As a first-time traveler to Cuba, you probably have many questions about the Cuban currency: What’s the official Cuban currency? Can you use US dollars in Cuba? Can you pay with a credit card or debit card? Do they even have ATMs in Cuba? In this article, we answer these questions and more.
We can tell you that the Cuban currency system is difficult to deal with as a traveler, which is one of the most interesting facts about Cuba. But don’t panic. We will cover absolutely everything you need to know about using money in Cuba.
- What is the Currency of Cuba?
- What Cuban Currency to Use as a Visitor?
- The Cuban Currency Exchange Rate
- Can You Use the US Dollar in Cuba?
- What is the Best Currency to Bring to Cuba?
- Where Can You Get Cuban Currency?
- Avoid Currency Scams
- Can You Use Credit Cards in Cuba?
- Prepaid Cards in Cuba
- 10. ATMs in Cuba
- Using CUPs at Airports in Cuba
- Key Takeaways
1. What is the Currency of Cuba?
The official currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP). However, Cuban residents can also use a digital currency called “Moneda Libremente Convertible” (MLC) at the so-called “dollar stores” (“tiendas MLC”).
As a visitor, you will primarily use the CUP.
The Cuban Peso (CUP)
The Cuban Peso (“Peso Cubano”, “moneda nacional” or simply “MN”) is used by both residents and visitors alike.
The CUP is available in bills of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000. It would help if you always had the lower denomination CUP bills at hand to cover small expenses such as street food, bus fare (except for the Viazul bus), and flea market finds.
Because of the current inflation crisis in Cuba, expect to carry a ton of cash with you. But be aware that pickpocketing is common in large cities like Havana. Thus, a travel money belt may be handy to protect your money and small valuables while walking the streets of Cuba.
Moneda Libremente Convertible (MLC)
The “Moneda Libremente Convertible” (MLC) (freely convertible currency, in English) is a digital currency that Cuban residents can use at “dollar stores” (“tiendas MLC”).
MLCs can be expressed in any foreign currency accepted in Cuba, including even the Cuban Peso.
We know, it’s complicated.
But all you need to know is that MLCs are mostly reserved for Cuban residents. As a traveler, you won’t likely need it. You can still get a pre-paid MLC card (we discuss it below), but we see little use for you as a traveler.
The (Eliminated) Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)
Beware that you can no longer use the CUC in Cuba, contrary to what many outdated articles say on the Internet. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) was one of Cuba’s two official currencies, most frequently used by visitors.
This is because Cuba eliminated the dual currency system on January 1st, 2021, when the Cuban Peso (CUP) became the only official currency in Cuba.
2. What Cuban Currency to Use as a Visitor?
You must use CUPs to cover most of your trip to Cuba costs. Most states and private facilities, and tourist attractions will accept CUP.
There are a few exceptions, though. Please, read carefully below and avoid unwelcome surprises:
- All-inclusive hotels and some resorts won’t accept cash in Cuban Pesos. For example, non-covered services or products in all-inclusive resorts are charged in Cuban Pesos, but you can only pay with a credit card! When paying with a credit card, they will exchange your home currency for Cuban Pesos at the official exchange rate.
- When renting a car, you must pay in foreign currency at car rental offices in Cuba, and you can’t pay in cash!
- When leaving the country, you must use your home currency past the security check at airports.
You can also use foreign currency in these scenarios:
- When tipping in Cuba, but keep in mind that the people you tip will later need to exchange the foreign currency for Cuban Pesos.
- Because the informal exchange rate has nearly quadrupled the official exchange rate, some private facilities, such as “hostales” (private rooms or Cuban Airbnbs) and “paladares” (private restaurants) will welcome your Euros, Pounds, or even US dollars.
3. The Cuban Currency Exchange Rate
There are three types of exchange rates in Cuba:
- The official exchange rate, applicable between Cuban companies and for international purposes.
- The exchange rate for locals and visitors, about five times higher than the official exchange rate.
- The unofficial exchange rate of the informal market, about six to seven times higher than the official exchange rate.
The Official Exchange Rate
You can check the Cuban currency’s official exchange rate at Banco Central de Cuba. The exchange rates rarely change much, and you should probably ignore them as a traveler.
The Exchange Rate for Locals and Visitors
Due to the skyrocketing prices of foreign currencies in the informal market, the Cuban government began buying them at about the same prices in 2022. They now buy foreign currencies from Cuban residents and visitors at four times the official exchange rate.
The best place to check the current exchange rates that will apply to you as a traveler is CADECA’s website.
At each CADECA office, you will also see a TV screen or printed sign displaying the daily exchange rates.
The Informal Exchange Rate
Due to the recent spike of Cuban migrants, the price of foreign currencies in the black market reached nearly four times the official exchange rate.
El Toque has been tracking the evolution of the unofficial exchange rates for some time now, and it does not seem that the upward trend is going to end anytime soon:
Before the Cuban Government started buying foreign currencies in 2022, you could get way more Cuban Pesos in the informal market. But now, the exchange rate difference is marginal, and it seems that the Cuban Government wants to catch up with the informal market.
4. Can You Use the US Dollar in Cuba?
You can bring US dollars to Cuba and exchange them for Cuban Pesos at certain banks, CADECA offices, airports, hotels, or in the informal market. However, you cannot use US dollars in Cuba at any government-owned facility. You can’t use credit or debit cards issued by US banks either.
In August 2022, The Cuban Government announced that it would begin purchasing foreign currencies, including the US dollar.
Remember that you must sell your USDs because they are not accepted for buying products or services at any state-owned facility (airports, car rental offices, etc.).
How Much Is 1 USD in Cuba?
The value of the Cuban Peso against the USD depends on to whom you sell your US dollars. In January 2023:
- 1 USD is worth about 120 CUPs if you sell it to CADECA.
- 1 USD is worth more than 160 CUP if you sell it in the informal market.
Before you board the plane to Cuba, make sure to check the updated Cuban currency exchange rate on CADECA and El Toque.
5. What is the Best Currency to Bring to Cuba?
The Euro is still the best currency to bring to Cuba. It’s convenient, widely accepted on the island, and it’s subject to the lowest bank fee (2%) when exchanging them in cash. Currently, 1 EUR sells for about 122 CUPs at the government’s banks and currency exchange offices.
This is not to say that should not bring US dollars to Cuba. You can, and you should if bringing Euros is a hassle. Just consider two things:
- You cannot use US dollars to buy products or services from state-owned facilities on the island.
- You will incur an 8% bank fee when selling your USDs in cash to the Cuban Government, higher than the standard 2% for other foreign currencies.
You can also exchange the following foreign currencies in Cuba:
- Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is convenient for the many Canadians traveling to Cuba every year.
- Swiss Franc (CHF)
- Euro (EUR)
- Pound Sterling (GBP)
- Japanese Yen (JPY)
- Mexican Peso (MXN)
6. Where Can You Get Cuban Currency?
You can get Cuban Pesos from CADECA, hotels, banks, hosts and friends, online marketplaces like Revolico, and street vendors. You can’t get Cuban currency in your home country, though!
Banks, Hotels, and CADECA
CADECA is the government’s currency exchange house. CADECA offices are located in airports, cruise ports, and shopping centers.
CADECA is the safest place to sell your home currency, although you will probably get more Cuban Pesos for your money in the informal market.
Keep in mind that, as part of the travel restrictions enforced by the Cuban Government to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, CADECA offices may experience limited capacity and reduced hours.
Travelers can also exchange Cuban currency at some banks and hotels.
Hosts and Friends
If you truly trust your friends or host, ask them to sell your home currency for you in the informal market.
This will help you if you are traveling to Cuba from the US, since you will be directly strengthening civil society in Cuba, a requirement of the Support for the Cuban People license.
Don’t forget to give them a good tip for the favor!
You can post an ad on popular Cuban online marketplaces such as Revolico. Thousands of users are selling and buying foreign currencies, and you can get a good price for your home currency.
Still, this process is risky and requires a good knowledge of how online Cuban marketplaces work. Besides, it’s not like you can just sell the currency online. Someone still needs to go where you are and exchange the money.
