Cuban Currency: The Ultimate Guide for Travelers (2020 Update)

As a first-time traveler to Cuba, you probably have a lot of questions about the Cuban currency: What’s the deal with Cuba’s two currencies? Which Cuban money should you use? 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.

Right off the bat, we can tell you that the Cuban currency system is super complicated to deal with as a traveler. But don’t panic, we will cover absolutely everything you need to know about using money in Cuba.

BY THE WAY: For practical advice on saving money in Cuba, read our ultimate list of travel tips for Cuba. If you are a US citizen visiting Cuba, check out the complete guide on how to travel to Cuba from the US.

1. What is the Currency in Cuba?

The first thing you should know about the Cuban monetary system is that Cuba uses two official currencies: The CUP (Cuban Peso) and the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso). As a traveler, you’ll use the CUC a lot more frequently.

The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)

The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is one of Cuba’s two official currencies and the one most frequently used by visitors. It’s also the more valuable of the two.

The value of the CUC is pinned to the U.S. dollar so that 1 CUC will always equal 1 U.S. dollar. However, there are some exchange and bank fees that you will have to cover. We will talk about Cuban currency exchange rates later on in this article.

The CUC is available in bills of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. You should always have the lower denomination bills to hand.

The Cuban Peso (CUP)

The CUP (also locally known as “moneda nacional“) is primarily used by residents of Cuba. As a traveler, you probably won’t use this one very often, but it may benefit you to carry a small amount of CUP for small expenses like street food, bus fare, flea market finds. For comparison, 1 CUP is only worth about 4 U.S. cents.

The CUP has the same bill denominations that the CUC has, but you can find larger bills of 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.

The tangible difference between the CUC and CUP

You’ve never been there. Never used Cuban money. So, how are you supposed to know the difference between the CUC and the CUP and avoid getting scammed?

Cuban currency - CUC and CUP

Here is the secret: the CUC bills don’t have faces. If you expect to receive CUC in a transaction and see a face on the bill, you will be getting CUP instead! Also, look for the words “pesos convertibles” right at the center of the CUC bill.

2. Can You Use the US Dollar in Cuba?

You can use US dollars, Canadian dollars, and Euros ONLY at airports in Cuba. Actually, shops and restaurants at Cuban airports only accept foreign currencies. The use of CUC at Cuban airports is forbidden.

You read that right: you cannot use CUC in shops and restaurants at Cuban airports. Make sure you exchange all your CUCs to your home currency before you check in at the airport.

The US dollar is also accepted at some recently opened “dollar stores” to buy home appliances and spare parts for cars. However, only Cubans can buy from these stores by getting a dollar-denominated card from a Cuban bank.

3. Where to Exchange Cuban Currency?

Travelers can exchange Cuban currency at banks, hotels, and government currency exchange houses (CADECA). CADECA offices are located in airports, hotels, resorts, and shopping centers. CADECA offices are the safest and most reliable places to exchange currency.

CADECA

Please, be aware that you can’t get Cuban currency (CUC) in advance. Not only Cuban money is unavailable for exchange outside of Cuba, but importing and exporting CUC is strictly forbidden. In regard to CUP, according to a recent resolution from the Aduana General de la República de Cuba (customs), you are allowed to import and export sums of up to 2,000 CUP.

4. The Cuban Currency Exchange Rate

The exchange rate depends on whether you want to buy or sell CUC and on the foreign currency you are using for the operation. The value of international currencies against the Cuban Convertible Peso is determined by the international exchange rate. The only exception (major) is the US dollar, which is subject to a “pinned” rate and an “especial” fee, as discussed below.

At each CADECA office, you will notice a TV screen displaying the daily exchange rates, like this:

Cuban currency exchange rate at CADECA

Now, pay good attention because here is where things may get a little crazy. 

The table above shows the current CUC exchange rate, according to the official CADECA’s website. The column Compra/Buy indicates the exchange rate when you buy CUC with foreign currency while the Venta/Sell column shows the exchange rate when you sell CUC (you buy back foreign currency).

