ATMs, luggage in car, mosquitos

Feb 25th, 2007, 08:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 65
ATMs, luggage in car, mosquitos

We leave in one week for our Costa Rica adventure! We are visiting Tortuguero, Poas, Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio. I have a few questions:

How much money should we plan to be taking with us? Are ATMs/banks going to be plentiful enough for us to replenish our cash or are we needing to take all our cash from home and just hide it in varying places? Many of the places we are staying require cash payments so we will need to have a fair bit of cash with us.

When we visit the Poas volcano, we will have our luggage with us. Is there a guarded lot there to park the vehicle at or are we better off just carrying our bags with us while we view the volcano?

How prolific are the mosquitos?

I'm realizing how much I can get into one carry on bag! It is kind of nice
mazuka is offline  
Feb 25th, 2007, 09:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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We've parked at Poas numerous times and it seems to be pretty well protected/safe. It's a bit of an uphill walk (about 10 Min) to the crater rim, so you don't want to lug your bags along. Guess that's why they call it LUGgage!

We take very little up front cash--about $300 and have had no trouble getting more as needed. Ran out at Tortuguero last year. Even there, we were able to get some cash at a souvenir store in Tortuguero town. It cost us a little bit, of course, but there is always a way should you get in a bind.

The hotels that are requesting cash might very well be happy with Traveler's Cheques. Sometimes we take them for the sole purpose of paying hotels, but we check ahead first to be sure the hotels don't mind. Anything to keep us from carrying around a lot of cash. We just don't like doing that. Probably never have more than $500 on us and usually less. And then, as you said, we split it up and put it here and there (which in and of itself could be dangerous with our advancing age and memory loss!)

We've not had a lot of trouble with mosquitoes. My husband is bothered more than I. I think I must be pretty sour! You can buy some repellent once you are there. It's nice to have should you need it. You won't have problems at Poas, Arenal, or Monteverde. Maybe a little at MA or Tortuguero.

Have a great trip! One week for you--11 days for us!
shillmac is offline  
Feb 25th, 2007, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 425
We don't like to carry around a lot of cash either, but got in a bit of a bind last time in CR. We figured when we went through Liberia, a good sized town with several banks, we'd hit the ATM. All we found were either out of cash or not working (Monday morning). And inside the banks had horrendous lines because of the day of the week. Just be prepared to start looking for those ATMs before you get low on cash, which is what we'll do next time around.
rickandpat is offline  
Feb 25th, 2007, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 76
We were in CR last June and it rained some. And in the South the mosquitos were absolutely horrible, we had welts all over us and my fiance contracted malaria, so DO take precautions and have a lot of repellent just in case, it can't hurt except for a little extra weight in your bag. It's pretty easy to get money from ATMs but the charge when you return is pretty hefty, at least $5-7 per withdrawel, better than having a lot of money on your person though.
sukiduper is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 07:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 108
Money: if you have Visa debit cards you are okay. If Mastercard logo, take lots of money and hide it in various pockets. In Monterverde and La Fortuna we found ATMs that worked for Mastercard. In Sarapaqui we had to go inside the Banco Nacional (which involves inspecting your bags and wanding you) and were able to get money from the card--takes a while though. In Tortuguero there is no money access.

Mosquitos--saw very few.
emmajm is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 255
Based on this past two week visit to Costa Rica, I recommend using ATMs ONLY physically connected to banks that are open and functioning. My ATM card was eaten by a small ATM machine in Liberia. Turns out that machine is controlled from San Jose and visited once weekly by the San Jose bank staff. If there is an ATM problem at an open bank, you stand a chance of retrieving your card.
Secondly, others recommend travelers checks. Not a good idea! My husband, at the teller's booth, signed 12 checks. She cashed 8 of the 12 and refused to cash the other 4. Despite repeated attempts to convince her he hadn't changed before her very eyes, he could not receive payment...the bank manager would not be swayed.
Carol L
carolll is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Our recent experience with ATMs was that Scotiabank worked four times out of four tries. There is a Scotiabank ATM in the luggage claim area of the San Jose airport. At two different rural locations Costa Rican banks did not work with three different cards from two different banks and one credit union.
Gavin is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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We are the unlucky few who travel with a Mastercard (CIRRUS) which doesn't do so well in many ATM's. We have discovered, however, that it works GREAT in ATM's owned by Bank of San Jose. They are just not as prevalent as some others.

We actually were able to get some cash in Tortuguero at the rather large gift shop near the front part of the town. Cost us a few $$ to obtain about $200, but we needed it and were glad to get it! Same thing happened in Puerto Viejo once (on a Sunday). We had been to Bocas del Toro (where the ATM didn't work and no luck at the bank) and had zip. Nothing open in Puerto Viejo on Sunday except a "moneychanger" operating out of a little window at a hotel. Took our ATM card, gave us $300, charged us $9 for every $100, and we were on our way. Hated it spend the extra, but were thankful to get some cash!

Love those experiences--seems part of the charm!

As for Traveler's Cheques, they DO have their usefulness. That is taking them for the sole purpose of paying hotels who have agreed in advance to accept them. We usually use a combo of cash, credit card, and TC's and it seems to work pretty well. The diversification of resources eases our minds a bit.
shillmac is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 07:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 65
So, if I got this right -- we want visa debit cards ( I think ours are mastercard). Shouldn't have a problem finding ATM in La Fortuna or Quepos. Can plan to replenish money there. years ago, in England, we had trouble with traveler's cheques, haven't used them since! Prefer credit cards!

Mosquitos shouldn't be a problem and neither should our luggage at Poas - but we will be extra careful there.
mazuka is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 10:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Mazuka, take special care where to leave your passports, credit cards, cash, and airline tickets. I never leave those in the car.

The world is getting to the point where any unguarded vehicle could be broken into. Good grief, in our neighborhood, my son had his old truck broken into, and somebody stole an old radio which was ancient and barely worked! My son was glad to get rid of the thing but still felt violated to have his poor old truck broken into!

Try to park near other vehicles. I have a family rule that any time we have to leave stuff in the car, from the outside, looking in the windows, it has to look either like nothing is there, or else like nothing important is there. They are not allowed to leave anything interesting visible, such as headphones, cameras, etc.

I just don't like to worry. I like peace of mind. Therefore we don't stop for any major sight-seeing when we have all our luggage in the car. When moving from one hotel to the next we stop enroute in places where we can watch the car.

Never leave your car someplace where it is the only car and no one is in sight. That is the one time I did have a rental car broken into...we were young and my husband thought he would save the parking fee by parking all by ourselves out on a country road. Wrong plan. The window was broken and a thief got into the car. I felt violated and it makes you feel vulnerable and angry.

Good luck.
Melissa5 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 10:47 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
Just to clarify the above message...when I said the window was broken, I meant that the thief actually broke the window glass to get into the car!

It is best to have more than one ATM card from different bank systems. You probably know that it needs to be an ATM that is used with your checking account (NOT a savings account) and the PIN should be 4 numbers. In Costa Rica remember to use it at the bigger towns before you leave town...

Some of the better hotels will change USA money for you. Our Hotel Bougainvillea in Heredia offered this service to guests at a fair exchange rate.

enjoy your trip!
Melissa5 is offline  

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