Currency and Card payments
Ecuador abolished its local currency after experiencing a severe banking crisis. The US dollar is now the official currency in Ecuador. Due to dollarisation, you might still get up to 50 cents of the original Sucre currency. It has the same rates as US dollars.
We suggest that you exchange your money in your home country as exchange rates in Ecuador are rather bad. You should have smaller notes (smaller than $20) as many places do not have enough change in hand. You can only pay with US dollars on the cruise in the Galapagos Islands. But bigger cruises may accept credit card payments (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express).
Credit and debit card payment
The trend of making payments with your credit and debit card is rather prevalent in Ecuador. In big cities and airports, there are many ATMs where you can safely withdraw your money. Credit cards are also accepted in many shops, hotels, and restaurants.
As you are shopping in Ecuador, do note that while some shops have credit card decals on their doors or glass windows, card payment is somehow not possible in these places. Hence, it is important to always ask first to be on the safe side.
Paying with a card or depending on technology always come with some risks. Your withdrawal may be rejected or in the worst-case scenario, your card gets ‘eaten’ by the ATM. So you should always have different payment methods and cash on hand to back you up.
When you are withdrawing cash, you should always be aware of your surroundings. Check if anyone is observing you or if the card slot has been manipulated. The ATMs located at banks and supermarkets are the safest place to withdraw cash. Before your trip, you should set an overseas withdrawal limit and take note of the card cancellation number. More information on overseas withdrawal fees can be obtained from your bank.
Please take note that the banks in Ecuador no longer take in traveller’s cheques.
3 Important Tips
1. Enquire with your bank on the most suitable banks in Ecuador for overseas withdrawal.
2. Please note that most shops do not accept $50 and $100 US dollar notes
3. You should never exchange money on big open streets.
Shopping highlights in Ecuador
Note: In smaller stores, the initial quoted price is usually higher. While shopping in Ecuador, customers can negotiate and haggle up to 10-20% below the given rate. However, prices in hotels and tourist districts are usually fixed.