If you want to buy CUC with Canadian Dollar (CAD), Swiss Franc (CHF), Japanese Yen (JPY), or Mexican Peso (MXN), you will have to divide the amount of money you have in those currencies by the exchange rate listed on the Compra/Buy column.

For example, if you want to convert 100 CAD to CUC, here is the math: 100/1.36524  ≈ 73.25. Yeah, that’s right, you will get around 0.73 CUC for 1 CAD.

Now, if you are buying CUC with Euro (EUR), Pound Sterling (GBP), or US Dollar (USD) you will have to multiply the amount you have in foreign currency by the exchange rate listed in the Compra/Buy column.

For example, the formula to exchange 100 EUR to CUC would be 100*1.07194 = 107.194. Basically, you are getting about 1.07 CUC for 1 EUR.

Remember: with Canadian Dollar (CAD), Swiss Franc (CHF), Japanese Yen (JPY), or Mexican Peso (MXN) you have to divide. With Euro (EUR), Pound Sterling (GBP), or US Dollar (USD), you have to multiply. Hope this is clear?

You should also know that the Cuban currency exchange rate may be slightly more expensive at CADECA offices located in hotels, ports, and airports. Make sure to always check the current exchange rate at the official CADECA’s website.

The exchange rate to US dollar: the special case

The exchange rate to the US dollar is a little more complicated (yeah, we know). For international exchange purposes, 1 CUC = 1 USD, but converting American money into Cuba money will incur a 10% fee on top of the current exchange rate. In the end, you will end up paying 1.13 USD for 1 CUC.

Let’s do the math again. Because you are using USD to buy CUC, you need to multiply the amount you have in USD by the exchange rate listed in the Compra/Buy column, which is 0.97250. Thus, let’s say you want to buy CUC with 100 USD. FIRST, you need to subtract 10% from your 100 USD and you get 90 USD. Now, you multiply the remainder by the exchange fee: 90*0.97250 = 87.525.

There you have it, you will get around 0.87 CUC for 1 USD.

A word of caution: be aware of the currency scams

Aside from official currency exchanges, there are a few unofficial ways as well.

Most often, you can stumble upon these “opportunities” just outside of currency exchange offices and local shops. Often, people willing to make unofficial exchanges will pitch you on attractive offers: instead of the official rate of about 87 CUC for 100 USD, they’re willing to give you 100 CUC or even more.

However, keep in mind that currency scams are common in Cuba, 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 CUP instead of CUC.

You could lose a lot of money this way!

You should also 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 (Learn more about safety tips for traveling to Cuba here.)

5. What is the Best Currency to Bring to Cuba?

It all boils down to bringing the foreign currency that has the highest possible conversion rate in Cuba. In terms of conversion value, the British Pound Sterling, and the Euro are the best currencies to bring to Cuba.

You can also exchange the following foreign currencies in Cuba:

  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • US Dollar (USD)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Pound Sterling (GBP)
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • Mexican Peso (MXN)

American travelers (or any visitor carrying US money) should be aware that changing US cash into CUC incurs a 13% fee (including bank fees). You can avoid this by converting US money into a different high-value currency (like Euros or Pound Sterling) before you touch down in Cuba.

A potential unpleasant surprise: as of November 2019, you can ONLY use foreign currencies at Cuban airports, but… wait for it… you will receive change in USD!

6. Can You Use Credit Cards in Cuba?

In most cases, yes. Unless they were issued by a U.S. bank or a subsidiary of a U.S. bank.

So far, the first (and only) American bank to make official financial ties with Cuba is Stonegate Bank. In November 2015, they announced that their customers would be able to use their MasterCards in Cuba. While other major American financial companies like American Express and MasterCard have announced that they’re in the process of having their cards approved for use in Cuba, you can’t use them just yet.

Even with these relaxed restrictions, keep in mind that Cuba is primarily a cash country, so plan on paying for most of your expenses with hard currency.

ATMs-in-Cuba

A note on 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 won’t be subject to the 10% fee, but 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 they are 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).

7. What Cuban Currency to Use as a Tourist?

For most of your expenditures on the island, you can use CUC (the “tourist” currency). You should convert most of your foreign currency into CUC, but you should also have a small amount of CUP for situations we’ll discuss in the next section. Most resorts, hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions will accept CUC. Also, always use the CUC for tipping in Cuba!

