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 benchmarked to the US dollar at one-to-one.
However, changing US dollars into CUCs carries an additional 10 percent (10%) fee plus approximately a 5% processing fee. This fee does not apply to other currencies. Some travelers take Canadian dollars, Euros, GBP sterling or Swiss francs – currencies for which there is no additional conversion fee.
Travelers should carefully evaluate daily spending needs. It is better to take more money than you think necessary than to get caught short of funds. US credit and debit cards don’t yet work in Cuba. American Express travelers checks can be redeemed but is difficult and not dependable.
Suggestion: Take all the money you anticipate spending plus some extra – consider $100 per day.
- Change your money into CUC at a Cuban bank, your hotel, or at a CADECA (exchange bureau). Never exchange your money on the street or through an individual Cuban.
- All visitors should keep extra cash, important documents, identification and other valuables in their hotel room lock box.
- When leaving the hotel only take the amount of money you plan on spending on that outing. A passport photocopy is sufficient identification, but the original is necessary to exchange money.
- Ostentatious displays of jewelry, cameras and spending will attract pickpockets as in any large city. Keep valuables firmly secured to your person.