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should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

Milton, Canada
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42 posts
37 reviews
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should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

Just wondering if anyone knows if we should take Canadian cash and change over to CR currency or take US $? If so is it better to convert at the airport there or a bank near our hotel in Manuel Antonio? Thanks for your suggestions

Edmonton, Canada
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554 posts
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1. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

hey local; don not take canadian cash to costa rica. you will just give yourself a headache. nobody in costa rica will have anything to do with our dollar.(it's not like cuba) convert your money to USD at home preferrably at a currency exchange . don't bother to exchange the USD to colones..the locals would prefer to be paid in USD and will give your change back in colones,,which is handy for tips and small purchases. don't take travellers cheques either .costa rica vendors avoid them like the plague. bank machines can be a problem..sometimes they will not recognize a foreign bank. US cash is king in costa rica..even if the canadian dollar is worth more at present...the cabinman

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

Correct, no Canadian! The rest depends: while the US $ is very much in demand, we always found that paying in colones will get you likely a better deal. US marks you immediately as a tourist with "lots of cash". Shopping with colones is certainly better, if you rent an apartment and shop in supermarkets and local stores.

Why look like a "mark"? We actually tend to avoid places which charge in US and/or accept credit cards as much as possible. We always exchange a good amount of Colones before we go, then withdraw at ATMs when we need more.

When exchanging at home, take 500, 1000 and 5000, nothing larger. Many small places do not have that much change.

Milton, Canada
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42 posts
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3. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

Thanks for your insights. Based on your advice I will probably carry some US and change to colons when I need to.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

NO! Don't EVER convert to US to use anywhere other than the US. Either convert directly to Costa Rican at an exchange place in Canada, or use an ATM when you arrive.

Every time you exchange money, you loose about 2 percent. The exchange company has to make a profit. So if you convert to US and then convert again to CR, you lose 4 percent.

Better to convert only once.

Calgary, Canada
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5. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

And even if someone in CR accepts US dollars, they will add in their own exchange rate for the hassle of converting to colones to pay their own expenses. It's fine for Americans who are paying for the convenience of not having to convert their money themselves. But Canadians are not getting any convenience out of it.

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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6. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

I agree with AmberM about using ATMs. Its convenient and saves carrying an excess of cash. Since you are going to the MA area, there are about 6 ATMs in the area. Not all will work with your card but you will be able to find several that do. . (The banco nacional and the BCR are the ones that I have not had luck with.) I have found that recently - the best bet is the BAC banco San Jose in downtown Quepos. People also report good results with the Banca Promerica on the MA road. it will probably be the closest one to your hotel. My CIBC card also works well at the Banco Popular in Quepos.

The downside is the $5.00 fee per transaction that most Canadian banks charge and well as the 2.5% conversion fee they put on transactions. (We read regularly about the high profits all the Canadian Banks seem to be making...:) )

There is an ATM in the baggage claim level at SJO airport. it is a Scotiabank machine.

However, re getting CR colones ahead of time I don't really agree. if you can find them at all, you will get a bad rate. I used to feel the same way about the double conversion thing - but in the past I have done the calculations and from CAD to US to colones it doesn't turn out that bad.

i still would recommend some USD for times when ATMs may be down or out of cash.

We normally pay in colones as opposed to dollars. Most places will take USD. However some will use the "quick conversion rate of 500 colones to a USD (the real rate is about 515)

enjoy your trip.

Pura Vida

Raquel

Bracebridge, Canada
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557 posts
103 reviews
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7. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

We're headed to CR in Jan and really glad you posted the question. I went into a currency converter just now and $100 Canadian is $53,807.83. That's one heck of a lot of bills to carry around. Can someone give us an idea of value for the Colon? How much say would you tip for a lunch for 2 at a restaurant? I would hate to get colons and then find out I'm being cheap with them!

TravelingRN, USA
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8. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

Former food service person here...what is considered a good tip? And, it sounds like stick to colones....

Winnipeg, Canada
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for Costa Rica
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9. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

laing,

re tips in restaurants, most places add a 10% service charge right onto the bill. This is supposed to be a tip. So check the amounts on the bill. If it has been added, and you got particularly good service, you can add abit extra. If it is not there, I would say tip 10 to 15 percent of the bill - or again a bit more if you got better service.

raquel

San Francisco...
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5,617 posts
169 reviews
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10. Re: should we take canadian $ and convert in San Jose?

Colones come in 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10000 bills. Smaller denominations are in coins

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