Beware: you are not allowed to use CUC at Cuban airports.

The CUP is the currency typically used by locals, but there are a few cases where you may wish to pay using it instead of CUC:

  • Street food
  • Bus fare
  • Flea market purchases
  • Purchases made at small local shops and convenience marts

The good news is that in most local stores in Cuba the items are priced in both CUC and CUP… and you can pay in either currency. That will make it all easier, right?

8. CUCs at Airports in Cuba: Just Don’t.

Brace yourself: the use of CUC at shops and restaurants inside Cuba airports, including Havana Airport, was recently banned. This means that you should avoid taking CUC to Cuban airports at all costs because:

  • The long lines at the airport’s CADECA office will make you cringe. This is especially worse after the ban on CUC at airports.
  • Some travelers have reported that CADECA offices at airports won’t exchange more than 300 CUC.
  • You are not allowed to export CUC anyway. Airport authorities will likely confiscate your CUCs.

Line at CADECA airport to exchange Cuban currency

So, before you check in at the airport, remember to exchange any of your leftover Cuban pesos back into your home currency. 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 🙂 (Confusing, right? Well, the thing is that cannot buy any product inside the airport facilities with CUC… except for the NAUTA card, which you can buy ONLY with CUC. Hopefully, this will change soon.)

Here some other crazy facts that you should know about using foreign currencies at Cuban airports:

  • As of November 2019, change at Cuban airports is given in USD regardless of the international currency you use!
  • Many attendants won’t take coins (!) of currencies other than USD. (They said that Cuban banks may have an issue with it when depositing the coins later).
  • Some travelers have reported that the airport facilities won’t take bills that have tears or writing on it.

Mission Accomplished?

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 like what kind of currency to use, how to exchange it, and how to use debit and credit cards during your stay.

Keep this guide handy during your stay in Cuba–together, we’ll make sure you have a great trip! At least, that’s what we hope.

So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Post Author
Tour Republic
Tour Republic is a travel marketplace where local entrepreneurs offer memorable experiences in Cuba. We also write about our passion for Cuba, from in-depth travel guides to myth-busting articles. Some articles may contain affiliates links at no cost to you.

Comments

106 Comments
  1. posted by
    Maris Feldbergs
    Jun 28, 2020 Reply

    My flight arrives in midnight. Exchange points still open in airport

  2. posted by
    John Monroe
    Jun 6, 2020 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jun 7, 2020 Reply

      Hi John,

      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.

  3. posted by
    Scott
    Apr 26, 2020 Reply

    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.

  4. posted by
    Yahaira
    Mar 15, 2020 Reply

    Hello,

    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?

  5. posted by
    Lilly
    Mar 4, 2020 Reply

    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?

    Thank you

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Mar 5, 2020 Reply

      Hi Lilly,
      To answer your questions:
      1. Yes.
      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.

      • posted by
        Hashim Davis
        Mar 27, 2020 Reply

        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

  6. posted by
    Al
    Mar 4, 2020 Reply

    Going to Veradero
    Where’s the best place to exchange my Canadian currency to CUC’s
    The airport or my hotel ???

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Mar 5, 2020 Reply

      Hi Al,
      The exchange rate at CADECA offices located in airports and hotels is the same.

  7. posted by
    Janice
    Feb 17, 2020 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Feb 18, 2020 Reply

      Hi Janice,
      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.

    • posted by
      Robert
      Feb 22, 2020 Reply

      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?

      • posted by
        Tour Republic
        Feb 23, 2020 Reply

        Hi Robert,
        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.

    • posted by
      Nancy
      Mar 2, 2020 Reply

      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.

  8. posted by
    LC – Canada
    Feb 17, 2020 Reply

    Very useful article.
    Thank you very much!

  9. posted by
    Sam
    Feb 7, 2020 Reply

    also, would there be any issue trying to buy CUC with CAD without a canadian passport, only a US passport?

  10. posted by
    Sam
    Feb 7, 2020 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Feb 18, 2020 Reply

      Hi Sam,
      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.

