Where to bank (safely) in Ecuador

 

Do you want the long or the short answer?

The short answer is … no where.

Keep your money in your home country except for what you need.  Remember, this is a country where from one day to the next a bank could close shop, put a lock on the door and say “adios” with your money.

Kind of funny hearing this from a supposed “Ecuador expert”.

But it is what it is.

It happens.

In fact, to two differnet banking institutions in the last year (2013-2014).

However, I know if you are going to live or invest here it sure is convenient to have a local bank account.

One you can withdraw from anytime without fees or hefty exchange fees.

So in this case I offer you the long answer

There are only two banks in Ecuador where I suggest you have your money.

1. Banco Pichincha.  Its the biggest bank in Ecuador (the yellow one) and has branches everywhere you want to be.  It’s where all the locals have their money in Ecuador.  Its the institution everyone uses to do business.  If this bank closed up there would be major riots in the street, in other words, the government would not let it happen.

One thing I’ve learned when living abroad, if all the locals are jumping off a bridge, damn it, you better follow suit!  There is a reason for everything all though we may not see it at first and think, “huh, that’s stupid, I’m so much smarter than they are. (not true!)”

2. Banco del Pacifico.  This bank is the other decent option, albeit with far fewer branches, this is also one of the safest places to stash your cash in Ecuador because it is owned and managed by the government.

It’s like making friends with the bully in grade school so they don’t pick on you.

Heck, I know I did it, this is the same difference when the government seems to be the one going around ordering banks and credit unions (cooperas) in Ecuador to close these days.

Extra tip:  Be sure to keep no more than $25000 in any one bank account in Ecuador, that is the amount your money is insured to and in the event of a bank closing you’d be one of the first people to get your money refunded.

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