The Costa Rican colon or colon is the official currency of Costa Rica. Its ISO 4217 code is CRC and its symbol is ₡, which is always written before the amount, without spaces. Each colon is divided into 100 cents, although currently banknotes or coins in colon cents no longer circulate.
As of October 2023, the equivalence of the colón currency with respect to the euro is:
- 1 euro = 559.39 CRC.
- 1,000 colones = 1.79 euros.
History of the Costa Rican colon
Since Costa Rica’s independence from Spain in 1821, the official currency of Costa Rica was first the real and later became the Costa Rican peso. The colon was established in 1897 by the government of Rafael Yglesias Castro. The name chosen was that of the discoverer of the new continent, Christopher Columbus (in Spanish, Cristóbal Colón).
Due to the country’s political ups and downs, the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR), the only organization authorized to issue coins and banknotes, did not begin to operate until 1950.
Throughout the 20th century, the Costa Rican colon was subject to systematic devaluations, due to the high inflation rates that the country suffered, especially during the recession in the 1990s.
Since 2006, the Central Bank of Costa Rica has tried to stop the devaluation of the currency using a band exchange system designed to give the market more freedom to set the price in currency transactions.
Costa Rican colón coins
Currently in Costa Rica colón coins circulate with the following values. Its face value at exchange rate is really low in euros. The 500 colon coin would be equivalent to about 82 euro cents today.
The design of all Costa Rican coins is the same: the face value appears on the obverse, while the reverse is decorated with the national coat of arms and the date of minting.
The lower value coins are silver: the ₡5 and ₡10 are made of aluminum and the ₡20 is made of chrome steel. On the other hand, the highest value coins (₡25, ₡50, ₡100 and ₡500) are gold. Its material is a cuproaluminum alloy, also known as aluminum bronze.
The brass ₡1 coin is still legal tender, although it is very scarce and, due to its low value, is practically no longer used.
Costa Rican colón banknotes
The current series of Costa Rican colón banknotes began to be issued in 2009. Their values are:
- ₡1,000 (polymer)
- ₡2,000 (polymer)
- ₡5,000 (polymer)
- ₡10,000 (polymer)
- ₡20,000 (polymer)
₡50,000(The BCCR stopped issuing the ₡50,000 cotton note since 2018. Since January 2022 it is no longer in circulation).
The design of Costa Rican banknotes always follows the same pattern: a historical figure of the country on the front and a sample of its rich natural heritage on the reverse.
₡1,000 Costa Rican colones banknote
The new Costa Rican thousand colones note is the most modern of the series and introduces the plastic polymer substrate as a material, replacing the traditional cotton paper.
It began circulating in Costa Rica on October 15, 2021. Its size is 125 x 67 mm and its predominant color is red. The character that appears on the obverse is Braulio Carrillo Colina (1800-1844), head of state in two different periods during the 19th century (between 1835 and 1837, and between 1838 and 1842).
The reverse is dedicated to the Costa Rican dry forest and its most notable species. The current exchange value (October 26, 2023) of this note is about 1.64 euros.
₡2,000 Costa Rican colones banknote
Another distinguished figure in the country’s history, the Costa Rican lawyer, teacher and politician, Mauro Fernández Acuña (1843-1905), stars on the obverse of the two thousand colones banknote.
On the back, typical species of the coral reef of the Costa Rican coast. The note is blue and its value at the current exchange rate (October 26, 2023) is around 3.28 euros.
₡5,000 Costa Rican colones banknote
The five thousand colones yellow banknote presents on the obverse the effigy of Alfredo González Flores (1877-1962), president of Costa Rica between 1914 and 1917.
On the back appears the white-faced monkey and other typical species of the Costa Rican mangrove. The equivalent value of this note is approximately 8.20 euros as of October 26, 2023.
₡10,000 Costa Rican colones banknote
The ten thousand banknote, whose exchange value is approximately 15 euros, is green. The character that decorates its obverse is José Figueres Ferrer (1906-1990) who held the presidency of the country in three different periods throughout the 20th century.
