San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Are Ticos getting hooked on credit cards?

The number of credit and debit card owners in Costa Rica increased by 20.9 percent in 2012, the Central Bank (BCCR) reported on Tuesday.

Currently, 7.1 million credit and debit cards circulate in the country of 4.7 million. Of these, 22.6 percent (1.6 million) are credit cards. This means that on average each Tico owns at least one card (1.6 cards per person).

The BCCR report indicates that credit cards were used mainly for shopping (95 percent of transactions), while debit cards were used primarily to withdraw cash from ATMs (51 percent).

In the past four years, the use of debit cards as a payment method also increased from 43 percent of transactions in 2009 to 49 percent in 2012, according to figures detailed by the BCCR’s Payments System Division.

The value of all purchases made with cards (credit and debit) is equivalent to 18.5 percent of the gross domestic product, a figure that is similar to that registered in countries with high use of electronic payment methods such as Sweden (21.9 percent) and Belgium (17.1 percent).

Contact L. Arias at

Comments are closed.