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General Information

As of September 2000 the new currency system has been the US Dollar, so you can find bills of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 and coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. There is no restriction as to how much cash or traveler cheques you are allowed to bring into the country.

Local Taxes & Tipping
Banks and Business
Changing Money & Checks
Traveler's Checks
Credit Cards
Money Transfers

While we recommend that you bring most of your money in the form of traveler's checks so you can replace them if stolen or lost, you should also carry some cash, especially in out-of-the-way places such as the Oriente or remote Andean or coastal villages. Carry mostly $1, $5, and $10 bills, and make sure they are in good condition or you could have trouble using them as everybody checks for fraud bills if it's a 5 or higher.

Local Taxes and Tipping
With each purchase, you pay a tax of 12% IVA. Sometimes it's included in the price so you don't think that there is a tax. For hotels and restaurants services you pay another 10% service tax, kind of as an automatic tip. Tipping is completely to your discretion, but because of the 10% service tax in restaurants and hotels most people don't feel the need to tip, but if you are pleased with the service, feel free to leave a tip.

Banks and Business
Office hours are generally from 9:00 am to 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday, a few stay open until 8pm (in Quito Banco del Pinchincha on Amazonas stays open until 8). Likewise,
"casas de cambio" are open Monday through Friday from 9 to 6. A few banks and "casas de cambio" are also open on Saturday mornings. Shopping centers are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 PM from Monday to Saturday. There are limited bank machines which dispense a limited amount of cash, but the networks Plus and Cirus are represented.

Changing Money & Checks
As a result of dollarization, we recommend more than ever that you carry both US bills and traveler's checks while in Ecuador. Other foreign currencies can be difficult and in most cases are impossible to change outside of Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaqu
il. In Quito, the stretch of Avenida Amazonas (Gringo Ave.) between La Patria and Colón and also, more to the north, between República and Río Coca will cover most of your financial needs. There is quite a range of banks, ATMs, "casas de cambio" (money changing houses), and money transfer facilities. In Guayaquil you will find a similar area dedicated to financial services on the first few blocks of Avenida 9 de Octubre near the Malecón 2000 boarwalk and café area which is on the waterfront.

Traveler's Checks
Traveler's checks are a great way to keep track of your funds while away from home. Best of all, if they end up lost or stolen they are relatively easy to replace, though some companies reimburse you faster than others. American Express usually replaces checks within 24 hours, while lesser-known companies can take well over a week.
You should be aware that checks can sometimes be difficult to change outside of big cities. In small towns, unless highly touristed, traveler's checks will be met with blank looks. So it's a real good idea to get them cashed before you go on a side trip ouside of the big city.

Credit Cards
VISA, Mastercard, American Express, and Diner's Club are the most widely recognized cards in Ecuador (Diner's Club, strangley, is the most widely accepted card). Credit cards are useful for purchases in hotels, shops, restaurants, and for cash advances from Automated Teller Machines or banks. Also, the emergency services offered by your credit card may be a saving grace if you fall ill or encounter some other serious problem. American Express has excellent emergency services for cardholders on the road, especially if you purchase your plane ticket with your card. Check with the card services division of the company handling your account to see the type of coverage they offer in emergency situations. You may also want to raise the limit on your cards before getting on the plane, so you have extra funds in the event of an emergency.

Money Transfers
Most of Ecuador's urban areas have international money transfer offices where you can pick up money sent from abroad, there's practically a Western Union and DHL every 50 meters in Quito and no lack of them in the rest of the country. Your credit card company may also be able to make an emergency advance against your account to one of these money transfer offices. American Express offices can be found on Avenida Amazonas in Quito and 9 de Octubre 1600 in Guayaqu
il which offers limited transfers and a check-cashing service to cardholders (up to $1000 dollars every 21 days).

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