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Costa Rica Currency

5000 and 10000 Bills
5000 and 10000 Bills

The monetary unit of Costa Rica is the Colon. It was named after Christopher Columbus, known as Cristóbal Colón in Spanish and was introduced as the official currency in 1896, replacing the money used in Costa Rica before: the peso. The correct plural pronunciation is colones, but english-speakers often refer to them as colons instead. In Costa Rica, monetary units are very close to the country’s history and cultural facts, for example, the bills have each the picture of an important character throughout Costa Rica’s history: 1000 colones bill honors Tomas Soley, an important politician once minister of commerce in Costa Rica, the 5000 colones bill commemorates Costa Rica’s ecological resources by an impressive picture of a Tucan in its natural environment and the 10 000 colones bill portraits Emma Gamboa an important teacher of Costa Rica. Coins are also beautiful displays of culture.

2000 Bill on Both Sides
2000 Bill on Both Sides

Nowadays, the Costa Rica colon coins in circulation are 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 colones; before the government issued these new coins, there were centimos (less than a colon) in coins of 0.5, 0.25, 0.50, 1 and 2 colones, yet they had to be removed due to devaluation exchange rate in Costa Rica. Money is quite an art regarding bills, we have 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 colones bills.

Since Costa Rica has such a colorful side of the Spanish language, some of the currencies of this country have slang nicknames every Tico uses to refer to them:


    • Tejas is 100-colones
    • Cinco tejas for 500 colónes
    • Un Rojo is 1,000 colones
    • Un Tucan is 5,000 colones

The Costa Rica currency exchange rate has an unusual relation to the US dollar called “decaying peg”, this means that it is not defined by the dollar’s constant value but grows weaker at an approximate 3.3 colones more than the current exchange rate per month. In Costa Rica, exchanges rates change daily as explained before the cost of living is extremely affected by this situation.

Costa Rican Coins
Costa Rican Coins

The best choice you can take for Costa Rica money exchange is to go to a bank or to a Casa de Cambio, these options will give you the official Costa Rica currency exchange rate available, while in business and stores you might not get such a fair deal. The money used in Costa Rica can be either dollars in many commercial establishments like supermarkets, restaurants and stores and colones all over the country. Please make sure you are aware of the current exchange rate if you decide to use dollars in your transactions while in Costa Rica, that way you can avoid getting a fake rate and lose your money. Although Costa Rica’s economy is pretty much fine, the low and middle classes are extremely affected. The cost of things is Costa Rica might be similar to the cost of things in the United States but the Ticos do make less money monthly than a North American would, yet they like fine things and don’t mind spending a little extra for quality or good service.

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