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Cuenca Banking

I am considering moving to Cuenca but one concern is the banking system there. Is it safe? Are there special rules about opening an account for Expats? What about ATM and finally do they accept debit cards or is it a cash society? Thanks in advance.

I am interested in any info on this as well.

Welcome to Expat.com Jerry!

Hope that you'll soon be enlightened.

Harmonie

I've lived here three years and have had no need to open an Ecuadorian bank account. I have chosen instead to maintain my banking relationship in the US and pull cash from ATM's as required. I do have a savings account for the sole purpose of automatically debiting my utility bills instead of standing in different lines to pay them in person.

I believe the banking system here is safe enough. ATM's are plentiful, and, yes, cash is the preferred method of payment, although the major grocery store chain honors debit and credit cards.

Why worry about banking when, according to International Living, the entire world financial system will collapse this Thursday?  No, excuse me, International Living didn't say that, it was their friends, The Sovereign Society.  No connection at all.  There's probably a dozen lawyers separating them, just like they separate International Living from their friends selling real estate.  They only share the same publisher, or former publisher, or something.  It's hard to tell when International Living has so many different "friends" with so many different things to sell.  At any rate, if you act now, for a low, low price, you can get more information on the coming financial "shock wave" that is going to "topple the world's biggest monopoly" and even "mute our mighty military."

...so that sound I heard, WAS the sky falling? YIKES!!!

Pichincha Bank will open an account for you without a cedula. You will need a passport and the current month bill (whatever telephone or water). Doesn't have to your bill (Ecuadorian logic, go figure). So if you find one on the street it will work, or you can ask someone to give you their bill.

You can do a 1 year deposit at 6,5%, but money looses its value at 4% a year, so you will be making in reality 2,5

2.5?!?!?!?!?!?  Hell, that's double what you will find in the US

Banco Pichincha is a good option but lately it looks like getting an account there is getting difficult.
I think Banco Bolivariano is giving saving accounts for forigners too. You have the option of Cooperativas like Coopera or Jep, is very easy to get an account there and the rates are better than in the banks. But they don't have checking accounts.

Vinny

Vinny,
As I understand it, the cooperatives give very high intrest rates, don't they? Is it true that the max insured from them is 25K? I have a friend that put some money into a cd in one of them, and they actually  pay the intrest out at the time of deposit? ( of course, you can not withdraw until the cd matures )
This is the route I think I want to go in June. I just want an account I can have my utility bills automatically paid from.
When I get there, I'd like a chance to hook up.
Take Care
Neil

Hi Neil,

Yes, cooperativas has a higher interest for CD accounts than the banks with a big difference. But also depends on the amount of money and the time.
I don't know for sure you can pay your bills with them but once you get here we can go talk with a couple of them and find out.

Vinny

Thanks Vinny,
See you in June!
Neil

Neil, we've got a savings account with Coopera to automatically debit our utility bills. What a time-saver!

Edd,
Thanks. I certainly don't want to run all over to pay my utility bills. Plus all the hassles I've heard with documenting the previous months bill, so this will be a life saver. I don't want to go backwards if I can help it. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I wrote out a check.... everything is auto pay.
Stay Well,
Neil

Edd..read your post on ATM's.  Would you know if a Canadian card would work? I checked with my bank and they can't seem to find out. I have read that Cash is King but do local restaurants and stores accept ATM cards and Visa as I do not want to carry a lot of cash with me. Good way to get mugged anywhere in the world.  Would appreciate any input.  Thanks  Bryan

None of my Canadian friends have ever mentioned a problem using their cards at ATM's. You don't have to withdraw large amounts of money. In fact the most you're allowed is $500/day. Just get a couple of hundred at a time.

Well....
ain't you just the font of useful knowledge! Very good info. I wasn't aware of that, and I was just going to use my Visa debit card, which has a pretty high usage fee. It adds up over a period of time.
Thanks again for your useful contributions.
Stay Well,
Neil

What I'm doing here in the Philippines, and plan to do in Ecuador is as follows:

I keep my money in the US (Citibank) and have my SS deposited there. I do some free-lance work via the net and when I get paid I have the checks sent to my daughter's address. She lives near a Citi branch and deposits them for me.

I opened an account in a Philippine bank, and every two-three months I transfer a few thousand dollars. No ATM fees because I always get my money from that bank (it's a bank with many, many branches).

It works well for me -- the only negative being Citi's $30 fee for wire transfers, which is why I only do it once every two or three months.

(I have no affiliation with Citibank).

