The Costa Rica banks I've dealt with (mainly in Escazu, Santa Ana and San Jose) most had you standing in line to do banking things (I find that banking [heck - MOST] things take SOOO MUCH longer in Costa Rica. We're talking on some key days (see "Horrible Days to do Banking" below) - or some areas with less banking options and lots of people - like at the beach in Peak Season - you might be in line for 30-60+ minutes - STANDING!!!
SOMETIMES (in a more organized bank) you will take a number (which I LOVE as you can leave and come back later - but note that if you missed your number being called, you WILL HAVE to start over again!!!).
And I have never seen an "express" type line or heard them announce anything like "Deposits Only" or some fast thing - no matter how long the line is.
Business Lines - SOME banks do that - but OFTEN those people (sometimes they're a motorcyclist/transportation person) spill out onto the regular lines - holding them up!!
I've hardly ever seen more than 2 lines open at a time - even on busy days with long lines!!!
THINGS TEND TO TAKE LOTS LONGER AT BANKS IN COSTA RICA!!
almost always find that what would take 3 minutes in the U.S. can take
10++ minutes in Costa Rica!! We're talking simple things like just
making a deposit!!! And as mentioned above/below, lines can take AWHILE!!!!
You have 3 options:
TELLER - You CAN do this at the bank BUT - SOME banks are starting to charge you to do this (Banco Nacional specifically who's charging 350-c per bill). I do NOT like doing this here as it holds everyone up.
ATM MACHINE - You can also pay your bills at the ATM machine (no fee).
ONLINE - If you have Online Banking set up - this is one of the EASIEST ways & a COOL OPTION as this is one POSITIVE thing that Costa Rica has mastered that we don't have in the States - you can go online and give ANYONE's account/phone number and it gives you the amount due and ANYONE can pay it!!!
This window is not just for questions, it's where you'd go to get a print out of your statements for up to 6 months, get a new card or pick it up, do anything having to do with a Safety Deposit Box (I pay $40/year for mine at Banco Nacional in Downtown Escazu where in Santa Ana it's just $30!).
WHAT'S MY BALANCE??:
Tellers can NOT give you your account balance!!! The EASIEST way - just jump into the atm!! Otherwise - get a number and wait for assistance in the area to the side of the Information window (usually NOT the number you'd take at the Information Window).
HORRIBLE DAYS TO DO BANKING:
The WORST DAYS to do banking
#1 - Pay Day (which tend to mostly be the 30th or 1st and 15th-ish) and the day after.
#2 - The day before a holiday (be prepared because unlike in the U.S. when banks are not allowed to be closed for more than 3 days in a row - in Costa Rica - if a major holiday falls on a Thursday - not only there's a good chance the bank will not only be closed on Thursday and Friday - but if it's Christmas or Samana Santa•Easter - they may close early on Wednesday!!!
#3 - 1-2 days before is more bosses/administration going to get the cash (since some people tend to get paid cash).
#4 - The first business day after a holiday when there was a Payday.
MY experience, plus what I've had some bank people share - late morning or mid-afternoon - before they close and a
RESULT: You can literally be waiting in a LONG line for an hour+!!!
I've done some of the banks where you take a number (Tamarindo) and I LIKE those because they were LONG waits - so you could go out and do other things and come back (and hopefully not miss your turn which has happened to me!).
Imagine how hard it is for Tico's to open a bank account in the U.S. without citizenship/residency. I think a LOT of the things they're making harder for us here, are things that's been SOOOOO hard for them to do for awhile!!
SECURITY IN BANKS:
Most banks I've seen in Costa Rica, there was a Scanner with a guard checking your things. Entering - they usually demand one person at a time. Exiting - you can usually have 2-3 people in it.
They also insist you remove your sunglasses and hats and absolutely NO CELL PHONES!!!
They were starting to get the security measures
when I was in San Diego AWHILE ago and I remember even back in my San
Francisco days (15+ years ago) we had to remove sunglasses and hats when
we got up to the teller.
SENIORS AND LINES:
One REALLY COOL thing in Costa Rica is the respect they give seniors (65+) so there's a special line for seniors, pregnant women (I'm not sure how many months constitutes it), women with babies/little kids (I'm not sure how many years old max on the kids yet - I'll check into it) and people with mobility issues.
SAFETY DEPOSIT BOXES:
The price on these varies - I've found the more popular the destination, the more expensive. I pay $40 for a box at the Escazu Centro Banco Nacional. The Santa Ana BNCR was only $30.
This is due January 1 and I find they do NOT usually notify you it's due, and I've forgotten numerous times and didn't pay it till March and April with no problemo.
A BIG PLUS with banking in Costa Rica - it's FREE!!!!!!!!!!! NO minimum balance!!!!!