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Costa Rica Currency

Costa Rica Currency
5000 and 10000 Bills
5000 and 10000 Bills

The currency of Costa Rica is the Colon. The correct plural pronunciation is colones. In Costa Rica, paper bills are not only very colorful but represent the country’s history, wildlife and flowers. For example, the bills each have the picture of an important person throughout Costa Rica’s history and pictures of plants and wildlife. The 5000 colones bill commemorates Costa Rica’s ecological resources with a design that includes a white-faced monkey, a crab and lilies. The other interesting thing about the paper bills is that as the value increases, so does the size of the bill.

2000 Bill on Both Sides
2000 Bill on Both Sides

Currently, the Costa Rica colon coins in circulation are 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 colones. The most common paper money is available in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 colones bills, however there are also 20,000 and 50,000. 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

Costa Rican Coins
Costa Rican Coins

For many years, the exchange rate stayed close to 500 colones per 1 US dollar. This made quick conversions fairly easy by either dividing the dollar amount in half and adding 3 zeroes to the result to convert it to colones ($20 = 10,000 colones) or for colones amounts of 1,000 or higher, you could change the comma to a decimal and multiply by 2 (1,000 colones – 1.000 x 2 = $2.00). The current exchange is around 550 colones per 1 US dollar. The best choice for exchanging dollars to colones or colones to dollars is at a bank. The second choice is at a Casa de Cambio (house of exchange). For the most part, US dollars are accepted all over Costa Rica with the exception of $50 and $100 dollar bills which are usually accepted at only at banks. Generally, in large commercial establishments such as supermarkets, restaurants and hotels, using dollars is not a problem. At smaller establishments such as souvenir shops, the rate used may be much lower than the standard exchange rate. In these situations, it is better to use either colones or a credit card where the conversion is done by the bank.

Use the exchange rate converter