You can often stumble upon “opportunities” to sell your currency outside CADECA offices and local shops. Often, people roaming around will pitch you attractive offers.
The risk of being scammed is higher this way, though. We always advise against exchanging your money on the street.
Can You Get Cuban Currency in Your Home Country?
You can’t buy Cuban Pesos in your home country. Even if you manage to do it, you can only import up to 5,000 CUP, according to a recent resolution from the Aduana General de la República de Cuba (customs).
7. Avoid Currency Scams
Although Cuba is a relatively safe country, currency scams can happen, and tourists are typically the victims. The currency scam can go one of two ways: 1) you receive forged currency in exchange for your (legitimate) money; or 2) you get change in CUC, instead of CUP.
You could lose a lot of money this way!
You’ve never been there. Never used Cuban money. So, how can you know the difference between the CUC and the CUP and avoid getting scammed?
Here is the secret: the CUP bills have faces. If you expect to receive CUP in a transaction and don’t see a face on the bill, you will get CUC instead! The CUC bill also says “pesos convertibles” right at the center.
8. Can You Use Credit Cards in Cuba?
In most cases, yes. Unless they were issued by a US bank or a subsidiary of a US bank.
However, one of the most important travel tips for Cuba that must know is that Cuba is primarily a cash country. So, plan on paying for most of your expenses with hard currency!
9. Prepaid MLC Cards for Travelers
On June 15, 2021, the Cuban Government launched prepaid MLC cards exclusively available to foreign visitors. BANDEC (a Cuban bank) issues these cards, and you can use them to pay for goods and services at facilities that accept MLC, such as retail stores, car rental offices, some hotels, and state-operated restaurants.
Here are the main facts you must know about using prepaid MLC cards in Cuba:
- You can only pay in MLC, and they are valid for two years.
- You can buy prepaid cards in CADECA and BANDEC offices. You will need your passport to acquire a prepaid card.
- There is a 5 USD processing fee, and you cannot pay it in USD (lol).
- To make things even more complicated, the prepaid cards are printed with denominations in US dollars (!) in the amount of 200 USD, 500 USD, and 1,000 USD.
- You can reload the prepaid cards any time you need.
- You can’t load the card from any other country.
- The card won’t display your name on it.
- You will need to set up a PIN.
- You cannot transfer money to prepaid cards from other cards or bank accounts.
- You can withdraw money, but only in CUP.
- The bank wouldn’t replace your card if you lost it.
- If you have leftover money at the end of your trip, CADECA will refund the money in Cuban Pesos.
Learn more about prepaid MLC cards in Cuba in the list of FAQs from the Government’s tourist portal.
10. ATMs in Cuba
If you want to get cash, you can withdraw money from Cuban ATMs using either a debit card or a credit card.
You may be charged a bank commission fee that can cost anywhere between 3 to 12% per transaction.
ATMs in Cuba are not as common as in other parts of the world. Currently, Cuba has 780 cash machines with plans to install another 200 ATMs in the coming year. Most of Cuba’s ATMs are located in large cities and popular tourist destinations like Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, and Matanzas (Varadero).
11. Using CUPs at Airports in Cuba
Although you can use CUPs in facilities at Cuba airports, we recommend you exchange your leftover Cuban pesos before checking in at the airport because:
- As of August 2022, CADECA offices only buy foreign currencies. It means you won’t be able to sell your Cuban Pesos to CADECA.
- Even if you could, the long lines at the airport’s CADECA office would make you cringe.
- You cannot use CUPs past the security checkpoint.
- You can’t export more than 5,000 CUP anyway. Airport authorities will likely confiscate any amount over that limit.
Perhaps, you will want to keep 25-50 CUP to buy the NAUTA card to get Cuban WiFi at the airport.
You can use foreign currency only after passing through the security checkpoint, but here are some other crazy facts that you should know:
- You will get change in Cuban Pesos.
- Many attendants won’t take coins (!). (They said Cuban banks might have an issue with it when depositing the coins later).
- Some travelers have reported that the airport facilities won’t take bills with tears or writing.
As you can see, Cuba’s currency system is as unique as the island itself.
While this can catch a visitor off guard if they don’t know what to expect, the currency system is much easier to navigate if you know a few key pieces of information:
- You must use Cuban Pesos for most of your expenses in Cuba.
- Although you can get a prepaid MLC card, it’s unlikely that you will really need it. MLCs are mostly reserved for Cuban residents.
- You cannot use CUC either because it was eliminated in 2021.
- You can use your home currency only when paying for a rental car, tipping, and past the security checkpoint at airports.
- You can bring US dollars to Cuba and sell them to the Cuban Government or exchange them in the informal market. Keep in mind that US dollars are not accepted at any state-owned facility.
- The best currency to bring to Cuba is still the Euro because it is accepted everywhere and has a high conversion value. It’s also subject to the lowest exchange fee of 2% (the US dollar is subject to an 8% exchange fee).
- Selling your home currency in the informal market can get you a ton of Cuban Pesos too, but it’s a little risky because you may be scammed.
- You cannot buy Cuban Pesos in your home country.
- You can use non-US credit cards and ATMs in Cuba, but the infrastructure is scattered and old.
- Exchange your leftover Cuban Pesos before going to the airport. It will be hard to sell them once you are there, and you can’t use them past the security checkpoint.
So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Essential Travel Logistics For Cuba
Cuban Tourist Card – If your Cuban Tourist Card (a.k.a Cuban Tourist Visa) isn’t bundled into your airline ticket or travel package, buy it only through EasyTouristCard.
Travel Health Insurance – Travel medical insurance is an entry requirement for Cuba, so you can’t skip it. Travelers can get travel health insurance for Cuba via Insubuy. Travel protection benefits such as trip interruption and cancellation, baggage delay insurance, etc., are not required.
Essential Items to Pack – Bring the essential travel necessities that you may not be able to get in Cuba:
- First aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Face masks
- Water bottle with filter
- Mosquito repellent
- Pin adapter (for Europeans)
- Travel guide
- Spanish-English phrasebook
- Suggested Reading: The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times
Read our complete packing list for Cuba.
Find Accommodations – Find hotels or casas particulares (private accommodations) on Skyscanner, which lists thousands of accommodations available in Cuba.
Book Your Flight – Book cheap flights to Cuba on Skyscanner, our favorite flight search engine to find deals on flights to Cuba.
I just returned from Varadero yesterday. Depending where you go, certain currencies may be more advantages than others. In Varadero, the flea market accepted dollars, euros, and pesos to a lesser extent. But going to the newly built tourist section between the The Beatles Bar and Jasone Park, it’s Pesos. However The Beatles Bar is in American dollars. Confused yet? In the all inclusive resorts, you can tip in whatever currency but try not to tip in coins so best to have American $1 bills or tip in pesos. Booking excursions at these resorts are only by credit card. However, taking the double decker bus will only accept $5 USD in cash (not sure if they’ll accept 5 Euros though) or pay by Canadian credit card and be charged $7.50 CAD. I always had Canadian, American and a few pesos wherever I went just in case. Also bring toilet paper and soap/hand sanitizer to public toilets and have small denominations of pesos like 50 or tops 100 or American $1 to tip the bathroom attendant or they will get pushy if you don’t.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Sandra!
Can I use a Visa Debit Card which was issued in Australia i Cuba?
2023 – Can you bring back CUP back home as a souvenir? Is there a limit?
You are allowed to take home with you up to 5,000 CUP.
I would argue the best currency to bring to Cuba is the Canadian dollar.
Oh really 🤔 why do you say that?
Excellent information about currency, now I understand why my US credit card did not work at government shop
As of the end of November 2022, you can NOT sell CUP back to your home currency anywhere at all. The hotel will sell you CUP, but not buy it back. The same situation at the airport. The airport’s official exchange box told me, that you are not able to sell CUP even at the bank. Sounds completely nonsense. The country is refusing to buy its own currency.
No one will tell you this information if you buy CUP. They sell it with a smile. But if you try to sell it back – it becomes a paper.
