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Money Conversion

Mississauga, Toronto
9 posts
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Money Conversion

What is the best way to convert money for Costa Rica?

We are in Canada. Should we go USD or convert to Costa Rican currency before leaving? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Manuel Antonio...
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1,298 posts
2 reviews
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1. Re: Money Conversion

The best for you is to visit a bank in Costa Rica since is where you are going to get the best exchange rate. If you carring small denomination of $$ you will be bale to paid everything with US$$. NATUREGUIDE

Destination Expert
for Playa Samara
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4,050 posts
80 reviews
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2. Re: Money Conversion

Don't convert into colones. Do take some US$ and your debit/ATM card.

ATM's are widely available. There are two different groups of ATM's - those that accept ALL cards and those that only accept those with a VISA symbol. Scotiabank, Coope-type banks, and a few others will take any card without a problem. BNCR, for example, does not take MasterCard symbol cards even though their ATM's claim that they do.

Just about every place accepts US$ and you will get change in Colones - although the rate is not the very best, it tends to be fair, given the convenience.

Do not exchange money at the airport - it's one of the worst rates anywhere in the country.

If you want to exchange money in Costa Rica, go to any bank - but bring your passport.

Don't bring traveler checks - they are a nightmare to cash here.

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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7,379 posts
29 reviews
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3. Re: Money Conversion

Framptonian has given you good advice and covered pretty well everything.

As a Canadian - I always get some USD and then use my ATM card for the rest when I am there. Even if you get colones at home, the rate will be very poor.

if you are converting USD to colones - do not do it at SJO at the Global currency exchange booth. Their rates are horrible. Stick to banks.

You can get along through most of CR on USD. However the rates you get will vary.

Not all bank machines are created equal. The one that does not seem to work for me is the BNCR - and I have cards with PLUS - which it also has symbols for. Many other people report the same results. The problem is that especially in the smaller places, that is the bank that is most common so many people fail and then say that ATMs in CR don't work....

Your best chances of your card working will be at the BAC Banco San Jose, ScotiaBank, Banco Popular and other private banks. In the past I had issues with the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) with my CIBC plus card, but the last time I tried it worked.

Do not try more than about 2 times if a machine does not work or it will eat your card.

Be aware that pretty well all Canadian banks put a $5.00 foreign ATM transaction fee per withdrawl as well as a 2.5% conversion fee. However, the rates still are quite good.

Be aware that ATMs sometimes run out of money especially on weekends and that as of recently the BNCR and BCR ATM are not 24 hours but close at night (not sure of the time)

pura vida


4. Re: Money Conversion

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