One of the most important things to think about when traveling abroad is the currency that is used.
Without any money, you’re going to have a pretty boring holiday, as everything fun costs at least a certain amount.
To put you at ease with your upcoming trip I have done a quick overview of everything that you could possibly need to know about the currency in Cuba, and everything that you will need to know about when it comes to dealing with the money you have while abroad.
The Cuban Peso
The currency in Cuba is known as the Cuban Peso or CUP.
Sometimes you may also hear it referred to as ‘Moneda Nacional ‘which translates to national money.
The exchange rate can change throughout time, so you’ll always want to check with your travel agency, but as of right now you are looking at around 24 Cuban Pesos per one US dollar.
While I would always advise that you wait until you’ve settled into your Casa Particular so that your host or guide can assist you in exchanging your money, you can also easily do so at the airport.
There will be a government facility named the Cadeca where you can go to do this.
The exchange rates are fairly consistent throughout exchange bureaus and banks while in Cuba, so you don’t really need to be hunting around for the very best rate.
Using CUP In Cuba
You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of CUP spare for buying drinks at bars, or food and beverages while you go on tours.
Most local markets will also only accept the CUP currency.
Taxi drivers may accept US dollars but it’s always best to carry CUP with you just in case they do refuse the American currency.
Pretty much any business or shop that you enter, the prices will be in CUP.
While you may be able to use USD to pay, it is likely that you’ll lose out and end up paying more than the locals would with their currency.
The last thing you want to be doing on holiday is having to try and barter and negotiate with local shop owners who you feel may be charging you more with their exchange rates.
Using US Dollars In Cuba
As mentioned above, you can use USD as a form of currency in Cuba, although I would personally advise against this.
USD can be used for tipping though, for example, if you treat yourself to a nice cocktail in a bar, you could always pay with CUP for the actual beverage and then tip the waiter with USD.
While tipping isn’t as strict as it is in America, it’s still a fairly important thing to do and so you want to ensure that in the following situations you do try to leave a tip:
- When you are out by yourself having an extra drink
- If you are having maid service at your accommodation
- Tip your tour guide at the end of your holiday (US Dollars is better than CUP in this instance)
- Whenever else you feel inspired to
It’s also important to notice that Cuba is quite a poor country, so tips here can actually have a massive impact on the locals’ lives.
Souvenirs And Shopping
Most places that sell souvenirs, and shops designed for tourists in Cuba will often accept most currencies including USD, CAD, and Euros.
But of course, this can’t be guaranteed, so it’s always helpful to keep some spare CUP in your pocket just in case.
Carrying Cash In Cuba
Regardless of your destination of travel, you always need to be careful with your money.
Pickpockets are rife wherever you find tourists, no matter where in the world you go.
Generally, as a country, Cuba is fairly secure. But you can never be too vigilant.
Wherever you travel, I would always recommend that you carry your purse or wallet in a front pocket as it is just too easy to not notice it being swiped from your back pocket, especially if you are caught up in the excitement of a holiday.
Never take really large amounts of cash outside your accommodation, you won’t need it.
If you are leaving large amounts of money in your hotel room, always place this in the room safe, or if you don’t have one of those, hide your cash in a secure place such as your locked luggage.
You Cannot Use US Bank Credit Cards In Cuba
If you are traveling, ensure that you bring enough cash with you for the entirety of your stay because you will not be able to use your bank card while you are abroad.
I would always advise that you err on the side of caution and take too much money with you.
You can always bring this back and exchange it. If you run out of money too early, you will find yourself in quite a pickle.