Money in Ecuador
Money, Budgeting & Tipping
There will be no need to get acquainted with a new currency if you’re traveling to Ecuador! In 2000, Ecuador adopted the US currency as its own. The only difference is that Ecuadorians use more 1 dollar Sacajawea coins (that were never very popular in the United States). Ecuador also uses its own coins, so leave your pennies in your piggy-bank.
Remember to tell your bank well in advance that you will be traveling to Ecuador. Some banks such as Wells Fargo will have you add a “travel plan” showing in detail what countries you are visiting and what cards you would like activated while you’re abroad. There will be plenty of ATMs that accept 4-digit PINS in the major cities as well as some small towns. For security protection, consider installing a chip into your debit and credit cards. Banco Austro doesn’t charge a withdrawal fee. Credit cards accepted include Visa, MasterCard, and Diners Club, but some merchants and restaurants will add a credit card transaction fee. You can exchange money in the main cities at casas de cambio and banks.
As for tipping, nice restaurants will add a 12% tax and a 10% service charge. You can add 5% to the bill, if you think the service has been good, but give the server their tip rather than leaving it on the table. You can tip porters a quarter to a dollar per bag. You don’t need to tip taxi drivers. Professional tour guides appreciate a $5 tip per day, and drivers $2 per day.
There is some excellent shopping in Ecuador. A popular gift here is the Panama hat, which you can find in Cuenca. These stylish Ecuadorian hats gained their name after they were shipped to destinations in Europe and the United States through the Panama Canal.