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ATM withdrawal limits in Costa Rica got you down?

November 13, 2015

New limits on withdrawals imposed at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) ATMs in October left some non-BCR cardholders frustrated when they tried to take out cash. The bank implemented a daily withdrawal limit of ₡110,000 or its equivalent in U.S. dollars (roughly $200) for non-BCR cardholders at its 595 ATMs across Costa Rica. The change has made it hard for some to pay rent, payroll or a rafting trip for the family.

BCR Assistant General Manager Zacarías Esquivel told The Tico Times in an email that the change was a “business decision” and that larger amounts can be taken out inside the bank without an additional service charge. But walking into a bank branch to withdraw money isn’t always an option. In some parts of the country, ATMs are the only way to get cash.

Plus, unlike banks, ATMs are usually open 24/7. And cash machines are easy to navigate for non-Spanish speaking visitors.

The Tico Times asked our readers on Facebook how BCR’s new limits are affecting them. We also asked some of the biggest banks here what their daily limits are.

Readers said they rely on ATMs here for a mix of convenience, business and bill pay.

Deborah Contreras in Guanacaste said the BCR limit has made it hard for her to get cash for her business’ payroll. Caroline McLatchie said she and her husband couldn’t access their Social Security check because of the ATM withdrawal limit.

BCR’s daily withdrawal limit is far below that of other big banks here. Banco Nacional, another state-owned bank with 468 ATMs across Costa Rica, has a daily limit of ₡700,000 ($1,300). That limit is the same for BN cardholders and non-BN cardholders, according to the bank.

Scotiabank allows users to take out ₡500,000 (roughly $940) per day at its 157 ATMs. Users can take out that daily max in two transactions, at ₡250,000 each.

Some Tico Times readers said they don’t have the luxury of choosing another bank if they need cash in a pinch. Lisa Airaudi said she and her family have to drive an hour-and-a-half down a mountain road to reach the nearest ATM — a drive that becomes impossible in the rain — so frequent trips to the bank aren’t a good option. Mer Glesby noted that Nosara has just two banking options, Banco Popular and BCR, “and one is usually broken or has no money.”

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