The local and official currency is the Colon. But, US Dollars are widely accepted everywhere.
This small country, highly depends on tourism and most of the places are used to Dollars such as supermarket, Hotels, Restaurant and Travel Agencies.
The exchange rate will vary from day to day, and not everywhere is the same rate.
Here you can easily convert Dollars to Colones!
¿What kind of money should I use in Costa Rica?
Well, considering that most of the prices at the hotels and travel agencies are charged in US dollars, you should use dollars.
Why? It is simple, if you exchange your US dollars to colones at the airport, you will have to exchange it again for dollars at the hotel because the prices are in US dollars.
In contrast, of what you are reading here, at the airport they will tell you to exchange it to colones but believe me, is way much simple to travel with American money in Costa Rica.
One important advice, make sure you break US money into smaller bills, like 50, 20, 10, and 5. This will be very helpful for tips, groceries, and restaurants.
The big hotels, travel agencies and some restaurants will take 100 US bills but, in some places, they are not accepted. That´s why is a great idea to bring some small bills.
Credit Cards: Visa is the most widely accepted card in CR and not all places accept credit cards.
American Express cards are usually not accepted in some business.
Other than that, you will see that colones and USD are readily accepted everywhere.
Are there ATMs?
There are ATM’s in the airport where you can get some cash. Also, ATM’s are plentiful in towns like Jaco beach, Quepos, Manuel Antoni, Auto Mercado Herradura, Puntarenas, so it is easy to get cash when you need it, some hotels have their own and all towns will have a bank
Some machines dispense only colones and some do dispense both USD and colones. So better check that out before inserting your card.
The point of using the ATM is that you don´t want to stand on the line inside the bank. You can have issues, like them being down or out of money.
Also. not all cards will work on all machines. Don’t try too many times or the machine will keep your card.
Last advice, when paying with dollars you may receive the change in colones so, make sure that at least 2 days before leaving the country you use all the colones you got from your trip.
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