Cuba has two types of currencies, which ostensibly are different for locals than for tourists. When traveling to Cuba, you should understand and carry both currencies, but you can only change your money in Cuba and all currency must be returned before leaving the country.
The official currency is the Cuban peso (CUP), but since the complete eradication of the U.S. dollar in 2004, the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) has been initiated for tourists. Most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops quote rates in and accept the CUC.
Cost to Exchange
While the value of the CUC is about equivalent to the U.S. dollar, a 10 percent tax is added to exchange dollars. Other foreign currency does not incur the tax, so bring euros, pounds or Canadian dollars for the cheapest exchange rate.
Warning About Scams
Exchanging money in Cuba should only be done at official exchange bureaus or banks to avoid scams.
Benefits of Cuban Pesos
You must use Cuban pesos to ride a bus, purchase food from local markets or eat at many restaurants. Most items and services are cheaper with the Cuban pesos than with the convertible peso.
All major credit cards are accepted as long as they are not issued by a U.S. bank.
Important Tip to Remember
Cuba does not have ATMs so you cannot withdraw cash. Most hotels will allow you to get cash off your credit card.
Article Written By Kristie Massion
Kristie Massion is an award-winning writer and editor with over a decade of experience in both consumer and trade publications. After attending the New School University, she worked all over the world before settling in Seattle, where she now publishes magazines for a variety of nonprofit and corporate clients.