Money in Cuba

by Nadine Dirksen - Monday, March 6, 2017

There are two legal currencies in Cuba.

(Click on the + to display the details below:)

Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)

  • This currency is widely used by tourists and for touristic purposes (e.g. buses, hotels, recreational shops and services, bars, restaurants).
  • CUCs cannot be obtained or exchanged outside of Cuba.
  • Exchange smaller amounts at a time so you won’t end up with leftover at CUCs.

Cuban Non-Convertible Peso (CUP) or Meneda Nacional (MN)

  • This is the currency locals earn and use in their daily lives.
  • It has a lesser value than the CUC.
  • You might encounter CUPs during your travels, e.g. with street vendors or in agricultural markets. CUCs are mostly accepted at these places too but your change will be CUPs, which can be confusing.
  • If you are wondering how to tell the two currencies apart, you might find this article helpful.

How and where to exchange money in Cuba

It is easy to exchange currency directly at the airport upon arrival and also at banks, hotels, and exchange offices (Casas de Cambios, or Cadecas). Keep in mind that exchange rates might be a bit less favorable at hotels.

Remember that  exchanging of US Dollars will incur a penalty of a minimum of 10%, which brings the value you will be able to obtain for this currency down a bit. Euros, Canadian Dollars or British Pounds are penalty-free. We recommend that US-Citizens obtain Euros or Canadian Dollars at home beforehand, as they are fairly easy to get at US-banks.

Not sure how much cash you’ll need? Take a look at our budget suggestions here.

Credit and Debit cards in Cuba

Any US-affiliated bank cards (debit or credit) are  not accepted.

Non-US affiliated cards, particularly Visa and Mastercard, are widely accepted. However, even if your card is not US-affiliated, we recommend relying on cash to avoid high foreign transaction fees and technical issues at ATMs and electronic payment devices.

If all of this has you wondering about using good old Travelers Cheques, know they are not a good solution for Cuba. There are often difficulties with exchanging them and might face commission fees. Replacement for lost Travelers Queques while in Cuba is not possible.

Nadine Dirksen - A German native, Nadine is a happy Colorado transplant who moved from lush Bavaria when she married. She left the land of pretzels in 2012 and has been enjoying a fun life full of cycling, mountain biking, CrossFit, hiking, running and any other outdoor activity that involves her little black Dachshund-mix. When not having fun outside or at work, she tries her hand at different craft projects with varying success. She helps our travelers by answering all their questions before their tours and she can't wait to help you bring your dream trip to reality!

Awards, Memberships and Reviews