... Costa Rica General Information ...
... Costa Rica Money ...
by Infocostarica Staff
Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America. Just about every thing costs more than you might
expect. Some prices, especially for upper-range accommodations, are analogous with those
in the US, with never fails to astonish American travelers and those coming from the
cheaper neighboring countries.
The US dollar has long been the second currency of Costa Rica. However, outside the
tourist areas nobody really refers to dollars. The vast majority of Costa Ricans gets paid
in colones, and buy and sell in colones, and you would do well to get the hang of the
currency soon after you arrive.
The Costa Rican government regularly devalues the colon. As a result, its value has
fallen steadily against the Us dollar over the past few years. Spring 1992 ushered in a
dramatic reversal after the government eliminates exchange controls, forcing the Central
Bank to lower interest rates in an attempt to slow the colons rise. The exchange
rate stabilized for a while of approximately 135 colones to the dollar, and predictions
were that the dollar would be worth 200 colones by early 1996. As of may 2000 it is
305 and is devaluating at around 17 cents per day. A yearly devaluation of 20% is
Most banks impose a service charge for cashing travelers checks. Currency other than
US$ can be exchanged only with difficulty. Canadian dollars and British Sterling can be
exchanged at Banco Lyon, C. 2, Av. Central. Canadian dollars can also be exchanged at
Banex, C. Central, Av. 1. German marks can be exchanged at the Banco Nacional inn San
Jose. Some exchange agencies have opened around Central San Jose and foreigner
expecting to stay for a while in San Jose might prefer to open an account with one of
these for ease of exchange and avoiding long lines.
Banks are generally open Monday to Friday. Its desirable to carry at least some
cash with you. Be sure to carry small bills and coins when visiting villages where change
may not be readily available for larger denominations, do not try to buy from street
vendors with bills 5000 colones or over. Unlimited exchange of colones is permitted. Mayor
credit cards are accepted by banks, most shops, and restaurants, but always ask or check
for signs of on the windows of doors. Black marketers operate openly on Av. Central
between calles 2 and 4 and at many other locations, but are not recommended. Once
trustworthy, the black market has become increasingly infiltrated by con men who will
steal your money or give you counterfeit $50 and $100 bills printed in Colombia.