Can You Use US Credit Cards In Cuba? (All You Need To Know)

If you are planning a trip to Cuba, then you are probably thinking about how much money you need to take with you.

Due to Cuba’s turbulent financial history, it can be difficult to know exactly how much money you will need for your trip.

Can You Use US Credit Cards in Cuba (All You Need to Know) (2)

That is why you may be considering taking your credit card. 

It used to be rare for people to use their credit cards while they were on holiday, but this is now becoming a lot more common.

Especially if you don’t know how much money you are likely to use on your trip. But is this possible if you are traveling to Cuba?

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at if you can use your US credit card in Cuba, and lots more. So keep on reading! 

Can You Use US Credit Cards In Cuba?

First things first, let’s take a look at if you can use US credit cards in Cuba. In one word, no, you cannot use US credit cards in Cuba.

While you can use a variety of different debit cards in Cuba, you cannot use US credit cards.

So, if you have an American Express Card or a Diners’ Club card, they will not work should you attempt to use them in Cuba. 

The list of credit cards that don’t work in Cuba include a long list of credit cards issued by US-owned card issuing companies.

US-issued debit cards also often will not be recognized by Cuban banks, so if the only credit/debit cards that you have are US-issued, it might be best to take cash with you on your trip to Cuba. 

However, there are some debit and credit cards that will be recognized in Cuba.

Some of these cards may even be issued by US banks.

So, if you want to use your credit or debit card in Cuba, you should contact your card issuer directly and find out if you can use your card in this country. 

What Cards Can I Use In Cuba?

As we have mentioned, there are some credit and debit cards that can be used in Cuba.

Generally, the main credit cards that cannot be used in Cuba are ones which are issued by US banks.

This is because of the official US trade embargo with Cuba, which we will take a further look at later.

While many US-issued credit cards don’t work, there are quite a few cards that will work in Cuba.

This widely includes VISA, Mastercard, and Euro cards.

So, if you have a debit or credit card issued by any of these companies, you may be able to use it in Cuba.

However, once again it is best to check with your bank before you travel, just in case. 

If you are planning on using your debit or credit card in Cuba, it is important to remember that you will likely be charged for this.

If you have a credit card that can be used in Cuba, it is worth noting that there is usually a 3% commission charge on all cash withdrawals and cash payments made. 

Likewise, if you attempt to withdraw money from a debit card while you are in Cuba, the bank could charge you for the transaction.

This is why we would recommend taking cash on your visit to Cuba, rather than your credit or debit card.

You could take your card, however we would only recommend using it once you have run out of cash.

Why Don’t US Credit Cards Work In Cuba?

We mentioned earlier that US credit cards don’t work in Cuba due to the official US Trade Embargo with Cuba. So, let’s take a further look at what this trade embargo is. 

The US trade embargo with Cuba has been in place for around 60 years.

This trade embargo placed on Cuba by the USA, barred nearly all financial transactions between the US and Cuba.

Can You Use US Credit Cards in Cuba (All You Need to Know) (2)

There is a ban on almost all financial transactions, and this includes personal transactions by US citizens visiting Cuba and using their own personal credit/debit cards. 

Technically speaking, if a credit or debit card is issued by a US bank, it is a US financial institution.

So, if a US citizen attempts to use a US credit/debit card in Cuba, this transaction will not work as Cuban banks do not recognize US financial transactions due to this embargo. 

It is also worth noting that on occasion, credit and debit cards issued from outside the US also will not work.

This isn’t because of any other trade embargo, this is simply because the technology in Cuba isn’t as advanced as the technology in some other areas of the Western world.

So, sometimes the technology will not recognize your credit or debit card.

Again, this is why we would always recommend taking cash with you on your trip. 

How Much Cash Should I Bring To Cuba?

So, as we have established, if you are considering a trip to Cuba, it is probably best to take cash with you for your trip.

If your credit/debit card is recognized in Cuba, then it is perfectly fine to take this with you on vacation.

However, due to the transaction fee charged by most banks, we would recommend taking enough cash with you to cover the trip.

We would only recommend using your credit/debit card as a last resort. 

It can be difficult to know just how much cash you should take with you for your trip.

The amount of money that you should take with you will depend on a number of factors, including how long you are staying for, what you plan on doing on your trip, and lots more. 

Generally though, you should expect to spend around 33 dollars a day during your trip.

So, if you are going to Cuba for 7 days, you should take a minimum of $231 with you.

Assuming that your accommodation and transportation has already been paid for. 

What Is The Best Currency To Take To Cuba?

Cuba has two different currencies: CUC and CUP (Cuban Pesos).

So, you might be wondering what the best currency is to take to Cuba.

The conversion rate for both currencies isn’t that great, and that is why it is best to convert your money once you get to Cuba. 

But, before you travel to Cuba, we would recommend converting your US dollars to Euros.

Euros have a better conversion rate than US dollars, so you will get more bang for your buck if you do this conversion first.

Most US money converters will not convert your money to Cuban Pesos.

So, convert your cash to euros first, and then convert your euros to Cuban Pesos or CUC once you land in Cuba. 

Summary

In short, most of the time, you cannot use US credit cards in Cuba.

Due to the official trade embargo placed on Cuba by the US, most Cuban banks will not recognize US issued credit and debit cards.

This is why it is always best to take cash with you on your vacation to Cuba, rather than your credit card. 

Jim Stanton
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