Thank you so much for updated information, we will be travelling to Cuba this December 2022, so this is very informative.
The problem with canadian dollars, euros and pounds everybody seems to forget is that they have only coins below the amount of 5. And coins can be a problem in some areas. And you dont want to pay/tip 5 canadian/euros/pounds for each thing you buy. They will not have a change to give you back, anyway, and if they will it will be in coins. Thats where american 1$ bills become usefull.
My friend just went to Holguin all included (we live in Canada). I advised him to take american 1$ bills, a small amount of canadian 1$ and 2$ coins, and the rest of money in canadian 5$ bills. Ok this is much of metal and paper but this is the better mix and you are backed in every situation.
You want to tip or pay a small amount you give the canadian coins. They dont want it? Everybody will take an american dollar. Bigger amount? You mix your canadian 5$`s with american 1$ or canadian coins. You can also easily exchange their canadian coins for 5$ bills.
Basically bring the smallest denomination (5) of canadian (preferred) , euro or pound bills and back them with american 1$ bills. Frankly this is the best advice I can give.
Great advice! Thanks!
Hi, wondering where is the best place to exchange CUP for foreign currency when leaving the island since the cadeca in the airport only buys but doesn’t sell foreign currency. Thanks.
I am about to make a trip to Havana from the US. Last time I was there was in 2018. I am told that I will need a card with CUP to use in paladares or other places but no one has been able to tell me where to get the debit card. What do you know about this?
You don’t need a debit card in CUP to pay at paladares or any other place.
As an American who just left Cuba (only stayed in Havana and Vinales), the advice re USD is way off. Yes, euros are accepted everywhere but with the exception (inexplicably) of one private taxi driver and the government owned entities (which US citizens aren’t supposed to spend money at anyway) the taxis, restaurants, street vendors, stores, etc. accepted USD at 1:100 value. I exchanged $70 initially when we first arrived and received 1:100 rate. Casa hosts will be happy to help you and they want good reviews so it’s safe. If you’re fluent enough in Spanish and a saavy person (know what CUP looks like, good people reading skills, know to count it all before exchanging), I would not say it’s dangerous to exchange on the street. I did that the 2nd day there. Most restaurants I ate at treated USD and euro as equal and 1:100 of the CUP. Two valued it at 1:90, still quite fair. One valued it at 1:60, I knew this wasn’t fair but since the total would be about the same as breakfast as Panera … (shrug). Not purchasing euros from my bank saved me a ton of money
Thanks for sharing your experience!
As we said in the article, you can bring USDs to Cuba, but you must be aware that currency exchange scams do happen. Travelers should exchange their USDs with people they trust.
On the other hand, US citizens can spend money at the government-owned facilities. In fact, most tourist facilities in Cuba are government-owned. What US citizens cannot do is spending money at certain state-owned companies that are controlled by the Cuban security services and the military. Check the full list here.
Thanks again for your comment. It’s true that more and more locales and private businesses are accepting US dollars. We are just pointing out the risks and the alternatives.
I am traveling to Cuba from Ireland next week. The article has a lot of information so kind of overwhelmed. Since you have just been there do you think we should just bring Euro, change some of it but that we’ll be able to pay with Euro in most places?
Thanks so much in advance!
While I do agree that the intricacies of the Cuban system can be somewhat complicated, there are some basic facts that are easy for everyone to comprehend.
If a tourist relies on offical channels and exchange rates, their stay in Cuba will be expensive. As pointed out in the article, the difference between official and unofficial rate is 1:4, and prices in the country are set accordingly.
Why not write a simple guide detailing how to change money safely? Casas and hostels are safe since they have a reputation to uphold and you’re a paying client. Also, obviously, take your time, count the money three times, check the bills for tears and hold them up against a light source.
You can pay with foreign currencies (yes, including dollar) almost everywhere. Just ask about the exchange rate beforehand since most restaurants will lowball you (obv still better than official rate).
Also, and this is a very Cuban phenomena, if you find yourself in a scenario where foreign cash is not accepted (such as a state-run hotel), simply ask any Cuban in the vicinity to help you out and they will, especially if they can make some money on it. This usually holds true for the staff working at said hotel as well. The secret to these dealings it to simply take your time and never be in a rush.
There’s always a solution.
Never ever use an ATM or any other money service provided by the government. Bring cash, keep it safe and change as you need. Every single Cuban you meet wil lbe more than happy to help you out.
Everybody-literally-everybody accepts US dollars. Advice not to bring this currency to Cuba is misleading
This is incorrect. US dollars are not accepted at any state-owned facility, such as hotels, car rental companies, retail stores, restaurants, etc. As we explained in the article, you can still bring US dollars to the island and sell them in the informal market at high prices. Private businesses and individuals will also accept US dollars.
But the latter is also true for Euros. On top of that, Euros are widely accepted at most state-owned facilities in Cuba (although at the official exchange rate value).
I’m really surprised that Tour Republic is giving advice to not bring US Dollars at all. The casa particular owners that I keep in touch with from prior trips all tell me to bring US dollars. They say they are accepted everywhere in Cuba except at government owned establishments. Their advice is to bring US dollars in small denominations to use everywhere. They say In most places you can divide the peso price by 80 to 100 and pay in dollars. Taxi drivers enthusiastically take US dollars as long as you ask first and negotiate the price. The guest house owners tell me that they will convert US dollars at 100 to one for me and to carry small amounts of pesos for government run places that wont take US dollars. I will go back and carefully verify your advice with others that I know in Cuba to find out the actual situation with US dollars.
As we said, we still think that it’s better to bring Euros. Yes, you can sell US dollars at high prices in the informal market. Yes, private business owners and locals will gladly accept your US dollars. And we said that too in the article.
However, we still recommend bringing Euros rather than US dollars because:
1. You can sell them at high prices in the informal market too.
2. They can be used at some government-owned facilities. For example, after the security checkpoint at airports, you can use Euros and other foreign currencies, but NOT US dollars.
We just rewrote the relevant section to clarify that this is not a blanket recommendation. You can bring US dollars to Cuba, sell them in the black market, and get a ton of Cuban Pesos. Just consider that you won’t be able to use the spare USDs at any state-owned facility.
Great article, frustrating place for money.
A couple additional points.
Most people there don’t trust the CUP, remember the CUC was deemed worthless, therefore they lost their mattress savings. Also their inflation is out of control right now (liter of milk is $8), so the CUP keeps dropping. It’s 24 CUP for 1cdn$ now. So I found most places asking for Canadian or Euro. In fact a taxi driver gave me a better price on cdn$ than used.
There is also old currency hanging around, it’s worthless, so becareful when changing or getting change. They have absolutely nothing and will do what they need to, on order to live, can’t blame them.
Quite a comprehensive article. There are a couple of issues, though.
“Only Cuban residents are allowed to spend US dollars at “dollar stores”.”
This is incorrect. No-one can use US cash – or any cash – in these stores. The stores are now referred to as MLC stores.
Anyone – resident or visitor – with a MLC card, or a Visa/Mastercard debit/credit card not affiliated to a US bank, can spend in these stores.
“You cannot pay in MLC because this digital currency is reserved for Cuban residents.”
This is incorrect.
A visitor can acquire a MLC card and use it at any government establishment where goods and services are priced in MLC. The prepay card referred to in the article, is a Tarjeta prepago en MLC.
A visitor using their Visa/Mastercard at these places, are essentially purchasing with MLC.
The export/import limit on CUP was raised last month to 5000. See Gaceta Oficial No. 28 Extraordinaria de 2022.
Thank you, Yaya!
We updated the article to clarify your great points. Thanks for contributing!
Silly question… but if CADECA isn’t operational at the airport, what is the most immediate way to get funds? Can you pay a driver in USD to take you to an exchange as soon as you arrive?
I have US dollars. Am at Las Vegas airport. Flying to Miami then Havana the next day. I’m stuck with US dollars.
They use the us dollars even in some shops they gave me the change in dollars.
You can offer them to pay in dollars just ask them
Hi, also how much for a good meal over there in one of the better restaurants? Will they accept the Peso? Just want an idea of how much money i will need to to change.
