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Currency exchange - dilemma

Augusta, Georgia
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7 posts
73 reviews
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Currency exchange - dilemma

We are arriving at CR on Sat noon. Banks will be closed. So I was thinking what would be better - exchange money at the airport (thats considering our shuttle driver is gonna wait for us) or buy currency online before the trip through ezforex.com or foreignmoney.com?

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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10,541 posts
23 reviews
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1. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

Both are really bad ideas! The exchange booth at the airport offers horrendously bad exchange rates. The service fee to order colones in advance is terrible too.

Much much better to bring a debit card linked to your bank account and just pull cash from an ATM machine. If you want extra protection open a separate account at the bank linked to the card and put all yoour vacation funds in that account. There's often a limit at the ATM machine, typically the equivalent of $300/day but sometimes less. That's plenty of colones for spending money. Most establishments take US dollars or credit cards.

Augusta, Georgia
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7 posts
73 reviews
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2. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

We dont want to use any debit or credit cards at the establishments (also we'll be visiting many holes in the wall:))

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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219 reviews
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3. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

Are you going to cities that tourists frequent? We've had US dollars accepted everywhere we've gone.

Augusta, Georgia
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7 posts
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4. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

The first day we arrive, we plan on going to the stores (MasxMenos) and Mercado Central, so we will need cash for that, also to eat at some sodas. We are budget travelers.

Chicago, Illinois
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for Costa Rica
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5. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

Yes I do the same with cash but it really makes sense to have a debit card to cover unforesen expenses. You can limit the amount linked to the debit card to protect you if you are worried about losing the card or scammers. It is also really unwise to carry large amounts of cash with you.

At most you will likely only need a couple of hundred dollars to get you thru the weekend. That should more than cover hostels for a couple of nights, meals and busfare to your destination. Whether any of that amount needs to be in colones is the question. If you don't mind a 25% premium to change dollars at the airport go ahead and do it there. Our taxi driver took dollars but the subsequent bus did not. The 1st bakery we hit had a real hard time coming up with an exchange rate for dollars to colones (it was really kind of funny) but eventually they also accepted US dollars as will the vast majority of tourist providers (even hostels) in Costa Rica.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if you use cash and limit the amount you carry around, you will be spending lots of time waiting in banks to get more cash. Since nearly everyone uses ATMs now a days, the folks changing cash at the bank often have to wait in the same general line with all other bank customers and that can easily take an hour or more out of your day. Alos be forewarned that some areas don't have banks (think Montezuma) although they do have ATMs.

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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Montezuma
Montezuma
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Augusta, Georgia
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7 posts
73 reviews
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6. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

Thanks to all, but I asked a specific question: online or airport. We dont need money for hotel/cab etc - all paid for already. We plan on walking around San Jose and eating at small places. That's it for 2 days. The rest of time is covered by adventure trips.

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San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Grecia, Costa Rica
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916 posts
15 reviews
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7. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

I can understand you want an answer to your specific question, and both options will offer poor rates of exchange, I would go with ezforex, at 15% over, they offer the best deal. Did you ask your bank to provide cash/colones? Have a safe trip.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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10,541 posts
23 reviews
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8. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

This is really weird aniretake but you posted 6 reviews of San Jose and Arenal attractions in the past month including 4 in the last week alone and you're asking if you should buy colones before you get to Costa Rica? Sounds like you're already there.

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San Jose
San Jose
San Jose Metro, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Augusta, Georgia
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7 posts
73 reviews
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9. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

Last time i was there, i arrived on the day when banks were open. And my question was NOT "whether", but which one of two options to go for. Last time I went I also did not go out to eat or shopping.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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48,953 posts
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10. Re: Currency exchange - dilemma

Great advice so far...do not exchange money in USA...or at airport...maybe you can ask the company that is waiting for you to have a couple hundred dollars in colones...

roadadvisor

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United States
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