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 MONEY

The monetary unit in Ecuador since April 2000 is the US$ dollar, that replace the local currency, the Sucre .

We recommend that money be carried in the form of travelers checks issued by a major company such as American Express. Since it is safest to carry only a small amount of cash at a time, you may want to purchase your travelers checks in denominations of $20 or $50. Please don't bring $100 US bills, as they will not be accepted in most places due to falsification. It is wise to carry a supply of U.S. currency in small denominations as well. We recommend that cash and travelers checks be left in the hotel safe-deposit box whenever possible. It is also advisable to leave your passport in the safe-deposit box and carry a photocopy of the first page with you to use when changing money.

Unfortunately, you will find that many shops, even the larger ones, are perpetually short of change. Thus even getting change for a $10 bill may prove difficult even if the purchase comes to $8 or so. Hence we recommend that, when you withdraw money or better, before you leave for Ecuador, that you go to the bank or Bureau de change and getting a couple of $20 bills changed into $1 bills. Though this may prove cumbersome, it will save you a lot of hassle when trying to pay for a $1.50 taxi ride with a $20 bill.

You can cash travelersí checks and change money at most banks and casas de cambio (moneychangers ), and the rates arenít significantly different. Most banks are open between 9 am and 1:30 pm on weekdays. Moneychangers are usually open until about 6  pm.

Most hotels, lodges, shops and restaurants accept travellers checks and credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners. However credit cards companies have extremely high charges. Regardless of your credit type or credit level, for any purchase or comsumption exceeding $600, you will need special authorization, therefore we strongly recommend that you bring travellers checks and cash.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are becoming more common in cities throughout the country. They are about the most economical way of using cash abroad, but be aware of limits. (Only $ 500 per day). For Visa, head to Filanbanco or Banco de Guayaquil, and for Mastercard to Banco del Pacifico. Check with your home bank before leaving about any charges you might incur.

We recommend that you photocopy your credit cards or record their numbers, taking one copy with you and leaving another at home. The record of your travellers check numbers should always be carried separately from the checks.

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