One of the most common questions travelers worry about is to change money before coming or not?
This day and age practically everyone traveling has a credit card. Usually the hotel you’ll be staying at the first night accepts credit cards. And unless you’re planning on taking a public bus, the shuttle service will either be arranged before hand and if not, they actually charge in dollars. Airport taxi services accept credit cards and/or dollars. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about bringing local currency.
And the next concern, where to change the money and what’s the best method?
1. Every country is different, but in Costa Rica do not change money anywhere accept BANKS. Not only will you get the best rates, but you’re chances of getting counterfeit money are zilch. Always bring a passport.
DO NOT CHANGE MONEY WITH PEOPLE ON THE STREETS
2. ATMs are plentiful, you’ll get the best rates however, you’ll pay the small ATM fee.
TAKE OUT ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
3. Travelers checks are so 1990’s. Very few places exchange travelers checks these days, and even fewer give good rates, plus they charge 1-2% on top of it.
Cash or Credit?
I won’t lie to you, cash is king in Costa Rica. You’ll escape some places charging you 8% for credit card usages. Plus, whenever you go out, ask if for the cash (Efectivo) discount and chances are you’ll get 5-10% off. This can be done anywhere from tour operators, to hotels, to restaurants to pharmacies.
If you go to a local market, local currency goes much further than the dollar. You stand out less and feel more comfortable.
DON’T CARRY TOO MUCH CASH ON YOU EVER, AND ALWAYS KEEP IT ON YOUR PERSON!