TRavellers cheques, US$, CDN $, ATM, Credit ???

Dec 17th, 2005, 10:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 3
TRavellers cheques, US$, CDN $, ATM, Credit ???

We will be spending three days in Monteverde, 3 days in La Fortuna, 6 days in Tamarindo. What the best form of money for restaurants and retail. Hotels and excursions are already paid in full. We've heard different advice...ATM's hard to find, and when found, often broken - Bank lines are too long - Restaurants don't take credit cards - Retail doesn't take travelers cheques. Please help with advice, we're not sure what to bring. THANKS!
gallagsa is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 05:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Honestly, we have never had a problem with using credit cards and American dollars--anywhere in Costa Rica, although I'm sure there are a few places where credit cards might not be accepted (very few).

We have pretty good luck with ATM's as well. If you have a Visa card (Plus) you'll run into fewer problems. Tamarindo has a new Bank of San Jose ATM and ours works there when it doesn't always work elsewhere.

Generally speaking, though, you really don't need to worry. Everyone takes $US and will give you back colones in change. You'll have plenty of those, too, eventually! Some hotels will exchange for you, but they take a bit off the top. Bottom line, you really don't need to worry about exchanging.

As for the banks, yes, sometimes the lines are long. Sometimes they are not. We prefer to use colones when in Costa Rica, so we either get them from ATM's or at the bank. We used several banks this past summer with no problem (and no wait). You'll need your passport with you to do this.

We take Traveler's Cheques when planning to pay for hotels with them. Otherwise, I wouldn't mess with them.

Because we don't like carrying a lot of cash, we start out with $200-300 and a credit card (and bank card). We pick up cash as we need it-$200 or so at a time. Works pretty well. Have fun! And don't worry--there simply isn't a problem!

By the way, when we have had more cash than we feel comfortable with, we split it and carry it on us in inside zipper pockets, or pant leg zipper pockets.
shillmac is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 590
I take cash and a credit card, mostly relying on the cash. I would advise you not to fool around with Traveler's Checks at all. I've seen large hotels refuse them, and smaller businesses don't want anything to do with them. Apparently the merchants have to wait a month or more for banks to pay on the traveler's checks, thus the unpopularity. Bank lines can be amazingly long and I've encountered broken ATMs, so I don't usually bother. Almost everyone takes dollars and gives change in colones. Find out what your credit card company charges as a fee to convert currency. Most are now charging a percentage on every overseas purchase.

sandyc is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 474
I agree about the travellers checks, they are really becomming a thing of the past; I think many merchants and banks have been burned by cashing fakes or stolen ones so they are understandably reluctant to take them without a lot of ID checks and etc. In defense of ATMs we have found them to be available in the larger towns and very useful. They are not open 24hrs like here but are usually attached to banks in a safe secure area during banking hours. At the time we were there, BofA had a corresponding agreement with Banco Popular and we used their ATMs with no problem. We would tend to get at least $100 or more in Colones to cut down on the trips. We would keep a little in our pockets and the rest in our money pouches around our necks. It doesn't sound like you will need a ton of cash, so I wouldn't worry too much, usually your hotel can help with this too. Good luck and have fun!
dncee11 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2005, 02:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,323
Our travellers checques were just Emergency backup . We used our credit card a lot with no problems , withdrew every few days from atm's with no problems , and always used US$ in small bills .
faithie is offline  
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