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How much cash to bring?

Old Nov 10th, 2007, 05:22 AM
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How much cash to bring?

We're leaving next week for 2 weeks in Costa Rica. How much cash would you recommend we bring? Can we get US dollars out of cash machines? Do people take US dollars for payment?

Thanks
Kim
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 05:42 AM
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It really depends on what you have paid for in advance and what your plans are. I usually bring about $500 and usually have to hit up the atms once or twice. It depends on what atm/cc you are using but I've never had a problem getting cash out - they give you the option of withdrawing USD or Colones. I usually use the atm right by the Mas x Menos grocery store, which is about 2-3 minutes away from the airport. Most places will take USD and give you colones in return, just make sure you take nothing higher than 20's and that all your bills are in good shape with no tears. A good rule of thumb for quick calculating is 500 colones to the dollar.
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 05:46 AM
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I think we brought about $600 in U.S. cash, and it was accepted everywhere we went. Like tully said, we just always got change in colones. We paid for our hotels, drivers, and most of our activities with a credit card and had one hotel that requested a check. We never even had to exchange our money. Have a fun trip!
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 10:32 AM
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Hi Kim

It helps to start out with a number of $1, $5 and $10 for tips and small things. Sometimes even a ten dollar bill is hard for them to change or they act as if they can't change it. They will take your US, but it helps to have small bills until you start accumulating Colones to make change. Not trying to be negative, but their ability to communicate can sometimes decrease if they see you are in an awkward position.

I believe many ATM's give you the option to get US out, but they don't always refill the busy ATM's often enough so make sure you have some extra cash and cards. Your guidebook will show you where the banks are located. I used my debit card most everywhere although small shops would sometimes offer a discount if I wanted to pay cash. Some restarants are not set up to take cards so look before you order. We had to empty our pockets one night in San Jose. We laugh now but at the time it wasn't so funny.

Hard to say how much cash you will need. It really depends how often you use your debit or credit cards. In the tourist areas, using cards is easy. In more remote areas, you will need to use cash more plus ATM's might be harder to find.

Enjoy your trip! We are leaving in 10 days.
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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What all do you cash for other then tipping, souvenirs, and some restuarants. I really was hoping to take alot less then that and use my credit card and ATM if necessary.

Are there ATM in most most areas (Arenal, Flamingo beach, etc)?

Cant you pay for gas with credit card and most restuarants, and hotels and the activities such as tours and such?

Thanks, Bill
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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It depends what areas you are visiting BUT we just got back from another glorious CR visit to Mal Pais and Arenal and cash is still the best option! US dollars are accepted everywhere.

The ATM's didn't work in BOTH places several times. I was able to get cash out of the new bank ATM in Mal Pais the next day when I tried. I also was able to cash travelers checks very easily in both places.

Most of the restaurants in Mal Pais still DO NOT take credit cards. I didn't even try to use my CC in Arenal because I had already cashed some travelers checks. I was able to use a credit card at both gas stations en route though.

We were told we could take cash out on our credit card at the bank too. But, we never needed that option.

Just remember folks, this is a developing country and most businesses are really small. From what I understand, there is a HUGE merchant fee that they get charged on credit cards, I think like 9%. Sometimes it takes these small business 6 months to get paid on their credit card slips. This is why you usually get better deals using cash. Costa Rica is just not that business savvy yet.

Thank God, or that would mean that
its getting really busy and built up too!

I would say take travelers checks, cash and just use a credit card where you can. Be careful WHERE you use credit cards though because I've read alot about credit card fraud there. No personal experience with it though. The few places that I noticed said they took credit cards were overpriced (even if you used cash) in my opinion.

I was happy to see that it still WASN'T that developed even though there was some new construction. I was worried after reading so many things. Still VERY laid back and the people were still as friendly as ever! Nothing I've seen beats the natural beauty of Costa Rica!
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 11:50 AM
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It seems like several of the smaller restaurants we went to did not take credit cards; we just brought 20s and used those. We booked our drivers and most of our activities directly through the hotels, so that was paid for with a credit card. Mainly used the cash for restaurants, taxis, and tipping. Most of the souveneir spots took credit cards, but some gave a discount for using cash.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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crlover10, we start out with about $300 and use ATM's as needed. In the Flamingo area, we have used the bank more than once, with a lot of luck. Also in Liberia. There are ATM's, though, as well.
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Old Nov 12th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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Thanks Shillmac, We will probably do about what you said. How do most people pay for their gas? I figured that to be one of our potential bigger cash expenses or do most pay with credit card. I read on here that using them at gas stations is becoming small fraud problem.
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