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Costa Rica Currency Guide

Current Costa Rica Currency Exchange Rates

Currency data courtesy

In Costa Rica currency is called the colon, or colones in plural form. Money here is usually symbolized as ¢.

Costa Rica currency comes in bills of 1000, 5000, and 10,000. Coin denominations are 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, and coins500. While most ATMs dispense bills of 10,000 colones, don't expect small retailers or restaurants to be able to provide change. This is especially frustrating when you?ve found the perfect little souvenir or need to take a taxi for a short distance ? so carry change!

While the official Costa Rica currency is the colon, the US dollar is pretty widely accepted for hotel rooms, park entrance fees, tours, or expensive items. But again, smaller items like bus fair and meals at local sodas (restaurants) require colones.

Slang tip: notes of 1000 colones are often referred to as ?rojos? due to their red color. So if a taxi driver tells you the fare is ten rojos, he means 10,000 colones.

Exchanging Money for Costa Rica Currency

US dollars are easily exchanged at all banks, and some banks will also exchange Euros, but other currencies prove more difficult so it?s better to come with dollars or Euros if possible. Don?t forget to bring your passport when exchanging.

Bank lines can be long, but they will exchange your money without commission. Travel agencies and hotels are often coinsfaster, but they?ll charge you a commission on the amount of money you exchange. You should check what the commission percentage is ahead of time, and see if it?s worthwhile to find a bank that?s not too busy to avoid the charge. Fridays are the most hectic days at banks because it?s payday for workers.

Generally you shouldn?t exchange currency on the street because many street changers are rip-off artists and will try to short change you or pass you bad bills. Besides their rates aren?t better than banks.

At the borders of Nicaragua and Panama you can find some street changers that have badges and are legit, but always double check you?re getting the right rate.

ATMs / Cash Points

More and more ATMs can be found throughout Costa Rica, however the Visa Plus network is definitely the most common, making Cirrus machines harder to find outside of larger towns. Some machines dispense US dollars.

While living in Playas del Coco, I used the ATM in town to get colones instead of changing dollars at the bank. I found this to be the most convenient method while traveling around.

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