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Ecuador’s Currency – How To Handle Your Money

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

American CoinsEcuador’s Currency

Officially changing to the US Dollar in 2000, has made Ecuador even more attractive to travelers. Ecuador has produced its own coins but carry equal value, and acceptance as the US coins. Only American paper money is used. Coins come in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢ and $1. Paper money is in denominations of $1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. $50’s and $100’s are difficult to use, with many stores refusing these bills. ATM’s dispense 5’s, 10’s and 20’s.

Banking Machines in Ecuador

ATM’s are common and reliable. You’ll find them on every street, at the mall and in every bank. Ecuador banks operate on both the Cirrus and the PLUS banking systems. These are globally accepted systems – you can just check the back of your banking card to see if it will work on these systems.

What you might want to check with your bank about:

  1. What the withdraw fees are in EcuadorUS Dollar Bills
  2. Notify them that you will be using your account out of country. Sometimes the anti-fraud alerts on a bank account will freeze your funds, if it appears to have erroneous transactions. This is the last thing you want happening while traveling abroad.
  3. The other thing to remember: these systems sometimes can’t handle bank pin numbers longer than 4 digits. Before you leave, its a very good idea to change it to a 4 digit PIN.

Ecuador’s Main Banks are:

  • Banco del Pichincha
  • Banco de Guayaquil
  • Banco del Pacífico

Credit cards are a safe means of accessing funds, but are not widely accepted and you might find an additional charge added to your bill. Travelers’ checks are favored by some, but can be clumsy and hard to cash. The one thing to remember is to keep record of the serial numbers so you can make your claim, should they be lost or stolen.

Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

9 comments… add one
  • Pat Gohil Aug 31, 2015, 11:22 am

    I am a Certified English Grammar Trainer and retired. Planning to move to Quito in October. What are the prospects of my working as a Trainer or Teacher. Will appreciate your help.

  • chris Dec 18, 2013, 6:35 am

    How much cash is safe to carry on your person when traveling to Ecuador?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 18, 2013, 7:14 am

      It depends. You could get robbed (or just lose your wallet) with just $5 in your pocket.

      Just like anywhere in the world, you could get robbed. But also just like everywhere else in the world, the thieves don’t know how much you have on you. A rule of thumb for travelers everywhere is not to carry more than you are comfortable to lose.

      • Chris Dec 18, 2013, 7:43 am

        I’m not worried about getting robbed. I’m concerned about airport officials. I can put money in the bank when I get to Ecuador. For example if I carry $1,000.00 Cash on me while traveling will the airport officials check my wallet and potentially take my cash assuming it is drug money? Thanks

        • Bryan Haines Dec 19, 2013, 6:48 am

          At all of the airports it says that you must declare if you have more than USD$10,000 per person – in cash or cash instruments. I don’t know what sets off alarm bells but you should make sure that you declare anything above that limit. I think the only time they might confiscate belongings is if you should have declared it and didn’t. Some friends lost a cell phone last week as they entered Ecuador because they were over the limit and didn’t declare it.

  • Kenneth Bitout Jun 5, 2013, 5:40 pm

    My daughter will be in Quito next week. Can you suggest one or two banks that will cash American Express traveler’s checks?

    • Bryan Haines Jun 8, 2013, 1:20 pm

      I haven’t heard of expats / travelers using travelers checks. Your daughter can just use her debit card at most of the major bank machines. Just be sure to use a 4 digit pin.

  • jim roberts Jul 29, 2012, 11:16 am

    how safe are the banks , can gringos have certifics of deposit, wahat interest will it pay say on 20,000.00

  • SING Jan 19, 2012, 11:46 am

    thank you for this information. i am hoping to move to equador later this year and i appreciate all the information that i can get.

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