Debit cards vs. cash

Old Oct 4th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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Debit cards vs. cash

My husband and I are flying to Costa Rica in 2 days and I was wondering about debit cards versus cash. We will be going to Manzanillo, which is a tiny village, and I was wondering if it's best to carry all cash and have most of it converted to colones or will debit cards work at some places? Since Manzanillo is so small, I am guessing that debit cards wouldn't be accepted most places. If debit cards are accepted, is there a large fee associated with them?
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Assuming there's an ATM in the town or nearby or at the airport, and if there are tourists there most likely will be, use your debit card to access local cash at a much better rate than exchanging and you don't have to carry a lot of cash with you. Then pay in cash at local merchants. Your bank will probably assess you a foreign exchange fee, my bank (Visa actually) takes 1%, very fair. So call your bank and ask them the cost of using a foreign ATM and also be sure and tell them the dates of your travel so the fraud alerts aren't activated.

I also always carry some cash dollars just in case.
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Are you speaking of Manzanillo on the Caribbean side? If so, you'll definitely want cash and you can get at the ATM in Puerto Viejo.
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 11:27 AM
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Puerto Viejo will be the last place you see an ATM, as hip says. I doubt anyone in Manzanillo is equipped to take debit or credit cards. You'll need cash.
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 12:14 PM
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You need cash in local currency. You can use your debit card at an ATM machine (at an airport or in a major city). The fees associated with a withdrawl depend entirely on your home bank and if they have arrangements with a local bank (for example in Mexico and the Caribbean I can use my Bank of America debit card at ATMs without any fees if I go to a Santander or Scotia bank).
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 02:47 PM
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No fee capitalone.com Visa CREDIT CARD or other no fee

Credit Card best if you must use at BIG BANK ATM only

to get your Colones. www.coinmill.com for correct rate

If you bring USD bring $20 new no tears no $50 no $100

too much counterfeit.

Due to "skimming" of debit cards

a good thief can clean you out of EVERTHING in your account

small rural ATMs Gas Stations are the worst for this.

Happened to me several years ago my identity was stolen there

Truly a nightmare for 6 mos so I NEVER travel with debit card.

100% liability with Credit Card 0% liability.

insuremytrip.com always cheap wise for me.

Happy Travels!
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 02:48 PM
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Expect between 6-18% in fees. Always use caution when using your debit card ... Watch out for Skimming Devices at ATMs
ticotimes.com/costa-rica/travelers-debit-credit-cards
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 03:48 PM
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<Credit Card best if you must use at BIG BANK ATM only>

Wrong. You do NOT want to use a credit card at an ATM to take out cash. Because that counts as a "cash advance" and has all kinds of higher fees and begins charging interest immediately.

<Expect between 6-18% in fees.>

Wrong again. Like I said I can use my BoA ATM with no additional fees and get the bank exchange rate of the day.
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 03:55 PM
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suze -- I think the OP is referring to Manzanillo, Costa Rica not Mexico, and local or U.S. dollars are both fine. But agree about fees, BOA debit card has worked best for me, low to no fees. Except for the recent $5/month fee that everyone is in fits about.
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 05:11 PM
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IMHO- I would not use a debit card for anything outside the US except as an ATM card at a reputable bank. Credit cards and cash are the way to go. You can indeed get cleaned out. As far as the ATM make sure your bannks security knows the dates you will beout of the country.
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 06:34 AM
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I suggest calling your Credit Card company in advance of your trip (if you have a CC obviously) Mine charges a flat fee of 3% for using your card and for getting cash out of ATM.
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 06:45 AM
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I agree with Dude. I only use my debit card at a major bank's ATM machine to get cash... not to make purchases directly, not in restaurants, not at stand-alone ATM machines.

hipvirgochick, thank you for the correction about USD being OK in Costa Rico. you're right my experience is all Mexico.
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