The MasterCard credit card has only become popular with retailers and Ecuadorian consumers in the last few years. But the predominance of cash transactions in Ecuador means that for some big ticket items, you'll pay a premium over the cash price if you use your card.
If you're visiting Cuenca or any of the other big cities, most hotels and restaurants, and some smaller hostels, will accept your MasterCard. Supermarkets, the cinema at Milenium Plaza and some retailers will accept it, especially those who sell to tourists.
If you're already here, or planning to live in Cuenca, you can use your MasterCard credit card for just about every household item, as long as you buy them at the big stores, like Supermaxi, Coral, Sukasa or MegaHierro. Otherwise, it's cash.
If use your card for cash advances, and pay your card company's service fee for international use, you'll receive a big discount when buying big ticket items with cash. There are over 125 ATMs that you can use with your MasterCard, just in Cuenca.
If you're going to live here permanently, you may be better off obtaining a MasterCard from your Ecuadorian bank. It all depends on whether your bank will give you one with no big strings attached.
Check that your bank will give you a MasterCard without requiring a "security deposit" to protect them should you decide to leave the country without paying your balance.
Or, if they require security and you have a spare $10,000 that's going to sit in the bank and earn interest for you anyway, letting it become your card's security will work as well.
Of course, if your bank requires no deposit, all the better!
You can obtain a MasterCard credit card at any of the following banks in Cuenca:
The credit unions don't offer any credit cards.
As in North America and other countries, some of the higher end versions of the MasterCard credit card come with car rental insurance and other bonuses.
Whether you have a MasterCard credit card from North America, Europe or Australia, or you want one from a bank here in Cuenca, this card will meet most of your needs in the city, and elsewhere in Ecuador.
Read what each bank's versions of the MasterCard offer, what they cost, 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 MasterCard credit card you want to use here in Ecuador and abroad.
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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!!