US credit and debit cards don’t work in Cuba. You can’t use them during your tour. You need to bring cash.
Carefully evaluate daily spending needs prior to departure. A minimum of $100 per day is recommended. It is better to take more money than you think you’ll need rather than get caught short of funds.
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, Canadian dollars or Swiss francs – currencies for which there is no additional conversion fee. The overall savings is about seven percent (7%).
Travelers Cheques can be redeemed but it’s super difficult and when possible takes hours. Western Union can dispatch funds to American visitors in an emergency. The US Embassy in Havana can assist with cash advances in dire circumstances.
Our Havana office helps tour participants who run out of money.
Don’t attempt to take Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) off the island. It is strictly prohibited, regardless of the amount.
Be sure to exchange CUCs back into US dollars at the Cuban airport before passing through immigration. There is no extra fee for converting CUCs into US dollars.
Don’t forget about gratuities. Cubans who serve you need and expect tips. See our tipping guidelines.
- Change your money into CUC at the airport on arrival, at a Cuban bank, CADECA (exchange bureau) or at your hotel. Your passport is necessary to exchange money. Never exchange money on the street or with an individual Cuban.
- You do not have to convert all of your cash upon arrival. You can convert half at the beginning of the tour and more as needed during the tour.
- 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 during 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.