How and Where to Exchange Money in Costa Rica: Your Ultimate Guide

If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica or are a new resident, you might wonder how and where to exchange your money. In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need about the currency exchange rate in Costa Rica, where to exchange your money, and some tips to save money on fees and rates.


The Currency Exchange Rate in Costa Rica

The national currency in Costa Rica is the colón (CRC), named after Christopher Columbus, who discovered Costa Rica on his third voyage to the continent in 1502. The exchange rate for the colón fluctuates daily, so it’s essential to check the current rate before exchanging your money.

The easiest way to calculate the current exchange rate is by visiting a reliable online currency converter, which you can find here.


Where to Exchange Money in Costa Rica

Credit cards and US dollars are widely accepted in most tourist businesses and stores. However, it’s still best to have some Costa Rican colones on hand for smaller purchases and when visiting remote regions and beach areas.

We suggest using local bank ATMs to get the rate your bank sets. Banco Nacional is the best bank since they don’t charge a fee, and you can withdraw a considerable amount of colones in one transaction.

To exchange money at any bank or outlet, you’ll need valid identification: a passport with a valid Costa Rica entry stamp or a valid residency card like a DIMEX (not expired).


Exchanging US Dollars in Costa Rica

Exchanging US dollars in Costa Rica is the most straightforward task since all banks accept US dollars and most open accounts in dollars. You’ll also notice that many prices in the country are quoted in dollars, such as hotel stays.

Some banks in malls and commercial centers are open on weekends and can exchange US dollars for colones. You can also visit Servimás inside Walmart and Mas-x-Menos locations, where you can exchange dollars for colones without hassle.


Exchanging Euros in Costa Rica

Many banks in Costa Rica can exchange your euros for colones. Some banks that can exchange euros are Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), Scotiabank, and BAC Credomatic.


Exchanging Canadian Dollars in Costa Rica

Scotiabank can exchange Canadian dollar cash for Costa Rican colones, and the exchange rate is favorable. If you brought Canadian dollars to Costa Rica, this is the best place to exchange them.


Exchanging Other Currencies in Costa Rica

Exchanging other currencies in Costa Rica can be complicated since the exchange rate and fees can be high. Suppose you’re in San José and have other currencies like British pound sterling, Swiss francs, Guatemalan quetzal, Mexican pesos, or Nicaraguan córdobas. In that case, you can exchange them for colones at the Banco de Costa Rica’s central office in downtown San José, also known as “Banco Negro.”

The exchange office at Banco Negro has its street entrance on the east side of the building and is open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. However, checking the exchange rate and fees before exchanging your money is still advisable.



Exchanging money in Costa Rica can be hassle-free if you know where to go and what to do. Remember to check the current exchange rate, use local bank ATMs to get the best rate, and always have some Costa Rican colones on hand. Following these tips will save money on fees and get the best exchange rate possible.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the currency of Costa Rica?

The national currency of Costa Rica is the colón (CRC).

Can I use US dollars in Costa Rica?

Yes, US dollars are widely accepted in stores and tourist businesses in Costa Rica.

Where can I exchange money in Costa Rica?

You can exchange money at banks or outlets in Costa Rica. Many banks can exchange different currencies, including euros and Canadian dollars.

Are there fees for exchanging money in Costa Rica?

Yes, there may be fees for exchanging money, depending on your bank or outlet. Check with your bank on foreign transactions and currency fees before exchanging money.

Can I withdraw Costa Rican colones from ATMs in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can withdraw colones from local bank ATMs in Costa Rica. Banco Nacional is a good option as they don’t charge a withdrawal fee.

What identification do I need to exchange money in Costa Rica?

You will need valid identification, which for foreigners can be a passport with a valid Costa Rica entry stamp or a valid residency card.

What is the best way to exchange money in Costa Rica?

Using local bank ATMs is usually the best option, as you will get the rate set by your bank.

Where can I exchange currencies besides US dollars and euros in Costa Rica?

Other currencies can be exchanged at limited locations, such as the Banco de Costa Rica’s central office in downtown San José. However, the exchange rate and fees may be high for these currencies.


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