Should You Use Ecuador Banks?

Banco de Pichincha, Tena EcuadorBanco de Pichincha in Tena, Ecuador

Some may not need to use Ecuador banks at all. Other may want to consider keeping part of their money in the country.

Whether you yourself have a bank account in Ecuador or not, you will probably find yourself dealing with the banks at some point. Many Ecuadorians prefer to make payments by directly depositing the money into the seller's account and its also an easy way to get money to friends and family who are in other parts of Ecuador.

Why Open a Bank Account?

One reason many of us have opened accounts in Ecuador banks is that many services require you have an account. For example, monthly Internet and cell phone plans often require a bank account. Some even automatically debit your account.

Another plus can be having a safe place to keep money when planning to make a big purchase. We use our ATM/Debit card to withdraw money from the States. But since there is a daily limit we have to plan ahead when making big purchases. So the account can be used to keep the money safe (instead of piled up at home) until needed.

My husband is working here in Ecuador now. And he is paid either through a direct deposit to his account or by check. So having an account is a must for us now.

Preferred Ecuador Banks

Look for a bank that has a long track record and that is available throughout the country.

The most popular bank in Ecuador is the Banco de Pichincha. Many local government jobs are paid through this bank. And since there is a branch location just about anywhere you go, many use it for convenience. The one downside to this bank is that 90% of the time there will be quite a long line to wait in.

For that reason we prefer to use other banks that are also known to be stable and long lasting like:

  • Banco del Austro
  • Banco de Guayaquil
  • Banco National de Fomento - now BanEcuador

A deciding factor will be finding a bank that you can access locally and also when traveling. ATMs are located throughout Ecuador for most of the major banks.

Opening a Bank Account

The process to open an account is pretty straightforward and simple. You will need identification: your passport or cedula and in most cases a bill with your current home address on it.

Most banks require an initial deposit of $50 or so. There is a bit of paperwork to fill out and that's about it.

Foreigners opening an account may be required to present a reference letter from an Ecuadorian citizen.

A Note for Americans: You may have heard about the new law requiring international banks to forward your banking information to the IRS. According to the IRS website (see link for more info), this only affects you if your account held, at any time during the year, a balance of over $10,000.

What to Expect at Ecuador Banks

I'm sorry, but I dread going to the bank. I have to go at least once a week. The main reason I dread it is the long line (Banco de Pichincha). Spending 15-30 minutes in line is never fun, but there are things that make it worse.

For example, for some reason there are people that think that when they enter the bank all they have to do is look at the last person in line and this saves their spot. Others will get in line and then leave. I would love to go outside, sit down, make phone calls, etc rather than stand in line too. But when you're almost to the front of the line and people start showing up and saying this is their it's annoying.

There is a fast lane just for pregnant women, the elderly and disabled. But even this line gets abused. People will bring in babies just to get through quicker. Older ones who aren't elderly or disabled will use this line and often get away with it.

There are certain bank tellers that think their position allows them to be rude and sassy. Just the other day I had a bad experience with a teller. She has trouble telling the difference between a 4 and a 6, and even has shorted me in the past on my deposits because of it. ??? So I purposely darkened my sixes so it was obvious which number I had written. She told me that my deposit slip had to be redone. Even after I protested she made me go back, fill out a new slip and wait in line again. Grrrrr!

Money Transfers

Many bank transfers made from outside of Ecuador are sent to certain banks. For example the Banco de Pichincha is one of the pick up spots for MoneyGram and XOOM. 


  • Try to avoid Ecuador banks on Mondays, Fridays, the day before holidays, and the first and last days of the month. The banks are normally packed on these days.
  • Lunch time can also mean a long line due to tellers on lunch breaks and customer using their lunch break to go to the bank.
  • Fill out all bank slips neatly and clearly. Be careful to have the right date.
  • Bring a book. Cell phone use is prohibited, so don't plan on playing games on your phone.
  • Be patient. People in Ecuador banks may be rude in our eyes, but it is super normal here. You just have to go with it. Otherwise, you come off as the rude one.
  • When using an ATM: Try to take out money during bank hours and count it immediately. If there is a discrepancy go inside right away. 
  • At night, whenever possible go with someone to the ATM.

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