Expect little difficulty when it comes to exchanging money in Costa Rica. All banks will exchange US dollars and many will exchange British pounds or euros. To exchange any currencies requires a visit to a major bank branch (smaller banks may not provide the service), a passport and patience. Avoid Global Exchange – their rates are usually unfavorable. Another option is to withdraw cash directly from an ATM.
Travelers checks can be cashed at banks or exchange bureaus for a commission of 1% to 3%. Some hotels accept travelers checks for payment, but many do not.
Costa Rica’s national currency is known as the colón, but dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas and other places around the country. This means you don’t have to waste a lot of time converting your cash into Costa Rican colones before you can start shopping. It’s worth noting, however, that bills larger than $20 may not be taken by some businesses. Also, when paying for goods and services in dollars, you’ll more than likely get your change in colones.
If you’re carrying a lot of $50 and $100 bills or exchanging larger amounts (beyond what you might use in a store), you should go directly to the bank for the best rates.