Currency in Costa Rica: Free Banking & Currency Guide

The currency in Costa Rica is known as the colón or CRC. In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the colón and explain why you probably don’t need to get any.

That said, if you are from Europe or Canada, there is a form of payment you may want to obtain before traveling.

We’ll take a look at these factors and answer common questions we receive about currency in Costa Rica below.

This article is part of our free series on foreign currency bank accounts which you can access here.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Currency in Costa Rica
  2. Cost Rican Colon (CRC)
  3. Are There Any Benefits to Costa Rica’s Currency?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

Currency in Costa Rica

The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón with the currency symbol ₡ and the ISO 4217 code CRC. The colón has been the currency of Costa Rica since 1896, as a replacement for the previous Costa Rican currency, the peso.

Costa Rican colón (CRC)

The colón is issued by Costa Rica’s Central Bank, the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The colón is available in both colón banknotes and coins. The most common Costa Rican currency denominations are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 notes.

Costa Rica’s Currency Exchange Rates

Unlike other countries in the region, Costa Rica’s monetary system is considered stable. However, foreign exchange in Costa Rica has been challenged by fluctuations in the value of the CRC to other international currencies.

As a result, many small businesses still prefer to receive United States dollars in exchange for goods and services. That said, many foreigners and tourists can still be found using colónes in Costa Rica.

Can I Use US Currency When Traveling to Costa Rica?

Yes, you can use US currency when traveling to Costa Rica. In fact, using US dollars is one of the most common ways that tourists spend money in the country. This is because USD is widely accepted, especially in tourist destinations.

In most cases, US dollars are accepted by retailers, vendors, restaurants, hotels, taxis, and most other services that foreign non-residents will use when visiting the country.

That said, in addition to using USD, visitors will have the option of using credit cards. While it may seem convenient to use a credit card, it’s important to point out that many credit card providers charge international transaction fees.

Are There Any Benefits to Costa Rica’s Currency?

If you are a foreign visiting Costa Rica on a short holiday, there is limited benefit to using the Costa Rican colón. Instead, in most cases, you will find that using USD is equally convenient.

On the other hand, if you are participating in the local economy, planning to bank locally, or spending an extended period of time in Costa Rica, you may want to familiarize yourself with the colón.

That said, we also suggest that individuals traveling or spending time in the country, consider obtaining an international credit card prior to arriving. By securing the right card, individuals can ensure that they are not charged foreign transaction fees or premium on currency exchanges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are two of the most common questions that we receive from people looking into what the currency in Costa Rica is. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

What Is the Best Currency to Use in Costa Rica?

The best currency to use in Costa Rica will ultimately depend on where you are coming from. This is because certain foreign currencies are widely accepted while others are not. For example, if you are coming from the United States, you will be able to use USD in almost all instances. On the other hand, if you are coming from Europe, the UK, or Canada, you will not be able to use your currency and you will need to exchange it into Costa Rican colon or USD.

Is the Canadian Dollar Accepted in Costa Rica?

No, the Canadian dollar is not accepted in Costa Rica. Instead, Canadian visitors will either need to use the United States dollar or the Costa Rican colon when spending money in Costa Rica. With this in mind, it is usually best to convert Canadian dollars to US dollars prior to leaving Canada. This way, travelers are able to secure the best exchange rates possible for their CAD to USD conversion.

Is It Better to Use US Dollars in Costa Rica?

In most cases, it is best to use US dollars in Costa Rica for both convenience and cost. This is because US dollars are widely accepted in Costa Rica by all retailers, vendors, hotels, service providers, restaurants, and taxis. So, if you have US dollars (or plan to obtain them) there is no need to convert into Costa Rican colons.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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