  11. posted by
    Carlos Ricardo
    Jan 27, 2020 Reply

    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……

    • posted by
      B. Bull
      Mar 1, 2020 Reply

      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.

  12. posted by
    Wendy Pavlovski
    Jan 25, 2020 Reply

    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?
    Thank you

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 25, 2020 Reply

      Hi Wendy,

      You can use Canadian money to pay for services or items once you pass through the airport security check.

  13. posted by
    Wendy Pavlovski
    Jan 25, 2020 Reply

    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

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 25, 2020 Reply

      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.

      • posted by
        Wendy Pavlovski
        Jan 27, 2020 Reply

        Thank you

      • posted by
        Wendy Pavlovski
        Jan 27, 2020 Reply

        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?

        • posted by
          Tour Republic
          Jan 27, 2020 Reply

          Yep, you can tip in CAD, Wendy.

  14. posted by
    Ron
    Jan 16, 2020 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Wendy Pavlovski
      Jan 27, 2020 Reply

      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.

  15. posted by
    Josef
    Jan 16, 2020 Reply

    Hi, does the Exchange rate from the example picture – CADECA EUR (sell) 1.13256 means, that I get 113,256 CUC for 100 EUR?
    Thank you!

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 16, 2020 Reply

      Hi Josef,

      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).

  16. posted by
    Jason Lynch
    Jan 12, 2020 Reply

    Hi,
    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.
    Thanks,

    Jason

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 12, 2020 Reply

      Hi Jason,
      EDIT:
      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.

      • posted by
        William
        Jan 14, 2020 Reply

        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?

        • posted by
          Tour Republic
          Jan 16, 2020 Reply

          Hi William,

          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.

  17. posted by
    Steve
    Jan 12, 2020 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 12, 2020 Reply

      Hi Steve,
      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.

    • posted by
      Ilia
      Mar 13, 2020 Reply

      Hello,
      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 🙂

      • posted by
        Tour Republic
        Mar 14, 2020 Reply

        Hi Ilia,
        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.

  18. posted by
    Aysha
    Jan 5, 2020 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 5, 2020 Reply

      Hi Aysha,

      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!

      • posted by
        Aisling
        Jan 13, 2020 Reply

        Really useful information here. Thanks so much.

    • posted by
      Nancy Saczkowski
      Jan 6, 2020 Reply

      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.
      Thank You!!

      • posted by
        Tour Republic
        Jan 6, 2020 Reply

        Hi Nancy,
        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.

  19. posted by
    Jessica
    Jan 3, 2020 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 3, 2020 Reply

      Hi Jessica,
      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!

  20. posted by
    V
    Jan 3, 2020 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 3, 2020 Reply

      Hi V,

      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!

  21. posted by
    David Carman
    Jan 2, 2020 Reply

    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

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jan 3, 2020 Reply

      Hi David,
      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.

  22. posted by
    George Geraghty
    Dec 19, 2019 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Dec 19, 2019 Reply

      Hi George,

      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!

  23. posted by
    Natalie
    Dec 16, 2019 Reply

    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!

  24. posted by
    Tom
    Dec 12, 2019 Reply

    I know there is a ban on the export of CUC, but what about bringing home small amounts of change in CUP?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Dec 13, 2019 Reply

      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!

  25. posted by
    Elizabeth Nickel
    Dec 11, 2019 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Dec 11, 2019 Reply

      Hi Elizabeth,

      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!

  26. posted by
    Bilel Tatech
    Dec 9, 2019 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Dec 9, 2019 Reply

      Hi Bilel,

      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.

      • posted by
        Mary Semande
        Jan 11, 2020 Reply

        While at the resort we have booked, is it ok to tip the waiters, housecleaning staff, bartenders, etc. in US dollars?

        • posted by
          Tour Republic
          Jan 11, 2020 Reply

          Hi Mary,

          Tipping in USD is ok.

  27. posted by
    Chase
    Dec 9, 2019 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Dec 9, 2019 Reply

      Hi Chase,

      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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Dec 13, 2019 Reply

      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)

  28. posted by
    Brittany Karst
    Nov 28, 2019 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Nov 28, 2019 Reply

      Hi Brittany,
      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.

