Currency in Cuba
When traveling to Cuba, some of the most frequently asked questions are about money. To put you at ease, we've laid out everything you need to know about Cuba currency and, as a traveler, what you need to be aware of when dealing with money in Cuba. This information is current as of March 2022.
The Cuban Peso
The Cuban currency is known as the CUP, or Cuban Peso. It is also sometimes referred to as "moneda nacional" - or "National Money". The official exchange rate is 24 to $1 USD as of March, 2022. This is the amount you will get at the bank or any official exchange bureau.
Rather than change money when you arrive, we suggest you just wait until you get to your Casa Particular, where your host can help you. Or, your guide can help. If you do want to exchange money at the airport, you can do so at the airport government exchange facility called Cadeca. Rates are consistent at all banks and exchange bureaus in Cuba.
Using CUP in Cuba
You will want to have at least a few CUPs for buying a drink at a bar, drinks that are not included in your tour, or for small purchases at local markets. Or if for some reason you were going to take a short taxi ride on your own, it would be good to have CUP, although the driver might be happy with USD as well. Also, in shops and most businesses, prices are posted in Cuban Pesos, so by using those you know you are paying the same price as locals. As well, this way you don't have to negotiate an exchange rate with a merchant when making small purchases.
Using US dollars in Cuba
US dollars (USD) are very popular in Cuba and can be used for many small purchases and tipping. So, you might pay for a drink at a bar in CUP, but then leave $1-3 USD as a tip. While we include most tips during the trip, here are a few places you would want to tip:
- When you are out on your own in the evening having an extra drink.
- Leave $2-$3 for maid service if you wish, at your accommodations. This is up to you, but remember Cuba is a poor country and your money will go a long way in helping people
- Anytime you feel inspired to give someone a bit of appreciation
- At the end of the trip, a gratuity for the tour guides and driver is very appreciated. This is best given in foreign currency, such as USD.
Shopping and Souvenirs
You will find that USD or CAD or Euros are all accepted at most places that sell souvenirs. However, it's a good idea to have some CUP with you in case a merchant only accepts that.
Carrying Cash in Cuba
Like anywhere in the world, be smart with your cash. Generally Cuba is a very secure place. But it's smart to carry your wallet in your front pocket. Don't carry large amounts of cash outside of your accommodation. And when you leave your room, use the room safe, or hide your cash in your luggage.
US Bank Credit Cards DO NOT WORK IN CUBA
Cards affiliated with American banks are NOT accepted in Cuba. If you have a credit card issued in another country, it MIGHT work, but even that is not assured. It's simply best to bring cash with you and more than you think you need. You can always take it back home if you don't spend it.