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how many small bills should we bring?

New Brunswick
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how many small bills should we bring?

Hi Everyone;

How many small US$ bills should we bring for a 9 day trip to CR? For example, how many $1, $5 and $10 or $20 bills?

Thanks!

Matt

NY
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1. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

Why bring any? Get colones out of ATM's there and get used to paying with foreign currency when in a foreign country. We didn't need any dollars in any particular denomination on our 2 week driving trip. I realize some people would tell you to bring dollars for tipping. Tipping is an American tradition, not Costa Rican. So why do it? And if you get some extraordinary service and feel like tipping they will gladly accept colones.

Panajachel...
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2. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

I wouldn't bother changing money. The ATM idea is solid. You can pay for almost anything with US$ and you usually won't loose to much when you get change in colones. Hundred dollar bills get a close squint and sometimes people may have trouble changing them. Avoid changing money at the airport - on a recent trip I noticed they gave a terrible rate.

Costa Rica
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3. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

Matt,

A good rule of thumb is to have colones for taxis, the smaller restaurants (sodas), smaller shops. It's more convenient.

You will receive change in most places in colones. The larger the vendor, hotel or restaurant, the more easily you can use dollars.

St. Petersburg...
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4. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

Matt - I am planning on bringing nothing larger than 20s with the exception of the $$ I need to pay for my driver. I plan on paying him with 50s because I know he will accept them. Many places cannot and will not accept anything larger than a $20. I would also be careful with the ATM machines. Not all debit or bank cards work in all machines. You might want to check with you bank to see if there is some type of "special" bank card that can be used for international use. From what I have been hearing, the ATM cards with the "Plus" on the back tend to work more often than those without the "Plus."

As far as the number of each denomination, good question. We will be there for 12 days and are planning to take about $2,500 (not including the payment for our driver). Most will be $20s and $10s because of the bulkiness of hauling around smaller bills. Probably $75 to $100 in $1s, $100 to $150 in $5s, and the rest in $10s and $20s. Some of the activities we have planned do not take plastic and I don't want to have to worry about finding an ATM machine that will work with my cards.

Hope this helps. Six more sleeps before we leave.

Have fun!

NY
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5. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

I would sooner open a new checking account with a Visa debit card with a Plus logo that I know would work in most ATM's in Costa Rica and in many other countries than bring $2,500 or $1,000 or any other huge amount of cash anywhere. You are going to a civilized country, not to a deserted island.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

Travel10000, I think I just figured out why crime against tourists is going up... :(

Philadelphia, PA
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7. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

$20 sets are your best bet. You can exchange your money at hotels, resturants, wherever, but you will get ripped off. They only place you will get a true rate of exchange is at a bank, and those are hard to come by, unless you are staying in places like Jaco or San Jose (the more touristy areas).

If you buy something at a convenience store, they will accept the dollar and give you colones as change. However, you get ripped off.

Also, if you take a lot of cash make sure you hide it in different places. That way if your backpack gets stolen, you will have a stash somewhere else.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

Looness33, I have to disagree with your assessment. Where were you getting ripped off?

It's been my general experience that in CR you do not get ripped off on the exchange rate when changing $US in supermarkets, hotels, or getting change in Colones from paying in dollars. Everyone seems to know the daily exchange rate (you should know it too, check the central bank at www.bccr.fi.cr before you go -- today it's 507.5 colones to $1US and typically inflates about 1 colon a month) and usually sticks to it give or take a few colones.

That said, there are undoubtably unscrupulous vendors out there looking to take you for a ride. Know the exchange rate and ask someone the rate before you pay and call them on it if they are far off the going rate.

9. Re: how many small bills should we bring?

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