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Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

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Cincinnati, Ohio
posts: 3
reviews: 1
Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

Hello,

Three of us will be traveling to the Puerto Ayora in July for a week. Through my research, I have come across conflicting information regarding the ability to use credit cards, Atm's and traveler's checks.

We are flying into Guayaquil for 2 days before our trip to the Galapagos. There is a fair amount of information regarding recent crime and am not to comfortable carrying enough cash to pay for 3 adults in Ecuador for 10 days.

Some reports say that it is difficult to use traveler's checks, that you can't rely on ATM in Puerto Ayora and that if you do find a merchant/ restaurant that accepts CC, that they will charge you an extra 10%.

Can anybody give me the real scoop?

Cheers,

Lynne

Waynesville, North...
posts: 3
reviews: 57
1. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

We just got back from 2 weeks in Quito, Puerto Ayora and Galapagos. The rumors of everything but cash is true. I wouldn't recommend traveller's checks, nor credit cards. IF you find a restaurant that accepts it, then yes you will pay that extra 10% charge. Also, note that hardly anybody will accept anything over a $10 bill. If your bill is $17 or so, a $20 will likely be accepted. But we went to the grocery store on Puerto Ayora and our bill came to $3, they wouldn't accept a $10 bill. Yes, it's tough because we are so ingrained to use credit cards for everything. My husband and I brought $1500 in 5's, 10's, and 20's - because of this we did not use ATM's (for fear of reliability and extra charges) and so I cannot give you the real scoop on that.

The crime in Quito is also noted to be bad. Fortunately, our hotel room had a safe, which we left most of the cash in. My husband also wore a money belt under his shorts so that no pick-pockets could get to it. We did not experience any crime, nor any trouble. Just follow the advice of the guidebooks and don't be out after dark. In Quito, that was the case at least. In Puerto Ayora, the crime is very low. It's an island - they can't get far. You could be out till 2am and everyone was friendly. Taxis in Puerto Ayora are $1, water taxis were $.80, so some small bills are needed as well.

Since we spent a week in Galapagos on a boat, we never carried cash on us that week. Again, our cabin had a safe which we stored it in.

Again, we had no problems - except maybe a need for some more smaller bills. Have fun!

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
posts: 7,541
reviews: 84
2. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

True, traveler's checks are nearly obsolete. The banks don't want to deal with them, and not even the AmEx office in Quito will exchange them.

I don't think the surcharge for using a card at a restaurant or hotel is 10%; I think more like 5% or less. This is the charge the card company charges the business, and it is passed on to you. Still, few businesses accept them unless they are fairly high-volume or firmly on the tourist trail (like a restaurant that the cruise ships take their passengers to).

As Jill discovered, getting change can be a real issue. The best rule of thumb is not to pay with a bill that is more than double the tab (e.g., your bill is $3, so don't try to use a $10). I recommend taking at least $50 in ones ($100 is even better), and $50 in fives.

Here's a Traveler Article about money in Ecuador tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294307-s601/Ecuador:…

Adelaide, Australia
posts: 71
3. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

This was a comment that I found online.

PUERTO AYORA TIP

There are ATMs available here, BUT sometimes the machine in Main Square is used for scamming. It is recommended to go to bank along water-front instead, just take your passport and obtain cash directly from the teller.

I also read a lot about the necessity to have only small bills ($5 and $10 notes). But hopefully that can be organised at the bank also.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
posts: 7,541
reviews: 84
4. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

Don't count on the banks to be willing to change large bills, either.

Adelaide, Australia
posts: 71
5. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

Really? Wow.

So what? - The best advice is for everyone to carry into Ecuador $4000 or more of $5 notes? That's really unfortunate :(

Edited: 9:56 pm, June 12, 2013
Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
posts: 7,541
reviews: 84
6. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

No, you certainly don't need that much. See #2.

Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Galapagos Islands
posts: 2,448
reviews: 17
7. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

In March, I used the Banco del Pacifico ATM several times in Puerto Ayora without a problem. As noted, just forget about traveller's cheques. The old "I don't have any change" answer is sometimes a ruse to see if you might just say "oh.. don't worry about it then - keep the change", when if fact, they can find change. When that happens to me, I say "we'll, what are we going to do?" and I stand there, and usually, they find change one way or another.

Having said this, you should avoid trying to pay a $3 expense with a $100 bill...

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

Cincinnati, Ohio
posts: 3
reviews: 1
8. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

Thank you everyone for all of the great information!

Dublin, California
posts: 138
reviews: 99
9. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

Yes, absolutely great information for those of use going soon. I would never have thought to bring a few thousand in American and NEVER would have brought small bills. Now, just a way to figure out how to have a hundred dollar bills and 50 five dollar bills. That is fat wad of money.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
posts: 7,541
reviews: 84
10. Re: Cash vs. credit cards vs traveler's checks

NO ONE has said to bring "a few thousand" in American dollars. Please read #2 for recommendations. Fifty ones will get you started. Go to your bank in the U.S. to get them.