There is a lot of useful info here. Good to know about the $30 fee for wire transfers.  I checked Citibank's credit cards and their interest rate for money tranfers if 19.8%.  Would anybody know what the ATM rates are using a ScotiaBank ATM card or any Canadian card.   Bryan

sounds good that is what we will do too is keep our money in the US and use the atm open a small saving for just paying bills...sounds good

Would anyone know if there is any problems cashing American Express travelers checks. I dont't like carrying a lot of cash with me and I would just as soon not pay ATM charges every day or so.  Also, should I just carry small bills and change with me for walking around and roughly how much per day.  Light shopping, breakfast, lunch and some cervaza later.  Mucho Gracias
  Bryan

I am going to guess that a traveler's check is not a good idea. I tried cashing a Cashier's check (actually just deposit it into my bank account at Banco Del Austro.) That did not go well and I had to send the check back to the U.S. bank to re-deposit. I use USAA Federal Savings Bank in the U.S. and I use that debit card here at Banco Del Austro ATMs. Banco Del Austro charges nothing to withdraw money from my USAA account, but USAA charges me 1%. In other words, I pay a dollar to withdraw $100. I can live with that. Banco Del Austro was not charging anything for a withdrawal even when I did not have an account with them. They do limit ATM withdrawals to $200 per day.

USAA has a robust on-line presence and convient relationships with ATMS across the U.S., and apparently Ecuador. Anyone can open an account, but you need to be retired military to take advantage of their non-banking products; insurance, for example. Customer service, by phone, is spectacular. I can do virtually everything on-line or by phone. The combined costs (Banco Del Austro and USAA) for a wire is $40, independent of the amount.

Yes, do keep a supply of coins and small bills with you. I found that some of the smaller places could not change twenties and sometimes not even tens. I love the dollar coins here. They are perfect for taxis. I carry $20 with me when I go out unless I plan to make a larger purchase. Breakfast, lunch, and a beer can be had for $10 or less, unless you want to get fancy. Even then, $20 should be enough. I always carry a small backpack which contains a lightweight, waterproof, windproof shell in case it rains or there is a sudden drop in temperature (always possible) and toilet paper. It is best not to expect toilet paper to be available at all times.  I also keep an extra $20 in the backpack, just in case.

I understand about a cashiers check but before Internet and ATM's, the only way was cash and travelers checks. I have been told on this site that I shouldn't have a problem with my Canadian ATM card but American Express travelers has never been a problem before.  Didn't know they used a dollar coin there. Good to know. We have one dollar and two dollar coins here and it gets a bit heavy in the pocket.  Many thanks   Bryan

Nemesis5 :

but money looses its value at 4% a year5

Is this inflation? 4% in Ecuador?

pin2xbo :
Nemesis5 :

but money looses its value at 4% a year5

Is this inflation? 4% in Ecuador?

That statement was made in March, 2013, never verified.  4% would be rather high, SSA just informed me that COL increase for 2016 in the USA was .3%, hence my bigger check starting in January.  US dollar has remained strong on the world market, would think that would be helpful in Ecuador.

I'm here on a 9-II visa. Last year, my CD paid 6.75%. This year the APR is 6.57% That's a good return where I'm from.

CiiBank is no grats if you support Standing Rock.

harland5 :

CiiBank is no grats if you support Standing Rock.

I would imagine the current Ecuadorian government is no grats to you as well given their support of drilling in the Yasuni and mining projects in other parts of Ecuador.

We have been here close to 4 years now,, and.. we now live in Cuenca.  We opened a JEP cooperative account savings first.. and then after a year got a credit card with the same bank.  We find it useful to deposit our hand written checks in,, and wait until they are cleared,, and then just use the debit card ATM to remove any money,, this saves us fees from Chase our State side bank.  We have found that Claro and Movistar want credit cards from banks here in Ecuador.. so it makes it easier.  Is it safe,, yes. 

We don't put it all in, but enough to get through our month and have a little to spare.. my husband used his cedula to open his account, but you can open a savings in JEP with a passport. 

We have not had any problems,, we get calls after we visit Customer Service,,, just to make sure that we understood and don't need any more assistance.. talk about feeling like they care.. Woot!!

Anyway,, that is our story on cooperatives,, and this one is one of the largest.

Denise,

You wrote a check from your personal Chase bank account from the USA, and deposit it in a cooperative account in Ecuador? Is that possible? No bank/wire fee? That is the most awesome thing I've heard so far. You got calls from customer service from the cooperative or Chase?

You can open the JEP cooperative savings account with US passport?

No bank fees, it was a personal check to our account at JEP,,it was calls from JEP customer service,, Chase has never called me, ever.  Funny,, eh?

Yes you can open an account with a passport...

The last time I asked, Banco Pichincha told me I could depost a personal check drawn on my U.S. account in an amount up to $3,000.   The few checks I have deposited seem to have taken around 2 weeks to clear.

I was at the  internet provider Puntonet last week and there was a gringo paying his bill with a U.S. check.  He was grumbling about the fact he was having to re-do his check because they didn't like the way he filled it out.  He told me he pays his landlord with a U.S. check as well.

I told him many expats pay their internet bill with puntonet using a credit card. He said he gets charged an extra 5 % for using his credit card. I said, "man, you obviously don't read my stuff ! Those in the know do."

