QCOSTARICA – Almost three fourths (72%) of the credit cards circulating in the country have interest rates from between 40% and 50%, while the default interest varies from 24% to 65%.

The results are from a stud by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade (Ministerio de Economía Industria y Comercio – MEIC), through the Directorate of Economic and Market Research.

To illustrate the point the following example is used: a Costa Rican wants to buy a TV which costs ¢200.000 colones (US$375) and an annual rate of 48% (the monthly rate is 4%) for a period of 60 months. In this case the consumer would pay a total of ¢530.000 (US$990).


Thus, consumers would be paying 2.6 times the price of the item.

According to the study, up to 31 January 2015, in the market circulating is a total of 1,919,951 plastic cards, a 2.5% increased compared to previous study (as at October 31, 2014).

The MEIC study reveals that credit card debt has increased 7.25% compared to the previous study, and delinquencies from one to 90 days is 7, 41% and greater than 90 days is 4.27%.

Debit Cards
In Costa Rica there are a total of 5,069,926 debit cards in circulation, representing a decrease of 211,489 from the previous study (as at October 31, 2014).

The study found that 127 debit cards do not charge for membership (34%), while the other 247 others (66%) charged amount of between ¢ 400 and US$10 annually.

In addition, eight financial institutions charge for use of their own ATMs after a number of free withdrawals, while six of these issuers allow free of charge debit cards between 4 and 12 transactions. If the card holder exceeds free withdrawals must pay an amount that varies between a range of US$0.15 to US$1.25 per transaction.

With respect to the use of ATMs of non-issuers, charges can range from US$0.50 – US$3 + 0.5%.

Source: MEIC

Editor’s Note: When it comes to foreign debit cards used on local (Costa Rica) ATMs, most banks and financial institutions will charge a fee that can range from ¢500 colones to ¢1.500 or more (ie Scotiabank), plus fees charged by the issuing bank.