Practical information

Costs

Travel costs are higher here than in other Central American countries, but cheaper than in the USA or Europe, if you’re arriving from less expensive Central American nations, such as Nicaragua, you need to be prepare to spend a little more in basic services cost and other such as taxes.

Prices in Costa Rica are frequently listed in US dollars, especially in the turistic area like the caribbean and pacific coast and hotels and restaurants, also most of the tours are charged in US dollars. In fact, US dollars are widely accepted, but the standard unit of currency for Costa Rica is the colón.

ATMS

It’s very easy to find cajeros automáticos (ATMs) in Costa Rica, even in the smallest towns. All the Costa Rica Bank netwrok works with all CC types as VISA, MASTERCARD, CIRRUS, DISCOVER, DINNERS CLUB, AMEX and others, ATMS can be found in larger cities and tourist towns, around all country the network dispense US dollars which is convenient for payments at hotels and tour agencies. Note that some machines will only accept cards held by their own customers and some other will dispend only colones (the local currency).

Cash and Currency

The Costa Rican currency is the colón (plural colones, ₡), named after Cristóbal Colón arrival to Central America and Costa Rica specifically (Christopher Columbus). Bills come in notes of ¢1,000, ¢2000, ¢5000 ¢10,000, ¢20,000 and ¢50,000, while coins come in denominations of ¢5, ¢10, ¢25, ¢50, ¢100, ¢500. Note that older coins are little and gold-colored, while newer ones are still little but silver-colored – this is often a source of confusion for travelers fresh off the plane.

Throughout Costa Rica, you can pay for tours, park fees, midrange to expensive meals and large-ticket items with US dollars. However, local meals, bus fares and small items should generally be paid with colones.

Paying for things in US dollars should be free of hassle, and at times is encouraged since the currency is viewed as being more stable than colones. Remember in Costa Rica we don´t work with U.S. coins.

 

 

Credit Cards

You can expect a transaction fee on all international credit-card withdrawal or purchase. Holders of credit and debit cards can buy colones and sometimes US dollars in some banks right at te window, usually you have to pay a  transaction fee. Cards are widely accepted at restaurants and travel agencies, tour operators, grocery stores, stores, and all shops also all car rental agencies accept credit cards.

Exchanging Money

All banks will exchange US dollars to local currency, also you can exchange Euros and British pounds; other currencies are more difficult. Some times the banks have  long lines, especially at the state-run institutions (Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, Banco Popular), though they don’t charge commissions on cash exchanges theres a lot of people almost all the time. Private Banks (Bac San Jose, Scotiabank, Promerica) tend to be faster. Make sure the dollar bills you want to exchange are in good condition or they may be refused.

Taxes

Travelers will notice a 13% sales tax and a 10% of service tax at restaurants and bars. Everybody must pay a US$28 airport tax upon leaving the country. It is payable in US dollars or in colones, and credit cards are accepted.

Tipping

 Tips depend upon quality of service, you can alwas decide how much you want to tip but usually goes from $1.00 to $20.00, Taxi drivers are not normally tipped, unless some special service is provided. Restaurants and bars add a 10% service charge onto the bill but is you want to, you can leave a tip if you are happy with the service and staff treatment, but it is not required.

Traveler´s Checks

Some banks and exchange bureaus will cash traveler’s checks at a commission of 5% to 10%. US dollar traveler’s checks are preferred. However, keep in mind it can be difficult. It may be difficult or impossible to change checks of other currencies.

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