Where/How should I get my colones?

Old May 29th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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Where/How should I get my colones?

Leaving from Ft. Lauderdale on a Saturday and arriving our destination hotel in Orosi Saturday evening. How and where and how much do you think I should get in Colones? Is there a place in FLL airport? In the San Jose airport? Do I just wait 'til I get to Orosi? Thanks!
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Old May 29th, 2009, 02:03 PM
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In all our trips, we've never gotten colones. Everywhere we've gone has accepted U.S. dollars; we usually get colones back in change at restaurants, etc. and just use those.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 02:07 PM
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Ditto what VG says. U.S. currency is very widely accepted. There are money changing booths at SJO if you really want to start out with Colones, but I doubt it will be necessary. Be sure to take some small bills in USD for tips and small purchases (1's and 5's are good to have on hand...).
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Old May 29th, 2009, 02:30 PM
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We never change into colones either. Don't take anything larger than a $20 and plenty of small bills. There are very few places that won't take American dollars.

I use my Capital One VISA whenever I can - no international conversion fees and no annual fee.

If you are going to be down in Orosi area, we enjoyed lunch at Cafetal de Cartago on the lake and check out the woodcarver's "House of Dreams" nearby. Lankester Gardens has some beautiful orchids and the basilica in Cartago is gorgeous.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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Always ATM my Colones with my CC currently 571C/$1

Best rate you will get paying with $ is 500/dollar

so you will lose almost 15% with every change

unless you pay/ATM with CC

Capital 1 my fav no fees...
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Old May 29th, 2009, 03:37 PM
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Qwovadis makes a very good point: The "everybody takes dollars" approach does come at a price. You will not get the same rate you would at a bank or ATM or using a credit card. That's the price you pay for convenience.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 04:05 PM
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We use our credit card a lot too, but we get tagged with a percent conversion fee finance charge every time we do. colibri, good to know about the Capital One card.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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VG, Don't know how much longer Capital One won't charge the conversion or annual fees. I'm reading about lots of credit card changes that will probably affect numerous banks in the future.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 10:26 PM
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Colibri, did you drive to Lankester Gardens?
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Old May 30th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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For me better to accept a 1-3 % on my CC in fees

than lose 15% with the incorrect 500C/$ exchange rate.

MY Cap 1 Visa and Discover currently no fees

although Discover not taken too many places

Find that Visa is taken widely

Others a minimal charge but not bad...
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Old May 30th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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Actually, Discover is taken at a lot of places these days, mainly places that deal with the tourist industry. It's been in Costa Rica for a couple of years. The problem is that most businesses that accept it don't know what it is. Any merchant that uses Credomatic as its credit card processor can accept Discover.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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When using a credit card, does the merchant process the charge in dollars or colones? Accommodation and tour operator websites I've seen all quote in dollars but I'm unclear what currency is actually used when processing the charge.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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Hi, dollars are accepted everywhere. But if you want to shop at a local market or farmers market colones are better. You can get money from a bank the following day, or even your hotel. Normally the rates are lower at the hotels. Plus, ATMs are a great bet and give you the best rate of the day.

Hope this helps,
Marina K. Villatoro
http://travelexperta.com
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Old May 30th, 2009, 11:55 AM
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Rivet,

We were with our Tico friends when we visited Lankester Gardens, so they were driving. It seemed pretty easy to find - think it was outside of Cartago near Paraiso??

They had some gorgeous orchids inside that were blooming, Japanese, catcus, bromeliad gardens. I think we were there about 1 1/2 hours, saw the majority of it.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:10 PM
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I usually try to use colones and you get that option using the ATM (colones vs. dollars). U.S. dollars are widely accepted, but as mentioned you get a better rate with colones as places will round down on that $1 to colones conversion, at least in my experience.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:30 PM
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They have to process the charge in colones, Patty. The tourist industry quotes everything in dollars, but it converts those dollar prices to colones at that day's rate when charging your creidt card. The credit card receipt you sign will have a colon price, not a dollar price.

Obviously, they also use the colon equivalent if you pay in colones.

I disagree with the "Everybody takes dollars" statement. If you're out driving and stop at some little place to get something to eat or a bottle of water, that place will likely not take dollars. Some places don't because they don't see dollars very often, or they have no way of knowing what the exchange rate is. For places like that, you need to have colones in hand. Remember too: No one is under any obligation to take dollars. Plus, I've been in bigger places too (restaurants, stores), where you'd think they'd accept dollars, and have seen customers try to pay that way. The cashier calls the manager over and the manager says, no, sorry.

I think a betetr way to look at it is: MANY places accept dollars.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:48 PM
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Thanks, Jeff. So that I understand what you mean, are you saying that if I'm quoted $100 for a room, they'll convert it to colones at whatever the exchange rate is that day (i.e. today it would be 57,730 colones)? In other words, the colones price fluctuates with the USD exchange.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:53 PM
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I've heard that if you get off the beaten path, you may not have them accepted. We've gone primarily to tourist areas like Manuel Antonio, Arenal, San Jose, Monteverde, the Osa, and have always had them accepted - taxis, grocery stores, restaurants, hotels etc. I think most of those places are used to dealing with American tourists.
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