Rely on ATM's for cash?

Jul 5th, 2008, 03:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 120
Rely on ATM's for cash?

Ij've never relied on traveler checks, and always used ATM's for cash. Is this a good plan for CR? We will be in Playa Flamingo, and Alajuela.
cpcd is offline  
Jul 5th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
I do ATM specifically Captal One
Visa 0% Transaction fee get the FOREX rate always best.

Always try to use machines that are within your system (Plus, Cirrus, etc.) to minimize the transaction and convenience fees.

It's typically most cost effective to withdraw the maximum amount allowed (typically $US 300-500 in Costa Rica) because convenience fees are per transaction.

Plus and Visa most widely used...
qwovadis is offline  
Jul 7th, 2008, 04:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
We usually check ahead to find out which hotels accept travelers´cheques (most do) and we take just enough to pay the hotels. Helps tremendously to lessen the amount of cash needed. We start out with about $300 on us and usually never carry more than that. Yes, we rely on ATM´s.

Upon arrival, we head upstairs once outside the airport to that particular ATM and change our dollars to colones as we prefer to use colones (although dollars are widely accepted).

We´ve also used the bank in Playa Flamingo more than once with success. Plenty of ATM´s in Alajuela--all over the place!
shillmac is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Just wanted to revive this thread to ask a clarifying question. I'm assuming that by "Visa" networks, you mean that you can use your regular bank ATM card as long as it has a VISA logo on it, right? Not your VISA credit card -- which may treat it as a cash advance. Is that correct?
beloit96 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Check with your bank--they may have branches there, which makes things even eaiser. Every time I'm in Brazil, I get cash from ATM's no problem. There, Citibank and particularly HSBC are all over.
wyckman is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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I think so. I think you can go inside the bank (lines can be really long & you need your passport on you) and use your credit card for a cash advance. We used to do this in Mexico before ATM cards were common but you pay quite a bit for this if I remember correctly.

What we do is just use our bank debit card (with the Visa logo) at the ATM at the bank. You can typically choose to get your money in USD which is nice if you are close to the end of your trip. We make sure our bank makes a note on our accounts advising all bank employees that we will be in CR. Apparently some banks see activity outside the country and suspect your card is being misused. Since the bank can't reach you at home, they may pull the plug until they hear from you. Also, it is smart to plan ahead a few days. In CR, the ATM's don't always have $ in them (especially after a busy weekend) and when they break, it could take some time before the machine gets repaired.
Linda137 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 378
I'll just throw this in here:

1. Agree with Shillmac abt taking TC's to lessen the cash load if you know someplace will take them. An upcoming trip to Mexico, the school wants cash or TC's-no CC's. The B&B wants cash or TC-no CC's. So I will pay in TC's to reduce the cash inventory.

2. ATM's-I have used them all over and agree it is the easiest. However, I have had 2 occasions, once in Mexico where the ATM system was down and I had to go to seven different banks to find one that could take my ATM. I was running late for a tour and I had no way to pay for it. Since that day I no longer rely totally on ATM card.
Also, once in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua I was unable to use my ATM card in any machine. They happened to be on a different type of system than my issuer. I am sure there were some places in town where I could use it but I was just passing through and needed some cash and did not have time to search around.

Another time in Honduras, the bank captured my friend's ATM card and it was on a weekend. He then had no cash and no ATM card for 2 days.

Maybe I am now a little paranoid but I always have a combination of CC, ATM, Cash. I do think outside of a hotel or school a lot of places no longer want TC's. If you go to a bank to cash them in a Latin Country it is a major hassle to stand in line, etc, etc.
nonstop is offline  
Jul 26th, 2008, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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General tips for ATM (cash machine) use.In addition to the general common sense practices for using cash machines (don’t go alone at 2:00 a.m., withdraw $500, and then stand next to the machine counting it out loud) there a few others specific to traveling in Costa Rica.

In general be more circumspect when using the machines. Stand close and block the view of the keypad when entering your pin.

Before you leave home, check with the card issuer to determine exchange rates and commissions, convenience fees, so you'll have an idea of how much they are charging to handle your money. You can also ask for a list of machines that are within their system in Costa Rica to avoid ATM "roaming charges."

Bank cards (for savings or checking withdrawals) and debit cards usually cost less to use in ATM machines than credit cards.

ATM Locators for VISA/Plus, MC/Cirrus, AmEx cash machines in Costa RicaIf you are having trouble with a transaction be careful about repeating it because the machine may confiscate your card.

It's a good idea to have two different ATM cards. You'll have a better chance of matching the local system and avoiding fees, you'll have a backup if one card is eaten by the automatic teller, lost, or stolen, and sometimes even though the signs all say it will a particular card just won't work (it is still Central America after all).

Always try to use machines that are within your system (Plus, Cirrus, etc.) to minimize the transaction and convenience fees.

It's typically most cost effective to withdraw the maximum amount allowed (typically $US 300-500 in Costa Rica) because convenience fees are per transaction.

qwovadis is offline  
Jul 27th, 2008, 04:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 378

Those are some very good ATM tips. I try to use the ATMs in broad daylight at a busy bank that has a guard who is carrying a machine gune. I also like to use the kind of ATM with the door that locks behind you--why chance it?

Re: your comment about 2 ATM cards-good idea. I recently met a guy who was traveling around the world and he carried 3 different ATM cards for those very reasons.
nonstop is offline  
Jul 30th, 2008, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,609
I was unable to access my money at ATMs in Costa Rica, The first time that has hampened to me during foreign travel. But that was no problem because there were only a handful of times when I didn't use my credit cards.

I always carry 2 or 3 one hundred dollar bills for an emergency, but I used so little cash that I only needed to break one of them.

Keith is offline  

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