If you live permanently or part time in Costa Rica, it's good to have a bank account here. It really comes in handy since you can pay bills like water, cable, phone and electricity online through the bank instead of standing in line. I personally pay all my bills online through my bank. You can also transfer money online to another person to any bank in Costa Rica using the SINPE system.
In order to open a bank account in Costa Rica, you will need to take your passport and a copy of the photo page along with the pages showing your status in Costa Rica. You will also need statements from banks in your home country and some banks also ask for the previous year's tax statement and references from at least two current customers.
The banks will also ask for proof of your current residence in Costa Rica. You can prove this by showing them a copy of your water, phone or light bill (can be in another person's name). Additionally, some banks may ask for reference letters from current customers.
In the last year or so, many banks like Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), will not allow persons to open accounts if they are not a resident of Costa Rica.
Currently, Banco Nacional is allowing customers to open an account without requiring residency.
Remember to access your bank account at least once every couple of months in order for it to be active. Some banks here will close your account and will charge you a fee to reactivate it.