What you need to know when renting a car in Cancun

We like freedom when traveling and Yucatan can be a great place for renting a car to explore ruins, and find less touristy cenotes to play. Here, we offer a cautionary note when a renting a car in Cancun based on our recent experience (which included some surprise and frustration) while traveling with our family in the region. Below are ways to get around the region, and what to expect when renting a car in Cancun.

Tour Buses and Arranged Drivers

If you don’t want to drive or rent a car — there are many tour / package options from Cancun and Tulum to many destinations throughout Riveria Maya and the Yucatan region. While it’s possible (and easy) to book tour buses to get to and from major attraction from hubs like Cancun and Tulum, do keep in mind that you’ll likely spend many hours (as many as 6) in a bus on a day trip if you plan to visit sites like Chichen Itza. You’ll also be in the thick of crowds, always, guaranteed.

If you don’t want to drive, and also don’t want to spend so much time in buses, consider finding hotels for a few days near top attractions and see if they will arrange transportation from the airport. We like to get to highly touristed spots early and avoid crowds when possible, so we opted to stay in a hotel just down the road from Chichen Itza. There are some amazing cenotes in this region to see as well.

New Train is Under Construction

There is a new train under construction that will connect Cancun, Tulum and Chichen Itza — this will be a game changer once its complete (estimated in 2024/2025) — definitely look into this if you’re planning for a future trip to this region.  

Car Rentals

If you plan to rent a car — PLEASE READ THIS — renting a car from the Cancun International Airport was bizarre — some new practices of rental car companies are quite surprising and not tourist friendly.  Two things to prepare for:

Higher cost than advertised/reserved

It will cost more than your online reservation suggests (they leave out all the fees and extras), and you will likely need to take their insurance — expect the actual rental fee to be up to three times higher than your reservation suggests.

Credit card coverage for insurance – not so easy

If you (like us) typically use a credit card benefit of covering rental car liability insurance – its not so in Cancun. If you decline the rental company insurance, in order to use your credit card coverage, in our experience using Keddy Rental Car (and we’ve heard other rental companies do something similiar) — they insisted they would need to charge the ENTIRE cost of the car to our credit card upfront ($14,000 US!), with the promise to refund it if we brought the car back without damage. Um, that’s nuts! As you might imagine we did NOT authorize them to make us BUY their car on our credit card. We took their insurance, as most people will.

In the end, renting the car cost us three times as much as we had anticipated and was on our booked in advance reservation. We have NEVER experienced anything like this before while traveling domestically or abroad. Travelers, use caution and be prepared.

Bottom line

We liked having a rental car for several days while visiting cenotes off the beaten path and staying near Chichen Itza region, but a rental car was not needed, nor desired while staying within Cancun – we cut our reservation time in half and opted for other types of transportation while staying in Cancun.

We recommend considering carefully how you’ll plan to get around the region while visiting (we offer some tips for things to do while here). Sharing our experiences with rental cars so you aren’t surprised like we were by the excessive fees and weird quirks when you get there.

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