I'm heading to Tulum, Mexico in a few weeks and want to rent a car in Cancun to make the trip to Tulum and back. Looking at rental cars I see some cheap rates, but then I go to all the insurance options and the rates dramatically change. I know my Barclaycard Arrival Plus covers some insurance for me, but I'm left uncertain as to what insurance I'll need to buy, and what I can deny.
Additionally, does anyone have a rental car company they prefer and have had a good experience with based out of the Cancun airport? I'll need the car for 4 days while in Mexico.
If you have the arrival plus, the card provides CDW (collision damage waiver), and upon belief this is valid in Mexico. To be covered, you must decline the CDW offered by the rental company. CDW only covers damage to your rental car, not damage to other cars or people.
Here's the hard part about renting a car in Mexico: lots of the people in the biz are dishonest. They'll tell you about anything to make you feel like you have to buy their insurance. Why? Because the counter rep that sells it gets a fat commission and management generally doesn't mind if reps lie in order to sell it.
If you want to score a sweet car deal and not have to buy their insurance, you have to go in ready for war. Request a letter from Barclays stating that their cdw works in Mexico. Read the T&C of the rental agreement, which should be available on the rental car's site as you go through the booking process. Highlight where it says that the minimum liability insurance coverage mandated by Mexican law is included in the rental rate (it is, because law requires this). Highlight where it says that you can waive all other optional insurance. (Note: most companies will require a large hold on your card if you decline cdw insurance. Usually ballpark of 1-2k. It's just a temporary hold, not a charge, and I know of no way to get around it).
After fighting with the counter rep and possibly the manager, showing them their own written T&C for the rental contract as well as your letter from your bank showing that you are covered in Mexico, you have a chance at getting the rental car for the price originally advertised. My experience has been 50/50 with this in Cozumel. Yes, I have literally had an agent continue his lie to my face after walking him through his own rental agreement. Some think they have you by the short hairs and you will pay up if they are stubborn enough.
This is why it's crucial to book multiple cars across different agencies. Obviously only book those which do not require prepayment and have no cancellation fees. This enables you to walk away from the company that persists in its lie and to start fresh with another company. With these tactics, I have been able to avoid getting ripped off for their BS insurance when in Mexico. As you can see, it can entail a ridiculous amount of work to get a fair result.
As for reputable companies in CUN, I can't help you. TripAdvisor forums is your best bet. I had a no-bs experience with Thrifty in Cozumel.
The rental car rates are very deceiving in Mexico. Do not get tempted by those $4/day rates !!! Your card will cover the CDW (get the proof of insurance from the credit card), but you might have to purchase liability insurance from the rental car agency as the Govt. mandated minimum could be very low. Liability insurance would add another $35-$40 / day. Try to book from a rental car company with global footprint - like Hertz or Enterprise. Also, read the fine prints, they set up their shop in the airport to scam the tourists.
Speaking of Hertz in Cancun, check out this blogger's experience trying to decline insurance there. He eventually won, but not without a valiant fight!
Thanks for the heads up! I've already received an insurance waiver form from Card Services to present in both English and Spanish in the manner I run into the same scenario.
Sounds like you are ready to go! I am going to be heading down there myself in a couple months, so please post back with how this went for you!