Cuba

    CUC

    One tourist CUC is exactly one dollar. Due to restrictions with the United States there are additional taxes that are raised and one CUC eventually will become 80 to 85 cents worth.
    So you lose on average between 15% and 20% if you convert dollars to CUC.
    It is much better to exchange euro’s to CUC. On average, one euro is 1.05 CUC, but of course it all depends on the current value of the euro against the dollar and CUC.
    Other little interesting currencies are, the Swiss franc, the Canadian dollar and the Swedish krona.

    The different CUC notes.

    The different CUC notes.

    CUP

    It is always useful, especially in Havana, to also have a small amount of the local currency in your pockets. The CUP in other words.
    One CUC is 25 CUP. This CUP can be very helpful in buying bread and fruit. Especially if you get a bit out of the more touristy parts. For one baguette from the bakery you normally pay only one CUP. That would be 1/24th of a CUC or 0.04 cents.

    The money of the locals, the CUP.

    The money of the locals; The CUP.

    Exchange bureaus

    Perhaps the cheapest way to exchange euros for CUC is to do so in exchange offices.
    Depending on the value of the euro you will get a pretty good conversion rate. Avoid exchanging US dollars to Cuban money, since they are heavily taxed.
    Money exchange is a bit annoying, but a necessary thing in Cuba. Because of the communist system, employees in banks work very, very slowly and it can easily take an hour before it’s your turn.

    Be clever and exchange away a large sum of money right away. When you return, you can exchange your remaining CUC’s back to other currencies. Obviously, doing this will result in losing a little money.

    ATM’s

    Upon arrival at Havana International Airport, you have no way to get convertible pesos (CUC) from an ATM as there simply are none.
    If you land in Varadero you can though.

    Throughout Cuba you can find quite a few ATMs.
    Do keep in mind that money collected from these machines also costs money. On top of the exchange fees, you also need to pay an additional amount to your bank. It depends from bank to bank, but the average is between two and ten dollars per withdrawal.

    Very important to know is that you only can withdraw money with a VISA card which is not linked to a US bank. So make sure to check your bank before going to Cuba!

    Withdrawing cash from an ATM with your MasterCard does not work! Do not despair; there is a possibility to withdraw cash with your MasterCard. Read more about this under the title ‘Mastercard’.

    Maestro, Cirrus and other internationally recognized credit card types don’t work anywhere in Cuba.

     

    VISA

    VISA cards are the best option to get cash from an ATM or a bank.
    Note that not all VISA cards in Cuba work; all VISA cards that are affiliated with a US bank do not work.

    Try using your card as little as possible and immediately get out a larger sum of money. There have been cases where a VISA card was duplicated.

     

    MasterCard

    I myself had only a US VISA card and I could not use it. People told me that MasterCard does not work in Cuba, but that is NOT true!

    You can withdraw cash with your Mastercard, but only at certain locations. Ask where the local ‘Banco Financiela International’ is. This is the only place you can collect money directly with your MasterCard.
    Often there are no queues or very short waiting lines. Moreover, you do not have to pay any additional costs and the rates are very affordable.
    If you want to get out money, you are required to show your passport. So don’t forget it!

    A Banco Financiela International is not found in every city, so think ahead and take out enough money if you plan to also travel to smaller cities.

    In Havana, Varadero, Santiago and Cienfuegos you can find these banks for sure. Trinidad and Viñales have no international banks.

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