Last Update: February 18th, 2019

Car Renting Tips

If you want to rent a car in Chile, it is usually cheaper to hire the car rental in Santiago Chile. Not only that, in Santiago you have a wider range of vehicles available to hire.

  • Small companies in Chile most of the time rent their vehicles with a CDW insurance with deductible (between USD 275 and USD 1.000). Please take note that this means that in case of an accident, you (the renter) will be responsible up to the amount of the deductible. In other words, dedcutible is the maximum responsibility in case of an accident for the driver of the rental vehicle. Small companies usually do not have offices in other cities besides Santiago, but this does not mean you can not leave the car in another city. In both, International franchise companies, (like Budget, Avis, Hertz, Europcar), or Domestic car rental companies, you will have to pay a drop off fee if you leave the car in a location different to where you started the rental. Drop off fees are expensive in Chile.
  • Leaving Chilean territory with a rental car it is not a simple procedure. A legal authorization is required. This permit takes between 1 and 4 days to have it ready (it depends in each company). Permits will cost USD 84 up to 2 weeks and USD 167 per month (USD 167 in Patagonia unique fee…no 2 weeks permit in Patagonia). This extra payment includes liability and CDW insurance once you cross Chilean border. Please consider that crossing Chile and Argentina border (actually any South American border) is not like in Europe, here it will take much more time and you must be patient.
  • We do not have any car rental company that authorizes their cars or pick up trucks to cross to either Bolivia or Peru. The reason is because Chilean insurance companies believe those are quite risky destinations for Chilean cars. Too many cars are stolen and also relationship between Chile and those countries it is not good at all.
  • Your native country driver license is obligatory to drive in Chile but we recommend, if it is no big problem for you, to get an international drivers license as well. It is normal in South America for police man to ask for International drivers license, but you must know that so far nothing has happened to a customer of our company for having only their native drivers license (we have 18 years experience renting vehicles in Chile to tourists)
  • If Patagonia is a destination once you rent a car in Chile, then the best alternative is a pick up truck (because it has a much higher clearance than a car). A 4×4 (four wheel drive – 4WD) would be even better, especially if it rains a lot. We recommend taking 2 spare tires and also a spray in case you have one or more emergencies with flat tires. Now, in the other hand, even though a 4×4 pick up truck or 4×4 SUV are the best alternatives to drive Patagonia, we have had many clients that have drove in all Patagonia with a simple compact sedan car (you have to drive slow and with not much weight). Always try to park your car in safe parking places, and never leave things inside your vehicle. If you do so, try to leave your bags and equipment in the trunk of the rental car, so it can not be seen. Also take out the panel of your radio, if possible, every time you leave the vehicle alone. Remember that even though Chile is a very safe country, at the same time we are a poor country and therefore it isn’t recommended to leave valuable objects inside the car or use jewelry.
  • Chilean roads are well maintained, and may be you will consider them excellent if you compare them with the rest of South America. Well, there is nothing free in life, that’s what they say: Chilean main roads and Santiago underground modern highways have many and expensive tolls so you must have plenty of cash once you get in the road.
  • Santiago has recently inaugurated modern highways which makes driving much safer and faster. As a matter of fact it takes only 25 minutes from the airport to the east part of town (very close to Andes mountains) In order to be able to use these new roads, you must pay electronic tolls (this means you pay while you drive, without the need to stop) All rental cars that our company offers will include these Santiago free flow tolls, also known as TAG (device located in the inside of the windshield).