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Easy Money!

June 6th, 2010

For many years, the largest currency denomination in Costa Rica was the 10,000 colon bank note (billete). At today’s exchange rate, that is a bit over $18.00.  Thus, carrying just the equivalent of $1,000 required you to carry FIFTY-FIVE  10,000 colon notes… quite  a wad.

That will soon change as the Costa Rica Central Bank, Banco Central de Costa Rica, does a complete do-over of the country’s national currency.

Changes to all bills (including the existing currency!) are drastic. Changes will include not only the standard anti-counterfeiting techniques standard on the Euro and the new US bank notes, but also two new denominations; the 20,000 and 50,000 colon bills. That is a Godsend!  Additionally,  the new bills will come in different widths… from 125 mm to 160 mm… truly important for the visually challenged.

If this topic interests you and you would like a peek at the new bills, read on!

First, the new bills are quite beautiful! All sport vivid new colors and designs, the requisite famous historical person, and now, some of the flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

Below are the new bills, front and back.  The front of the 2,000 colon note is under redesign and the one shown may have slight variations when actually produced.

All are 67mm high

Click any image to enlarge.

Front and back (below) of new 1,000 colon (un mil) note.
Width is 145 mm
Braulio Carrillo Colin


Front and back (below) of new 2,000 colon (dos mil) note.
Width is 132 mm
Mauro Fernández Acuña


Front and back (below) of new 5,000 colon (cinco mil) note.
Width is 139 mm
Alfredo González Flores


Front and back (below) of new 10,000 colon (diez mil) note.
Width is 145 mm
José Figueres Ferrer


Front and back (below) of new 20,000 colon (veinte mil) note.
Width is 153 mm
María Isabel Carvajal “Carmen Lyra”


Front and back (below) of new 50,000 colon (cincuenta mil) note.
Width is 160 mm
Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno

5 Responses to “Easy Money!”

  1. Ad Orientem on June 7, 2010 10:24 am

    Not to go off on an economics tangent, but this is of course a symptom of high inflation. With pretty much the entire world now using paper money (the gold standard died before WW II) inflation is a constant. Nations have always used the printing press when they needed more money or were too heavily in debt and were afraid to raise taxes. Debasing the currency (adding to the money supply) is essentially a convenient form of taxation that no one in elective office needs to go on record as voting for.

    Of course the downside is that inflation discourages savings and investment in anything that is not physical and likely to hold its value. Also inflation is something that can easily get out of hand. Recalling that money today is not backed by anything; it is in part a confidence game. Once confidence in the integrity of the currency starts to go you can go from high inflation to galloping inflation or worse in the blink of an eye. Extreme examples could include the hyperinflations seen in Argentina, Hungry, post World War I Germany, and fairly recently in Zimbabwe.

    When the government starts adding zeros to the currency that can be a giant flashing warning sign.

  2. Tim on June 8, 2010 5:58 am

    Actually, it is not.

    They are simply now offering two new bills because the older smaller bills simply did not meet the needs of daily use. There is no change connected here to the money supply.

  3. Kelly on August 22, 2010 9:54 am

    Out of curiosity when receiving money from an ATM what denominations does it dispense. Here in Canada the minimum is $20 and your withdrawal amount must be in multiples of $20.

  4. John gerace on September 4, 2010 5:46 am

    Will i need a wheel barrow in the future as well?

  5. TV Pura Vida on September 28, 2010 11:53 am

    Kelly, at some ATM’s such as BAC you can get denominations of 1000 colones ($2) but banco nacional is 5000 / 10bucks