M+S colones refusal

May 13th, 2007, 01:19 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 61
M+S colones refusal

we have just been told by the bureau de change at marks and spencer in england(camberley branch) that they cannot sell us colons as they are not allowed to be exported from the UK or imported into costa rica.
we were not aware of this and have since found no evidence to support their claim.
however they are a venerable institution in the retail sector in the UK and as such are very influential re future choice of vacation venue.
so what do you all think, or indeed know??
walnutwhip is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 06:27 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
We never exchange out of the country. We usually bring back anywhere from $25-$50 in colones and take them with us on the next trip. . .I'd be interested in hearing more about the Marks & Spencer position, though. I noticed that when we were in Houston in March you could buy colones at the airport.
shillmac is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 07:49 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,876
That's not true. You can import and export colones up to an equivalent of (I think) $10,000. Beyond that, you have to declare that you are doing so.

But anyplace outside Costa Rica that does deal in colones gives such a low exchange rate that it's never worth it to me. The colon is a soft currency and the exchange rate is unpredictable, so a bank outside Costa Rica has to protect itself by giving that low rate. Most places don't want to bother with currencies like those, and I suspect that's the real reason behind M+S not carrying colones. You can get by with U.S. dollars until you can get to an ATM or bank in Costa Rica.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:07 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 139
Will a taxi or hotel shuttle accept US Dollars upon our arrival??
sparks_fly is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:25 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 407
yes. The airport taxis will take either colones or USD. You prepay at a desk and they give you a receipt. Shuttles like interbus will take USD. Actually, in San Jose and and the tourist areas, you can pay with USD almost anywhere - though some places will not take large bills like 50s and 100s. You will often get change in Colones. Do not change money at the Global Currency Foreign exchange booth at the airport. They give a terrible rate.

Also, there is an ATM in the baggage claim area of SJO if you want to withdraw colones.

Pura vida,
raquel

This message is being written in the boarding lounge at SJO - using the free WI FI connection..We are on our way home in about 1 hour.. The times has flown by..
raquel_z is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:31 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Buen Viaje, Raquel!
shillmac is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 11:54 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 61
thanks for the replies. you have confirmed my thoughts on the subject. we are already booked and paid up re our vacation, but are a little concerned for other british tourists.
the actual term used by the cashier was " colones are a forbidden currency". a strong phrase to use don't you think?
walnutwhip is offline  
May 13th, 2007, 12:12 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Yep, "forbidden" is a strong word! Makes it sounds almost illegal!
shillmac is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 09:09 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 470
Another important word of advice regarding buying colons: DO NOT exchange money at the official looking counters in the San Jose airport. The exchange rate they offer is a full 10 to 15% off the bank rate.

Your hotel can change a little, but not huge amounts. While most hotels try to keep a little extra cash on hand for their clients, they are not banks and can't handle large amounts.

US dollars are like the unofficial second national currency in Costa Rica. Many banks offer dollar accounts. Most folks keep their savings in these to protect their nest eggs from inflation. So dollars can be spent just about everywhere.

ATMs work if your debit card is on a major network (Cirrus, Pulse, Maestro, etc.). Different banks are on different systems, and all banks are not in all towns. So take advantage of ATMs when you can and plan accordingly. If your travels take you through larger towns (San Jose, Alajuela, La Fortuna, Puntarenas, Quepos, etc.) you should be fine. But smaller towns (Monteverde, Dominical, Puerto Jimenez) are going to have limited options, if any. A second bank has recently opened in Monteverde.

I don't like to carry huge sums of cash with me, for obvious reasons. So I try to live off my Visa card and ATMs. I always carry a few hundred dollars in AMEX travelers checks in reserve for an emergency. I was traveling during 9/11, and was glad I had them. But they are handy for lesser emergencies too.

While we are on travelers checks. American Express are the most accepted. The others (Visa, Thomas Cooke), less so. Do not get the ones that work with either of two signatures. My wife and I tried these a couple of years ago. They just confused everyone, and we invariably had to have BOTH signatures when we used them. What a pain.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,

Pat Hewitt
(Travel Professional)
Pat_Hewitt is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 10:15 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 132
Pat,
We are traveling to Arenal/LaFortuna- staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge. Do most places (tours, restaurants, hotels gift shops) accept the US Dollar?

Do you suggest paying for most things with USD or with Colones for the best exchange rate?
Flying_Mom is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 11:13 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,876
Places do happily accept U.S. dollars, but those that do will give a lower exchange rate than you'd get at the bank. Right now, a bank gives you around 520 colones to the dollar. If you pay a bill in dollars, a business might figure that at 500 to the dollar, thereby charging you ultimately more than you'd pay if you'd paid in colones. Really, that's fair. You pay something for the convenience. The business is the one who will have to exchange those dollars for colones in the end. Any business that takes dollars will likely give you your change in colones. Very small businesses won't be equipped to take dollars.

Raquel mentioned the Global Currency Foreign Exchange windows in the bagge claim and boarding areas. They give terrible rates. The BAC San Jose in the check-in area does give the regular bank rate. They are fine to use.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 11:30 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,876
And make sure any dollars you do take for spending are in good condition: no tears, no writing.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 06:50 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 470
Thanks Jeff for clarifying. Global Currency Foreign Exchange is who I was referring to. I have never dealt with the BAC upstairs.

Global always irritates me a little. It is obvious that I love Costa Rica, and I hate to bring up the negatives. But it just grates on me that the airport allows this outfit to rip off the tourists within fifteen minutes of their arrival. You would expect a much more gracious welcome to such a hospitable country!

Otherwise, I have not found the disparity in the exchange rate to be that extreme. But every little place is different. This further illustrates that you want to travel with small bills. If you do run into a situation is especially unfavorable, you want to have as close to exact change as possible.

I hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel Professional)
Pat_Hewitt is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 07:19 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Pat, your cash/card/TC plan is almost identical to ours. It has worked very well, and we use the TC's for the hotels that we know in advance will take them (most do).

As for the BAC upstairs, it has been a lifesaver for us (just discovered it 2 months ago!) as we have a MC Cirrus and LOTS of ATM's won't accept it. We keep our eyes peeled for that symbol when we travel, but it's nice to have a place upon arrival or between locations. We've, over time, come up with a list of where they are located. And someone sent a wonderful link (I think it was Raquel) with all the locations listed. Very helpful to us Cirrus holders.

Agree that the airport should arrange for a warmer welcome. Not at all good, as you say, in a country with so much kindness and warmth.

You've heard me mention our friend, Humberto Brenes, Hotel Villa Bonita (he used to work with Jose at the little Vida Tropical B&B in Alajuela). He sent my husband over to the Mas X Menos just down the road from the McDonald's and Taco Bell. They have exchanged for us with a good exchange rate. Easier than the bank if you don't need more than $200-$300, usually for us at any one time.

It's helplful to know.
shillmac is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 08:33 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,876
Very good point about carrying small bills, Pat. I agree that the Global Exchange place is a ripoff. Sure, if you arrive at 10 p.m. you have to pay something for the convenience of being able to change money, but they're giving 450 to the dollar. That works out to more than a 10% commission.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
bvilovercgb
Mexico & Central America
4
Jun 1st, 2011 03:47 PM
goddessintl
Mexico & Central America
8
Feb 24th, 2010 04:02 PM
Percy
Mexico & Central America
16
Dec 12th, 2007 05:31 AM
janeg
Mexico & Central America
12
Aug 21st, 2004 09:41 PM
bodhijack
Mexico & Central America
5
Apr 27th, 2004 06:09 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:58 PM.