What is Costa Rica currency and what money should you take on a trip there?

While visiting Costa Rica, you may want to learn about Costa Rica colón (CRC). What other currencies are accepted there? Is it better to pay with your VISA or Mastercard? Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about payments in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is a very attractive tourist destination, located in Central America, bordering the Carribean Sea and Pacific Ocean. It’s best to know some Spanish in order to communicate easily there. Many tourists suggests taking also US Dollars with you, as they are accepted in many places and can be easily exchanged for local currency, if needed.

What is Costa Rica’s CRC?

The national currency of Costa Rica is colón (CRC). The bills have nice colorful design with popular local animals such as sloth, the hummingbird, the morpho butterfly or the white-headed capuchin monkey.

The banknotes start from higher notes, as they include: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 colones.

The symbol for the colón is a "C", which is crossed by two diagonal strokes. If you want to learn more about money symbols and their signs visit our article about currencies.

What currency is the best to carry?

It’s essential to get some local cash if you plan on visiting the more remote regions of countries, such as beautiful national parks and nature reserves, where you may need to pay in cash. However, there is no need to carry more than you need, as most of the regions have a very good access to banking with ATMs and card terminals.

Most of the tourists cities and hotel facilities accept USD and the prices don’t differ from the ones in CRC. Moreover, you can convert USD to CRC locally easily or simply withdraw CRC if needed from local ATMs. Therefore, if you have only US dollars, or you came to the country with nothing but a debit card, you should still easily survive.

Should I bring a lot of cash?

Most of the areas have plenty ATMs locations. Therefore, you don’t need to bring any cash if your card provider doesn’t charge you too much on international ATM withdrawals.

Also, it’s most convenient to pay by card when possible, and the usual VISA or Mastercard exchange rates are very attractive. However, in some cases your bank may add their own fees for foreign payments. In our full article reviews, we’ve covered fees for international card payments. You can sort the list of banks and other card providers based on costs, security and customer satisfaction.

How much money do I need to survive?

By many Costa Rica is considered to be a rather expensive and tourist-oriented country. However, depending on your comfort level, you could easily survive on $50 a day. Meals at the restaurants start at $20, but you can try local cuisine for as low as $3-5. Smaller, family-run businesses are a great and cheap place to eat at. You can use public buses to travel for as low as $3 to get from one city to the other, but they aren’t too comfortable or convenient. A regular tour bus would cost you $30 to get to another city quickly.

Planning a trip to the local attractions or national parks should cost you around $100 with potential tickets and transport.

While the US and most European citizens don’t need VISA, in some cases you may need to pay a $29 fee, while leaving the country. Especially, if you stayed there longer than 90 days.

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