Before “driving” into ‘The Right Way To Rent A Car In St. Lucia’, let’s get some of the basics out of the way.
These basics will ensure that you have everything in order for when you do decide to rent any vehicle in St. Lucia and even abroad. These basics apply to both local & foreigners.
In our post Driving in St. Lucia – Frequently Asked Questions, we covered questions that are normally asked when it comes to driving in St. Lucia.
These range from what side of the road are you to drive on to what’s traffic like, to what you should do in the event of an accident. We’d definitely recommend reading it in conjunction with this article.
Now let’s explore some “need-to-know” before renting a car in St. Lucia.
To rent a vehicle from a rental company, one must be a minimum of 25 years of age with 2 years driving experience.
In order for a foreign national to rent and drive a vehicle in St. Lucia, they either need an International Driving Permit or a temporary local permit.
The International Driving Permit could be stamped at immigration at one of our two airports. If not in possession of one, then a temporary local permit can be obtained at the immigration desk at the airport, at any local police station or through the car rental company. The cost typically is $20USD ($54 XCD) and is valid for three months.
Car Insurance is a must & may come in many different forms. If you already have personal auto insurance or a credit card you will most likely be covered.
For the personal auto insurance, it’s advisable to call your provider beforehand and understand their terms and whether the policy includes comprehensive and liability (which should cover your rental).
When it comes to credit cards, the same applies – call beforehand to know exactly what they cover. Not all cards offer the exact coverage. Some credit card’s ‘’Rental Car Insurance’ covers theft, reimbursement, damages done to the rental car etc.
In the event of an accident, all repairs must be settled for locally and clients will be given copies of the bills, which they then claim back from their insurance agency at home.
Collision Damage Waiver
If you have neither of the above insurance coverages, then the car rental companies offer supplemental/optional damage car rental insurance known as the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).
Note that this is NOT insurance. The car rental company simply waivers their right to make the renter pay for any damages to the vehicle, providing a level of protection for the renter.
If the renter agrees to the CDW, they pay an additional daily fee on top of the rental car fee. By opting, the renter has a maximum that they will pay towards the bodywork repairs in the event of any damage.
With the purchase of CDW, the daily cost typically is $15 USD and a deposit of $750 USD cash or an imprint is required at the beginning of the rental to cover the initial expenses of any damages in the event of an accident.
If the renter declines CDW, then they’ll be responsible for all damages up to the full value of the vehicle in the event of a total loss. A deposit of $1500 USD or a signed credit card imprint is required at the beginning of the rental for persons declining the CDW.
Whichever car rental company that you do decide to go with, be sure to ask them upfront what are their different fees associated with CDW, as they usually vary.
Knowing early on what the costs are can help you to factor into your budget different scenarios, helping to avoid last-minute surprises or expenses.
A credit card (VISA, American Express, Mastercard or other international cards) is sometimes required to confirm the reservation and a deposit. This deposit depends upon the company and type of vehicle being rented.
Rentals are usually on a 24 hour basis, at a two-day minimum rental. Any additional days besides those agreed upon and paid for, the renter will be charged.
This depends on the company. Usually, notice must be given one week prior to the reserved date in order to receive a full refund and less than one week notice, a two-day rental fee may be charged. Again, it’s all dependent on the company’s policy.
Rental companies are not liable for any damage and personal injury arising out of the rental of the vehicle; the Renter must not authorise any member of his immediate family or household, employee, partner, executive offer or friend to operate the vehicle unless signed for at the time of the booking.
Now that the ‘need-to-know’ is out of the way, our question for you is, “Is there really a right way to rent a car in St. Lucia?”. Well, let’s find out!
If you’re a foreign national, it’s always advisable that you plan ahead for rental costs, if possible. And if you’re a local, do your due diligence.
Know the seasons
In St. Lucia, from mid- December to mid-April is the high season. Many foreigners and locals return to the island to escape the harsh weather so rentals will be in high demand and usage, making it difficult to secure a vehicle last minute.
From mid-April to mid-December is the low season, although we have certain events during these months, which means that rentals would be in request, but not as much as in the high season.
Regardless of the event however, the price of a rental usually doesn’t change by much as they’re usually a fixed price depending on the type of vehicle.
Many airlines have partnered with certain car rental company brands which allows one to create a flight + car package. In this package, you book both a flight and a car rental via the airline website.
Upon selection of flight + car package, you enter your flight dates and the system generates the availability of vehicles and type and gives you a full total, that include all mandatory charges for the vehicle(the cost of the flight and to rent a car for the specified period).
Mandatory charges usually include unlimited mileage, airport concession fee, CDW & local tax. There are also other optional extras such as other types of insurance, a driver and child seats that can be selected and added to the bill.
Booking via the airlines is a hassle-free and trusted source because well-known airlines will do their due diligence in ensuring that they partner with reliable and trustworthy brands.
There are also other benefits such as receiving points towards either the credit card used or frequent flyer miles programs. Some of the airlines which fly to St. Lucia have partnered with Avis Car Rental. These airlines at the time of writing include American Airlines, British Airways & JetBlue Airways.
Be sure to check out either the airline website or Avis to know more about the points you will earn with each airline. Why not earn points while spending on driving?
Majority of airports have now become a commercial hub with both local & foreign businesses setting up booths there. This is a great, quick & accessible way of renting a vehicle last minute, even for locals.
A downside to this is that the vehicles available at the specific time of request may not be what you’re looking for or within your price range. Another downside is the time of day.
A passenger flying in on an extremely late flight, who hasn’t made any arrangements and decide last minute that they’d prefer to rent a car will most likely be out of luck as the car rental companies at the airport may be closed.
If you book a stay at a hotel, guesthouse or villa, ask them whether they have special arrangements with car rental companies. Many times these accommodations have their preferred car rental agency that they deal with and may include extra perks.
Sometimes, even the special offers / deals that may come with booking a certain type of accommodation, includes the cost of renting a vehicle.
Many well known hotels and villa rental companies such as Tropical Villas Ltd. provide the option of their concierge arranging rentals, tours etc. for their guests.
There are even some trusted websites that facilitate the renting of vehicles such as BelleCarib. We ensure that our rentals are reliable and most importantly that all parties are covered and understand the terms and agreements.
You having a great time and having little to nothing to worry about while in paradise is important to us. Having rental problems shouldn’t be on your list!
Quick and sometimes time-consuming, simply google searching “car rentals in St. Lucia” will bring up a few well-known car rental companies.
Though it yields quick results, we’d recommend reading the reviews of those who’ve rented a vehicle from the different companies. Then check out the types of vehicles available and their rates.
Check out our options for car and jeep rentals here.
St. Lucia is a small island and many businesses are still catching up to “social media & marketing”. That means that you probably won’t find a few car rental agencies online.
If you know of friends or family who’ve visited, lived or lives on the island, we’d suggest that you ask them.
Local knowledge is always great because sometimes they’d know who are the more trustworthy companies or people to rent a car from.
Granted that who they’d recommend may not always be a big or “well-known” rental agency, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be taken care of in an ethical and courteous manner.
Note well, if that is a route you take, ensure that the rental company/person has the right documentation and insurance for renting a vehicle.
They should be knowledgeable on Collision Damage Waiver and the other ways that you may ensure of your protection while driving the rental. Use our “need-to-know” list as a guide on what to look for and ask!
So really, there are many “right ways” to rent a vehicle in St. Lucia, you just have to be smart about it and make sure that whichever rental company you decide to go with, that you trust them, their vehicle and what it is they say that they will deliver on.
Ensure that you read through the contract and sign before driving off with the vehicle. Precaution is always better than a massive bill to pay. Happy Renting!