2017 IFBC Travel (and Survival) Guide: Exchanging Money

Survival Guide

Jason Lake

Thursday, July 27, 2017 7:55 PM GMT

You can bring U.S. dollars with you to the 2017 International Football Betting Conference next week, but once you land in Costa Rica, it’s time to grow some colones.

We’re almost there, folks. The first-ever International Football Betting Conference will be held this August 4-5 in Costa Rica; this is a ground-breaking event in our industry, with leading figures like Marc Lawrence, Teddy Covers and our own Drew Martin on hand to give seminars and answer your questions. More activities have been added to the calendar, including a special poker tournament that’s free to enter. Time’s running short, so sign up now.

Thus far, we’ve given you some important travel tips for the IFBC, a few Costa Rican Spanish phrases you might want to learn, and an extensively researched preview of the beers they’ve got on tap. Now it’s time to look at something even more important – yes, even more important than beer. It’s money. You’ll have to bring some with you, and you need to know what to do with it when you get here.

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Yo Tengo Dinero

Most places in Costa Rica accept U.S. currency. You can go to the store and buy yourself some cervezas with a $20, but the change you get back won’t be American – it will be Costa Rican. The national currency is called the colon (or colón, to be precise), named after Cristobal Colon, aka Christopher Columbus. The plural of colon is colones; it rhymes with cojones, so don’t mix up the two if you want to avoid trouble.

Although these establishments are happy to take your Jacksons and any other dead presidents you’ve got, you should consider getting your dollars exchanged for colones when you arrive. The stores aren’t necessarily going to give you the best rate of exchange on your purchase; they’re likely to round down when they calculate your change. And if you’re coming in from another country besides the U.S., you’ll definitely need to grab those colones right away.

Any major bank will do the job for you. As we go to press, the exchange rate is 571.9 CRC (Costa Rica Colon) for every U.S. dollar. Like most countries, Costa Rica uses multi-colored banknotes, ranging from two colones to 50,000 colones. A new series of bills was created in 2012 with different colors and designs than the old bills, which are no longer legal tender, so if you’ve got some of those banknotes from a previous trip, leave them at home. They’re souvenirs now.

Once you’ve got a grip on your colones, make sure you spend them all up, or get whatever’s left turned back into your regular currency well before you leave Costa Rica. Otherwise, you’re probably going to get stuck in line waiting to get your greenbacks, and your exchange rate won’t be very good. Don’t expect to get them converted after you get back home, either, unless you’re willing to pay through the nose at an international exchange. Think of it like a smorgasbord when you get to the IFBC: Spend all the colones you want, but spend all you take.