A regular question from our clients -and participants- is about the Costa Rican currency and whether or not they have to go to a local bank to change their U.S. dollars for Costa Rican colones before traveling.
The answer is no, it’s unlikely for banks, out of Costa Rica, to have our currency. Instead, there are airport exchanges counters where the traveler can make their currency exchange. Still, this may come with high commissions, so for Premio DMC, it’s important to tell you that in general, U.S. dollars are accepted in Costa Rica.
There is no reason to change money in advance because the US dollars are commonly used in all the Costa Rican land. Wherever you go in Costa Rica, stores, restaurants, and even taxis accept the USD dollars.
Normally, every time that visitors make a payment in USD dollars, they will receive your change in colones as a fair exchange, as of February 2017, the currency stays in approximately at ¢545 to ¢560 per dollar, click here to see the current exchange rate
To avoid the high exchange cost, the travelers can pay for things priced in USD dollars, like tours, hotels, long taxi rides and restaurants. In local sodas (Small typical Costa Rican restaurants are called sodas) and fast food restaurants, and maybe taxis participants may need to have some few colones in hand.
An excellent example of this is the Costa Rican big chain supermarkets, where things are prized in colones, but they usually have a fair exchange rate at the cashier, and you will not feel the difference.
It happens, sometimes, that you receive the exchange for ¢500, that is equivalent to paying a 5% commission, which is a bad rate and we recommend to go to other places.
Another recommendation for participants is to start spending colones as soon as they have them, because they may have a hard time trying to spend those later, especially if you want to convert those back to USD dollars. Remember you can always tip in colones (Housemaids, tour guides and drivers, etc.).
The Canadian dollars and Euros are not widely accepted in Costa Rica. The easier way to use them is if you exchange them for USD dollars so that they can be used in the whole country.
The Costa Rican money goes as follows:
- Gold looking made of bronzed coated steel: 25, 50, 100 and 500 colones.
- Red: ₡1,000
- Blue: ₡2,000
- Yellow: ₡5,000
- Green: ₡10,000
- Orange: ₡20,000
- Purple: ₡50,000
**The following images and currency exchange numbers are based on the exchange rate as of February 22nd, 2017
Costa-rica-guide.com. (2017, no-date). Dollars Accepted – Changing Money in Costa Rica. [Weblog]. Retrieved 22 February 2017, from http://costa-rica-guide.com/practical/money/dollars-accepted/
(2017). Bccrficr. Retrieved 22 February 2017, from http://www.bccr.fi.cr/billetes_monedas/nueva_familia/.
Curated by Olga Sáenz and Carlos Soto for Premio DMC