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Costa Rican Currency

What is Costa Rica's currency? Costa Rica trades in the colón. Christopher Columbus is Cristóbal Colón in Spanish and the currency was named after him. The official symbol is ₡ and comes after the sum. However, in Costa Rica, colones are often marked on price tags and receipts as ¢ (like the U.S. cent symbol), which can be a bit confusing to visitors.

Paper notes come in 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000 colones and the newest issues are remarkably beautiful in design. Coins, which are fairly clunky for their worth, begin at 5₡ and go up as 10, 25, 50, 100, 500.

Know the exchange rate. It's always helpful to have a calculator or converter when traveling. But the exchange rate with Costa Rica is pretty simple*. The exchange rate generally remains about 1 U.S. dollar (USD) = 500 colones (CRC). EX: $40 would be around 20,000₡ (which would be written 20,000¢ by the locals).

*If you are going USD-CRC, just divide the amount in ½ and add 000. If you are going CRC-USD, simply take off 000 and time it by 2.

Certainly use a calculator if you need one. The Ticos are generally very honest and helpful but it's common sense that travelers should take responsibility for their financial transactions.

1000 Colones banknote

Should you convert all your dollars to colones? Many establishments in Costa Rica do accept U.S.dollars, but the policy is unofficial and cannot be guaranteed. If you do pay in dollars, you will almost always get change in colones. And the exchange rate could be higher than a bank. Colones are easily to get any bank.

Credit cards are accepted at most major establishments, but not necessarily at small shops and . Always be sure to ask first. Another consideration is that exchange rates and associated fees (managed by the bank) may make credit card purchases cost more than cash. It is advised to have both on hand.

The history of the colón. "Peso" means weight in Spanish, which is why it became the name of currency in much of Latin America. The Costa Rican peso was replaced by the colón in 1896 and the county did not begin issuing paper notes until 1950.


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