View of cars parked in a street in Puerto Rico

Renting a Car in Puerto Rico (A Local’s “How to” Guide)

Whether you’re going on a road trip or you’re just staying in San Juan, renting a car in Puerto Rico is your best option to save time and explore the island at your own pace.

I am a Puerto Rico local. I’ve rented cars myself on the island, and I know that you may (understandably) have questions about fees, insurance, and the entire Puerto Rico car rental reservation process.

Because I don’t want you to worry as I did with my first Puerto Rico rental car, I’ve put together all the tips and tricks you need to know about how to rent a car in Puerto Rico. 

Let’s dive in: 

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Best Car Rental Sites in Puerto Rico

Making your vehicle reservation from home and using car rental websites can help you find the best deals among different rental car companies. 

Here are some of the best rental cars websites to search for inventory in Puerto Rico:

Our Top Choice
Discover Cars

Discover Cars is a lesser know, but incredible, car rental search engine. It often finds cheaper fares than other websites. Plus, we love how easy it is to compare reviews of different rental agencies & that they don't hide any fees.

Also Great
Kayak

Kayak is a big name in the car rental space. Compare and organize the fares for car rental locations and providers from the lowest to the highest price, plus it allows you to book hotels, and flights too.

Do You Need a Rental Car in Puerto Rico?

A rental car is the best way to move around for visitors that want to explore Puerto Rico on their own. Renting a car provides flexibility and it’s more cost-effective than paying for taxis for long distances or booking tours every day. Rental cars can also allow travelers to reach destinations that public transportation routes don’t cover.

As I wrote in my guide to how to drive in Puerto Rico, the island is overall pretty friendly for drivers. There are multiple car rental companies in Puerto Rico, especially in the area of San Juan and Isla Verde. A car rental is the best method of transportation if you’re planning to leave Old San Juan frequently and you want to stay in other parts of the island. 

Although there is public transportation in Puerto Rico, the routes are quite limited to the north’s popular cities, and the language barrier makes it almost impossible for English speakers to communicate with drivers.

👉 Looking for other options? Check out my guide to getting around Puerto Rico, to learn about the best transportation methods to explore the country.

Car Rental Requirements for Puerto Rico

If you’re renting a car in Puerto Rico, these are some documents you should bring along in your luggage.

🚗 Driving License – If you’re from the United States, your common driving license will allow you to rent a car, as long as it’s older than one year. 

🚘 International Driving License – If you’re coming from an international destination, car rentals will ask for an international driver’s permit too.

💳 Card – You’ll need a debit card with the logo of Mastercard or Visa or a credit card, but you’ll probably pay a cheaper deposit with the lather.

👨 Age – You have to be 25 years or older to rent a car in Puerto Rico. Some rental car companies might allow you to rent a car if you’re 21, but you’ll pay an extra fee.

📝 Collision Damage Insurance (CDW) – This insurance is optional, but it’s recommended since it covers theft and damage done to the car rental. 

📋 Compulsory Liability Insurance – This insurance is obligatory in Puerto Rico and it covers the damages you cause to other cars in case of an accident.

👉 Pro Tip: Before traveling to Puerto Rico, check if your credit card provides you with rental car insurance to save money. If it doesn’t, then consider buying travel insurance like World Nomads that covers your travel, medical, and rental cars expenses in case of emergency so you can travel without a single worry.

How Much Do Rental Cars Cost in Puerto Rico?

On average, renting a midsize car in Puerto Rico costs between $65 and $140 per day. Prices vary based on the time of the year, and with how much time visitors are getting their car rental. Factors like the type of car chosen, and add ons like insurance also affect the fares for a car rental.

Overall, car rental locations in Puerto Rico are more expensive than in other Latin American countries, due to the taxes and the high demand for vehicles. To keep your budget, you should compare the prices of different car companies before deciding on a specific car rental.

👉 Compare rental car prices for your dates by searching these sites: 

📚 Bookmark for later: Don’t miss the fun in the most popular cities of Puerto Rico! Check out the top things you can do in Puerto Rico.

