Money exchange at SJO

Old Jun 11th, 2003, 05:54 PM
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Money exchange at SJO

We are leaving for our first trip to CR next week. Booked everything ahead of time. Still a little confused on what to do about cash. Is there quick and easy money exchange at the airport? Should we mostly travel with cash? Do most hotels give cash on credit card? Are the banks really that horrible? Are travelers cheques really a bad idea? Are there MAC machines that can be accessed with american bank cards? What credit cards are most widely accepted? As you can see, I have a lot of questions.... Can anyone help?
Thanks so much!
kirstenrdh is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2003, 08:31 PM
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There is a money exchange window at the airport; change maybe $100 into Colones there to get you going. Travelers checks can be changed at banks and most larger tourist hotels, usually for a small fee. There are some ATMs; we had good luck with Banco Popular because it corresponds with Bank of America. You need a Visa with a 4-digit PIN. Virtually all hotels and many restaurants take CC's; some may charge a small fee. Notify your CC issuer that you are going on vacation in a foreign country. Banks are OK, just different (look for the guards with rifles and behave yourself!) Some people say they can pay for most things in dollars but I prefer to use colones; most prices are posted in local currency. TC's are not really a bad idea but CC's and ATM's have replaced most of their functions. Good luck and have fun! Costa Ricans will make it easy to take your money.....
dncee11 is offline  
Old Jun 11th, 2003, 09:23 PM
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Kristen - I took a combination of traveler's checks, dollars (nothing larger than 20s), a credit card and an ATM card. It was my experience that traveler's checks were widely accepted at no additional charge. I tended to use them more for tours and hotels and paid cash at restaurants. Likewise, dollars are widely accepted. You will receive your change in colones.

I had no problem using my ATM (with Visa logo). In 3 weeks, we never had to set foot inside of a bank, except to use the ATM machine.

My friend did have some difficulty using her MasterCard - both at the ATM and as a credit card. I had no such problems with my Visa.

You will get the best exchange rate withdrawing colones from the ATM machine. If you use a credit card, be aware that some places charge 7% (or more) over cash.
Have a great trip!
TAGriffin is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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I agree with Terri 100%. A combination of some cash, CCs and an ATM card worked well for us. Dollars were accepted widely. Most small local places (especially restaurants) do not accept credit cards so you should be prepared to pay in cash. If you are using ATMs make sure you plan a few days in advance and withdraw enough to last you for the next few days. Visa and Visa based ATM card is more widely accepted than other cards, but we had no problems with our MC based ATM card which we used in SJ and Liberia. A couple of AmEx travellers checks is a good thing to have in case of an emergency.
Iza is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2003, 12:45 PM
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As bad as this is to say.... take tons of 20's. you can use cash anywhere, it spends better than colones. However, if you can get a good exchange rate somewhere, change some for when you are at little boutiques or what not. Travelers checks are harder to cash, and unless you are staying at a nice hotel, they will normally give you some flack for changing them. (i think a lot of the smaller places have a hard time getting the money from AMEX) if you arent comfortable with taking that much cash, use the atms (you can even get cash from most of thsoe). good luck, have a blast
sweet_thang is offline  
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