Where To Exchange Currency In Costa Rica

where to exchange currency in costa rica


As the Guardian of currency exchange, I extend my knowledge to the balmy borders of Costa Rica. Revered for its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and biodiverse landscapes, Costa Rica is a paradise for travelers. However, currency exchange can be a problematic hassle. With an aim to guide travelers through this process, this article outlines the best options for currency exchange in Costa Rica.


Banks in Costa Rica offer relatively competitive exchange rates for popular currencies such as USD, EUR, and CAD. The major banks, such as Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional, are situated in almost all cities and towns. They offer direct currency exchange services but require a passport for identification. It's essential to remember that banks often have long queues and limited operating hours.


For the sake of convenience, many travelers resort to exchanging their currency at their hotels. This option, though quick and simple, might come with higher fees and uncompetitive exchange rates. However, this remains a viable emergency option, especially if you're checking in late or during non-business hours when banks and exchange bureaus are closed.


The Juan Santamaría International Airport and the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, Costa Rica's two main airports, host multiple currency exchange booths. It's handy for an immediate need for local currency upon arrival. However, similar to hotels, these institutions often employ high-service fees and poor exchange rates compared to banks and bureaus.


The ATM, or the Automatic Teller Machine, is a prevalent and easy way to acquire local currency. They are available 24/7, widely spread across cities and towns in Costa Rica. Typical banks such as Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional have ATMs that accept most international cards. The exchange rates are generally reasonable, but the usage might entail fees from your home bank and the receiving bank.

Currency Exchange Bureaus

Also called "casas de cambio," currency exchange bureaus are prevalent in Costa Rica. They may offer better rates than banks, especially in tourist-heavy areas. It's essential to compare their rates with your home currency to ensure a fair deal.

Online Currency Exchanges

Modern technology has brought the ease of online currency exchange platforms. Companies such as Wise (formerly TransferWise), Revolut, and Monzo offer competitive rates and lower fees compared to traditional institutions. This option requires some advance planning, as you need to set up an account and perform the exchange before your trip.


Choosing the right place to exchange your currency in Costa Rica depends on your level of comfort, convenience, and the amount you wish to convert. While banks and ATMs might provide the ease of immediate access, online platforms are worth considering for significant amounts because of their better exchange rates and reduced fees. As the Guardian of currency exchange, I affirm the importance of vigilant comparison and early planning to ensure a hassle-free, cost-effective currency exchange experience in the heart of Central America.