Next available trip: Summer 2015  
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Banking and Finances
The official Costa Rican currency is the colon, named after Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish), who disembarked in Puerto Limon, on the Caribbean Coast. The local currency is stable, but has devalued versus the U.S. dollar at an average rate 11% over the last ten years. Inflation fluctuates between nine and 12% over the past five years.

While the colon is the official currency, the economy is virtually “dollarized.” The dollar is accepted widely, and many commercial, real estate and employment transactions are made in American currency. Euros are growing in popularity, especially in tourism-related companies, and it is a matter of time before they become widely accepted throughout the country.

The banking system includes both private and state-owned banks. State-owned Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional are the two largest banks. There are bank branches or ATMs on nearly every corner in the cities, and at least one bank in every town. If you wish to use the local banking system, banks are available around the country, and normal banking hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Major local holidays are observed.

ATM machines are available around the country and are safe to use. Please check with your bank regarding any service charges and penalties that may be imposed if you use the ATM network in Costa Rica.

There is no need to convert U.S. dollars to Costa Rican colones. All vendors gladly accept U.S. dollars, traveler’s checks and major credit cards. If you plan to use traveler’s checks, be prepared to show a photo ID, and expect a lower exchange rate. Most hotels offer currency exchange services, typically at very reasonable rates. For the current exchange rate, you can visit Additionally, we recommend that you bring U.S. dollars in small denominations.
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The sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is a felony in Costa Rica and is punishable with jail time