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Should I exchange money? How?

Dollars are accepted in most places. If you want to exchange money, the easiest place to purchase Costa Rican colones is at your San Jose hotel.  Hotel rates are usually less than 1% lower than at banks, and the convenience is more than worth it. It is best to take care of exchanging money before leaving San Jose, or Liberia.

It is important to mention that most places do have a hard time accepting $100 and $50 dollar bills, so travelling with $20’s is the best choice. 

We don’t recommend using traveler’s checks. In recent years it’s become more and more difficult for merchants to cash travelers checks and most will no longer accept them.

Major credit cards are generally accepted at hotel gift shops.  Cash is useful if you visit remote places where you might have difficulty exchanging traveler checks or paying with credit cards. It is also useful for tipping.  Please note that as a general rule, foreign bills (dollars for instance) with the slightest tare, will not be accepted for exchange.  It is helpful to make sure your bills are in good condition.

You can find an ATM in every major town, and in an increasing number of smaller ones. They will generally be located at the local bank. Despite improvements we often find that ATM's outside of San Jose do not work, so if you are financing yourself through an ATM it is safest to do it before you leave the capital.

Aside from credit cards, cards that bear the Plus and Cirrus logos are the most commonly accepted. Withdrawal limits can vary significantly, so look around; also, depending on the charges incurred with your card, getting cash from an ATM can be more economical than paying a commission to a teller.

If you need to find an ATM a good person to ask is a hotel receptionist, your driver or your guide.  

Another option for getting cash is using your credit card to get a cash advance from the front desk of your hotel; they will usually do so for a modest transaction fee.

NOTE: It's really important that people don't wait until they get to the International Airport to get the money that they need for the departure tax. Nine times out of 10 the ATM's don't work there.

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