Currency in Cuba

When traveling to Cuba, some of the most frequently asked questions are about money.  To put you at ease and make your tour to Cuba flow more seamlessly, 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 November 2022.

The Cuban Peso

The Cuban currency is known as the CUP, or Cuban Peso.  It is also referred to as "moneda nacional" - or "National Money".  The official exchange rate was pegged at 24 to $1 USD as of March, 2022.  However, due to a growing black market exchange, that provided as much as 100 or more CUP to the USD, the Cuban government changed course August 4, 2022 and set the foreign currency exchange rate for USD at 120 CUP per dollar.  You can get this rate at banks and/or the Cadeca Exchange Bureaus. An 8% conversion fee for USD is applied, meaning that you’ll get about 110 CUP to the USD.  Other currencies, such as the Euro or Mexican Peso, Canadian dollar, etc, have a 2% conversion fee.

Again, this is the amount you will get at the bank or any official exchange bureau and 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 or Euros 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.

Exchange Only A Little at a Time

We recommend that you exchange no more than $20-$50 USD into CUP at any time.

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 so bring $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills for this purpose.
  • 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.

Bring More Cash Than You Think You Need

Because your US bank credit card or ATM will not work in Cuba, be sure to bring more cash than you think you might need.  You can always bring it back home!

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.  Plus not very many businesses accept credit cards.  It's simply best to bring cash with you and more than you think you need.  Remember, you can always take it back home if you don't spend it.

A Helpful Glossary of Money Terms in Cuba

  • CUP - The Cuban Peso also known as M.N. or Moneda Nacional. This is the only official currency in Cuba and it has no value outside of Cuba.
  • MLC - Moneda Libremente Convertible meaning “Freely Convertible Money”. This is Cuba’s dollar equivalent digital currency.
  • MLC Card - This is a pre-paid card you can buy in Cuba that will work in government, restaurants, government hotels and the few government stores that exist.  We don’t recommend use of this mainly due to the hassle of buying it and the limited places that accept it.
  • Official Rate - The CUP exchange rate offered in CADECAs (exchange bureaus), ATMs, Banks, Hotels, and with state-run entities. This rate is static and set by the government, and as explained above, changed dramatically in August 2022.
  • Unofficial Rate - The exchange rate found with individuals or private businesses, instead of state institutions.   It’s also known as the black market or ‘por la izquierda’, and the rate is determined by supply and demand.  The rate fluctuates and you can find current rates on this page.