Car Rentals 101: Things to Consider Before Renting a Car in Medellin

Dubbed the City of Eternal Springs because of its pleasant weather all year round, Medellin is one of the most rewarding Columbian cities for a well-rounded vacation.

This city is a food lover’s paradise with abundant eateries, restaurants and street side vendors selling traditional Colombian fares, Spanish specialities and Caribbean treats.

Vacationers can divide their time exploring Medellin’s wide variety of nature retreats and parks, visiting local museums and shopping for antiques and souvenirs at the local marketplaces. 

Nights are for immersing oneself in Medellin’s eclectic nightlife scene, enjoying crafty cocktails at some of the more popular clubs or salsa dancing at local bars until the early morning hours

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Medellin Car Rentals Exterior

Should I rent a car in Medellin?

Travelers are often overwhelmed by the idea of renting a car and driving around in Medellin, given the city’s tumultuous past shrouded in the crime and violence of rival drug cartels. 

Today, Medellin offers a modern, tech-savvy and safe tourist base to explore Columbia’s natural landscape, culture and history.

Renting a car in Medellin will give you the opportunity to explore tourist attractions, plan day trips to parks and sites outside of the city.

If you do decide to rent a car in Medellin, be sure to remember the following:

Double check your paperwork

Car rental facilities in Medellin require clients to provide a driver’s license, a valid credit card, and travel documents.

Most facilities demand clients provide a valid credit card as a security against coverage for incidental charges, such as traffic violations, car damage and parking tickets.

In most cases, debit cards are not accepted, and travelers may have to provide an upfront cash deposit if they do not have a credit card.

If you’re planning on booking a car rental at Medellin Airport and driving to your hotel, be sure to double-check all of your paperwork and always carry all necessary documents with you everywhere you go.

Some car rental companies also require an international driver’s permit (IDP), and carrying one is always wise to avoid the hassle.

Avoid scammy car rental companies

Travelers are strongly advised to avoid renting vehicles from unlicensed and unregistered car rental companies and seek out reputed facilities with licensure and comprehensive legal procedures.

Many licensed companies also engage in dubious practices, such as overcharging, selling excess waiver coverage, and misusing financial information.

It is crucial to verify the rental car company’s reputation online and seek out reviews before signing a lease agreement.

If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of finding the right rental facility in Medellin, you could also consider pre-booking your transportation from Medellin Airport to your hotel and then take tours and use Uber to explore the city.

Medellin Car Rentals Interior

Examine the vehicle closely

It is important to examine the vehicle’s interiors and exteriors closely to highlight any damages or signs of misuse before signing the lease document.

If you fail to prioritize due diligence, you will likely end up paying charges for another person’s mishandling of the vehicle.

Inspect the vehicle for any signs of dents, scratches, spillages or wear and tear, and discuss these issues with the authorities before proceeding with the lease.   

It is also crucial to familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s functions and features, such as air conditioning, handbrakes, windshield wipes, and other controls before setting out on the road. 

Inquire about the vehicle’s fuel usage capacity and what kind of fuel it requires to avoid roadside troubles.

Guatape Colombia

Map out your itinerary

It’s always wise to map out your itinerary to know exactly where you’re going before renting a car.

Having a detailed itinerary with specific locations will help you manage your time and budget efficiently, and ensure you return the car on the agreed time.

You can rent a vehicle for multiple hours, days or weeks, depending on your budget and travel plans.

Keep in mind that car rental companies have high delay charges that can throw off your budget, and failure to inform the company of roadside delays can result in a full-day rental charge with additional expenses.

Secure yourself with full insurance coverage

Most travelers avoid damage waiver insurance to save money for their trips, but this strategy is highly ill-advised as you’ll end up spending much more in case of a roadside emergency.

Buying a full damage waiver insurance coverage will protect you financially and legally in case of an accident.

While you will have to pay for damages to your rented vehicle, the costs will be significantly less and more manageable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it safe to drive in and around Medellin?

Driving around Medellin is considered to be quite safe, but foreigners are advised to familiarize themselves with the local traffic rules and laws before getting behind the wheel.

Is it worth renting a car in Medellin?

Travelers planning to make day trips to nearby natural parks, forests and nature reserves will find Medellin car rentals extremely convenient. Those planning to explore Medellin city can simply rely on public transportation and Uber.  

Do I need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Colombia?

Carrying an international driver’s license is highly recommended as most reputable car rental companies require it and having one makes it easier to find affordable rentals. 

Can you rent a car from Medellin Airport?

You can explore a wide variety of rental cars at Medellin Airport, including SUVs, sedans, economy cars, luxury cars and more.

ILR Author Bio
About the author

Jay Patton is a serial traveler and adventure seeker, based in Portland, Oregon. He enjoys hiking, running, and traveling the world, and is always on the lookout for the next big adventure.