The good prices surprisingly are in big government hotels like Inglaterra or Nacional and they have prices in CUP .
Probably you will pay up to 2000 CUP so its not that much if you exchange your money not in the bank. Now euro is about 110CUP dollar probably the same or a bit less. Pound is from 110-125 CUP.
IN small private resto they are charging mostly in euro and the prices are unbelievable.
Mohito in National hotel 150 CUP IN private 6euros plus 10% which they don’t know how to count.
Be aware of this and bargine for prices they will always try get impossible.
Hi, thanks for the info. Im heading over there in a couple of weeks. Staying in airbnb properties. Where i trust people to exchange money for me. But the more i hear regarding the currency, the more my head hurts 🙂 So roughly how many bars, restaurants in Old Havana accept credit cards? Also paying for cab from airport with Sterling with be ok? Thanks for help.
Many restaurants in Old Havana accept credit cards as long as they are issued by American banks. However, keep in mind that Cuba is still primarily a cash country. So, don’t overly rely on using credit cards.
If you take a state-owned taxi, you must pay in Cuban Pesos. However, you reach an agreement with the taxi driver before getting in. They are very flexible, especially with tourists.
All sites say US dollars not to be brought in.
My daughters family is now in Havana. Everybody just wants US dollars. Their 40 dollar meal, yes listed in US dollars, cost them 200 Canadian.
They finally found a restaurant that accepts credit cards.
As we explained in the article, the US dollar is highly valued in the informal market due to the migration crisis. Many people want to leave the country and take US dollars with them!
However, if you fail to exchange your US dollars in the informal market (which exposes you to currency scams), you won’t be able to use them anywhere in the country.
Does anyone know what kind of currency is accepted at the gas station in Cuba? I am planning rent a car but after read this information I could not find any clarification regarding the payment at the gas station with a rented car. Thank you in advance!
They should accept Cuban Pesos in most gas stations. One of our team members was in Cuba last month and rented a car. He paid in Cuban Pesos at the gas station.
I paid in usd. Becareful driving as a side note. Police ticket foreigners heavily, and they don’t have radar, it’s a guessing game. Lol.
Well I read today all Cuban hotels, or is it just the agencies, are only going to accept digital payments. This is a big shock for those who have been lucky enough to find hotels that will accept CUPS (exchanged on the informal market) Surely this will not apply to casas particulares. perhaps they will enjoy an upward swing in trade?
I am going to Cuba tomorrow so I will report back.
Please report back with your experiences! Have a wonderful stay in Cuba!
Varadero hotels were accepting Cups for all inclusive deals at the beginning of 2022
Most importantly check your bank that your credit card is valid in Cuba – Revolut and Wise are not last time I contacted them.The buses I used wanted payment in dollars or with a credit card never Cups.
I find it hard to believe not taking dollars is good advice – it was the currency I was usually quoted in.
Watch out for tourist card scams.
I am planning on visiting Havana at the end of this month, from UK. Has anyone stayed at the so/ paseo del prado la habana before?
I am trying to work out the best currency to take. If I am correct, it is best to take GBP and exchange this to to CUP, at the currency exchange, in the airport?
Is this correct?
I have emailed the hotel, to see if they are happy to take CUP cash. However if not, I can always pay via card at the hotel.
Also, how easy is it to hire a driver for a day in Havana?
Paseo de prado is the centre of havana Central. lots of hotels, cafes, bar and main tourist buses for tours and to beach. Do not change your dosh at a cadeca or airport. They can only change your money for the government rate. about 33 peso (cup per £1). The economic reality of Cuba at the moment, is you can buy 110-120 cup per £1 from ‘unofficial sellers’ in the street, outside hotels etc. It is not officially sanctioned, but no illegal either. My suggestion, take GBP cash. (Euro is more popular, simply as it is more widely used. 1 euro=about 110-120 cup. To avoid being robbed, make friends with your bell boy, or the waiters in the terrace cafes of the big hotels in paseo de prado. (the security of traceability). Let them know you need to purchase CUP. know the average is 100-1 for gbp, euro and USD, but be pragmatic. 80 or 90 cup lets that waiter make a few bob for themselves, they have families to feed too. Treating them with respect and consideration will earn you their gratitude and loyalty. Your notes won’t be useless CUC, but instead genuine CUP and no risk of pick pockets or robbery. Remember: offically, in Cuba £1 = 33 cup!. getting 100 cup instead of 120 or so, is still a bargain and you are reducing risks and sharing some love. ps. 15 vacations in Cuba, you will love it Senny. Speak to the same waiter about his cousin driving you around lool
I agree with everything Tony says. I would just say your taxi driver from the airport will happily, if not insist on any hard currency
There is too great advantage in changing money at the informal rate to ignore it. Change small amounts at first.
Right now April4 you cannot buy anything with Cuban Pesos. Exchange only amount what you willing to give tips. Everithing else you pay by credit cards. Each vendor have a machine for payment. Other way you will be charged as you use US dollar converted to your currency(CAD, Euro…). Again Cuban Pesos only for tips and please be generous, people realy need it
Could you please let us know where did you go where you couldn’t use Cuban Pesos? Certainly, some all-inclusive hotels won’t allow you to use Cuban Pesos to pay for products or services that are not included, but in most places -except in stores as we mentioned- you should be able to pay in Cuban Pesos.
Just to follow up on this. We were able to confirm with our people on the ground that all-inclusive hotels and some resorts won’t allow you to use cash. The charge is still in Cuban Pesos, but they don’t accept cash. Therefore, they will charge your credit card and exchange your home currency for Cuban Pesos at the official exchange rate.
Therefore, our advice is to call the hotel first and confirm whether they accept Cuban Pesos in cash. If not, don’t bring cash to the hotel, obviously.
Thanks for the heads up!
Where can you change you left over cup? If you can’t take more then 2000cup home
I still have 6000cup who will change it back to Canadian dollars..the banks won’t doit
You should be able to change it back at any CADECA office. Also, ask in your host about it.
Hi Sharon, how did you get on in the end, I am in Cuba currently (leaving in a few days) and also have a few thousand CUP that I would like to exchange if possible. If not possible, I will spend whilst here even though it makes everything much worse in value for me.
I thought I understood the current currency situation in Cuba from reading this site, and then I visited the CADECA website. Under the SERVICES tab and then EXCHANGE AND REEXCHANGE OF FOREIGN CURRENCIES tab, was the following information. (this is a cut/paste)
Exchange is the operation that allows the client to obtain CUC (Cuban convertible peso) at the current exchange rate on the day, delivering in exchange Freely Convertible Currency (MLC) of those authorized to exchange. Recanje is the operation that allows the client to obtain Freely Convertible Currency (MLC) from those authorized to exchange at the current exchange rate on the day, delivering CUC (Cuban convertible peso) in exchange. The date on the top of the page was March 02, 2022.
So which is it? You say the CUC has been eliminated, and the CADECA site says it is not, and apparently I will receive CUC when I arrive at the exchange desk at the airport.
I’m confused and bewildered at this, and it’s not the emotion I wish to have while planning my first vacation in over 2 years. Please help
The CUC was eliminated. You won’t receive CUC when exchanging money at CADECA.
can i tip in us dollars
Thanks for the great article – so much detail. We leave for Cuba in a week from the UK. Are £ still the best to take? We have been quoted taxi fares in US $? CONFUSED! Thanks for your help ..
Euros and British Pounds are still the best currency to bring to Cuba, if you use the official channels to exchange the money for Cuban Pesos.
With that said, in the last weeks, the US dollar price in the black market has skyrocketed. (We can’t advise travelers to exchange their home currency in the black market due to possible currency scams). Because the US value has increased so much in the black market, some travel businesses may accept US dollars. However, you shouldn’t expect US dollars to be accepted everywhere. In fact, only a few private businesses will take USDs.
Can I tip using the Canadian loonie or toonie?
You sure can but a US$1 bill will be more classy.
