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Thread: Money in Costa Rica

  1. #1
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Money in Costa Rica

    These are the highlights of my end-of-year -- 2016 -- money report to my clients. There are a couple of significant changes from last year...


    1) Many visitors will never need Colones. This is the first year that I have made that statement. Most tourist-oriented venues, tour providers, and major businesses will accept either U.S. Dollars or Colones. Canadian Dollars are also widely accepted. However, Euros are not accepted in many locations.

    2) Credit Card acceptance continues to grow. Most tourist-oriented businesses and other large businesses accept Visa and Mastercard, and almost as many businesses now accept American Express. Discover cards are accepted in many locations. You should check with your card issuer about international fees and charges before you travel.

    3) Your best rate for purchasing Colones is at a bank. ATMs will give you the same bank exchange rate as you would get from a bank teller. You should check with your bank about international ATM fees and currency exchange fees. If you're carrying U.S. Dollars, you can use them almost anywhere. The primary exceptions, where you'll need Colones, are in taxis and in small "Mom 'n Pop" stores. In other words, don't "overstock" on Colones.

    4) One caveat about paying with U.S. Dollars, which specifically applies to small stores, if they will take your Dollars... You'll get your change in Colones, and you'll probably get reamed on the exchange rate. Just to be safe, it's best to use your Colones when paying for items in the smaller stores and with street vendors.

    5) Counterfeiting is a significant problem in Costa Rica. Costa Rican currency is protected by security features similar to those found on U.S. currency. However, it's best not to put yourself into a position where you might receive a bill larger than 5000 Colones or 10 U.S. Dollars, as change. The 10,000 Colón bill, the $20 bill, and the $100 bill are frequently counterfeited.

  2. #2
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    This is just an interesting fact... You won't get in any trouble for this...

    Any bills that you acquire in Costa Rica (as change or from an ATM) probably have a detectable amount of Cocaine on them. It's probably not visible, but it's there. If you carry the bills back to the USA, you may encounter a drug-detecting dog that will "alert" on you. It doesn't happen very often, but it does occasionally happen. The officer will check your pockets, and then hold your cash out for the dog to sniff, confirming that the dog was just alerting on your cash (with its Coke residue). The officer will usually tell you something like, "It's OK. Did you know that over 70% of the bills entering the USA from Central and South America have trace amounts of Cocaine on them?"

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