What do I need to rent a car in Chile as US citizen while traveling there? Do I need just my license?
If I only drive automatic in US, with basic knowledge of manual transmission, but not active use, can I still rent a manual?
I'm an American living in Chile, and have rented a car here many times. They ask for ID (your US passport if you are a tourist), your drivers license, and a major credit card.
You can rent a manual transmission car if you want. There is no test, or anything. They assume you can drive one, since most people outside the U.S. can. However, automatics are also available (and are common) at most rental companies.
While an International Driver's License is officially required, few car rental agencies enforce that. Consequently, only your US driver's license and credit card are an absolute must for renting a car in Chile.
Without actual experience driving a stick shift, I strongly suggest you either practice driving a manual, or rent an automatic. This being said, nobody will stop you from renting a manual car. It's obviously cheaper, but you'll have a hard time enjoying the drive, and run the risk of damaging the transmission, and charged for repairs.
Just my two cents.