I am shocked that you did not include the Canadian dollar as a currency US traveller’s should take to Cuba. The Canadian dollar is accepted, and welcomed, almost everywhere in Cuba; the pound and the Euro are not.
You CANNOT tip with a loonie or twonie. Cuban banks will not except them which is no different than banks in Canada not accepting Euro coins for exchange. Coins are to difficult to count and, because of their weight, too difficult to handle. Because Cuban banks won’t take them Cuban people and stores won’t.
Hi -will take your advice as I’m planning 3-4 wks in Feb/April 2022 traveling alone … are “NON USA” travels cheques accepted in Cuba? Can I easily find bicycles to rent in the cities? Is cycling generally safe? Is “hitch-hiking” permitted & safe for a female? Can i purchase “pre paid sim cards“ for cell phone connection? How do I obtain an PCR test to exit Cuba?
I’m planning to go by myself if you go can u tell how it went, please!!
I have a lot of CUP, because i sold things in cuba, Is it possible to change the CUP in other currencies?
Unfortunately, I don’t think can exchange Cuban Pesos in other countries. You can’t also bring CUPs to Cuba.
Yes…1$…100 pesos MN
We are coming to Cuba in Jan 2022and are confused about the currency so can we bring Canadian coin and bills for tipping and spending
You can bring Canadian bills for tipping, but keep in mind that you can only use Cuban Pesos at establishments and facilities. Therefore, you will need to exchange your CADs for CUPs. However, you can tip in CADs.
We are currently in Varadero at a resort.Some restaurants cannot take credit cards,no connection we were told,some places in town take them and some only take cash and might be pesos or Canadiandollars!Very confusing!!Never sure what is required!!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Melva. Using money in Cuba is indeed very confusing. Not all establishments accept foreign currency. Credit cards won’t work everywhere. ATMs are scattered. On top of that, some private businesses use an unfavorable exchange rate depending on the currency you use.
My advice is:
– Bring cash to cover most of your expenses in Cuba.
– Exchange your home currency at hotels or CADECA offices, but keep some money in your currency.
– When paying at private facilities, ask what’s the best currency to pay with. Avoid exchanging money at these private facilities or with street vendors.
– Use credit cards when possible, especially at high-end hotels and restaurants.
Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your trip to Cuba!
You can’t pay cash in MLC stores. It’s electronic transactions only and always has been since they open.
Article needs updating for the June 21, 2021 changes…
Thanks for the heads up! We just updated the article to reflect the major changes announced in June 2021:
– Bringing US dollars to Cuba is now useless.
– Tourists can buy prepaid cards to pay for goods and services at certain hotels, restaurants, and retail stores.
Hope it helps!
I’m not replying to Sandra, but can’t see any other way of making a comment.
1. The smallest GBP or EUR notes available are 5 – far too much for regular tipping. So are £ or € coins acceptable as tips? But a large bag of coins is very heavy to carry around!
2. Your info is confusing – your reply to Sandra says it’s now totally useless to bring USD to Cuba. I didn’t see that in the article, which says that USD can be exchanged in the Cambios, and that locals can spend them in the dollar shops. We used to tip in dollar bills several years ago – so are these still welcome or not?
Thanks for your comment.
USDs are useless in Cuba because they are not accepted at any tourist facility. CADECAs are not buying USD dollars either. Only Cuban residents can spend US dollars to buy from the so-called “dollar shops”. This is true as of today, July 2021. We updated the article to reflect that fact. I know, it’s confusing 🙁
So again, please clarify:-
1. Are GBP or EUR coins acceptable as tips, since £5 note is too much?
2. Are US dollar bills advised/acceptable as tips, as the locals can spend them in the dollar shops?
1. Yes, coins are acceptable. I suggest tipping at least one pound or one euro. Read our tipping guide for Cuba for more details.
2. It’s better not to tip in US dollars. Local cannot use USDs in cash at dollar stores. They can only buy from those stores with a card in USD denomination, and they can’t even load cash money onto those cards. That’s why, currently, the US dollar is the foreign currency with the lowest value in Cuba. Keep in mind that this can change at any point. The Cuban monetary policy is very “fluid”.
Hope it helps.
To author: On June 15 the Cuban government extended the date by which the CUC needed to be converted to CUP. See: https://www.cibercuba.com/noticias/2021-06-15-u1-e199370-s27061-gobierno-cuba-extienden-180-dias-plazo-canje-cuc-sucursales. Now you have until December 31 to make conversions.
Your information and this article/comments are very helpful. I plan to return to Cuba before the end of the year.
Thanks for the information. Keep in mind that this is only applicable to Cuban residents that need to exchange CUC to CUP. Visitors can no longer use CUCs in Cuba.
So if I still have cuc I can tip with them at the resort? I’m coming In December 2021..
You can, but it’s preferable to tip in your home currency since CUCs are going away at the end of 2021.
I have been to Cuba many time, but with Covid wont be going till 2022. Now I see residents will have till July 2021 to exchange their cuc’s. What about out of country people. I have some at home maybe 150 cuc what do you recommend I do.
Unfortunately, only Cuban residents will have until July 2021 to exchange their CUCs. Besides, the Cuban customs wouldn’t have allowed you to bring your CUCs anyway.
You legally werent allowed to take cuc out of cuba, so i doubt theyd have any allowances … yur stuck with them.
It’s now extended until end of the year. It has to be exchanged at the bank. You can’t exchange it at cadecas
Hi All, I am Canadian and have be to Cuba 14 times before 2019. I have always brought Canadian dollars and usually I would keep a few CUC from my last trip (not suppose to but I do). It is hard to tell what rate is better (the airport, the hotel or the bank). One thing that I am sure of is that the hotel rate was usually a little higher than the bank rate (if you have a bank near you (don’t forget your passport if you use the bank)). I would spend my CUC from my last trip on beer and snacks while waiting for the bus to the hotel to leave (especially if you have a LONG ride to the hotel…..hehe). Very important to buy something to drink for a long bus ride EX: Santa Maria is a 2.5 hour bus ride. I usually, stay in all inclusive hotels and tip in CUC or dollar store items for maids. I also bring used clothes that don’t fit as gifts for staff that takes care of us. I usually tip the first day and mention that if they give me good service that they will be awarded at the end of my stay, this is where you see if the servers, bartenders…etc give us a good service during my stay. Before I leave, I make sure that those who treated us well are rewarded by tips, hats or clothes. This usually shows me who is real in being nice and serving us and who is all about the money.
This is my experience in going to Cuba
Good to know that the CUC is no longer accepted in the airports, it was accepted when I last went.
I love Cuba, the music, the culture and the old cars.
Thanks for sharing your tips, Denis! There is actually a major change to the currency system in Cuba underway. We will update this article shortly.
So, if I read your article correctly, in section 4, there had been a 10% tax on conversions from US$ to CUCs but that has been eliminated as of July 2020. And in section 5, you state there is a 13% fee (including bank fees) for conversions from US$ to CUCs. So before July 2020, there was effectively a 23% additional charge (the 10% tax & the 13% fee) on US$ conversions? Just trying to budget, to include additional currency conversion costs. Thanks for the helpful tips.
Thanks for pointing this out. I just updated section 5 🙂 There was a 10% tax on the US dollar before July 2020. That tax was eliminated. You can use the calculation method in section 4 to have an idea of the conversion costs. You can also use the currency convertor on Cadeca’s website.
Hope it helps!
Back when they were charging the additional 10 percent to Americans. I would change a minimal amount upon arrival then when checking in to my casa paticular check with the owner and they almost always would know a reliable money changer to get a better rate. I have changed money in the street in Holguin before without problem I tend to seek out a woman or older man and stay away from the younger guys not sure it made a difference but was not scammed. My preference was always to get help from my host at the casa paticular some of them I would give money to and they would get it changed for me others would invite the person to the house and we did it there never have been cheated doing this.
My flight arrives in midnight. Exchange points still open in airport
Are counterfeit foreign coins a problem in Cuba? 2 or 3 percent of large value coins like Canadian loonies, Euros and British pounds are counterfeit and I have heard a large percentage of them are imported by tourists who innocently buy them from locals where they are travelling.
