Money exchange in Costa Rica is a fairly easy task. There is typically at least one bank or money exchange place in town. Depending on where you stay, some hostel, hotels, and resorts will take US Dollars as a form of payment for the room. Some of the larger resorts and hotels may even have a money exchange service located on the property.
The current money exchange rate in Costa Rica is :
$1.00 US Dollar = 518 Colones
In an exchange transaction, you will get anywhere from 400 to 450 colones for 1 US Dollar.
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Travelers Checks and Cards
As long as there is a bank around, cashing travelers checks is no problem. You may have to stand in a bank line for 30 minutes or more, but you will be able to get them cashed. Some of the smaller cities don’t have banks and not all money exchange places exchange travelers checks, so make sure you plan ahead.
Only larger hotels and resorts accept travelers’ checks as a form of payment, so don’t plan on not exchanging money.
A special note about the American Express Travelers Check Card; this is a bad idea for Costa Rica. There are only a handful of ATMs in Costa Rica that accept AMEX cards and even less business that accept them. And they don’t really work like a traveler’s check, which is what AMEX advertises. Just because a money exchange place in Costa Rica cashes travelers checks doesn’t mean they can give you cash from your traveler check card. In fact the odds are they cant or wont.