The American Express credit card, and the original American Express card, is the least common card accepted by retailers and used by Ecuadorians. But you can use it at most of the large hotels, some restaurants, and the big chain stores in Cuenca.
In case you're not familiar with American Express, they have a charge card (which you're expected to pay off in full each month) and a credit card, for which you can carry a balance and pay interest on unpaid balances.
If you're visiting Cuenca or any of the other big cities, most hotels and restaurants, and some smaller hostels, will accept your American Express. Supermarkets and some retailers will accept it, especially those who sell to tourists.
If you're already living here, or planning to move in Cuenca, you can use your American Express credit card for just about every household item, as long as you buy them at the bigger stores, like Supermaxi, Sukasa or MegaKywi. Otherwise, you'll have to pay cash.
If you're going to live here permanently, you may be better off obtaining an American Express card. It all depends on if you can obtain one with no big strings attached.
Banco Guayaquil has the rights to offer the American Express cards here in Ecuador. You may or may not be required to leave a large security deposit at a bank branch to ensure that you don't leave the country with an unpaid balance.
If they require security and you have a spare $10,000 that's going to sit in a bank anyway, earning interest for you, letting it become your card's security will work for you.
Of course, if Banco Guayaquil requires no deposit from you, all the better!
You can obtain an American Express credit card by applying online. Click on any of the cards (click on the arrow on the left or right to see more versions of the card) to learn more about it. Click on solicítela to apply for that card.
Here are the various versions offered:
You can also apply for a regular, Gold or Platinum card, with an unlimited balance.
As in North America and other countries, some of the higher end versions of the American Express card (credit and charge) come with car rental insurance and other bonuses.
Whether you have an Amex credit card or charge card from North America, Europe or Australia, or you want to apply for one here, this card will meet many of your needs in Cuenca, and elsewhere in Ecuador.
Read what each version of the American Express card offers, what it costs, and what the interest rate is. Then read the fine print (even if you need to have it translated).
If you do all of that, you'll have exactly the credit card you want to use here in Ecuador and abroad. (But remember, if you use it outside Ecuador, the cost of your purchases is subject to a 5% Ecuadorian exit tax, which the bank will tack on to your bill.)
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!