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What To Know About USD, Colones, Credit Cards, And More! – Costa Rica Travel Blog

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Relaxation assured, American travellers, in relation to spending cash in Costa Rica, USD is extensively accepted, as are Costa Rican colones. Sadly, CAD, Euros, and different foreign currency usually are not accepted by most corporations, except a handful of Costa Rican companies with worldwide house owners who usually are not averse to accepting funds in currencies native to their residence nation.


Spending cash in Costa Rica: when it’s okay to make use of USD?

Though the native foreign money in Costa Rica is the colon (pronounced coh-loh-n, and never how most English audio system would pronounce the phrase in reference to punctuation or human anatomy), most gadgets bought at widespread vacationer locations all through Costa Rica are priced in USD. This encourages nearly all of travellers to pay for motels, excursions, points of interest, transportation providers, and meals providers in USD money, if not by bank card.

Spending cash in Costa Rica: when is it greatest to make use of Costa Rican colones?

Though most travellers can get by with out the necessity to pay for an merchandise in a foreign money aside from USD, we advocate that travellers trade a small portion of their dollars into colones, as there could also be occasions when it’s required or advantageous to pay with the native foreign money. In case you plan to journey off the crushed path, companies in distant areas sometimes don’t settle for USD funds, or any type of cost aside from money colones for that matter. Purchases from street-corner salesmen or cart-towing seashore roamers (promoting pipa fria, copos, ceviche, and different treats) might solely be potential in colones. Ideas, though welcomed each time and nevertheless provided, we assume, are enormously appreciated by the locals when provided in colones, as this protects guides and different service staff a visit to the financial institution to trade the funds (for extra details about tipping in Costa Rica together with our recommendation and proposals, don’t miss our associated weblog publish: To Tip Or Not To Tip Whereas On Trip In Costa Rica–That Is The Query!). As well as, given that the majority tourism-related gadgets are priced in USD to start with, paying with this foreign money avoids the necessity for travellers to concern themselves with change charges, avoiding a few of the points we tackle in our associated weblog publish: Understanding The Apply Of Foreign money Change And Minimizing Loss: USD To Costa Rican Colon.

Spending in Costa Rica: Right here’s why we advocate not exchanging all your cash into colones

Some travellers want to change all of their journey cash into colones. We don’t see an pressing want for doing so (nor would we advocate that travellers achieve this), but when this us your choice, we advise exchanging the funds by means of your native financial institution or foreign money trade supplier in your hometown previous to embarking in your journey. Though foreign money change cubicles are current at each of Costa Rica’s worldwide airports, and quite a lot of banks (Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, Banco de San Jose, and Banco In style, to call a couple of) can be found in hottest cities and seashore cities, you’ll probably lose extra on the change should you convert your cash by means of any of those sources than for those who maintain the matter from residence. Foreign money conversion may be dealt with on the fly all through your journey (should you want to convert your funds in small portions and once in a while as you journey), nevertheless, it might be greatest to restrict the variety of financial institution visits you propose to make. Visiting the financial institution in Costa Rica could be a sluggish course of that always requires an extended wait and typically using a ficha (a numbered ticket). Since most financial institution representatives don’t converse English, when travellers would not have sufficient information of the Spanish language to handle on their very own, the method may additionally have to contain the assistance of a second financial institution consultant with at the least primary English language expertise, every time she or he is obtainable.


  • When an merchandise is paid for in Costa Rica with USD, most frequently the customer will obtain colones–not USD–within the type of change. It’s because many locations that settle for funds in USD don’t have sufficient of the foreign money available (together with particular denominations) to offer it again to travellers following a purchase order. Because of this, guests simply accumulate colones over the period of their journey, even when nearly all of their journey gadgets are paid for with USD. For instance, offering a $20.00 American greenback invoice for a $16.00 USD buy and receiving roughly 2,00zero colones (roughly $four.00 USD) again in change is widespread apply. Colones collections can add up shortly, which is why we solely recommend that travellers convert a small quantity of USD to colones firstly of their trip (if and once they intend to trade any funds in any respect). To any travellers who finish their trip with extra colones of their pockets than they know what to do with, we advocate leaving the gathering as a tip for lodge employees, airport switch service drivers, and airport cleansing employees, or if the providers rendered don’t warrant such kindness, placing the funds towards last-minute memento or duty-free purchases earlier than flying house.


  • Most Costa Rica institutions won’t settle for USD payments greater than $20.00 American greenback payments (solely in uncommon instances are $50.00 American greenback payments accepted). Which means in the event you had meant to hold bigger payments with you all through your travels, your wad simply grew three sizes. Nonetheless, it’s higher to study the disappointing fact prematurely than to make it rain with $100.00 payments on the airport exit, solely to get the shaft by a taxi driver who gained’t activate his maria (meter) for you till he sees some huge $5.00 payments blazing. Holla!


No matter whether or not you decide to journey with USD or colones, the truth is, you’ll have plenty of money on you. In case you would like to not carry the duty and the plata (money) round, there are three various choices to spending cash in Costa Rica. Sadly, in our opinion, not one of the three are ultimate.

