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Cash and ATMs in Ecuador: Fees, limits, currency exchange, cards info for your travel

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cash and atms in ecuador - traveller sitting and enjoying galapagos atm fee saver

Ecuador, a small country straddling the equator in South America, is a mosaic of diverse landscapes, rich cultures, and abundant wildlife. From the majestic peaks of the Andes to the lush Amazon rainforest, and from the historic streets of Quito to the unique biodiversity of the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador offers a world of adventure. To navigate this varied terrain with ease, familiarizing yourself with the local currency and cash, ATMs in Ecuador and payment methods is key. This guide will provide you with the essential financial information needed to explore Ecuador’s wonders with confidence, ensuring an unforgettable journey through this vibrant and enchanting country.

Cash or card?

Cash tends to be a traveler’s trusty companion in smaller towns. If you’re stepping out of the city, keep cash handy for 70-80% of your transactions.

Cash in Ecuador for:

Visa on Arrival (if applicable, often in local currency or USD)
Many hostels and budget hotels
Street food vendors
Local markets and bazaars
Entry fees for some national parks, museums, and historical sites
Local trains (in some areas, ticket machines might not accept cards)
Food from local restaurants, especially in less touristy areas
Many tour operators, especially local or small-scale ones
Tuk-tuks and local taxis
Street shopping
Tips and gratuities in many places
Small purchases
Public buses

Card for:

Tailoring services in major cities
Professional pre-paid taxi booking services (such as in larger cities)
Spas in major tourist areas
Fancy sit-down restaurants in major tourist areas
Good looking coffee shops in major tourist areas
Online bookings for hotels, flights, and tours
Entry fees for major tourist attractions and theme parks in major tourist areas
Shopping in malls and branded stores in major cities
Expensive tour operators
Upmarket hotels
Car rentals

So where to get cash?

There are 3 main ways to get the cash in Ecuador. They are:

ATMs, or
Currency exchange
Money Transfer & local pick-up

Where are the ATMs in Ecuador?

Ecuador has more than 1,200 ATMs available, mostly in cities and towns. If you’re traveling to smaller towns, finding an ATM might be challenging. They’re typically found at major transportation hubs and shopping centers, main high streets, bank branches.

Popular banks with ATMs

The most popular ATMs in Ecuador are:

Banco Del Pacifico
Banco Pichincha
Produbanco
Banco Guayaquil
Banco Internacional

There are other banks with ATMs that also accept international debit and credit cards.

Global ATM alliance: Global ATM Alliance is a partnership among many banks in the world to allow its customers to withdraw cash from all partner banks abroad without any ATM fee. Many banks in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America are part of the Global ATM Alliance, including Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and others. BUT, there is no local bank in Ecuador part of this network. So don’t rely on this.

Where to find currency exchanges?

For exchanging cash in Ecuador, consider:

Authorised currency exchange centres: Located in tourist areas, Casa de Cambios are common in Ecuador. Find them on main streets in Cotopaxi and some in Guayaquil, but not many in the Galapagos Islands. Look for their authorisation certificate and identification request.
Banks: Convert your currency to US Dollars at bank branches, especially for currencies like Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, and Singapore dollars. Expect a commission fee of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Both offer currency exchange services, but rates may not be favorable. Some larger hotels may have rates similar to banks.
Tips:

Avoid exchanging at airports for better rates.
Steer clear of the black market to avoid scams.
Bring new notes for better rates or lower fees.
For US dollars, larger bills generally yield higher rates.

Accepted currencies:
Ecuador mainly accepts its local currency US Dollar (USD or $). Note denominations are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.
US Dollar
USD is their official currency so yes it is accepted everywhere.
Euro: Not accepted
Pound: Not accepted

Know the ATMs in Ecuador

Foreign debit and credit cards usage:

Certainly, Ecuador’s ATMs are user-friendly towards foreign cards.

Types of cards at ATMs:

ATMs in Ecuador will mainly accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Amex cards. Don’t expect ATMs in Greece to usually accept JCB, UnionPay, Diners, Discover or RuPay cards.

Types of cards to swipe:

Swiping your Visa and Mastercard is broadly accepted across venues. Your Amex and other types of cards may have acceptance at a smaller scale of places.

