The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the main currency used by island visitors. It can only be obtained in Cuba and is worthless outside of Cuba.
The purchasing power of the CUC is similar to that of the US dollar. The CUC is benchmarked to the US dollar at one-to-one.
However, changing US dollars into CUCs carries an additional 10 percent (10%) fee. This fee does not apply to other currencies. Some travelers take Euros, GBP sterling, Canadian dollars or Swiss francs – currencies for which there is no additional conversion fee. The overall savings is about seven percent (7%).
US credit and debit cards don’t yet work in Cuba.
American Express travelers checks can be redeemed but is difficult and not dependable. Western Union can dispatch funds to Cuba in an emergency. Our Havana office helps tour participants with emergency cash advances.
Suggestion. Carefully evaluate daily spending needs prior to departure. A minimum of $100 per day is recommended. It is better to plan to take more money than to get caught short of funds.
Don’t forget about gratuities. Cubans need and expect tips. See our tipping guidelines.
- Change your money into CUC at the airport on arrival, or at a Cuban bank, or CADECA (exchange bureau). Your passport is necessary to exchange money. It costs more to exchange money at your hotel. Never exchange money on the street or with an individual Cuban.
- All visitors should keep extra cash, important documents, identification and other valuables in their hotel room lock box.
- When leaving your hotel only take the amount of money you plan on spending on that outing plus a photocopy of your passport. Leave your passport in your hotel lock box unless you plan to exchange money.
- Ostentatious displays of jewelry, cameras and spending will attract pickpockets and panhandlers.
- Keep valuables firmly secured to your person.