Money, Money, Money….
These are some of my tips to avoid hassles and precious travel time:
- In Ecuador, the official currency is the U.S. dollar. Coins from both countries are identical in shape, size and value and are used interchangeably – however the Ecuadorian coins have Ecuadorian leaders on them.
- It is wise to take some cash – as much as you are comfortable carrying.
- Be advised that most businesses will not cash or accept $100 bills. Sometimes it’s even challenging to cash a $50 bill. We will figure this out as we move along if you prefer to travel with a smaller number of big bills (by cashing them at banks). It’s just easier to use smaller denominations.
- I would advise ordering $USD from your bank at least a week in advance. They might have it if you just drop in, but they might not.
- You will easily be able to use debit or credit cards, like Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro, to withdraw money from local bank ATMs (even in Mindo), but two notes of caution:
- Make sure that your PIN is only FOUR (4) digits, as this can present problems with many ATMs (in many countries). This is easy to change right at your bank ATM.
- Also be sure any card you plan to use has a ‘Cirrus’ or ‘PLUS’ symbol on it.
- Although ATMs are an easy way to get cash in Ecuador, be aware that the bank in your home country will likely charge a fee of $5 or more every time you use an ATM, even if you are just checking your balance.
- The daily cap to withdraw money at ATMs is generally $500 USD.
- Avoid travelers’ cheques – they are often difficult to exchange, even in major cities.
- VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Diner’s Club are the most widely recognized cards in Ecuador. Plastic is useful for purchases in hotels, shops, restaurants, and for cash advances from ATMs.
- Some banks still like you to let them know where you are traveling, to prevent your cards being frozen. You might want to check on this before you leave.
- You might also want to raise the limit on your cards (daily limit for bank card) before getting on the plane, so you have extra funds available as needed.