Credit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica, but there are some exceptions. Knowing how and when to use your credit card will make your trip smoother and less stressful.
If you plan on using your credit card or debit card frequently, it is very important that prior to leaving you tell your bank that you will be in Costa Rica. Banks often automatically block transactions in foreign countries (a protective measure), so be sure that they allow transactions in Costa Rica since you will need to use your credit/debit card throughout your trip.
Also, be sure to check with your credit card company to see if there are additional fees for international transactions. Many credit cards do not charge an additional fee for purchases in foreign countries while others do add additional transaction fees - often, it's about 1-2% of the total transaction cost, so if possible try to use credit cards that don't have additional transaction fees.
Places that don't usually take credit cards include small restaurants (known as "sodas" in Costa Rica), small supermarkets (pulparías), street vendors and art galleries. There are some other small business that may not accept credit cards, but more and more, businesses are providing customers with the option to pay with a credit card. In larger cities, you'll have a better chance of finding restaurants, hotels, and shops that will accept credit cards.
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