Basics of banking in Costa Rica



The Colon, denoted as C, is the Costa Rican currency. The Colon is divided in 100 centimos. Notes in circulation are in denominations of C 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000 and coins in circulation are C 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100. The Central Bank of Costa Rica devalues the Colon on a yearly basis which amounts to a loss of at least 20% of its value every year.

There are a number of options available for you to exchange currency in Costa Rica such as banks, ATM's, exchange booths and money changers on the street, the last two often have better exchange rates. Exercise caution as there is a lot of counterfeit currency in circulation and don't forget to shop around and compare rates first.

Opening a Bank Account in Costa Rica

There are no standard requirements for opening a bank account in Costa Rica. However documents usually required to open a checking account include your passport, residency card, local letters of recommendation and letters of recommendations from banks in which you hold accounts in your home country. Other requirements include an Identification (DIMEX ID card), proof of income, utility bills and U.S. Tax Forms if you are a U.S. citizen.

Initial deposits for savings accounts in Colones, range from 3,000 Colones to 25,000 Colones and in case of US Dollar accounts range from US$10 to US$500. Checking accounts are more difficult to obtain by foreigners due to the legal requirement of residency status which is mandatory. Initial deposits for checking accounts in Colones could be anything from 50,000 Colones to several hundred thousand Colones while those in Dollars could be anything from US$ 200 to US$ 2,000. The most commonly used banks in Costa Rica include the Banco de Costa Rica, the Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, BAC San Jose, Citibank Costa Rica S.A. and HSBC Costa Rica.

Debit cards are usually issued for free, but in some cases there could be a charge up to 10 US dollars. Not all banks issue credit cards and if you are applying for a Costa Rican credit card the minimum requirements are proof of residency in Costa Rica and proof of income.

Normal banking hours are from 09:00 till 15:00. However, differences do exist between different cities banks, often depending on the time of the year. Banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Most banks have ATMs which are open 24 hours a day.

Money Transfers in Costa Rica

Most of the banks in Costa Rica offer internet banking facilities by way of which you can arrange money transfers from your computer. You could also consider the use of a money transfer agency, an alternative which takes up to 10 minutes and is reliable but commissions are as high as 7-10%.



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Banking Guide