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Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

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MN
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Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

I am going to Ecuador for an educational program in a couple weeks and will be there for a while so I want to make sure I have currency for the whole trip.

I recently went to Peru and lucked out that my bank gave me brand new dollars as I found they had very strict exchange rules – no rips, no strong creases and can’t have a worn look and nowhere, exchange centers, hotels, shops....none of them wanted to take anything but a perfect bill. I had some dollars stashed in my wallet before I left and tried to use them at one point when my VISA didn’t work but because they had normal wear and tear for our standards, it wasn’t acceptable there.

I plan to get crisp dollars just to be safe – but if there are similar policies in Ecuador I will also warn those I am traveling with as it hasn’t come up yet in “things we should know”.

Also, is there a rule of thumb for credit cards? I was surprised to find that while Visa and MasterCard were accepted most places in Peru, several places ONLY accepted MasterCard – especially in the airports. Is Visa not the “accepted anywhere” card for stores that do take credit cards in Ecuador?

Benson, Arizona
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1. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

The money in Ecuador is dollars so they do not care so much about condition...but it is possible that the larger bills ($100. May be a problem) i never had any currency problems in the 3 months we were there....as for credit cards I only have Visa cards and had no problems with that either...

Tucson, Arizona
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2. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

As VeniceJ states, the condition is not so important, but size matters. Bring a stash of 1s and 5s. Read about money and banking issues in the travel guide under More at the top of the page.

pacific northwest
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3. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

I can second the above replies. We never had problems over condition of bills, but you do need to have some small ones, as in $1 and $5. We found that many places will not accept credit cards, or charge a big commission, probably because they use american dollars. Even booking an Amazon trip for over $1,000 they wanted cash, and charged a lot for a credit card purchase. We used ATMs, but it's a good idea to carry cards from more than 1 account or bank, because not all ATMs will accept all banks.

MN
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4. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

Wow - $1000 cash, must need ATM cards. Good stuff to know. Thanks all.

pacific northwest
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5. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

To #4--it's not that you can't use a credit card for a large purchase from a travel agency, just the commission is very high. I can't remember exactly, but it's very significant. We used more than one account and were able to draw out most of the money and then paid a little with the card.

california
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6. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

There is not really any need to stock up on small bills..they make change in USD $1 coins! Extra $5s are a good idea though.

You may find that change less than $1 will be in Ecuadorean coin which you will want to spend before you leave. I tried to separate those out and use them and hoard the US coins.

Edited: 10:10 pm, February 08, 2014
Tucson, Arizona
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7. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

While you will end up with the $1 coins at some point, you do need a sort of grubstake to get you started. Cab drivers and small vendors are often hard put to make change in the first place because of the scarcity. Trying to pay a $1.25 cab fare with even a $5 can half clean out a driver's stash. When I lived there, I always brought back about $100 worth of 1s after a trip home, and bought more off visitors. My returned friends and I still laugh at our hoarding habits.

8. Re: Exchanging Dollars and using credit cards - similar to Peru?

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