How Can I Tell if a Dollar is Real or Fake?

Can you differentiate between a real dollar bill and a fake?

This is a huge problem in Ecuador that could cost you serious money, and as soon as you exit the airport gates!

Many Americans have no idea how to differentiate a real bill from a fake until you spend some time abroad.

But it is critical you learn this skill as soon as possible because wrong doers know that foreigners usually can’t differentiate and are easy targets to slip fakes to.

The first thing to keep in mind is that real bills feel almost like fabric or cloth, fake bills, especially the poorly made ones feel and are made of paper.

Next, there is a watermark bills have on the right side, usually in the shape of a number or a face in the open space below where it says “United States of America”.

It is unlikely the bill is a fake if it has this watermark (that you can see if you hold it up to the light), but the better made fakes have a sticker placed where the watermark should be to give it the appearance that it has it.

A better way to tell if a bill is fake or not (and how the locals do it) is to scratch your fingernail across where the print of the face on the bill is (Abe Lincoln on a five for example), and see if the bill has a course texture, the real ones do.

Another good way to tell if a bill is fake or not for 10s, 20s or higher is to hold the bill up to the light and focus on the bottom right hand corner where there is a shiny number. As you move the bill in the light, if the number changes color, it is real, if it doesn’t noticeably change, it is a fake.

I personally would not accept bills higher than a 20 from anyone in Ecuador other than the bank.

Another caution I would give is to be careful getting change back from taxis, they are notorious for slipping fake bills to people late at night.

A third thing to keep in mind when doing business in Ecuador and selling something large, don’t accept checks from people (they usually will not have sufficient funds), and don’t accept cash in hand, it is better to request a direct bank deposit, where you give them your account number, they make the deposit, and then you know for sure the money is good.

Hate to sound paranoid, but in Ecuador, like in any developing country, certain precautions need to be taken sometimes.

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Why did you choose Ecuador?

I chose to live in Ecuador for 5 basic reasons over my natal US…

1. Food- Cheap, Delicious, organic, natural…great.

2. Low Costs– You really can live for $600 a month, not have to drive, eat for $2, and pay $150 month in rent in a decent but small, simple place.

3. Mild Weather– The weather in Ecuador is warm yet very mild, there are many places with micro-climates, you can pick and chose however hot or cold you want and live in that temperature all year round.

4. Single’s scene– Ecuador is great for single men and women, the locals dig foreigners…

5. Cheap, plentiful public transport– Taxis and buses are EVERYWHERE and cheap, the minimum fare is $1 for taxis in most places in Ecuador! It REALLY is not necessary to own a car in Ecuador…I have gone years here without one and I really have never felt I needed one.

If you already chose Ecuador, please leave in the comments below why you decided to make Ecuador your home!

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9 Ecuador Expat Success Stories

Ecuador is loaded with business opportunities, and it goes well beyond exporting flowers (yawn)! Let me explain…

The key is not to come down looking for a job. In Ecuador, it’s far easier and more profitable to create your own!

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own business, but it wasn’t feasible due to excessive licenses, hefty taxes or high costs of labor…Ecuador is for you.

No doubt about it, entrepreneurs go wild in Ecuador where the locals love spending on new things from abroad.

Not to mention, the zoning laws aren’t nearly as strict as in the US, making it fairly easy to put up what you want where you want it. Plus, unlike many Asian countries, foreigners can create and own businesses outright without any local “majority partner”.

Here are 9 examples of innovative businesses both myself and a few of my expat friends have dabbled with:

9. Day Trader: For me, stock trading on the internet is just an addictive hobby, but for my friend, it’s life. He’s able to live off what he trades online via sites like Nowadays, your options are plentiful; you can trade currencies (FOREX), commodities, mutual funds, or individual stocks…from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Checkout ForexDominance – Forex Resources and Reviews for useful tips on trading currencies.

8. Work Remotely (Lawyer from CA): One day, my friend was sitting in his office in California thinking, “why am I here when I could be somewhere warmer, cheaper and surrounded by beautiful Latinas…I could work from anywhere that has an Internet connection, all I do all day is talk on the phone and sit in front of my computer anyways…” So he left. Now he’s enjoying himself in Ecuador. I’m sure many of you with established client bases could work remotely from Ecuador without missing a beat using VoIP internet phone software to call US or European phones cheaply like Vonage, Magic Jack or Skype…

7. Exchange agency: Traveling freely is one thing I think most Americans take for granted. Think about it, every time an Ecuadorian wants to go to the States, they have to apply for a visa, whereas us, we just hop on a plane with our passport and can enter most countries. That gives us a distinct advantage in businesses that require constant back and forth, like this one. Basically, my friend arranges summer work study placements for local Ecuadorian (and other Latin) students and gets paid a fee per placement. Most of these agents work with a partner in the US that helps in placing the students Stateside, you in Ecuador would be the recruiter.

6. Programmer:
This friend of mine quickly discovered that for a programmer in Ecuador, it is more profitable to work with international companies via the internet than for local businesses. Life’s good, he makes his own hours, gets sent the projects via email, talks with his employers via Skype free, and gets paid via PayPal. (You can set up your own PayPal account today free in about 5 minutes at PayPal is like an online bank account used by millions which allows you to receive online payments from anyone with a credit card or who have PayPal.) He hunts for new jobs at sites like and And many other jobs could also be done in this online manner.

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Where Can I Watch NFL Games in Ecuador?

Good question. As an NFL lover myself (Go Browns!) I have researched this already.

In Quito, try the Bungaloo Bar in the Mariscal on Sundays…remember the time difference. They have several TVs showing several (but not all) of the games…

In Guayaquil, it is more difficult being a less touristy city…the ONLY place I’ve found that plays international or USA sports is the Friday’s at the Mall Del Sol. But even they only have one or two TVs and only a few of the international channels to choose from.

Or, if you have access to a FAST internet connection, you can watch any game you want streamed live for free at a great site I found,

If you know of places in Quito, Cuenca, Manta or anywhere else in Ecuador that shows international sports please suggest them in the comments below, thanks, Dom

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Hey, Ecuador Real Estate Professionals: Get Listed on this Site Now

Are you a real estate professional in Ecuador?

Get listed here on this site…for free by submitting via the contact form!

Please send your name, service you provide and contact information along with Why someone should work with you and you could get listed here today…

Thanks, Domenick

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