      • posted by
        David Pekow
        Dec 13, 2019 Reply

        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.

        • posted by
          Tour Republic
          Dec 13, 2019 Reply

          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).

  29. posted by
    Lee gould
    Nov 22, 2019 Reply

    Hi

    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

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Nov 28, 2019 Reply

      Hi Lee,
      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.
      Thanks!

  30. posted by
    Tina
    Oct 29, 2019 Reply

    OMG, This is so helpful

  31. posted by
    Ashley
    Jul 26, 2019 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Tour Republic
      Jul 26, 2019 Reply

      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!

  32. posted by
    Steve
    May 17, 2019 Reply

    Is there another 13% tax/fee applied when you exchange the CUC back to USD before leaving?

  33. posted by
    G Mc
    May 13, 2019 Reply

    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.

    • posted by
      Digsan
      May 13, 2019 Reply

      So exciting, Gary! Cayo Santa Maria is a wonderful place. Have a blast!

  34. posted by
    Valerie
    May 1, 2019 Reply

    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…

    Thank You
    Valerie

    • posted by
      Digsan
      May 3, 2019 Reply

      Hi Valerie,
      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!

  35. posted by
    Josè Magìn
    Apr 29, 2019 Reply

    Thank you. Your page was very informative and helpful in planning our trip.

  36. posted by
    Stan
    Apr 29, 2019 Reply

    How do I get 1 cuc small notes for tipping, as it looks like a may be needing quite a few

    • posted by
      Digsan
      Apr 29, 2019 Reply

      Stan, wherever you can use CUC you will be able to get change in small notes 🙂

      • posted by
        Stan
        Apr 30, 2019 Reply

        Thanks digsan

  37. posted by
    Annie
    Apr 27, 2019 Reply

    Hi
    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.

    • posted by
      Digsan
      Apr 29, 2019 Reply

      Hi Annie,
      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 🙂

      • posted by
        KerrI
        May 7, 2019 Reply

        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?

        • posted by
          Digsan
          May 7, 2019 Reply

          Hi Kerrl,
          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 🙂

  38. posted by
    Marc
    Apr 11, 2019 Reply

    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

  39. posted by
    alberto
    Apr 7, 2019 Reply

    Hello,

    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.

    • posted by
      Digsan
      Apr 7, 2019 Reply

      Hi Alberto,

      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 🙂

      • posted by
        alberto
        Apr 7, 2019 Reply

        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….

        • posted by
          Digsan
          Apr 7, 2019 Reply

          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?

          • posted by
            alberto
            Apr 7, 2019

            Thank you Digsan! Now i understand 🙂

          • posted by
            Digsan
            Apr 7, 2019

            No problem. Enjoy your trip to Cuba, Alberto!

  40. posted by
    jopar00
    Mar 4, 2019 Reply

    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?

    • posted by
      Digsan
      Mar 11, 2019 Reply

      Hi jopar00,
      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.

      • posted by
        Minerva Padilla
        Apr 4, 2019 Reply

        Tks, this info is very important & interesting, I will be visiting in June 2019 for 8 days.

        • posted by
          Digsan
          Apr 4, 2019 Reply

          Hope you have a wonderful experience in Cuba!

  41. posted by
    Lisa
    Feb 28, 2019 Reply

    Thank you for the tips, very helpful !

    • posted by
      Digsan
      Mar 11, 2019 Reply

      Thanks, Lisa! So glad it was helpful for you!

  42. posted by
    Larry, Victoria BC Canada
    Sep 18, 2016 Reply

    “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.

    • posted by
      Digsan
      Sep 21, 2016 Reply

      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!

      • posted by
        Pat O’D
        Aug 3, 2019 Reply

        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.

        • posted by
          Lou
          Nov 28, 2019 Reply

          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.

          • posted by
            Claudette
            Feb 17, 2020

            Can we tip Maids Bartender and services in Canadian$

          • posted by
            Tour Republic
            Feb 18, 2020

            Hi Claudette,
            Although it’s more common to tip in USD and CUC, you can tip in CAD too.

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