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travelers checks

Jersey City, NJ
4 posts
1 review
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travelers checks

If you are planning to travel to La Fortuna/Arenal area, be aware that the ONLY place that will cash a travelers check is the bank. I was stuck with out any cash on a Sunday (banks were closed) and had no way of getting cash...eventually I took a cash advance on my credit card from the ATM...but could have avoided that if I knew that the hotels/restaurants did not accept the travelers checks.

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
7,347 posts
28 reviews
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11. Re: travelers checks

Being a canadian who has spent a fair amount of time in Costa Rica, I would say that Amber's experience is not 100% typical and that actually CR has a pretty good ATM system. It is just a question of figuring out which banks will work with the cards you have..

I find that neither the BNCR nor the Banco de Costa Rica seem to like my canadian PLUS ATM cards. The problem is that these are the largest banks in CR and the ones with the most branches especially in smaller places.. Also they have signs that indicate they should work with PLUS and VISA... So probably if you try them and they fail - you figure nothing will work.

However I have had the best sucess with the Banco de San Jose BAC and the Scotiabank and the Banco Popular. Also as Panem says, the machines on the RED or with a sigh ATH usually work well.

In a place like Quepos/MA for an example of the 6 available banks, at least 3 have worked with my Canadian cards. It just becomes a game of figuring out what to try and what not to as all ATMs are not created equal... But now that I do know where to go...no problem.

But still I recommend that you always carry some US cash as a backup.


Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
41 posts
5 reviews
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12. Re: travelers checks

I just returned Sunday. Travelers checks turned out to be a huge hassle. Only the banks took them and it took 1 hours each time. You must bring your original passport to the bank as we found a copy will not do, so we had to return with original then the bank closed at 4 so we had to return the next day. Credit cards are the way to go, but we found Visa was the most widely accepted by far. We too arrived too late Saturday to get to a bank on time, then closed Sunday, then Monday our tour departed at 7 a,m, before they opened and we got back after 4 when they closed, didnt get any cash until Tuesday!

We rented a private villa, and tried to pay the owner with the checks, then found we both had to be at the bank to make the transaction.

If you endorse them incorrectly, they are trash. Then I tried to cancel them when I got back home and they said they'd send me a check in 2 weeks! Trust me, skip the travelers checks. Bring dollars and Visa.

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
3,591 posts
18 reviews
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13. Re: travelers checks

raquel, it's the fact that A) the biggest banks in the country don't accept Canadian cards, and B) these banks display the Plus and Cirrus logos but don't actually accept either, and C) the limited chances of finding a machine that takes foreign cards in small towns, is what makes their ATM system the worst I have ever experienced.

Yeah, if you spend enough time there, you eventually figure out how to play the game. But there really shouldn't be a game at all.

Even machines that work aren't well thought out. I used the Scotiabank ATM at the airport, next to the luggage carousel. I was the 3rd person to use it off our flight (first one of the day), and I cleaned it out. When my husband tried to use it behind me, it was out of cash. There were dozens of frustrated passengers behind me. The reason? It dispensed 2000 colone bills, and allowed 80,000 colone withdrawals, so each withdrawal took 40 bills. If they had stocked it with 10,000 colone bills, each withdrawal would have taken 8 bills, allowing 5 times as many people to use the machine before it runs out of cash.

Atlanta, Georgia
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1,327 posts
2 reviews
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14. Re: travelers checks

LOL - sounds like Costa Rica alright.

I guess one of the advantages of this forum is that travelers can actually ask those who have been here a long time and who (hopefully) have figured it out, how to work the system, or the logic, or the often encountered lack of either.

costa rica
Level Contributor
52 posts
1 review
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15. Re: travelers checks

Just to add more confusion to the mix...In Mal Pais, where I have a home, I keep travelers checks and cash them very easily at Super Ronnie's supermarket. It's true that the person who owns the travelers checks must cash them with their passport for I.D. But even my friends who visit rely on cashing the travelers checks at the super market. Because the ATM directly in front of the bank always runs out of money. A real pain on a Saturday when they don't refill the darn thing until Monday. In Mal Pais, you really need cash. The credit card machines don't work half the time and many places don't even accept credit cards here. For the Mal Pais area I think travelers checks are the best.

SE Michigan
Level Contributor
68 posts
30 reviews
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16. Re: travelers checks

I thought the best part of using ATMs in Costa Rica is that it showed my bank balance in colones! :^)

Level Contributor
178 posts
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17. Re: travelers checks

I have never had a problem with ATM's in C.R. I use my credit card for almost all transactions and keep a few colones for when I am too lazy to bring out my credit card. I would not even think about this issue.

Level Contributor
23 posts
1 review
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18. Re: travelers checks

While I would agree in general that traveler's checks are not worth the time and effort, we did find a use for them on a recent trip to CR. Prior to leaving, I confirmed with a tour operator and one of the smaller hotels we were staying at, that they did indeed accept traveler's checks (neither accepted credit cards). I then got travelers checks in an amount to cover just these two places. Didn't have to go to a bank or anything special (the hotel was picky about making sure the signature was an EXACT match, but otherwise it was easy), and it meant less cash to carry.

New Jersey
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38 posts
21 reviews
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19. Re: travelers checks

How about when buying souvenirs? I wouldn't want to give a small shop owner the burden of charging my credit card, and I don't really need a lot of money so was not planning on using my ATM.

Are there any small souvenir shops?

Can hotels cash traveler checks?

20. Re: travelers checks

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