There is always a risk of getting counterfeit foreign coins in Cuba, but this is definitely not a widespread problem, especially considering that the circulation of foreign currency in Cuba is limited to certain places such as banks and airports.
As a US traveler, the exchange rate for US dollars to Pounds or EUROs is currently .81 and .92 respectively. Doing the math, one needs to consider these exchange rates as well before deciding which currency to use to convert into CUCs, right? If my math is correct, given the above exchange rates, one would want to use EUROs over Pounds before arriving in Cuba.
It seems as though if I’m coming from the US it would benefit me to change my money into Mexican pesos and then into CUC once I get to Cuba. Is this correct or am understanding the conversion wrong?
Hello, we will be visiting Cuba later this month from South Africa and just wanted to clarify 2 things:
1. Any left over CUC can be converted back into EURO at the airport before we leave?
2. Purchase items at the airport, using foreign currency only (except for a Nauta card which can be purchased in CUC) and get only receive US dollars back as change?
To answer your questions:
2. At the time we last updated the article, the Cuban airports were only giving change in US dollars. I would advise you to be prepared for that.
HELLO MY FELLOW CUBANS MY NAME IS HASHIM, I AM VERY FASCINATED AND REALLY LIKE HISPANICS, MEXICAN, LATINO, CHICANO, PUERTO RICANS MY REASON WHY I AM LEAVING THIS COMMENT TO ASK CAN I EXCHANGE A 20 DOLLAR CUBAN BILL AT THE CADECA AIRPORT IN CUBA FOR US 20 DOLLAR BILL
The currency is changing
Going to Veradero
Where’s the best place to exchange my Canadian currency to CUC’s
The airport or my hotel ???
The exchange rate at CADECA offices located in airports and hotels is the same.
Hi, My husband & I are going to Cuba in a couple of weeks. We live in Canada. He said we should take US money so we have dollar bills for tipping as in Canada we don’t have dollar bills, just loonies & twoonies which Cubans can’t use. After reading your information it sounds like we would be better off to take Canadian money & convert it to CUCs for tipping. Is that the best thing to do? We are staying at an all inclusive resort so will not need money for much else except some cigars for my husbands brother as we don’t usually buy souvenirs. I don’t know if we are okay just taking the US money we already got at the bank or if we should take Canadian instead. We have a US bank account so did not have to exchange Canadian money into US as we just took it from the US account. Your article is excellent & very helpful. Thank you for passing on the information.
Thanks for the shout out! It’s more common to tip in USD or CUC in Cuba, although you can do it in CAD too. However, keep in mind that the CAD to USD exchange rate may not be favorable for service workers. I updated the article to clarify that CAD is not one of the best currencies to bring to Cuba, from a conversion value perspective.
I’m going to Cuba from Canada next week. I’ll exchange $CAN for CUC at the airport but I want to buy some cigars at the airport to have while I’m there. Do I pay for the cigars with $CAN? I believe the cigar store is past the security area. Can I use CUC? Do they take credit card?
You are right, the cigar store is past the security checkpoint. You will have to pay in CAD. They should take credit card if it’s not issued by a US bank.
Take Canadian money and exchange it at the hotel or at the airport. I’ve been there 3 times and that’s what is preferred by Cubans and Canadian.
Very useful article.
Thank you very much!
also, would there be any issue trying to buy CUC with CAD without a canadian passport, only a US passport?
Thanks for your article and great info!
We are flying from Miami to Cuba next week and want to convert USD to Canadian or Euro before we fly so we dont get hit with the extra 10% tax. Would it be better to buy Euros or Canadian in Miami and to trade those funds to CUC?
So sorry for the late response here. It’s better to convert USD to EUR and then buy the CUCs in Cuba. I updated the article to clarify how to calculate how much CUC you will get when you buy them with foreign currency.
Good article, on our way to Cuba for the umpteenth time and just double checking current currency regs. You mention coins, from world wide travel experience they are only good in their country of issue. I’m going to offer to buy all the loonies and twoonies on the bus so new tourists won’t use them for tips. The Cubans are too polite to say they’re no good to them. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked to buy coins from them……
The Cubans “CAN” use the Canadian loonies and twoonies ……. they just wait until they have 10 or 20 dollars worth and then get a Canadian traveler to exchange them for CND bills ( which they can exchange at bank)
I’ve given them $10 and $20 bills many times for loonies and twoonies and then used them to tip them back.
Hello if you can not use cuc in the airport should we use Canadian money to buy something (ex drink, lunch) or a Canadian credit card?
You can use Canadian money to pay for services or items once you pass through the airport security check.
Hello I am so confused is Canadian dollars worth more or less than cuc? Is it better to exchange currency at the airport or our resort where will we get a better rate? We are staying at Iberostar Selection Ensenachos Will the resort bus wait for guests to exchange currency if the lines are so long? Is there a fee to enter or leave the country? Thank you
The exchange rate at Cuban airports is the same as that of resorts. I don’t think that the lines to exchange money at resorts is that long., you shouldn’t have any problem with the bus. There is no entry fee to Cuba.
Also, I wanted to clarify that CAD does not worth more than CUC in Cuba. You would get around 0.73 CUC for 1 CAD. I just updated the article to show how to do the math here.
One thing if I wait until I get to the resort to exchange money how can I tip the bus driver and bell hop. Can I tip them in Canadian?
Yep, you can tip in CAD, Wendy.
FYI – I went to my local bank and exchanged $800 USD to Euro to avoid the 10% Cuban tax on USD. After paying the exchange rate to get Euros, and then the exchange rate fee from Euro to CUC. I saved a whopping $22.34.
Your best bet would be to switch your American currency at the bank then switch it to Canadian money since US money is worth more. Euros have a higher exchange so you would lose more money that way.
Hi, does the Exchange rate from the example picture – CADECA EUR (sell) 1.13256 means, that I get 113,256 CUC for 100 EUR?
Nope. The “Sell” column lists the exchange fees when you sell CUC. In this case, you would get 1.13 EUR for 1 CUC.
You would get 1.07 CUC for 1 EUR (“Buy” column).
We have dual Canadian/British citizenship. We are going to Cuba next month and thought it would be good to take Pounds rather than CDN $. However, on visiting Bank of Cuba Website, it looks like the rate for CDN$ is almost as good as for Pounds? Whereas, you get 1.70 CDN$ to the Pound. Is the exchange rate in Cuba skewed in favour of CDN $? Does it not have regard for the wider rate of exchange between Pounds and CDN$? Can you please check this out and let me know whether my information is correct, or not? 1 Pound should get 1.30 CUC. 1 CDN$ should get 0.77 CUC, but doesn’t seem to be the case.
First off, my apologies for giving you the wrong information in my first response. I hope you read my updated answer below before your trip to Cuba.
The exchange rate in Cuba is NOT skewed in favor of the Canadian Dollar. In fact, you would get only 0.73 CUC for 1 CAD. The table above in the article is confusing, which is why I just added an explanation on how to calculate exchange amounts in Cuba. In the case of buying CUC with CAD, you have to divide your amount of CAD by the exchange rate shown in the Compra/Buy column.
The British Pound is definitely the best currency to bring to Cuba.
We plan on going to Cuba in April, 2020 for the first time.
Am I better off exchanging my U.S. dollars to Canadian currency before I go?
Since the Canadian Dollar is not subject to any additional fee other than the exchange fee, it would be better to bring CAD to Cuba. The US Dollar has an additional 10% fee.
Good morning, we are travelling to Holguin in march and i still have some CUC from the last trip to Cuba in 2019. Will i be ok to enter the country with these CUC bills?
Unfortunately, you are not allowed to bring CUC into Cuba. We have heard about some travelers who hid the CUCs and passed them through customs. Don’t know if it’s worth the effort, though.
Thank you for the article and all this info! Definitely clears up a few things. My only question is, what is a good amount for tips in Cuba, both in Canadian dollars and in CUC? And if Canadian money is accepted as tips at the resorts, wouldn’t it be better to just use it there instead of converting to CUC?