19 Tips & Things to Know Before Renting in Puerto Rico

Check Your Insurance

For renting a car in Puerto Rico, you will need insurance. Prices for your rental can rise significantly with the daily insurance fee. Most credit cards offer rental car insurance among their benefits and services, so you can check with your bank if you have car rental coverage and bring proof with you when you rent your car. 

Dig Deeper

If a deal seems too good, it’s probably because it is. When you’re interested in the prices of a car rental, ask the company if the advertised price includes the insurance fees. You’ll have to buy the insurance if you don’t have any and it will add to your car rental daily rate.

👉 Always Forget to Pack Something? Just use my handy Puerto Rico packing checklist to make sure you’re packing everything you need for your trip!

Ask About Autoexpreso

View of vehicles passing through the Puerto Rico's electronic toll system

Puerto Rico’s main highways are home to an electronic toll system.  Drivers pay toll roads with an electronic stamp called Autoexpreso. Before you sign your car rental contract, ask if there is an additional fee for the Autoexpreso. Some car rental locations will include the usage of the stamp on your daily rate and others will charge an extra fixed rate for using it.

Research the Rental Agency

While there are many car rentals in San Juan and Puerto Rico, not all of them are honest about their policies and fine print. A quick internet search will let you know the general reviews for the company and the common problems that might arise if you rent a car with it. 

Make a Reservation Well in Advance

In Puerto Rico, car rental rates can increase significantly as the date of your trip approaches. You can use online car rental websites to search and compare daily fares for car rentals in Puerto Rico and get a better deal. Car rental websites also offer more information that can help with your visit to the country.

Our Top Choice
Discover Cars

Discover Cars is a lesser know, but incredible, car rental search engine. It often finds cheaper fares than other websites. Plus, we love how easy it is to compare reviews of different rental agencies & that they don't hide any fees.

Or Look for Your Favorite Company

You’ll find renowned car rental companies like Enterprise, and Alamo in San Juan and other popular cities for tourism around Puerto Rico. Some of them even have airport locations in San Juan that facilitate the process to rent and pick your vehicle if you’ve just arrived in the country.

Consider Local Companies Too

View of an Easeway truck on the road

While car rental locations in the airport are convenient and feature trustable rentals like Enterprise, Avis, and Alamo, some car rental locations in less popular cities might offer cheaper rates. There are local car rental locations that offer more budget-friendly rates and you could easily find about either by searching Discover Cars or just with a quick Google search.

Read the Fine Print

As excited as you might be to start your vacation, I recommend that you don’t skip reading your car rental contract. Many tourists lose their deposit or pay extra fees because they violate the car rental contract without knowing so. Simple things like returning your rental car full of sand or with damp seats can violate the company’s terms. Read and take note of everything before leaving the location. 

Inspect your Car

Before driving away from your car rental location, inspect your car for scratches, bumps, and other imperfections. Take pictures of how you received your vehicle, and how you return it, so you can use them as evidence in case of any claim.

Park Wisely

View of cars parked along a street in Puerto Rico and the clear blue sky

Old San Juan and many town centers’ in Puerto Rico offer free parking on narrow and uncomfortable streets that can end up in unwanted bumps and scratches to your rental car. Opt to park in a safer location like a private parking lot, even if you have to pay a small fee.

👉 Visiting Old San Juan? Don’t miss my local’s guide to San Juan’s top attractions.

Don’t Leave Your Belongings on the Car

As basic as it may seem, many tourists leave behind bags, or valuables in their car while they go to the beach or to visit an attraction, only to return to a broken window and stolen belongings. If you’re taking a day trip, leave your valuables at a hotel safe and only bring with you the things you’ll be carrying.

📚 Bookmark for later: Is Puerto Rico Safe for Travel?

Drive on the Right Side

View of cars in the busy street of Puerto Rico

If you’re coming from an international country, you should know that Puerto Rico follows the same traffic system as the United States. People drive on the right side of the streets and road signs are mostly the same used internationally but in Spanish.

🚗 Need to know more? Read the complete guide to driving in Puerto Rico.

