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Why Did We Open an Ecuador Bank Account?

Posted in: Living in Ecuador

So, why did we open an Ecuador bank account? Well, there are the obvious tax benefits, tax shelters and security of a Latin American country. Ecuador is the new Switzerland!

Okay, well, maybe not. But there are some good reasons to open a bank account here in Ecuador:


1) You’ll need a local account for many services. Cell phone and internet plans require a bank account. Some will accept a foreign card, but not all.

2) Its better to lose a bank card that can be easily replaced. If you are using a foreign debit/credit card and you lose it – you might go a few weeks (or more) without access to your funds. You will need to get your foreign bank to reissue and courier one to you. That’s a headache you don’t need. If you lose your Ecuadorian card, just go get another one. Okay, I’m sure its not that easy, but it will be faster than international replacement.

3) And if you do lose the card, your losses will be minimal. If you only keep a few hundred and up to a thousand dollars that all you can lose. That is, of course, if the finder/thief can manage to get any funds. If you lose your card to your foreign account, who knows what you could lose.

4) There are a number of online banking services that are really useful. For example, if you use a prepaid cell phone or prepaid modem, you can recharge them both online. Its faster and much more convenient than going to a tienda to recharge.

5) And finally, you’ll feel like a local. Just drop by the bank and make a withdraw. Or a deposit. Or pay a bill. Just like at home. After all, isn’t that what you want Ecuador to be?

Its true that the banks here haven’t been very stable. A number of years ago, many crashed and lots of people lost lots of money. But as a foreigner, you’re not going to keep all you money here, just enough for a month or two – so the risk is minimal at best.

And a basic account is free. So why wouldn’t you open a bank account here in Ecuador?

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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.

17 comments… add one
  • Mary Feb 22, 2017, 9:11 pm

    Hello Bryan and Family God bless you:

    We live in Canada for more then 10 years and would like to move there, we have a family with 5 children. What we need to be residents there? Which bank from Canada we can use there? Fees? How much we need a month for food and rent? We really appreciate your help. Thank you. We love your family videos..

  • Charley Dec 9, 2013, 3:38 pm

    I have always had direct deposit of my pension and social security in an American bank and access through ATMs. Other than the annoying little fees it works perfectly. And in the case when my card got damaged the bank couriered a replacement in 24 hours.

  • Roger laframboise Dec 9, 2013, 10:50 am

    I m moving to Ecuador by the end of 2014.must I maintain a bank account in the states for receiving my social security checks ? Can I have them sent directly to a bank in Cuenca?

    • Bryan Haines Dec 9, 2013, 1:47 pm

      You should check with social security about this. I don’t know why you would close all of your US bank accounts – they would be useful for a return trip.

  • Jade Oct 30, 2013, 12:50 pm

    This information is pretty useless – no offense Mr. Haines. Access to one’s money is more important that trusting information in the context of “I’ve heard…” or “You’ll feel more like a local”. I do not have any information that is much better and have done limited research, but can find no reason not leave my money in my american bank where I will have automatic deposit set up for my pension and social security. And having no access to your account if you lose your debit card is just plain irresponsible. I now have and always will, two working cards just for such an event.

    • Bryan Haines Oct 31, 2013, 6:02 am

      As you might have noticed, the post was called: “Why Did We Open an Ecuador Bank Account?” These are the reasons we opened our accounts.

      We use our account to pay a number of monthly bills – something that isn’t possible with just foreign accounts. Some services (like cell phones with monthly plans) are not available for expats with just foreign accounts.

      For expats interested in actually integrating into the local society, they are concerned about “feeling like a local”. Opening a bank account is just part of that process. Of course, there is another class of expats who arrive thinking that “everything is better, more stable, nicer back home” and they aren’t interested in doing things they way everyone else does. This is a serious impediment to happiness here – and to long term success.

  • Pat Croker Sep 4, 2013, 12:38 pm

    If you open an account at a bank in Equador, can you online transfer money from your bank in the US to your accnt in Equador?

    • Bryan Haines Sep 5, 2013, 11:36 am

      I haven’t had success with this. We’ve written checks and wired funds. I don’t know how to connect the accounts for online transfer.

  • Charley Mar 29, 2013, 8:41 am

    You are lucky you are Canadian, not an American citizen. A new law known as FATCA makes having a foreign account much more problematic for Americans.

  • Paulina Nov 18, 2012, 6:30 pm

    Can you expand or explain your comment about Ecuador being the new Switzerland? Why do you make that comparison? Just curious. Thanks.

  • nick Sep 8, 2012, 11:49 am

    thanks for all the info here.
    Do you have to be a resedent or have a cedula/work visa to open a bank account in Ecuador? or can you do it on a tourist visa?


    • Bryan Haines Sep 9, 2012, 9:15 pm

      We opened it on a temporary (non-resident visa) but I’ve heard that it could have changed – at least at some banks. But I expect you shouldn’t have any trouble. How could you purchase property, make investments, etc that are required in order to get residency without a bank account?

      • Max Jan 20, 2015, 11:19 pm

        Hi Bryan
        No, you can’t open an account here with temporary visa. I guess the rules have changed. If you are applying for a permanent residency using the Credit Deposit Visa you need to do the paperwork first and then the $25m is deposited in the Central Bank for 3 years. During this three years you get a pretty good interest rate. Check out the three types of permanent visas at These are: 1. Credit Deposit 2. Pension 3. Investor

  • Alexandra Malo Jun 15, 2011, 3:22 pm

    Hi Bryan,
    I just thought you would like to know that some banks (I use Guayaquil and Pacifico) have a lot of services you can do online: pay for utilities, transfer money between accounts, pay for school tuition, pay your credit cards, etc.
    So, it’s good to know you already have your ecuadorian bank account. Nopw you can really make it work for you.

    • Bryan Haines Jun 15, 2011, 7:52 pm

      Thanks Alexandra – thanks for the info. We have a Pichincha acct and we are going to open a Guayaquil account next week – business and personal. Trying to keep things separate. Transfers are very easy, I can recharge our cell phones online and the accounts are significantly more secure than the Canadian banking system.

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