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Money in Costa Rica

Old Feb 22nd, 2010, 05:48 PM
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Money in Costa Rica


I'm heading to Tamarindo, Costa Rica in March, and I'm wondering if I need to change a bunch of dollars into colones. According to everything I've read, US dollars are widely accepted, but that sometimes it's better to have local currency. Has anyone found they needed a lot of colones? Has anyone been to Costa Rica and only used US dollars?

As well, if anyone knows a restaurant to two in Tamarindo that they would recommend, that would be great info to have.

Any insight is appreciated. Thanks.
goddessintl is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2010, 06:38 PM
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here's some recent threads about currency:
tully is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 04:34 AM
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It seems to me it's common courtesy to use the currency of the country you're visiting, whether they accept US dollars or not.
JeanH is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 05:24 AM
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Always best to ATM colones and/or use Visa CC

or you get shafted on the exchange rate only

500C/1USD when you are supposed to get 560C/1 USD

so if you use dollars you lose over 10% each time
qwovadis is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 09:04 AM
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We've never exchanged our money; we bring dollars and get colones back in change. They've been accepted everywhere we've gone. We went to a tiny fruit stand in the middle of nowhere, and they still gave us the good exchange rate - kind of surprised that they were accepted there, but they were. Credit cards are pretty well accepted at hotels and restaurants and for tours, but be aware that a lot of cc companies will charge you anywhere from 1-3% additional cost for a foreign transaction fee. Also if you plan to use your credit cards at all, let the company know before you leave for your trip so they won't freeze your account.
volcanogirl is online now  
Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 03:11 PM
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Thanks to everyone who posted useful information. I wouldn't have thought to use an ATM to get a better exchange rate.

JeanH, let me be clear: at no time was I suggesting I didn't want to change money, I was asking a practical question.
goddessintl is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2010, 05:42 PM
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Sorry if sounded snippy. It just seems like if you travel to a different country, you should just use their currency and not even ask about using US dollars, other than Panama, of course....
JeanH is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2010, 04:21 AM
Join Date: May 2007
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The Costa Rican people have always been very gracious. Sometimes you'll see menus with U.S. prices or a cab driver will say "12 dollars" - so many Americans visit there that I think it's just become part of their culture. If you decide to use your U.S. dollars, I don't think you'll get the perception that they're looking down on you for it. Really up to you.

goddess, do you ever check out tripadvisor? I've found their restaurant reviews to be pretty comprehensive, so you might check over there for reviews if you don't find it here.
volcanogirl is online now  
Old Feb 24th, 2010, 04:02 PM
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Volcanogirl, I have looked at Trip Advisor in the past, thanks for reminding me. Fodor's is my first call usually, and the advice I've gotten has always been solid. A point you have just proven.

I will likely follow the advice to get colones at an ATM, since I'm Canadian, and would prefer to avoid paying an exchange fee twice.
goddessintl is offline  
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