Look for Kilometers, Not Miles

View of cars, road signs, and traffic lights in Puerto Rico

Contrary to the United States, the distances in Puerto Rico get measured in kilometers and not miles. You will see road signs with the kilometer numbers on them, but speed limits get measured in miles per hour.

📚 Related Reading: Read other interesting Puerto Rico facts.

Watch the Road

Depending on the cities and neighborhoods you go to, you will notice that streets are full of potholes. Potholes are common even in San Juan, so you should drive with precaution and pay attention to the road. Some potholes are deep enough to ruin your vacation with a flat tire.

Plan Around Peak Hours

View of cars in a traffic jammed in Puerto Rico

Although having your own vehicle will save you a lot of time, getting stuck in peak-hour traffic will ruin your schedule. Going from San Juan to a nearby city can take you over an hour if you’re transiting main highways around 8:00 am or 6:00 pm. That’s also when you’ll experience the negative side of Puerto Rican drivers. Either leave for your destination early or wait for the rush hour to end. 

👉 If you want more life-saving tips, read these 23 Puerto Rico travel tips to enjoy the best of the island.

Decide Your Return Location

Some car rental locations have a different return location than where you rented your vehicle. While you sign the contract, investigate where you’ll be returning the car. For example, some car rental companies have locations in a city and different airport locations for returns.  

Don’t Take it Outside the Main Island

Up to this date, the ferries to Vieques and Culebra only transport cars from the residents of the small islands. Although there isn’t a fixed date as to when they’ll be restarting the service for non-locals, most companies don’t allow car rentals outside the main island.

Don’t Smoke on Your Car

Smoking inside your car is one of the things that will cost you extra money, as car rentals have to deep shampoo the cars to get rid of the odor. Do yourself a favor and smoke far from your car.

👉 Read Next: How to Rent a Car in Mexico

Fill Up Your Tank

Most car rentals will ask you to return your vehicle with a full tank. Gas gets sold in liters and you will find plenty of gas stations to refill your vehicle. Don’t forget to ask the car rental company how to open the gas door, or you’ll spend 5 minutes figuring it out at the gas station.

Our Top Choice
Discover Cars

Discover Cars is a lesser know, but incredible, car rental search engine. It often finds cheaper fares than other websites. Plus, we love how easy it is to compare reviews of different rental agencies & that they don't hide any fees.

FAQ About Puerto Rico Car Rentals

What are the requirements to rent a car in Puerto Rico?

To drive in Puerto Rico, visitors need to be over 25 years old, have a driver’s license, and a credit card, or a debit card with a logo. Visitors also need Liability Insurance and Collision Damage Insurance, they can buy at car rental locations if they don’t have any. 

Can a US citizen rent a car in Puerto Rico?

Since Puerto Rico is a non-incorporated territory of the United States, US citizens visiting the island can rent a car in Puerto Rico using their driving license and their insurance if they already have car rental insurance.

Why is it so expensive to rent a car in Puerto Rico?

Renting a car in Puerto Rico is expensive because of the limited supply and shortage of auto production. Other factors like the annual inflation, taxes, and the model can also influence the rental car price.

How old do you have to be to rent a car in Puerto Rico?

The minimum age to rent a car in Puerto Rico is 25. Some car rental locations rent cars to people over 21, but they have to pay additional fees to get them.

Can you Uber in Puerto Rico?

Uber is the main ridesharing app in Puerto Rico. Travelers can use Uber to move around the metropolitan area in cities like San Juan, Carolina, Trujillo Alto, Caguas, Cataño, Bayamón, Vega Baja, and Dorado. 

Is it scary to drive in Puerto Rico?

Driving in Puerto Rico can be scary for foreigners, since Puerto Ricans often surpass speed limits, honk, and change lanes. Driving in the mountainous center can also get dangerous because of the narrow and curvy streets. Check the complete guide to driving in Puerto Rico to learn more.

***

Now you’re ready to rent your car in Puerto Rico! All that’s left to do is figure out where you’ll be driving!