Spending cash in Costa Rica by way of vacationers cheques

The primary choice is to convey US travellers cheques with you to Costa Rica. Sadly most locations together with tour operator workplaces, eating places, memento outlets, points of interest, and resorts–excluding a number of giant all-inclusive resorts–won’t money travellers cheques on-site. This requires travellers to go to a Costa Rican financial institution to be able to money the cheques, which, separate from the inconvenience that we argue a financial institution go to could be, just isn’t as straightforward a activity because it sounds. One of the disturbing conditions I discovered myself in years in the past was the results of a travellers cheque mishap. I had signed every cheque in entrance of the financial institution consultant quite carelessly and nonchalantly, and my messy John Hancock resulted in a denial of funds by the financial institution supervisor as a result of my signature was not a precise duplicate of the signature imprinted on my passport. Because the cheques had already been signed, they have been unable to be cashed in by a special financial institution, and the worthless papers left me stranded within the nation with out entry to the funds I had deliberate to depend on all through the rest of my journey. Fortuitously, the bank card I obtained from house “for emergency functions” rescued me from, fairly fittingly, my emergency, however I don’t know what I might have accomplished in any other case with out it.

Spending cash in Costa Rica by way of bank cards

The second choice is to depend on bank cards for almost all of your journey purchases. Bank cards have their benefits and drawbacks; they’re each a supply of engaging journey factors/miles/rewards, in addition to a supply of unattractive journey debt; they may help travellers keep away from the issue of carrying a number of money round, however also can create new issues associated to a rise in assumed danger due bank card fraud and a rise in spending because of processing charges and card commissions. As a compromise, think about bringing as a lot money as you are feeling snug bringing with you to Costa Rica, and depend on bank cards for extra purchases. This manner, the inconvenience and danger related to carrying a variety of money round are offset by the inconvenience and danger of bank card purchases. Positive, that is extra a suggestion of a lesser evil than an precise answer, and the catch-22 logic has not escaped us. We’re annoyed travellers alongside you, and should you’re something like us, as an alternative of complaining quite a bit about one of many dilemmas (carrying money versus paying by way of bank card), now you’ll complain rather less, albeit twice as typically. The one saving grace we have now discovered to assist travellers reduce some stress and keep away from some pointless spending requires a ton of advance journey planning, nice consideration to element, and endurance. As we clarify in our associated weblog publish: Paying For Your Costa Rica Journey: What Is Regular, Widespread, And To Be Anticipated?, given that every lodge, tour operator, car rental company, and transportation service supplier in Costa Rica has their very own coverage with regard to what they require in the best way of funds, it’s a proven fact that some corporations cost bank card processing charges on prime of their gross sales costs and others don’t. Taking the time to study the insurance policies of every firm you propose to offer cash to all through your journey is a time consuming feat, however it will possibly assist you to greatest decide which gadgets ought to be paid for in money or by bank card to greatest reduce danger and maximize reward, and this info can be utilized to calculate the precise ratio of money to bank card spending that may be most useful to you on your journey.

“Taking the time to study the insurance policies of every firm you propose to offer cash to all through your journey is a time consuming feat, however it could actually provide help to greatest decide which gadgets must be paid for in money or by bank card to greatest reduce danger and maximize reward, and this info can be utilized to calculate the precise ratio of money to bank card spending that might be most useful to you on your journey.”
~ Nikki & Ricky,
Costa Rica Journey Weblog

Spending cash in Costa Rica by way of ATM withdrawals

Most travellers would agree that counting on ATMs for insta-cash is as dangerous an concept as buying cheesy and impractical trip souvenirs that, upon returning residence, have a shelf lifetime of a month earlier than they’re tossed within the trash (belief us, as documented in our associated weblog publish: What To Purchase In Costa Rica: Our Costa Rica Memento Buying Listing And Shopping for Ideas, we admit, we’re memento junkies). But, we’ve got all dedicated the shameless act at the least as soon as all through our travels and have rather less moolah in our checking account in consequence. Granted, acquiring money from ATMs does get rid of the effort of travellers cheques, the danger related to bank card use, and the necessity to carry plenty of money round from the begin to the top of a trip provided that money may be obtained in increments, however ATMs pose too many dangers of their very own (associated to fraudulent card readers) and security considerations (most frighteningly, theft) to be thought-about an ideal choice. Throw in the truth that ATM charges are astounding, and it’s arduous for us to advocate that it is best to pay by means of the roof to entry the cash you already personal, solely to imagine new worries in an try and dodge others.


Security must be each traveller’s precedence. Relating to spending cash in Costa Rica, though comfort and cash are professional considerations, extra so is your well-being. Don’t miss the “Cash & Spending Security” part of our associated weblog submit: Is Costa Rica Protected? Sure, If You Journey Consciously, Cleverly, And With Widespread Sense. Right here’s How. to study extra about calling your bank card supplier previous to leaving house to launch any worldwide journey bans in your account, the difficulty with counting on vacationers cheques, avoiding tour purchases from street-corner salesmen, checking and double-checking your foreign money conversion, and splitting your money and bank cards throughout your baggage.

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: When travelling, how do you favor to pay for gadgets–with your own home nation’s foreign money or the native foreign money?

Pura vida!

Spending Cash In Costa Rica: What To Know About USD, Colones, Credit score Playing cards, And Extra!







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