cash in Costa Rica

Old Jan 14th, 2022, 05:59 AM
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cash in Costa Rica

Hi, I am still believing that our trip in March will happen. The guide book stated that it is hard to get colones in advance and just to use a cash machine at the airport when one arrives. We will be there for 11 nights total, staying at Arenas Del Mar and Nayarit Gardens, probably mostly eating at the resorts although maybe trying a couple of nights off property. When we went to Scandinavia a couple of years ago I brought cash for each country and had to work to get rid of it as everything was cashless. This fall in Italy it was the opposite - we kept having to go back to ATM's to get more cash. How much would we need if we are mostly staying at the resort and using their guides. I'm thinking it would primarily be for tips. Or just use dollars? What is your advice. Gracias.
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 05:54 AM
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We've always just used dollars when we've gone, and they've been accepted everywhere we went.
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 10:41 AM
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Bring small, perfect bills (between $1 and $20) . They may not be accepted if there is even a tiny hole, tear or marking. Hold them up to the light.
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 12:32 PM
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No one is ever obligated to take US dollars. You can use them many places. I never say "everywhere," because that's not the case. Any business that is accustomed to dealing with tourists will probably accept them. If you stop at some mom-and-pop grocery, they're probably not set up to accept anything but colones. If you pay in dollars, you'll likely get change in local currency. Don't expect the exchange rate to be the official one; they'll round off the price in their favor. And why shouldn't they? They have to go to the bank to exchange those dollars.

I'm a big believer in tipping in local currency. Why put the guide or waiter or hotel housekeeper in the position of having to change money?

As mlgb says, make sure any dollars you use are in pristine condition. No one will take them if they're not. Of course, the low-denomination local bills sometimes look as if somebody cleaned the sink with them, but that's okay. No one will accept $50 or $100 bills. Too many counterfeits of those denominations are floating around.
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 05:06 AM
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This is useful, thanks. Would you just use the ATM or the money changing booth at airport? and how much in colones would you anticipate using for 10 days , mostly at a resort.?
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Old Jan 16th, 2022, 12:24 PM
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Looks like you're staying in Manuel Antonio and the Arenal area - two areas very popular with tourists. Dollars will be pretty universally accepted there. In ten trips we've done, they've been accepted everywhere we've gone. Less likely to be accepted outside tourist areas. We always bring twenty dollar bills. Hard to say how much to bring. If you're planning on eating mostly at the resorts and using their guides, I would think you could just charge those to your room.
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