Opening hours:

Accessibility to ATMs is hardly ever a problem, as they’re open continuously, day and night. Those housed within banking facilities might only be available during standard banking hours.

Workings and functionalities of the ATMs:

Ecuador’s ATMs match the sophistication of those you’d encounter in the western world or Asia, with a familiar look and operation. Some might secure your card during use, so don’t forget it after withdrawing your funds.

ATM names:

Words Cajero Automatico or ATM are used or look for BanRed sign

PIN type:

ATMs in Ecuador primarily accept 4-digit PINs. Longer PINs are generally not accepted.

Also, many merchants used old machines which require a magnetic stripe on the card and not just a chip-and-pin card.

Language options:

Ecuadorian ATMs offer Spanish and English as primary languages. If you need language help, Google Translate’s camera function is there, but take it slow as translations can sometimes be inaccurate.

Know the foreign exchanges in Ecuador

Foreign debit and credit cards usage:

Currency exchanges prefer hard cash for exchange. Visa is accepted at many places, mastercard next. Please be mindful of the fees you will pay if you use your card at a currency exchange.

Opening hours:

Currency exchanges typically conduct transactions in cash. Visa cards are widely accepted and Mastercard is usually next in line. Stay mindful of the fees for using your card.

Languages to interact in:

Staff at currency exchanges in Ecuador can usually interact in 2 languages– Spanish and English

Exchange names:

Currency exchange offices can also be called ‘Currency Exchange’ or ‘Cambios’.

ATM withdrawal limit and ATM Fees

Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically restrict the withdrawal per transaction from US$100 to US$500.

ATM fees: In Ecuador, the range of ATM fees goes from US$0.5 to US$6, except only one ATM offering fee-free withdrawals for some types of cards.

Ways to avoid high fees

Use fee-free ATMs in the country.
Use the ATM Fee Saver app to find fee-free or low-fee ATMs.
Opt for “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” during ATM transactions.
Consider getting fee-free cards from your home country.
For more in-depth insights and alternative methods, check out our detailed article, Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 best ways to save foreign ATM fees.
Avoid no-fee exchange offices at all costs to get cash in Ecuador – If they say no fee, which means they account for their fee in the exchange rate. Nothing is ever free in currency exchanges
Avoid using credit and debit cards for direct transactions

Ways to find fee-free ATMs in Ecuador

With the ATM Fee Saver app, locate fee-free ATMs, currency exchange points, and money transfer facilities in Ecuador. It displays fees for foreign card users at Ecuadorese ATMs and their withdrawal limits. Use the built-in calculator to determine your exact fees for withdrawals in Ecuador. The app also provides navigation to the selected ATM and includes details for 50 countries, Ecuador being one of them.

Cash in Ecuador and safety

Carrying cash

Carrying a large amount of cash in Ecuador is generally not safe. Carry only what you need for the day or a few hours. Tips for cash safety include:

Distribute your cash in different pockets or wallets.
Use a safety belt or fanny pack for some of your cash.
Avoid flaunting large sums of cash.
Be discreet when making payments.
Keep your wallet in your front pocket if possible.
Hold your belongings tightly in crowded areas.

Safety at ATMs & currency exchanges

In Ecuador, ATM safety varies based on location, time, and surrounding people. Muggings for cash are common, especially at night and in isolated or crowded areas. To stay safe, use ATMs in well-lit, populated areas during the day, and be vigilant of your surroundings. For more tips, refer to our articles on ATM safety while traveling abroad.

FAQs

Fee-free ATMs in Ecuador and possible to withdraw cash free of cost?

Only 1 bank offers fee-free withdrawals for certain types of foreign cards. Otherwise expect to pay ATM fees at ATMs in Ecuador.

Foreign cards from US, UK, India, China, Europe accepted?

Absolutely yes! You can usually use cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries at ATMs in Ecuador

Bitcoin ATMs

No, there are no Bitcoin ATMs in Ecuador.

Foreign banks’s presence in Ecuador

Bank of America: None at all
Citbank: No, there are no Citibank ATMs in Ecuador.
Barclays: None at all
HSBC: Not present
Standard Chartered: None at all

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