Thank you 🙂
You can tip in CAD, but consider that the exchange rate is unfavorable to locals. For more about tipping in Cuba, check out our guide here.
Thanks for your informative site! I’ve been reading online that the Cuban government is in the process of doing away completely with the CUC and wants only major foreign currencies. Cubans who have saved CUCs are having a hard time getting currency exchanged and are taking losses to get rid of what will soon be entirely useless paper.
My question regards sending money from Spain to adopted family in Havana. In the past I used Western Union to wire to Cuba (low fees from Spain) and the family could retrieve CUCs at any Metropolitan Bank. Now they have a card with a Cuban Bank that will accept anything BUT CUCs. They do not know how money can be sent to their account. Western Union is still converting to CUCs. Any ideas?
Thanks for sharing your experience. These are great questions.
The Cuban card you are referring to is probably the magnetic card associated with the newly opened bank accounts in USD. This is what we know so far about it:
– Only Cuban residents can open bank accounts in USD in Cuba.
– It’s the owner of the bank account in USD associated with the magnetic card who sets the card’s amount and usage limits.
– A minimum deposit is not required to open the bank account. The Cuban bank won’t charge a commission for maintaining the bank account.
– The card can be used in “dollar stores” (home appliances and spare parts for cars) and to pay for bank services. According to the Central Bank, they can also be used in retail stores.
– Cardholders can also get cash in any currency from ATMs and banks, including CUC at the effective exchange rate. There is no limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw.
– The bank account is in USD, but people can deposit money into it in any other accepted currency in Cuba.
– You can deposit money into the bank account in 4 ways:
Transfers from non-US banks.
Transfers from other accounts in foreign currency in Cuban banks.
Money transfers through FINCIMEX S.A, excluding Western Union. The Cuban Central Bank recommends using https://www.enviodinero.es/en
Banks deposits in foreign currencies in Cuban banks.
This type of bank account is new in Cuba and there still is some confusion about how to use it. There is an article from the Cuban Central Bank answering the most frequently asked questions.
Hope it helps!
Really useful information here. Thanks so much.
We always use the VIP Lounge when travelling home from Cuba. We never purchase it at the resort, instead we always purchase it directly at the VIP Lounge and have always used CUC’s. My question is, what currency would we use to purchase the VIP Lounge if we are not allowed to bring CUC’s once you pass through security / customs.
The Government resolution banning the CUC at Cuban airports does not specify whether you can book the VIP Lounge at the airport in CUC. However, I would assume that you cannot use CUC because you are not allowed to pass CUC through the security checkpoint. Once inside, you should be able to use any accepted foreign currency.
One thing that I noticed at the Havana airport is they would not take any US currency that had any tears or writing on it. I had that issue a few times. Other areas outside of the airport were not an issue.
Thanks for the tip! Actually, you reminded me that coins in non-USD currencies are not accepted in airport facilities. Will update the article to include your insight!
I’m flying into Havana in a couple of weeks and am considering trying to change USD for CUC at a 1-1 rate with people in the Cadeca line. Any idea if this is legal? Thanks.
Technically, it’s not legal even though it happens all the time. However, you should be aware that you might expose to currency scams if exchanging money with unofficial vendors. More here – https://www.tourepublic.com/blog/is-cuba-safe/
Hope it helps!
Hi, I want to buy cigars when I travel to Cuba. I imagine I may be spending around 1000 CUCs. I don’t really want to carry this much cash around. I’m pretty sure I can buy them with my Canadian cash credit card. BUT, my question is – I also have a Canadian US dollar credit card that actually uses US cash – meaning when I receive the bill it is in US dollars, but the card is actually issued by a Canadian bank
If your credit card is NOT issued by an American bank, it should work. However, I strongly recommend you to reach out to your card provider to confirm the fact.
If you want to leave tips in CUP, how do you get CUP’s? As I understood it, you cannot do any transactions in CUP, and the currency exchanges won’t give you any. Do you have to get CUP change from vendors in CUC transactions or is there another way?
You can certainly do transactions in CUP. Actually, you can get CUPs in CADECA too. However, it’s likely that you will do most transactions in CUC. Also, many stores and restaurants have items priced in both currencies. In those places, you can request change in CUP too.
For more details about how tipping works in Cuba, did you check our tipping guide?
Hope it helps!
This has easily been the best thing about Cuban currencies i have read and i’ve been doing research for what feels like hours! Thank you so much for this!
I know there is a ban on the export of CUC, but what about bringing home small amounts of change in CUP?
That’s a great question, Tom. Actually, according to a recent customs resolution, you can export and import up to 2,000 CUP. I will update the article accordingly to include that fact. Thanks!
This was a very helpful article. I will be visiting Varadero Cuba from Jan16/20 untilJan26/20. We will be staying at the Ocean Vista Azul. We are looking forward to are trip. So we are not allowed to bring Cuban money into Cuba, we have to get it exchanged when we arrive @ our resort correct?
Yes, you will have to exchange the money either at the airport, the hotel, or any CADECA office in Varadero.
Hope you have a sunny vacation in Cuba!
You confused me with this (Perhaps, you will want to keep 1 or 2 CUC to buy the NAUTA card to get Cuban WiFi at the airport. You will thank us later 🙂), at one point you mention that we can’t use CUC at the airport, at the end you said we can keep 1 or 2 to buy Internet CARD, could you please explain?
I know it’s confusing! The thing is that the NAUTA card is the only product you can buy at the airport with CUC. As of today, the NAUTA booth (called Information) at the airport accepts only CUC. I think that’s likely to change in the next months because, as you pointed out, it does not make any sense.
While at the resort we have booked, is it ok to tip the waiters, housecleaning staff, bartenders, etc. in US dollars?
Tipping in USD is ok.
Thanks. I was hoping to ask a couple of questions:
1. You mentioned that you’re not allowed to bring CUC or CUP in or out of the country. Does this mean you can’t go to a bank in the US and exchange money for Cuban currency before your trip?
2. Can US debit cards be used in Cuban ATMs?
Unfortunately, the answer to your questions is no. You cannot get Cuban currency out of Cuba. But even if you could, you are not allowed to bringing it into the country.
Cuban ATMs don’t accept debit/credit cards issued by American banks.
Hope it helps?
Actually, according to a recent customs regulation, you can import and export sums of up to 2,000 CUP. (The import/export of CUC is still forbidden)
I’m curious. In the article you mentioned that you aren’t allowed to take any cuban currency out of the country. If I had say a few coins and one or two bills, would they confiscate those at the airport before I head home? I’m going in January and I’m curious as I collect coins and bills from all over the world, and would like a couple for my collection.
Believe it or not, you are not allowed to take a single dime in CUC out of Cuba. It’s hard to know whether the airport authorities will make an exception, but I would not hold my breath 🙁
By the way, I just came back from Cuba and updated the article with impressions and facts after the ban on the CUC at Cuban airports. It’s worth another reading.
Honestly, use your best judgement but my experience is no-one is going to go through your pockets so if you have a few coins and bills it’s not going to be a big deal.
Just to follow up on this, a recent customs regulation states that you can import/export CUP up to 2,000. (CUC is still a no-no).
Would you happen to know if I can change Australian dollars as I’m being hit twice changing first to Canadian then to Cuban
Thank you so much for all you writing , this was so helpful
Unfortunately, I don’t think you can exchange AUD to CUC 🙁 CADECA accepts only Canadian Dollar (CAD), US Dollar (USD), Swiss Franc (CHF), Euro (EUR), Pound Sterling (GBP), Japanese Yen (JPY), and Mexican Peso (MXN).
Thanks to your comment, I updated the accepted foreign currency section to state this fact. I also added new facts about the Cuban currency after the latest ban on CUC at Cuban airports.
OMG, This is so helpful
This information is extremely helpful. About to head to Cuba in two weeks. I’m really excited.
I saw in the post they will exchange Mexican Pesos. Is there a big currency exchange fee if coming from Mexico?
Hi Ashley. The only currency that has an “extra” exchange fee is the US dollar. You will be fine with the Mexican Peso. I hope you have an amazing stay in Cuba!
