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Secrets of Costa Rica


What is the currency in Costa Rica?

Although dollars are widely accepted in Costa Rica as well as credit cards of all kinds, these are some things you may know about Costa Rica currency:



History of Costa Rica’s currency

  • Pre-Columbian Era: transactions were made through the exchange of food (salt, cocoa, corn, bananas, cassava, beans, etc.) or other goods (tools, ceramics, cotton, blankets and gold).


  • 1492: Christopher Columbus arrived in mainland Costa Rica for the first time. Costa Rica’s currency, the Colon, was named after Cristopher Colombus. With the arrival of the Spanish people the Spanish monetary system was established. The coins were made of gold and silver.


  • 1821: Independence of Costa Rica. The Spanish monetary system was still being used at this time.

  • 1858: the first bank of Costa Rica opened its doors, the Costa Rican National Bank; where the first bills of 1, 2, 10 and 20 pesos were issued.

  • 1896: Currency Reformation. The Colon, divided into 100 parts called centavos, was established as the official currency of Costa Rica; same as the one we’re used nowadays.


  • Since 1950: The Central Bank is responsible for carrying out the issuance of coins and for dictating monetary policies.

  • Nowadays: When traveling to Costa Rica you’ll notice that the bills are colorful and their images represent six of the Costa Rican ecosystems. They’re a unique sample of the natural wealth and biodiversity that have become part of the Costa Rican identity:


Look at some of our Costa Rica Vacation Packages: Costa Rica Trip to Corcovado  and  a Costa Rica One Week Vacation Package for some ideas of the kind of best places in Costa Rica.



Colon is the currency of Costa Rica, named after Christopher Columbus. The currency code of Colones is CRC. The Colones sign is ₡.


The bills that are currently authorized by the Central Bank of Costa Rica are:

₡ 1.000

₡ 2.000

₡ 5.000


₡ 20.000

₡ 50.000



The coins that are currently authorized by the Central Bank of Costa Rica are:










The most used type of exchange from Colones to a foreign currency is that to USD (US Dollar $).



$ 1 = between ₡ 500 and ₡ 550.

₡ 1,000 Bill - Dry Forest

The tropical dry forest covers the lowlands, 0-700 meters above sea level and is located in the areas near the Pacific Ocean. It is home to Congo Monkeys, Spider Monkeys and White-faced Monkeys, deer, peccaries, raccoons, semi spiny mice, agoutis, pumas, armadillos, magpies, parrots, parakeets and a variety of insects.

Rio Perdido Costa Rica Hot Springs.jpg
₡ 2,000 Bill - Coral Reef

Costa Rica has living and fossil coral reefs of different ages at various points of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. These ecosystems are in coastal areas, with clear and shallow water (less than 45 meters below sea level). They can be found near the beach and about 2 or 3 kilometers from the coast.


₡ 5,000 Bill - Mangrove

Mangroves are found mainly in the mouths of rivers and are used for spawning, alimentation and development of many marine animals, as well as providing shelter and food for many birds, mammals and insects.


₡ 10,000 Bill - Tropical Rainforest

It’s one of the most diverse and exuberant ecosystem of the world and it’s located around 700 meters above sea level. In Costa Rica Tropical Rainforests are protected as national parks or biological reserves. This forest has a diversity of plants and animals per unit, higher than any other type of forest area.


₡ 20,000 Bill - Moors

It’s an ecosystem with mountain herbaceous vegetation, without big trees and generally above 2,800 meters above sea level. Different species of insects, rabbits, coyotes, birds, pumas and ocelots inhabit at the moors.


₡ 50,000 Bill - Tropical Cloud Forest

They are located at high parts of the mountains of the south of Costa Rica at altitudes of 500-3500 meters above sea level. They are characterized by the persistent presence of clouds or fog. Cloud forests are home to various birds, monkeys, gray foxes, sloths, anteaters, jaguars, cougars and armadillos.


In most Costa Rica shops you will find that the US dollar is accepted. It’s important to mention that not all places accept bills higher than $ 50, so we recommend bringing     $ 1, $ 5, $ 10 and $ 20 bills. You may use cash or credit to pay for products and services in Costa Rica.



If you have more questions about Costa Rica’s currency, forms of payment or any other inquiry about your custom vacation to Costa Rica, contact us!

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