Read my local guide to the top attractions in Puerto Rico, so you don’t miss any of the fun.

Our Top Choice
Discover Cars

Discover Cars is a lesser know, but incredible, car rental search engine. It often finds cheaper fares than other websites. Plus, we love how easy it is to compare reviews of different rental agencies & that they don't hide any fees.

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15 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great information! I’ve been looking to rent a car for my Puerto Rico adventures. Would you recommend a SUV/Jeep or could you get away with renting a car?

    1. Puerto Rico has well paved roads so for most purposes a car works just fine. Of course, if you want to do any off-roading, or more adventurous exploring, a Jeep may have benefits, but when I visited a rental car worked just fine for getting around the island.

  2. We are renting a car in San Juan, but staying on the western part of the island. The last day we’d like to go to Vieques & stay the night taking the passenger ferry both ways. Is there somewhere we can leave our rental on the main island & pick it up the next day to get to the airport?
    Thank you!

      1. I would not rent a car until you’re ready to leave Old San Juan to explore. Parking in Old San Juan is limited and can be several blocks away from your hotel or b&b. Use Uber or taxi back to airport to pick up car when ready and return there at end of your stay.

  3. My family and I are headed staying in Old San Juan for a week. We want spend a few days around old San Juan, but also want to spend a few days checking out different parts of the island. Should I rent a car from the airport for the entire week? Will I have a tough time parking as we are staying near Castillo San Cristobal? Thanks,
    Jori

    1. Hi Jori! If you’re planning to stay in Old San Juan for a few days, you can ditch the car rental, as Old San Juan is a walkable neighborhood and then rent a car for the days you’ll be exploring the island. That way you’ll save money and avoid the hectic traffic/parking of Old San Juan. Finding on-street parking near San Cristobal is difficult, so you’ll probably have to leave your rental car a few times on paying parking lots.

  4. Staying at the Margaritaville Resort, it seems like it is a pretty good distance to everything so we will probably need a car rental. Do you recommend getting it at the airport?

    1. Hi Lori! Getting your rental car at the airport is the most convenient, so you can start moving around with flexibility as soon as you leave the airport. But, the waiting time for car rentals at the airport is sometimes long. Another option is to look for a car rental location outside but close to the airport and take a taxi from the airport to the location and from there you can drive to your resort.

  5. Hi-I am traveling to Puerto Rico next week and have reserved a car w Avis. On my last trip 6/21 there was a 2-3 hour wait to get your car at SJU. Is there any way to avoid this?
    Much thanks,
    beth

    1. Hi Beth! So the thing about car airport rentals is that they have a lot of demand, so the wait time can be a little long. You could look for rental car locations outside the airport and in nearby areas (San Juan, Condado, Bayamón, Cataño) and take a taxi/uber to that location. You end up paying a bit more, but you’ll wait for less time. But you could also look for some car rental companies that offer a shuttle from the airport to their location, so you can save both time and the taxi fee.

      1. Hi Vanessa, I just read Beth’s comment. Is waiting 2 to 3 hours at the airport the norm to pick up a rental car? I just booked today with Enterprise at SJ airport. I’m wondering if I should change my booking. We are staying near Old San Juan (not far from the airport) the first couple of days without a car, and planned to go back to get the car when we plan too leave SJ.

  6. I have a two month work assignment in San Juan and will need a car. Any suggestions for a two month rental? It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just basic and reliable transportation.

  7. Hi Vanessa, Thanks for your helpful, informative article on renting a car in Puerto Rico. This is my first visit – three weeks mid December through first week in January. I wanted to mention that there was a wide price differentiation between the three sites that you mention – Discover cars, Kayak and Rentalcar.com – of hundred of dollars actually. Kayak had the best prices for a two week rental. Discover cars had the highest prices – more than double Kayak . I ended up booking a full size 5 seater with Enterprise today ($539 a week plus tax.) I called Enterprise directly and Kayak’s deal was much lower that booking direct. So thanks for the tip re: Kayak! I now plan to read your other information to plan our itinerary. Many thanks

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