Money Matters

Money Matters

Money Matters

On this page: Changing Money | Travelers Checks |
| Cash | ATM Machines | Credit Cards | Money Transfers |

On September 13, 2000, Ecuador completed its dollarization process; the sucre was eliminated, and the country’s currency was legally changed to the US dollar.

Changing Money & Checks

As a result of dollarization, we recommend more than ever that you carry both US bills and an ATM card while in Ecuador. Other foreign currencies are difficult to change outside of Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil.

Bring your ATM card (or multiple cards in case one doesn’t work), and confirm with your bank that your card will work while in Ecuador. Cash advances with credit cards are available in some banks.

In Quito, the stretch of Avenida Amazonas between Patria and Veintimilla will cover most of your financial needs. There is a wide range of banks, ATMs, casas de cambio (money changing houses), and money transfer facilities. In Guayaquil you will find a similar area dedicated to financial services on the first few blocks of Avenida 9 de Octubre near the waterfront.

Most banks are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm, and in Quito and Guayaquil a few stay open until 8pm (in Quito Banco del Pinchincha on Amazonas stays open until 8). Likewise, casas de cambio are open Monday through Friday from 9 to 6. A few banks and casas de cambio are also open on Saturday mornings.


You should carry some cash on hand, especially in out-of-the-way places such as the Oriente or remote Andean or coastal villages. Carry mostly USD 1, USD 5, USD 10 and USD 20 bills, as larger bills are not usually accepted anywhere, sometimes even in banks.

ATM Machines

ATM machines can be found at most major banks and, in larger cities, in luxury hotels, malls, airports, and along busy avenues and streets. For those travelers coming from Europe, Australia, or the United States, the system might not be as hassle-free as that to which you are accustomed: machines tend to be offline more frequently than those in other parts of the world, charges on withdrawals from foreign banks can be rather expensive, many machines won’t accept PIN numbers with more than four digits, and most rural areas and smaller towns still lack ATM services altogether. However, slight inconveniences aside, most travelers using an ATM card with a major logo on it (i.e. Plus, Mastercard, Visa, Cirrus, etc) should be able to withdrawal money from bank accounts in their home countries from ATM machines in Ecuador with relative ease provided that they plan ahead. For a list of ATM locations in Ecuador, please refer to the ATM locator pages of Visa and Mastercard.

Credit Cards

VISA, Mastercard, American Express, and Diner’s Club are the most widely recognized cards in Ecuador (Diner’s Club is the most widely accepted card). Plastic is useful for purchases in hotels, shops, restaurants, and for cash advances from Automated Teller Machines or banks. Also, the emergency services offered by your credit card may be a saving grace if you fall ill or encounter some other serious problem. American Express has excellent emergency services for cardholders on the road, especially if you purchase your plane ticket with your card. Check with the card services division of the company handling your account to see the type of coverage they offer in emergency situations. You may also want to raise the limit on your cards before getting on the plane, so you have extra funds in the event of an emergency.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks used to be a good way to keep track of your funds while away from home. But aware that checks can be difficult to change even in big cities. In small towns, popular tourist destinations excepted, traveler’s checks will be met with blank looks. Bring your ATM card.

Money Transfers

Most of Ecuador’s urban areas and larger towns have international money transfer offices where you can pick up money sent from abroad. Your credit card company may also be able to make an emergency advance against your account to one of these money transfer offices. Western Union offices are found throughout Ecuador.

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