How To Exchange Money In Costa Rica

how to exchange money in costa rica


Exchanging money in Costa Rica can seem overwhelming if you're unfamiliar with the process. However, with the right knowledge and preparation, you can navigate the realm of currency exchange seamlessly. From banks to ATMs to online platforms, your options are varied. This article will guide you through the landscape, providing key insights for a smooth money exchange experience.

Understanding the Costa Rican Currency

The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon, named after Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish). Coins come in denominations of ₡5, ₡10, ₡25, ₡50, ₡100, and ₡500, and banknotes are issued in ₡1,000, ₡2,000, ₡5,000, ₡10,000, ₡20,000, and ₡50,000.

Exchanging Money at Costa Rican Banks

Banks in Costa Rica can provide a reliable and safe way to exchange money. Institutions such as the Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica accept various foreign currencies like the US Dollar and Euro. Bear in mind, however, that this option may involve waiting in long lines and dealing with unpredictable operational hours.

Using ATMs to Withdraw Local Currency

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are widespread in Costa Rica, accommodating convenient, secure withdrawals in local currency. Remember to take into account that using this option may incur fees from the Costa Rican bank and your home bank.

Exchanging Money at Hotels and Resorts

Many hotels and resorts in Costa Rica offer currency exchange services. Whilst this can be very convenient, it’s also often the option with the poorest exchange rate. It's advisable to use this service only for small amounts or emergencies.

Utilizing Credit and Debit Cards

Visa and Mastercards are widely accepted in Costa Rica. This option eliminates the concern of carrying large amounts of cash. Just ensure to notify your home bank of your travel plans to avoid any sudden card blocking for suspicious foreign activity.

Taking Advantage of Online Currency Exchange

Online currency exchange platforms provide an ideal blend of convenience and competitive rates. Services like XE or TransferWise allow you to swap currencies at the true mid-market rate. Be aware that these platforms typically involve a couple of days in processing time.

Exchanging Money Upon Arrival at The Airport

When landing in Costa Rica, you'll find currency exchange counters at the airport. Although a quick solution, the rates offered here are often less advantageous, making it a less economical option.


Preparing yourself with an understanding of money exchange strategies in Costa Rica can make your travels smoother and help minimize unnecessary expenses. Evaluate your options, keeping in mind that the best choice often depends on your particular needs and circumstances. Enjoy the beauty and culture of Costa Rica without stressing about currency exchanges!