Is there another 13% tax/fee applied when you exchange the CUC back to USD before leaving?
Heading to Santa Maria in a week, 1st time there but 3rd to the island. Thanks for the refresher on Cuban currency and tipping. The picture distinguishing the 2 currencies is very helpful. My son in law is Portuguese and communicates very well in Spanish which has always endeared him to the locals, they certainly do appreciate the communication.
So exciting, Gary! Cayo Santa Maria is a wonderful place. Have a blast!
I am leaving for Cuba this coming Monday…May 6. We are traveling on a cruise ship. If I bring Canadian money do I still need to convert to Cuc’S ? Also how will I know with the current situation with Cuba and Venezuela if travel to Cuba will be stopped?
We also were looking at a trip to the Tropicana for a night of intertainment ..the price per person is $199.00 ..do you feel that is worth doing ? We are only in port in Havana for an overnight….I would love to get to other small towns and the ocean ..I hear it’s beautiful. How would you travel outside the city? A cab ? The cars rides are very expensive to take for a. Tour…
I don’t believe that your trip to Cuba will be canceled due to the situation in Venezuela. Last time the US administration imposed travel restrictions to Cuba, it didn’t affect people who had already booked their trip.
Regarding Tropicana, I don’t think that that price is accurate. Here is the official page where you can book the entrance tickets: https://www.cabaret-tropicana.com/en/book/category/espectaculo-cena/
To be honest, it will be difficult to visit other cities in only 1 day. You still have to spend a whole day in Havana! Sometimes, cruisers prefer to spend little time in Havana and visit Viñales or Varadero, which are nearby cities. In this link, you can find some one-day excursions to Viñales from Havana: https://www.tourepublic.com/city/vinales/all_6892511.
Hope it helps!
Thank you. Your page was very informative and helpful in planning our trip.
How do I get 1 cuc small notes for tipping, as it looks like a may be needing quite a few
Stan, wherever you can use CUC you will be able to get change in small notes 🙂
I found this article very useful. May I please ask when I buy something in CUC will I get back pesos or in CUC? And what you recommend roughly how much pesos to exchange if staying in all inclusive for a week but for emails things like bus street food etc.
When you pay in CUC you should get back CUC. However, at some places that “officially” sell in CUP (like small cafeterias for locals) the vendor may offer less value for the CUC and give you change in CUP. Typically, local vendors in CUP use an informal exchange rate of 1 CUC = 22-23 CUP (the official exchange rate is 1 CUC = 25 CUP). It is a small fee to pay if you will rarely use CUP. For example, if you pay in CUC for a hotdog that costs 10 CUP, you will get back about 12-13 CUP.
It’s hard for me to say how much CUPs you should get, but it should be just a small amount, especially if you are staying in an all-inclusive hotel for a week. Also, as I mentioned above, keep in mind that you can pay in CUC and receive change in CUP in most places. I think that 100 CUP is more than enough for one person… but again, I just don’t know what is your schedule in Cuba 🙂
Hello, thank you for this very helpful travel advice!
I am a little confused by this response:
“Also, as I mentioned above, keep in mind that you can pay in CUC and receive change in CUP in most places.”
You mentioned in the article not to fall for the ‘scam’ of getting the change in CUP, instead of CUC – do you mean to say that I can expect to possibly get CUP as change “in most placeds”, HOWEVER, I would need to calculate the conversion rate of CUP to CUC to make sure the amount of CUP change is correct?
The scam is more about receiving CUP instead of CUC when exchanging your foreign currency. That’s why I do not recommend to exchange money with street vendors, despite their better exchange rates. But if you do it, you should be able to differentiate between a CUP bill and a CUC bill 🙂
Thank you for these explications. I feel informed. This tips are very helpful.
Greetings from Luxembourg/Europe
my tips for people from the USA: change your dollars to euros
I understand the currency exchange in this article. I will be traveling to Cuba at the end of this month and my travel agent offers an exchange in advance… it seems like i am still dinged for the conversion, but a little better than what i would get if i do the exchanges myself in Cuba…. Just looking for your thoughts on the terms below
Terms offered by the travel agent:
Changing dollars into the local currency can save time at U.S. banks before departure and avoids sometimes long lines at hotels or government exchange offices at a minimal cost difference. Travelers will receive CUC’s at the rate of US $1 : CUC .83. The prevailing government rate can fluctuate and is currently US $1 : CUC .83 – .86).
The service needs to be requested from us at least 10 calendar days prior to departure and in tranches of $500, e.g., $500, $1000, etc. Travelers intending to use this service will either pay by credit card and receive a rate of $1 to .81 CUC or mail a check in and receive a rate of $1 to .83 CUC.
The current USD to CUC exchange rate is USD $ 1 = CUC .87. Generally, the Cuban currency exchange rate is not likely to change often.
That being said, it is true that there may be long lines at some of the official exchange offices (CADECA), which you can find at hotels, airports, some banks, and at the cruise terminal.
I guess that in the end, you will have to consider whether it’s worth it to get less money and avoid the lines 🙂
Thank you Digsan for the fast response… i guess I’m a little confused still (sorry for being so lame). Here is where i’m stuck….
Exchange done in Cuba:
1US = .87 CUC => minus 10% + 3% plus some other fees that are approx. 2% which equals an effective rate of .74 CUC / 1US
– here are the two scenarios playing out in my mind 🙂
Exchange with my travel agent:
1US = .83 CUC => so my thinking i see that my agent is charging me .5 for every US dollar
If I’m thinking correctly here (big if) then doing the exchange with my travel agent is still more cost affective? … not to mention that i don’t have to wait in any lines…
Again sorry for my ignorance….
No worries, Alberto. Happy to help!
The 0.87 CUC that you get for 1 USD is already discounting the 10% currency exchange fee + 3% bank fee. We haven’t heard of any other fee charged by the official currency exchange offices in Cuba. Does it help?
Thank you Digsan! Now i understand 🙂
No problem. Enjoy your trip to Cuba, Alberto!
if you do this tipping for everyone, then how is the average worker getting only 45 dollars per month on average. they should be getting 30 dollars a day based on your advice. also, if i am staying a an all inclusive resort, then why would i need to tip anyone. is it not the reason i am staying at a all inclusive resort operated by the government?
Tipping is entirely optional in Cuba, but recommended. Not all-inclusive hotels are directly managed by the government. Some resorts are managed by foreign hotel chains (such as Meliá) and the government just owns the property. Still, the government defines the wages of the Cuban employees at the resorts. Definitely, the tourism worker gets much more money than the average worker in Cuba. That’s why so many Cubans are eager to get into the tourism industry.
Tks, this info is very important & interesting, I will be visiting in June 2019 for 8 days.
Hope you have a wonderful experience in Cuba!
Thank you for the tips, very helpful !
Thanks, Lisa! So glad it was helpful for you!
“This cycle comes to an end in October 2004, when the government forbidden to make purchases with US dollars, and the CUC appeared.”
Esto sería mejor redactada como tal…
This cycle came to an end in October 2004 when the government forbid payment in US dollars, leaving only the CUC as the official currency of payment until the recent transition permitting payment in CUP at some businesses.
Hi, Larry! Thanks for you suggestion! I think you are right, let’s rewrite it similar as you suggest :), since the CUC and CUP both are Cuban official currencies since 2004.
Either way, I hope you enjoyed the article!
I was told there is a better exchange rate if you bring Mexico Pesos. All the best hotels will exchange your dollars for CUPs. In late April 2019 we were part of Miami’s Pan American Art Tours. Since the embargo things have gotten worse for Cubans counting on American tourists. It is hoped that once Cuba stops supporting Maduro in Venezuela, the embargo will be lifted.
I have been over 20 times in Cuba
For the last 30 years, and the most tourists in Cuba hapen to Be Canadian…Not American!
So believe it or not ,Canadians are the number one tourists there.
Can we tip Maids Bartender and services in Canadian$
Although it’s more common to tip in USD and CUC, you can tip in CAD too.