Costa Rican Currency, Exchange Rates, Travelers Checks, and Credit Cards

Costa Rican Currency, Exchange Rates, and Travelers Checks

Bring only U.S. dollars in cash which can be exchanged widely. Currency from other countries can only be exchanged at the central bank in San José, and is a long process (read: half a day!). The exchange rate in the airports in the U.S. is something like $1 = 500 colones; and changing daily. There is an exchange booth in the IMMIGRATION area (but will probably be closed when your flight arrives). The exchange rate for travelers checks is lower, and must be exchanged in banks (depending on where you go to the bank this can mean 2 hours in line!). If you are being met at the airport by a Serendipity guide, we can help with the exchange, or provide you with cash if you’ve pre-arranged an exchange with us.

Credit Cards in Costa Rica

Credit and debit cards work well in most places

Tourist hotels take credit cards for payment, but not to confirm reservations. Some hotels accept the cards on the phone, but in the end many hotels will sell a confirmed room to people with “real” money who show up. If Serendipity is arranging your accommodation this will not be an issue for you.

CAUTION! Many places accept only VISA and/or Mastercard, but American Express is less widely accepted (about the same proportion in Costa Rica as in the USA). Lesser-known cards (Discover, Diner’s Club, etc.) are not widely accepted here.