off the rental car, you need your driver’s license, credit card and any other documents specified by the rental company.

General Driving Tips To Be Aware Of In Mexico

Driving in Mexico can be an exciting experience but it’s important to keep some tips in mind to ensure your safety and avoid any mishaps.

Firstly, it’s advisable to avoid driving at night if possible but if you must, stick to main roads and paid highways known as ‘cuota’ roads.

These roads are well-maintained and generally safer but make sure to carry Mexican pesos to pay the tolls.

Mexican roads are also known for their abundance of speed bumps called ‘topes’, so keep your eyes on the road at all times.

To help navigate the roads, it’s a good idea to download an offline map from Google Maps or Maps.Me, as cell signal can be spotty in rural areas.

Mexico’s speed limit signs are in kilometres per hour, and using your cell phone while driving is illegal, so bring a hands-free phone holder for the car and don’t hold your phone while driving.

Gas stations in Mexico are not self-serve, so an attendant will pump the gas for you and take your payment. Tip them at least $10-20 pesos for their service.

Additionally, window cleaners may approach you at traffic lights, and tipping them 5 to 10 pesos for cleaning your windshield is customary.

Renting a car in Mexico City can be a fantastic option for exploring the city and its surroundings, but it’s important to be well-informed and prepared before hitting the road and we hope that, having read this article, you’ll be just that.

Safe travels!

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Jane Williams is a writer living in Mexico. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she has visited over 30 countries and lived in Japan for two years. Passionate about culture and history, her fascination for ancient civilisations has led to her to explore the world's iconic sites, such as Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. Even though she loves uncovering the secrets of the past, she feels equally at home exploring contemporary culture. A mother of two with a degree in anthropology, she enjoys sharing her travel adventures with others.