I've not tried the US check thing, but if Nards "say's" (or any post by Nards, or CCCMedia) certainly has my stamp of approval. Now, I will take the time I go to the bank and try it.

Regarding the grumbling... yeah... I wanted to take 2,000 out of my Banco Bolivariano account to pre-pay my rent. At the time, I didn't know enough Spanish. Took the withdrawal slip to the window and she said that I have to fill out this line with "dos mil" and wrote it down on the slip. I said, "You just did, thanks... give me my money"... "No you have to fill out a new slip". That was 3 1/2 years ago. I was still trying to mature from Type A personality to a Type C personality.

Nards Barley :

I was at the  internet provider Puntonet last week and there was a gringo paying his bill with a U.S. check.  He was grumbling about the fact he was having to re-do his check because they didn't like the way he filled it out.  He told me he pays his landlord with a U.S. check as well.

I told him many expats pay their internet bill with puntonet using a credit card. He said he gets charged an extra 5 % for using his credit card. I said, "man, you obviously don't read my stuff ! Those in the know do."

Paying puntonet or similar services in Ecuador by check is a waste of time.

Aside from credit card, there is a box on the application form that one can input their Ecuadorean bank details and automatically pay directly on a monthly basis.

vsimple :

Paying puntonet or similar services in Ecuador by check is a waste of time.

Aside from credit card, there is a box on the application form that one can input their Ecuadorean bank details and automatically pay directly on a monthly basis.

Assuming they have an Ecuadorian bank account. He had only been here three months so may hadn't acquired one. A friend of mine waited 3 years to get one.

How do you pay your other utilities?  Some expats set up automatic payment debits as well.  But I think in the case of ETAPA or the Empress Electrica in Cuenca they have to go through their banks to set it up rather than directly with the utility companies.

In any case, I don't use automatic debits since I want complete control over when I pay.  Also, a friend expressed grief over the hassle he went through in getting them canceled when he change apartments.

Nards Barley :
vsimple :

Paying puntonet or similar services in Ecuador by check is a waste of time.

Aside from credit card, there is a box on the application form that one can input their Ecuadorean bank details and automatically pay directly on a monthly basis.

Assuming they have an Ecuadorian bank account. He had only been here three months so may hadn't acquired one. A friend of mine waited 3 years to get one.

How do you pay your other utilities?  Some expats set up automatic payment debits as well.  But I think in the case of ETAPA or the Empress Electrica in Cuenca they have to go through their banks to set it up rather than directly with the utility companies.

In any case, I don't use automatic debits since I want complete control over when I pay.  Also, a friend expressed grief over the hassle he went through in getting them canceled when he change apartments.

Before I used to pay all utilities with rent to the landlord, and they took care of everything, which was convenient.

Now, however, I’m at my new place for about 2 months, and we have sub-meters for water, so I pay my usage share directly to the landlord. Electricity I have my own meter and pay at servipagos. I am looking for an alternative as I don’t like wasting time and worse I procrastinate at times, and these electric people have no issue with serving a suspension notice if you are a week late.

I pay everything online...electric, water, phone, cellular and internet.  The rent I pay by bank transfer to the landlord.   

I pay at the supermarket and pharmacy with a credit card.  I only use cash for services like bottled water and propane as well as for taxis.  The only reason I normally need to go to a bank is to get small change....something even they don't always have.

icemeister :

I pay everything online...electric, water, phone, cellular and internet.  The rent I pay by bank transfer to the landlord.   

I pay at the supermarket and pharmacy with a credit card.  I only use cash for services like bottled water and propane as well as for taxis.  The only reason I normally need to go to a bank is to get small change....something even they don't always have.

When you say you pay online, are you using this link for Etapa?

https://mietapa.etapa.net.ec/nuestraeta … emsCP.aspx

And for the Electric company are you going here?

http://www.centrosur.gob.ec/?q=consulta-planillas

I tried paying my Etapa bill using that link last week but it wouldn't accept my debit visa card from Pichincha, so I assumed I needed to use a credit card.

With the Electric company link it takes me to a Banco de Guayaquil website.   Do you bank with them?

I'm in Samborondon, Guayas so I have CNEL for electric and water is through Amagua.  Neither would accept my Produbanco debit but they do accept my debit from Banco Guayaquil. 

I asked why the difference and Produbanco says their credit card will work but their debit cards are only for ATM or point-of-sale (POS) transactions within Ecuador....no online transacations at all.  So I use it at the supermarket and drug store.

Banco Guayaquil said their international debit will work for the electric and water as well as ATMs and internet purchases worldwide.  That was partially true.  I found their don't  allow international recurring charges or even single transactions for services such as my TransExpress, Pay Pay or my web hosting provider.  They said I needed a credit card to do those.   I don't want a credit card, so I make do in other ways.

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