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How to handle money here?

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How to handle money here?

After reading these posts I've learned (1) bring cash because many places don't take card (2) stuff is expensive (3) don't carry bills over $20

Now I'm picturing everyone walking around with thousands of dollars in twenty dollar bills. Is that what you all do or am I missing something?

9 replies to this topic
Canada
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118 posts
16 reviews
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1. Re: How to handle money here?

There’s no need to walk around with thousands of dollars unless you’re planning to book a last-minute cruise. You can withdraw money from ATMs on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. Keep in mind that the ATM and/or your bank may have a daily withdrawal limit for your card. Check with your hotels/hostels beforehand to see what forms of payment they accept so that you can calculate how much cash you will need.

You can pay the national park fee with a $100 bill. I did a few weeks ago. For tours I think it is ok to pay with bigger bills. But for smaller purchases like food and souvenirs it is better to pay with $20 notes or less.

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Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
San Cristobal
San Cristobal
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Adelaide, Australia
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225 posts
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2. Re: How to handle money here?

There are no problems paying for the $100 entry "park fee" at the airport with a $100 note. Tour operators also accepted them on the islands with no issues.

It is still recommended not to carry too many $100 notes as they are only useful when paying for things that are around the $100 mark ($100, $200, $300, $400 etc etc). So lower demoniation notes for general things are still the most useful.

As long as the price is near the $100 mark then there are no problems. It is giving large amounts of change from $100 and $50 notes that causes issues (which is why overall smaller denomination notes are the most useful).

While the islands are much more expensive than the Ecuadorian mainland, many things in the Galapagos are still cheap enough to make credit cards worthless for smaller purchases and services (also there’s between 12% up to 22% for VAT and card surcharges). On top of that, most places do not take credit cards anyway, which MAKES CARRYING PHYSICAL MONEY ALWAYS ESSENTIAL in the Galapagos (preferably in lower denomination notes as many local vendors will also refuse to give change for $50 and $100 notes). Traveller’s cheques are pretty much useless as well. But the banks on the islands MAY accept them (but I couldn’t confirm this).

There are several ATM’s at Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) and near the San Cristobal town waterfront, but they have a withdrawal limit of $300 per ATM and $600 maximum daily total withdrawal limit.

This being said, there have been past reports that sometimes ATM’s in the Galapagos have been used for “scamming”. Therefore the safest method to withdraw money is from one of the banks and getting your cash from a human teller directly (You will need to bring your passport as proof of ID to do this). Banks will also exchange $50 and $100 notes into smaller “more useful” denominations for you. There’s a bank on the main street of Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz that is perfect for this.

If carrying large amounts of money to cover foreseeable expenses on your trip, it’s probably in your best interests to seek out accommodation that has onsite or in-room safes available (I found multiple mid-range expense accommodation that offered these).

THERE ARE NO ATM’S OR BANKS ON ISABELA ISLAND OR FLOREANA and Credit Cards are useless there. So MAKE SURE you are cashed up BEFORE catching the “inter-island” boat (ferry) to Isabela or Floreana.

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Puerto Ayora
Puerto Ayora
Santa Cruz, Ecuador
San Cristobal
San Cristobal
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Floreana
Floreana
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Maine
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602 posts
30 reviews
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3. Re: How to handle money here?

We did carry a lot of cash in small bills, but for the record we paid for our hotel on Isabela and in at least one restaurant on Isabela with credit cards in January of this year, Santa Cruz too, so they are accepted in many places. Part of the problem with them though is if there is a problem or mischarge, which you may not know about until after you leave, it is very difficult to resolve dealing with a tiny island half a planet away in a different language. So I recommend using cash even when credit cards are an option.

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Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Montreal
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313 posts
43 reviews
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4. Re: How to handle money here?

Another way to do this is that if you already know and booked your accommodations, you can pay it in advance. Some places accept PayPal, some are by bank transfer. This way, you know exactly how much it will cost you in advance and no surprises. I have done this in the past and also for my trip next February. This means less cash to carry or less stops at the bank/ATM to get money.

Toronto
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467 posts
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5. Re: How to handle money here?

For the record, there is an ATM on Isabela Island now but it usually does not work with foreign cards. Unless you are booking a last-minute tour in the islands thee is no need to carry so much cash. I spent months in the islands and rarely have more than $200 with me at any time, except when I go to visit Isabela.

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Isabela
Isabela
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Amsterdam, The...
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7 posts
8 reviews
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6. Re: How to handle money here?

We considered the cash option before our trip to save some money booking last minute, but then we thought, will it be worth all the worring and anxiety? We balanced those out and ended up booking ferries and tours with book-ec.com, hotels with booking. Done! Payed with paypal and debit card. It was the best trip of our lives! Total amount in cash for a week was $245 each. With drinks and small souvenirs.

Another thing I want to point out, in the hotels where we stayed, there were no safes in the rooms, and eventhough Galapagos felt really safe I know that personally I would have felt nervous having lots of cash on me or hidding in the room?

It is possible to do Galapagos with little cash, it all depends on you.

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Berkhamsted, United...
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1,758 posts
196 reviews
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7. Re: How to handle money here?

What about tips though? Don't you need cash for those? The amounts mentioned for boat guides and crew are substantial so would entail carrying a lot of cash. Certainly more than I'd normally carry in cash.

Amsterdam, The...
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7 posts
8 reviews
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8. Re: How to handle money here?

In Ecuador, tipping is optional, I read 10% is included in restaurants and hotels bills. For day tours there's a tipping box and you can be as generous as you want. For cruises tipping is bulky depending on the boat and number of days of the cruise.

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Ecuador
Ecuador
South America
Montreal
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313 posts
43 reviews
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9. Re: How to handle money here?

The hotels I stayed at had safes in 2016 and the ones I booked for 2019 also have them. It all depends where you stay.

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