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We are going to visit Costa Rica in the next month.

I wonder how widespread are credit card payments there.

Will I be able to pay with my credit card in a restaurant? In a hotel? In a bus or taxi? In a national park entrance?

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Even a few years ago, the hotels we stayed at used credit cards, including for settling restaurant bills and for buying larger souvenirs. These were places that catered mainly to foreigners, being either large or eco-lodge wildlife destinations. The more commercial restaurants were also able to take cards for a meal, as were some other shops.

Cash was definitely necessary back then for smaller and more interesting places, and I would doubt it's completely gone. Getting cash from ATMs took a bit of planning, so it was worth starting with some, and leaving the bigger towns with some.

We didn't use buses and our transfers were pre-paid, as it was mainly a self-drive holiday (petrol stations again took cards).

As I recall, we paid national park admissions in cash, but that doesn't mean they didn't take cards.

We took and used both Colones and US dollars, the latter partly because exchange from GBP is uncommon while USD are ubiquitous.

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    Good answer but I expect things might've changed significantly there with COVID. Tons of stores were forced to upgrade their tech due to widespread germophobia in 2020.
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 26, 2022 at 17:36
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    @JonathanReez I'm sure, and that's why I was upfront about my trip being pre-covid. The balance may have shifted, but a greater proportion of spending being possible on cards isn't likely to wipe out the need for cash given how small some of the amounts are in dollar terms (at least if you like to visit where the locals go) Apr 26, 2022 at 20:07
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    I've seen a tremendous transformation in front of my own eyes in Czech Republic where the country went from "carry cash everywhere" to "card only is fine everywhere" in 2017-2018. Hopefully Costa Rica is like this by now too :-)
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 26, 2022 at 20:22
  • @JonathanReez I lived in the CR from 2016 for a couple of years and I was definitely able to pay everywhere with card to the point that I didn't carry cash around with me at all (capital city though, might have been different outside of Prague). Anyway, point still stands that these transformations can be sometimes incredibly sudden. Apr 27, 2022 at 6:02

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