On the back are images of a sloth, an orchid and other characteristic species of the tropical rainforest. The equivalent value of this note is approximately 16.40 euros as of October 26, 2023.
₡20,000 Costa Rican colones banknote
María Isabel Carvajal (1887-1949), better known as “Carmen Lyra”, Costa Rican writer, pedagogue and politician, appears on the obverse of this note.
The reverse is for the paramo ecosystem. The twenty thousand colones banknote is orange and its exchange value as of October 26, 2023 is around 32.80 euros.
Euro to Costa Rican colon exchange rate
The exchange rate of the euro against the Costa Rican colon has traditionally been very fluctuating. If you search on Google for “euro-Costa Rican colón exchange” you will find dozens of websites like Oanda (“currency converters”) that offer a “rate” of the day.
You will also see this chart with the rates of that currency pair from Morningstar. Something like this (October 26, 2023):
As you can see, the exchange rate in the last 5 years has ranged between the current 562.60 CRC and 751.52 CRC per euro. But it must be taken into account that this graph represents the value of the Costa Rican colón “currency” against the euro, and not that of the real banknote currency, which is lower.
In fact, in the currency suppliers in Portugal (called “Casas de cambio“) you can buy Costa Rican colones today, October 26, 2023, at an exchange rate of around 505.56 CRC for each euro from Cambiator or the 381.32 colones per euro that you will get at the airports (Unicâmbio). Nothing to do with the euro-Costa Rican colon currency exchange.
So, when you see these values on Google and other currency converters with your mobile, you should keep the following in mind:
-This is an unofficial rate, and therefore not reliable. That is, if you click on the “Disclaimer” link, you get this warning from Google Finance: “Google cannot guarantee the accuracy of the exchange rates displayed. Please confirm current rates before conducting a transaction that may be affected by changes in exchange rates.”
-These rates that you see are usually wholesale prices of the Costa Rican colón currency against the euro currency (currency and banknotes of the same currency are not the same thing).
-This particular rate can only be had between banks, that is, it is impossible to obtain it as an individual.
If you need colones in banknotes you will have to go through the retail banknotes market (bank or currency supplier). This means that Costa Rican colones have had to be “transported” by someone for you to enjoy them (or purchased from travelers from Costa Rica passing through Portugal previously).
Furthermore, moving CRC banknotes from one currency supplier to another has logistical costs that will increase their sales price (the exchange rate that the person selling it to you will apply). And maintaining a stock of this currency for tourists traveling to Costa Rica is subject to exchange rate risk.
Where to exchange Costa Rican colones
Buy colones in Costa Rica
If you decide to change your destination, you can do so at the Juan Santamaría International Airport located in Alajuela, province of Guanacaste or at the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia.
The Spanish company Global Exchange has offices there under the Globo Cambio brand, but the colones they will give you for your euros may not be interesting (you have been warned).
Buy colones in Portugal
The Costa Rican colon is not a very abundant currency in Portugal. As a result of its scarcity, its price is more expensive in Portugal than in Costa Rica. If you decide to buy colones in Portugal, it is good to anticipate the purchase and order them online to get a better rate.
Of the three most popular places to exchange Costa Rican colones in Portugal (banks, currency suppliers and suppliers at the airport), the least recommended place to buy is the airport. And any physical business that charges you a commission in addition to an “exchange margin” (difference between the price for which the currency was paid and the price for which it is sold to you).
For their part, none of the large Portuguese banks sell colones in Portugal. Which leaves you with the only solution: the currency suppliers outside the airport, which have reasonable prices.
At Cambiator we help you find the best rates of the day in reasonable currency suppliers.
Where to change Euros to Costa Rican colones today
To know the euro to Costa Rican colón exchange rate, and the best supplier to exchange your currency, the best thing you can do is use our currency comparator.
- Change euros to colones (EUR-CRC)
- Change colones to euros (CRC-EUR)