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US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Raleigh, Nc
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11 posts
44 reviews
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US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Hi.

We are travelling to the Arenal area, and will be staying at a few different hotels over our week-long trip there. (Tree Houses Hotel, AOL, and The Springs). We have not pre-booked any actitivies but plan on doing zip-lining and whitewater rafting, and possibly some other activities as well.

I am wondering if most of the restaurants and activity places there will accept US Dollars? Will I pay a premium for paying in USD versus Colones? Can I tip in USD?

Thank you!

San Jose, Costa Rica
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47,555 posts
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1. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Great question...any place in Arenal will accept US currency...no problema...try to bring $20.00 bills larger ones sometimes you may encounter some problems...a lot $100.00 fake bills ...from COLOMBIA...so is hard sometimes....

Remember that in Costa Rica...10% tip is added to all restaurant bills ...that means you DO NOT have to tip...is already included at your total bill!

If you need any more information about Arenal...you can mail: info@arenalreservations.com

Great people and great tour deals!

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in PARADISE!

Punta Uva, Costa...
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6,874 posts
10 reviews
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2. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Every one accepts dollars, bring newer bills $20 or less, you will get more bang for your money if you use Colones instead of dollars, some business

will exchange at lower than official rate.

Using credit cards sometimes get a extra fee added on, best bet is to use ATM and take out Colones as you need during your trip, that way you won't need to carry a large amount of money with you.

Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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6,400 posts
216 reviews
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3. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

We've never gone anywhere in CR that didn't accept U.S. dollars. We usually pay in dollars and get colones back in change and use that. We usually pay for hotels and tours with a credit card, but some credit card companies will tack on a "conversion fee" of up to 3% on out of country purchases. If you plan to use a credit card at all, it's a good idea to call your company before you go and let them know; sometimes they'll block a card if you don't let them know because it throws up a fraud warning. As stated above, sometimes you get a better rate if you use colones, but we used dollars at a little fruit stand and were surprised we still got the good rate; they pulled out their calculator and converted it.

Costa Rica
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4. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

You can pay with dollars anywhere in Costa Rica but I always advise this: If the price is in dollars, pay in dollars. If the price is in colones, pay in colones. Hotels and tours are usually priced in dollars and everything else in colones; restaurants, taxis, shops, etc. If you pay in dollars, you may or may not get a good exchange rate and over the life of your trip, this can add up. You can get colones easily at the airport before you go to Migracion from one of the ATM's. I usually make up a little "cheat sheet" when I am using new currency and list common amounts $5, $10, $20, etc and their conversions to give me an idea of the price of what I am looking at. Check with your hotel about paying in cash - you will sometimes get a better price. There are banks and ATM;s everywhere and if the bank's ATM doesn't accept your card, you can go inside and they will give you cash from your card.

Surrey, Canada
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5. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Anybody have an idea of what the ATM fee's are and what 'brand ' works ie. Plus or Cirrus?

Costa Rica
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25,654 posts
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6. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

The fees vary, depending on the ATM, and I have seen from nothing to $1.50 to $3.00. I know Cirrus works and Visa but not sure about others. You will have to look for an ATM with the logo you need. Otherwise, go inside the bank and get your cash using your card with the teller.

Pensacola, Florida
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12,945 posts
55 reviews
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7. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

USD will be accepted at an exchange of 500C/1 USD

ATM all my Colones pay in Colones or with my CC

get the correct FOREX exchange rate of 590C/1 USD

Make better than 15% on my money that way.

Toronto
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160 posts
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8. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Are the rates in ATM differ at different places? From my experience in other countries usually the worst rate is at airports (but not in ATM, in exchange offices). How is it in SJO?

Best,

Ilya

Costa Rica
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25,654 posts
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9. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

The last time in was at SJO (two weeks ago) the ATM fee at one of the ATM's was $3.50. The rates vary at various ATM's but are you going to search around the airport for the perfect ATM that only charges $1.00? There are several ATM's near the desk where you pay your departure tax but you will not have access to these upon arrival. Just don't worry about it -- stop at an ATM and get some colones when you arrive. Then you can go to the bank later or the next day and get some $$ exchanged or use the ATM to get more colones.

sandiego
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15 posts
11 reviews
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10. Re: US Dollars or Colones in Arenal?

Hi, I read your post and it mentioned a departure tax at the airport. How much is this and can it be paid in cash, colones or dollars acceptable? OR can we use a credit card? Thanks!