I get asked all the time about reliable car hire in Uruguay and I am going to give an unashamed shout-out to a local car hire company, Mariño Sport, which has offices in Montevideo (Pocitos and near the airport) and Punta del Este.
Why? Because they deserve it!
I have recommended them to clients and my own visiting friends and family since 2010 and I have been consistently impressed by their great service and personal touch.
They treat clients like real human beings
Back a few years ago, I had a French client whose rental car window got broken by an opportunistic thief. She was pretty upset – not only because of the unwelcome complication but she was naturally worried about the repair charges.
Not only did Mariño come to sort out the damage immediately but they did not even charge her! How many big companies would take that attitude? Mariño is just COOL.
Free drop-off and pick-up on request
This is really a great part of the service. You can arrange to have them meet you at the airport, the port or your hotel and then they will pick the car up from you wherever you decide in Montevideo and Punta del Este.
What a relaxing start and end to your holiday. It can also save you money too as a taxi from the airport to the centre of Montevideo can set you back 40 USD.
Note there’s a forty dollar charge for drop-offs out of office hours ie before 8.30am and after 7.30pm Sunday through Friday and after 5.30pm on Saturdays.
Honest and no hidden extras
The rate they quote you will include:
- all taxes
- full insurance*
- additional drivers for free
- unlimited mileage during high season (December-February)
- 350 kilometre per day limit (eg Punta del Este is 132 km from Montevideo)—and lower rates—the rest of the year
- full 24-hour mechanical assistance throughout Uruguay.
My clients who’ve gone with cheaper companies have been messed around regarding how much gas was in the car to start with and other such annoying tricks. I have never known Mariño to mess around.
* You will be asked to sign a credit card voucher for the value of 1000 USD (for a compact car, more for a larger car) which is called a “deductible”. The insurance covers you for everything except the first 1000 USD-worth of damage. This is standard practice for Uruguayan car rentals. The voucher will be ripped up at the end of your rental.
As they have their own repair shop, their cars are well-maintained. This may seem a basic requirement, but I have heard enough stories of rental cars in Uruguay breaking down to know that this is not a given.
Mariño was founded in 2002 as a motor repair shop and started renting cars two years later. They are the official service representatives for Nissan, Hyundai and Renault in Uruguay.
They rent automatics
Not many companies do in Uruguay and people typically drive stick shift. Mariño tells me they have the largest fleet of small and medium size automatic cars in Uruguay.
They rent vans
If you have a larger group or lots of luggage, they have a large range of passenger vans for 7 and 9 people.
Why Mariño might not be for you
If you are just after the cheapest deal then Mariño is not for you.
Their rates are not quite as competitive as some other the international car companies however for the reasons above mean that I would choose them any day.
And remember that when you hire a car using an international credit card the 22% VAT is automatically deducted from the rental price.
How do I book and claim 10% off?
Send an email to email@example.com quoting offer code Guru’Guay for a 10% discount.
Write “Guru’Guay car rental: your name” in your subject line. Don’t forget to mention your rental dates and Mariño will write back to you.
Don’t be put off by their terrible written English, you will work things out. [Supposedly they are working on improving this, including hiring new English-speaking staff—but I will revise my opinion when I see the evidence—ha!]
More reading on driving in Uruguay
- Is it worth hiring a car while I am in Montevideo? The Guru says no. Distances are short, public transport is great and taxis cheap. Only vineyards are further afield, and Uruguay has a zero-tolerance drink-driving policy
- What’s the traffic like in Uruguay? This article sums it up pretty well and made me laugh
- Driving in the Uruguay countryside Excellent pointers!
- Tipping parking guys Who the hell are these people? And should I pay them??
[Article first published: Feb 12, 2015. Last updated: See date above]