Currency in Ecuador

Currency – Coins over bills #AtoZChallenge

Ecuador uses the US dollar as their official currency.  Despite this, the contents of my purse look quite different than they did when I lived in the US.  Cash is king in Ecuador.  Many businesses do not accept debit or credit cards.

My wallet in the US typically had some cash in the form of bills and a bunch of plastic.  Any coins I had went into a jar at home.

In Ecuador, I carry a lot of coins, a few bills, and a little plastic.  I just dumped out the contents of my wallet. Here is my cash:

Money in Ecuador
$12.24, mostly coins

I rarely see $1 bills – we use $1 coins. Why? I think it is because they are sturdier and rinse easier.


In the US, when a bill is damaged, it is not a big deal. The bills are printed there so they are replaced easily. In Ecuador, when a bill is damaged, it needs to be shipped all the way to the US to be replaced.

People and businesses will not accept a damaged bill. They hand it back to you and tell you the bill is no good. Much easier to just use coins! There is no risk of accidentally tearing a coin.

Rinse easier

Fish markets are bustling with activity early every morning in many coastal towns. Fishermen bring in their overnight haul and sell it on the beach.

Puerto Lopez fish market
Fish market, Puerto Lopez, Manabí, Ecuador

Money changing hands at the market sometimes gets wet with salt water and fish… ummm… parts.  Coins can be easily rinsed off.  Bills retain some of the smell.

Periodically, I withdraw money from an ATM and receive interesting smelling bills. Those, I try to spend quickly!

2017 A to Z Challenge - C



I am a US Expat in Ecuador. I grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. My goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let me know what you would like to read more about!


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