We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

cash

Gaithersburg...
Level Contributor
2 posts
80 reviews
Save Topic
cash

We are going for ten days. How much cash should we bring to start off since it looks like everything required cash payments? I know there are atms but how reliable are they? I'm also concerned about carrying too much cash.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: cash

There are ATM's everywhere so that's not a problem. And they are safe.

How much cash to bring? Impossible to answer without more information.

1. How will you pay for your lodging and transportation?

2. How will you pay for organized tours or excursions?

3. How much time do you plan on spending visiting National Parks -- $10 per person, cash only. Sometimes included in an organized tour.

4. What is your travel style? Budget- middle of the road - top of the line?

5. Do you have credit/debit cards with low or no international fees?

One person on this forum wrote that while using ATM's may cost something, it's a good kind of "insurance" for not carrying around wads of cash.

Edited: 23 May 2013, 15:57
La Fortuna de San...
Level Contributor
2,002 posts
191 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: cash

I think the bottom line is to bring some cash for the initial things you'll have to pay immediately and then use ATMs when you need them. FYI when you bring that "initial cash"...I suggest only $20 bills and nothing larger as many people won't accept them nor anything torn or written on. Many ATMs in the larger towns will also have an "English" option by the way so no worries! I agree that paying ATM fees is an incidental thing vs. the stress of having a bunch of cash with you. Enjoy! :-)

Edited: 23 May 2013, 17:41
nyc
Level Contributor
18 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: cash

Hello Anna :)

I recently came back from Costa Rica, so prior to being there I also had the same questions as you in mind. After coming back, I saw your post and felt like answering it with hopes that it may help you in some way.

We went to Costa Rica on May 10-17 (8 days), and I went with 2 other family members. Most of the hotels we stayed at offered free breakfast, so we just mostly spent money on lunch, dinner, beverages (water especially), snacks, and excursions, and tips (very important if you do excursions). Also, don't forget to save some extra cash to pay the $29 exit fee when you leave.

Regarding bringing cash. Before you go to Costa Rica, ask the bank to break your money to $20s, $10s, $5s, and many $1s (you will need it).

I brought $500 dollars USD (my bank helped me break them into $20s, $10s, $5s, and a lot of $1s) with me to Costa Rica. When I came back, I still had some money left. If you want to be budget savvy, try to go down a bit further to eat at the local areas (in the towns) for lunch and dinner. Go to the nearest supermarkets, and buy those large liters of bottled water and snacks with you (which you will save compared to if you would had bought it in the tourist trap areas). You can tip the maids, bell boys, drivers, and tour guides any amount you desire. For me, I tipped the maid $1 to $2, bell boys $1, drivers $5, and tour guides $10.

If you eat at the local areas, a typical meal costs around 2000-4000 colones ($4 to $8 not including beverage or appetizers). If you eat at the tourist areas, a meal can cost around 7500 and up ($15 and up, not including beverage or appetizers). In addition, everytime you eat at a restaurant/cafe, they automatically charge you a 10% gratuity fee in it.

If you have a no interest rate credit card, like capital one it may be helpful. My sister used that for big purchases. There are not a lot of ATMS available, and the banks were not really that close within range. If you can nicely ask one of the hotel/hostel front desk concierge people to nicely exchange money with you without charing you extra. When I was in Monteverde, a very lovely worker exchanged $100 with me without charging me extra.

Don't be scared of carrying extra cash, as you will need it while traveling (buying things, eating, paying tips). If you want, go to a sports store and buy those money belts, or those sideway neck wallets (you can google to see how it looks). I personally just recently used the sideway neck wallet (I bought from Eastern Mountain Sports store), and put all my dollar bills and costa rican money, and passport in it. It was very durable and lightweight to carry.

Have a wonderful time when you go! :) Don't worry about the ATMs and Banks. Just bring extra cash (in $20s and less). If you are in a hotel, they have safes for you to store your important stuff. The first day I arrived in the hotel, I carried $200 with me and stored the rest in the safe. Then I would replenish it. I was fortunate because I did not encounter theft in any of the hotels I stayed in.

Hope this can help you in some way:) Good luck!

nyc
Level Contributor
18 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: cash

One last thing I forgot is that you can pay your items with american dollars, and they will break it back into costa rican money (colones). I went to the supermarket and I paid them $20 bill, and I got back costa rican money (which was very helpful as I had to take the public bus and it required costa rican coins).

Huntsville, Canada
Level Contributor
368 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: cash

The other way of paying and it is somewhat new is a debit card with the VISA symbol. When buying something you tell the merchant to run your debit card as if its a VISA card. It gets run through via the VISA network but actually takes funds out of your bank account. I must stress it is not a credit card. Ive used it numerous times in CR. Dont care what anybody says but ATMs are the way to go. Yeah itll cost a few extra dollars in fees but you're risking a wad of cash going missing just to save 25 bucks in fees.

Level Contributor
5 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: cash

Hello, I saw your post on using your debit card to pay for something and stating to pay as a Visa... stressing that it is not a credit card. Why is that? Does CR not normally take Credit Cards?

Jacksonville...
Level Contributor
189 posts
270 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: cash

We were just there a couple weeks ago and used cash, a credit card, and our Visa debit card since our credit union does not charge any fees. It's definitely a good idea to have some cash on you when you arrive. We brought about $100 and then used the ATM machine in La Fortuna where we had the option of taking out American dollars or Colones. We also used an ATM again on our way out of Manuel Antonio to pay our departure tax in cash. It's totally safe. We also used our credit card to pay for some of our activities and at the grocery store. Again super easy and safe. We prepaid for all our hotels except one but most accept credit cards. Good luck and have fun!

Punta Uva, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Level Contributor
6,874 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: cash

Bring $100 US and then take out 100,000 colones at airport in Costa Rica. If you fly into SJO, there are two ATMS in baggage claim area. Don't use Exchange Service there and notify your banks with travel plans. You can use dollars, but locally you'll save money using colones.

Midwest
Level Contributor
71 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: cash

I second Cubanon on notifying your bank before you leave the states. Depending on the bank if you are outside of your home area, they will block withdrawals if they feel its been stolen or anything.

I normally order colones from Travelex.com and pick up my order at the airport.

I have only traveled in the San Jose/Puerto Viejo area and have never had an issue with theft or using the ATM if I needed to. Just carry enough with you for what you feel you need for the day and leave the rest in the safe in your room.

Have a great trip!

Northern California
Level Contributor
395 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: cash

We were last in CR five years ago; at that time our ATM cards were Mastercard, not Visa. There was much less availability in smaller towns for Mastercard. Had to go into a bank for money. More places than we expected wanted cash not credit. For benefit of current travellers, anyone know if Mastercard still a problem?

Get answers to your questions about La Fortuna de San...