Credit Card, Banking and Monthly Rent/Utility Payments in Ecuador

Happy New Year All,

Well, 2020 here we come.

Thanks everyone for your inputs over the past weeks in your support of our upcoming exploratory visit
and ultimate move later in the year to Ecuador as retired expats. Your inputs/comments have been very helpful. I had some banking type questions that I came up with over the past days that I would like your comments on. My questions are as follows:

(1) Given that the currency there is $U.S, does that mean that we can use our U.S. based credit cards (Visa, Mastercard etc.) to pay for day-to-day expenses (restaurants, entertainment)?

(2) How does one pay for monthly rent and utilities in Ecuador? Can this be done by check or credit card and over the phone and on-line etc?

(3) Are there ATM's readily available for quick cash etc? Are there ATM fees?

(4) Once settled in Ecuador as expats, do we need to open up a local bank account in country or can we conduct all our business via our exisiting U.S. bank accounts?

(5) Given that our exploratory visit there will be 90 days, can we cover our in country significant expenses (hotels, transportation) as tourists primarily with credit cards or do we need to have cash on hand for some major items as well ?

Once again,Thanks for your help.

John W.

As i am sure you have been told this is a mostly cash country, and a cash preferred greatly retail environment. Although you will be able to use your American based cards in some instances, you may want to consider mainly resupplying your cash through the abundant ATM's every few days. On my exploratory visit a few years ago I tended to stay in more 'formal' accommodations than I choose now, if i visit another area. The hostels and smaller hotels may or more likely, may not accept cards. Depending on what 'explore' means to you, either more roadside places or more formal places, will determine the difference in 65% vs 90% cash. Of course this is simply my opinion.
In preparation for our move i switched some money to Schwab to take advantage of their 'all ATM fees refunded' policy, and am finding it quite convenient here in Salinas to simply use cash.
Best of luck!

jwhalen55 :

(1) Given that the currency there is $U.S, does that mean that we can use our U.S. based credit cards (Visa, Mastercard etc.) to pay for day-to-day expenses (restaurants, entertainment)?

(2) How does one pay for monthly rent and utilities in Ecuador? Can this be done by check or credit card and over the phone and on-line etc?

(3) Are there ATM's readily available for quick cash etc? Are there ATM fees?

(4) Once settled in Ecuador as expats, do we need to open up a local bank account in country or can we conduct all our business via our exisiting U.S. bank accounts?

(5) Given that our exploratory visit there will be 90 days, can we cover our in country significant expenses (hotels, transportation) as tourists primarily with credit cards or do we need to have cash on hand for some major items as well ?

Dear John Whelan,

In response to your numbered questions, the following is based primarily on my experience:

1. USA-based credit cards can normally be used for restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, entertainment, etc. in larger cities and tourist venues in Ecuador, provided the card is ordinarily honored by the establishment.  Smaller restaurants may not accept cards, or may only, for example, accept Visa cards. 

2.  For my Quito condo, I pay monthly condo dues at a bank into the bank account of the condo management.  Your landlord will determine the acceptable method of payment of rent and-or monthly condo payments.  I pay the utilities separately via auto transfer from my Ecuadorian bank.

3.  Yes, there are ATM's in Ecuadorian cities.  Unless you are with a brokerage that reimburses ATM fees, expect to pay such .. as is the custom worldwide.

4.  I considered it wise to open an Ecuadorian bank account and keep my USA bank account(s) active as well.  Most Ecuadorian banks require a new depositor to have an ID known as the cédula, which is available upon meeting the relevant visa requirement(s).  If you ever have trouble with your USA bank card or account, it is useful to have pre-arranged access to cash locally. 

5.  Expect a lot of cash transactions.  I recommend having plentiful cash available, probably via ATM or a bank withdrawal.  Do not carry large amounts of cash on your person.

Do not expect out-of-Ecuador checks to be honored.  Do not expect to obtain a checking account at an Ecuadorian bank, as Expats are typically offered savings accounts only.

The debit card issued by my Ecuadorian bank has been honored at businesses and hotels throughout South America.  However, the cash withdrawal limit for that card has been $100 per transaction and that small amount has been available only at my original branch in Quito.  Larger withdrawals may be made with deposit slips inside your local bank or its branches.

Rules and requirements may vary from bank to bank.  A couple of banks may allow you to open a savings account (cuenta de ahorros) without a cédula, but may impose other stiff requirements.

cccmedia

Hola,

How much does a typical ATM withdrawl cost down there in Ecuador?

Also, how much does a hotel stay go for say in Quito or Salinas say something equivalent to a Homewood Suites here in the U.S?

We may be in a hotel for a week or two to get our bearings brfore branching out on discovery.

Thanks again,

JW

Banco de Guayaquil, for example, charges $1.50 for a withdrawal, in addition to the fees from your bank. Which is why I use Schwab, ATM fees are reimbursed.

Also, having delivered pizza in my early 20s (robbery target) I learned to never carry more than $50 cash on me. I apply this rule to this day.

I haven't seen a suites style hotel in Ecuador.

I have used Airbnb, and budgeted $35 to $50 per day to get a one bed, one bath furnished apartment with a complete kitchen (and stay in better neighborhoods)

I have been on a motorcycle trip for the past three weeks around the southern half of Ecuador and I found that almost all the hotels and hostels require cash. This was a surprise for me because all the ones I had been in in Quito took a credit card. The cost to withdraw cash from an ATM from a local bank (Banco Guayaquil) has been $.31 per transaction. That is on an Ecuadoran, not foreign, account.  I have a US account that does not charge ATM fees but, I didn’t bring that card with me. Shucks!

Michael-2018 :

The cost to withdraw cash from an ATM from a local bank (Banco Guayaquil) has been $.31 per transaction. That is on an Ecuadoran, not foreign, account.  I have a US account that does not charge ATM fees but, I didn’t bring that card with me. Shucks!

Always a good idea to bring a second card .. not just to save 31 cents a pop to get cash, but to have a backup in case anything (lost, stolen, not honored by merchant or card-issuer) affects one's use of the first card.

cccmedia

jwhalen55 :

How much does a hotel stay go for say in Quito or Salinas say something equivalent to a Homewood Suites here in the U.S?

You can visit booking.com to get hotel rates in any South American city.  Check the reviews/ratings for photos and descriptions .. and attempt to evaluate how close any 'hospedaje' comes to Homewood Suites.

Regular booking users, such as yours truly, get rated as a "genius," qualifying for discounts and sometimes for late checkout.

---

I am not affiliated with -- nor receive any compensation for mentioning -- booking.com ....

cccmedia

I found transfering money down here a challenge. Tried something new on the Internet called Transferwise. Sent $70usd from Vancouver, and received $62usd in my Account. So, went back to my Vancouver Bank and transferred $100,000 to the Bank of Pinichinca and it cost $110 ( plus my Trip back to Vancouver). The Bank asked me to state source of funds, and no problem.

B.Bindon :

I found transfering money down here a challenge. Tried something new on the Internet called Transferwise. Sent $70usd from Vancouver, and received $62usd in my Account. So, went back to my Vancouver Bank and transferred $100,000 to the Bank of Pinichinca and it cost $110 ( plus my Trip back to Vancouver). The Bank asked me to state source of funds, and no problem.

Hi, sorry, I don't quite understand. Did you pay $8.00 fee (over 10%) using Transferwise?
I have also signed up for Transferwise but never used it. I am curious how does money transfer work. I am also located in Vancouver, BC.

Thanks

Yes, you are quite right. Don't use it. ( I am actually from Edmonton, retired as a Letter Carrier in Vancouver due no winter....lol.)

New topic