Although there is a dependable long-distance bus system in Chile, getting around individual cities and traveling to natural attractions in Chile, like the Atacama Desert or the Marble Caves, can be difficult and sometimes even impossible to achieve via public transport. Renting a car offers you the most freedom and comfort, as buses in Chile can become very crowded.
If you’re planning on sticking to the cities, renting a car in Chile will be just fine. However, if you’re planning on driving around the desert or the mountainous areas of the country, you’ll need an SUV with high tire clearance and four-wheel drive to tackle the rough driving terrain and the unpredictable conditions of the roads in these areas.
For those traveling to Chile with kids under the age of four, be advised that you’ll either need to bring a car seat with you or add one on to your rental car reservation through your provider. Children under four must be secured in a car seat to legally travel in a vehicle. Children ages four to twelve don’t need a car seat, but they can only ride in the back seat.
If you’re planning on exploring the neighboring country of Argentina, you’ll be able to do so, provided that your specific rental car company allows it and that you give them enough notice to prepare your car and documents. Make sure to check that the company allows you to cross the border before starting the rental process; this will help you avoid hassles during pickup.
Book your rental car in Chile at least 2 weeks before your trip in order to get a below-average price
Premium rental cars in Chile are around -39% cheaper than other car types, on average
FAQs about hiring a car in Chile
Economy (Suzuki Swift or similar) is the most frequently booked car hire type in Chile.
Based on car searches on KAYAK, the most popular cities to hire a car in Chile are Santiago (22% of total searches of users looking to hire a car in Chile), Calama (22%) and Viña del Mar (22%).
Driving in Chile is on the right side of the road, and you won’t need an international permit as long as you’ve got your US-issued driver’s license. There are several toll roads in Chile to reduce traffic congestion, and you may get a small tag from your rental car company to pay the toll electronically; if not, you’ll have to pay the tolls in cash.
To rent a car in Chile, you’ll have to be at least 21 years of age and present a major credit card. However, if you’re renting a car in Chile and you’re 21 or 22, be advised that the insurance premium you’ll pay at the time of your car reservation will be double the normal rate.
Petrol prices in Chile are a bit more expensive than they are in the United States, so be prepared to budget accordingly to avoid emptying your travel funds into the tank. A gallon of petrol costs around 2,450 CLP (3.50 USD), whereas petrol in the US is priced at around 2.50 USD per gallon. Most petrol stations are full-service in Chile, so even though you can pay with a card, make sure you leave a few coins to tip the attendant.
The speed limits in Chile are strictly enforced by Chilean police, but they’re similar to the speed limits imposed on roads in the United States. The maximum driving speeds in metropolitan areas are 50-60 km/h (31-38 mph), the speed limit on rural roads is generally around 100 km/h (62 mph) and the speed limit on the expressway is usually 120 km/h (75 mph).
The rates displayed include all taxes and fees for hire cars for the class listed and were found by KAYAK users in the last 24 hours. Offers are subject to change and may not be available on all car hires listed or dates of travel. Some hire car providers charge additional fees for other services (GPS, infant car seats, etc.). Please check the website of the respective hire car provider.