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Currency advice

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Harvey, Illinois
posts: 2
Currency advice

We leave for Costa Rica 7-29-05. Anyone have advice on how we should handle our money? Are travelers checks accepted? What about credit/debit cards? Should we convert any money or just spend American dollars.?

San Francisco...
posts: 4,777
reviews: 108
1. Re: Currency advice

It's a hassle to cash traveler's checks as most businesses will not accept them and you will need to cash then at a bank which can take hours). Dollars are widely accepted in the tourist areas and you will get change in colones which you can spend in the places that do not take dollars. Master Card and Visa are all widely accepted but be aware that you bank will charge up to 5% for foreign currenty transactions. Many hotels will give you a 10% discount if you pay in cash

posts: 860
reviews: 10
2. Re: Currency advice

I have to agree with Sean. I did bring some travelers checks and changed them at the Marriott at the start and once during the trip. Used it mostly for gas and restaurant tips. Took one VISA and 1 MC. My friend brought to Traveler's Checks and was relying on her ATM. She ended borrowing from me as I had also bought cash. Conversion rates at the airport are awful. Debit cards aren't very useful, and many ATM's (complete with armed guards around them) aren't the best idea. We did well with about $500 in colones and the rest in $$'s for 3 weeks. Paid hotels in advance or by CC.

posts: 18
3. Re: Currency advice

never heard of a bank charging for currency conversions. its always been my experience that they actually will give you the best conversion rate possible without any charge. if your bank doesnt do this change banks. also if you use American dollars and get Colones as change you better take a calculator or be prepared to get ripped off. The first thing i always do is when i get off the plane i go to the airport ATM and get cash. I wouldnt use American money just for the fact that it leaves a big possibility for getting ripped off. these are just my opinions though, but they are based on experience

San Francisco...
posts: 4,777
reviews: 108
4. Re: Currency advice

You will only get ripped off if you dont pay attention to the transaction. I found that just about everywhere would convert 470 colones to one dollar. They will often ring up the transaction on the cash register in colones and then do the conversion on a calculator and show you the numbers. In Manuel Antonio all the restaurants would give you the bill in colones and dollar amounts.

Harvey, Illinois
posts: 2
5. Re: Currency advice

Thanks for the tips. I like the idea of converting at the airport. Any other safe places?

posts: 1
6. Re: Currency advice

Wow John, I leave the same exact day as you, I am on AA and getting there at 10:45 A.M or so...it is also the my first time in Costa Rica, I am just going to have fun and relax, going with my best buddy. Well have fun!

posts: 126
reviews: 3
7. Re: Currency advice

Best place to convert US Dollars to Colonies is at the airport bank upstairs in the departure area. When you arrive and leave the building do not take a taxi but cross the street, go upstairs and go into the upper level of the airport for the bank.

Do NOT change at the ATM in the baggage claim area for the rates are rotten.

There is an honest ATM on the upstairs arrival level on the right hand side as you face the airport. It has an exterior entrance door, for privacy.

US Dollars are unaccepted in most places except tourist resort areas. Use Colonies for better deals and without the exchange ripoff by vendors.

Travellers Checks are near impossible to change or use. It takes forever at the bank because the call to see if the checks are stolen and frequently doubt your signature.

Also, do not bring US currency with any rips or tears whatsoever. No red ink on it from a robbery, or other marks.

If you fail to heed the above currency tip you will learn the hard way they your bill will not be accepted by anybody.

San Jose
posts: 212
reviews: 1
8. Re: Currency advice

The best place to change your $ is any local Bank they are every where including on the second level of airport near the departure tax area only problem there is that is not always open as it is a bank.Other than that Be prepared to get beat on the rates at any place you go but don't cry is only usually about about 3 cents to a $

New Jersey
posts: 18
9. Re: Currency advice

Credit card companys and banks started charging this fee only about a year ago (thus some don't know about it). I just called all my credit cards and found that 3% was my typical rate. American Express charged 2% and my bank (check card) only charges 1%. They told me that 1% is a federal charge (whatever that means), regardless, they are all going to charge at least 1%.

That being said, I'm debating whether it is better to bring cash and exchange it or to use my check card mostly. Is the exchange rate more than 1% at a bank in Costa Rica for exchanging? Getting a discount when using cash is a plus, but I also don't know that I want to be carrying a lot of cash.

San Francisco...
posts: 4,777
reviews: 108
10. Re: Currency advice

Capital One Master Card only charges 1% for a foreign transaction