How do I transfer money to Ecuador? We get this question A LOT! Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to send money to Ecuador from the United States, and you have several options!
Cheapest Way to Send Money to Ecuador
By far the cheapest way to send money to Ecuador (other than bringing cash with you) is by using your Charles Schwab ATM card, which doesn’t charge any ATM fees and even refunds fees charged by the dispensing bank. That means this method is totally free!
When you open your Schwab account, you’ll need to start with a Brokerage account and then you can attach an Investor Checking account to it, which comes with an ATM card. You don’t need to use the Brokerage account, but you certainly can.
One piece of advice is to open the account while you’re still in the U.S. We opened our account after we moved to Ecuador following a friend’s advice, but that raised several automatic fraud detection flags, so they wouldn’t activate the account until I physically presented a photo ID at a branch location. Since there are no branch locations in Ecuador, we had to wait until our next return visit to the U.S. to activate and use our account.
The major downside is that you can only withdraw a maximum of $500 per day, and most banks in Ecuador have lower limits than that; usually $300 to $400. When we lived in Cuenca, we paid our $800 rent by depositing cash into our landlord’s account, which meant we had to go to a Banco Guayaquil ATM on two different days to withdraw money. That was a hassle and we didn’t feel comfortable walking around with $800 in our pocket, so now we use a different method.
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Easiest Way to Send Money to Ecuador
Bar far the easiest way to send money to Ecuador is by using a money transfer service.
We frequently use Xoom.com to send money to our Ecuadorian bank account at Cooperative JEP, and we’ve used it to pay rent, as well as distribute money from our food fundraiser to multiple different Ecuadorian banks and coop’s.
Xoom is owned by PayPal so you can use your PayPal login and the bank accounts connected to it. Most transfers are completed within a few minutes, but some larger transfers might take a day or two and require more information. When I transferred $4,000 to our savings account at JEP, I had to fill out a form explaining who the recipient was and what the money would be used for. I also had to provide a copy of my passport.
The main downside with Xoom is the transaction fees, which are quite expensive. It costs $4.99 to send $100 from your PayPal or Bank Account in the U.S. to a bank or coop account in Ecuador. That’s a 5% transaction fee. $1,000 will cost you $18.99, which is a 1.9% fee. $5,000 will cost you $39.99, which is a 0.8% fee. There are also daily and weekly limits, which prevent you from sending large amounts over $10,000.
You can also send money to Ecuador using Western Union. They charge a flat $8 fee for all bank-to-bank transfers under $1,000. That means the fee for a $100 transfer is 8%, but it’s only 0.8% for a $1,000 transfer, which is half the Xoom fee.
Transferring $5,000 using Western Union will cost $30 or 0.6%, which is only slightly less than Xoom. There is a $5,000 maximum transfer limit. You can also transfer money for cash pickup at a Western Union location (they’re everywhere in Ecuador) for a much larger fee.
If you’re sending less than $250, Xoom is a cheaper option, but it can take zero to 8 days for the transfer to complete. We haven’t used this method because our account is with JEP (La Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito “Juventud Ecuatoriana Progresista” Ltda.), which isn’t listed as an option on the Western Union website.
Best Way to Send a Large Amount of Money to Ecuador
If you need to send a large amount of money to Ecuador, such as for your Investor Visa CD or to purchase a piece of property, the best way to do that is with a bank-to-bank wire transfer. This method has a flat fee from $40 to $70 depending on the bank, and regardless of the amount.
You also won’t need to worry about providing additional information since the banks have everything already. Combined with a flat transaction fee and no amount limits, that makes this is the best option if you’re transferring a large sum of money to Ecuador.
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