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Currency

Ottawa, Canada
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697 posts
42 reviews
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Currency

Quick question (thought I had already posted this question but don't see it ...so sorry if this is a repeat)

What currency is most used in CR...USDs or the local currency. Just asking as the Canadian Dollar is at Par or perhaps even higher then the USD so it would be a good time to buy some.

Also, where should I exchange money into local currency? Airport/Hotel/Bank/Shady looking guy on a street corner (kidding)?

Am I correct that most excursion companies prefer USDs and when tipping should I use USDs or local currency?

Anything you can share would be appreciated.

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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7,208 posts
28 reviews
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1. Re: Currency

Hi Dawat,

I suggest you have a look at the Top Question for Costa Rica at the right side of the page. The one about currency answers pretty much all of your questions.

In a nutshell - US $ are widely accepted. However you may not always get the best rate. At present when the USD official rate over 500 colones, most places will probably use the 500 colones as an exchange rate (it is simple to calculate) so you may not lose out. But all this fluctuates.

Best place to change $ is at a bank. One of the worst is the currency exchange place (Global currency Exchange at SJO airport.)

ATMs are plentiful around the country (though all cards may not work in all machines) so you miight want to withdraw colones that way. However depending on your bank there will probably be a per transation fee of up to $5.00.

Tipping can be either in colones or US $ - but really for the receiver colones are simpler as they can just spend them anywhere and not worry about exchange rates But they won't be upset with $.

As Hattie always says - if the price is quotes in $ you might as well pay $ - and when quoted in colones - pay in colones.

pura vida

raquel

San Jose, Costa Rica
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46,017 posts
32 reviews
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2. Re: Currency

Agree with Raquel...Colones of course but also USD...oe some times even EUROS...

roadadvsior

Vancouver, BC
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967 posts
12 reviews
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3. Re: Currency

We just bought colones on the weekend. Exchange rate for CA to Colones was $451 colones to the dollar. $19,000 colones cost app. $200 CA

Costa Rica
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25,655 posts
25 reviews
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4. Re: Currency

Please, please folks, do not buy colones in your home country. You will get a horrible rate -- c451 versus c500. So for a $200USD exchange, you would lose $20 by not waiting until you get to Costa Rica.

If you want to use colones, you can get colones from one of the ATM's at the airport and then just stop by a bank and either use their ATM or exchange your US dollars.

La Fortuna de San...
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2,002 posts
192 reviews
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5. Re: Currency

We live here and have used both USD and colones...we definitely recommend using Colones for everything. When you use colones you don't have to worry about the conversion rate you're getting and when we've asked for the price in both currencies it's always a little cheaper in colones. For example, we went to the gas station and paid in USD and they gave us the exchange rate of 451....yuck.

Montezuma, Costa...
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538 posts
8 reviews
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6. Re: Currency

In most CA countries USD are widely accepted , but exchanges rates do vary

It's always better to use local currency, but even if the exchange rate varies a little variance won't kill you either ( I recently calculated for a British guy on his 'overnight bill plus 2 meals' bill - it came to 17pence (34cents US, I'm guessing 31cents CDN).

All I'm saying is sometimes the convenience overides the wait in the bank for the official rate

I think more important is to remember bank queues can be long (especially on Mondaysand 1st & 15th of the month) and ATMs sometimes run out of money. So if you need to change money - plan ahead

Montezuma, Costa...
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538 posts
8 reviews
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7. Re: Currency

One thing I forgot to mention - if you use USD - they should be in very good condition - if they are torn or written on, they may not be accepted

Orlando, Florida
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990 posts
6 reviews
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8. Re: Currency

For a 10-day trip for a family of 4, how much colones would you suggest we carry? We will have USD also.

Costa Rica
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25,655 posts
25 reviews
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9. Re: Currency

There are ATM's all over Costa Rica. Don't plan on bringing all the cash either in dollars or colones that you will need for your entire trip. Instead, just get enough for a day or two and then hit the ATM. Safer this way and easier to keep track of it.

As far as how many colones you will need - it depends on what you are doing. Typically, you will pay hotels, drivers and tours in dollars (although they will accept colones, too) and restaurants, taxis, supermarkets and shops in colones. I would say, get some colones at the airport before you exit - probably 20,000 (about $50) and go from there.

Orlando, Florida
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990 posts
6 reviews
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10. Re: Currency

great, Hattie.

When you say ATMs all over, do they take US/International ATM cards to afford withdrawals?