see our Money Tips and Recommendations
Last Update: January 31, 2022
As of 01 Jan 2021, the Peso Cubano - CUP (or MN - moneda nacional) is the only official currency in Cuba. It is officially valued at around 25 CUP = 1 USD
The money situation in Cuba has been complicated for travellers for many years, navigating the two currencies of the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP), and the 10% tax that was previously charged to exchange USD (the US dollar was prohibited for cash transaction in Cuba as of June 2021).
What currency to bring to Cuba?
Here is the complete list of foreign currencies currently accepted for exchange in Cuba.
- These currencies may be exchanged to CUP at most banks throughout the country
- They can be exchanged at the CADECA and at some banks (surcharge is usually 3%)
- We strongly recommend exchanging only small amounts of CUP currency at any one time.
Click here to see current exchange rates
- You will not be able to exchange USD at any of Cuba’s exchange houses or hotels.
Where to exchange money?
The exchange of foreign currencies to Cuban peso (CUP), is carried out at airports, banks, hotels, exchange houses (CADECA) and shopping malls; always respecting the current exchange rate of the different currencies according to the fluctuation in the world market.
*For the best advice we strongly recommend that you always ask your Cuban Adventures Tour Leader or Guide first before exchanging any money.
The Official Exchange Houses (CADECA) have a wide network of commercial offices around Cuba. The CUP can be obtained in the CADECA exchange houses and provide the following services:
- Exchanging cash between foreign currencies and CUP. We only recommend exchanging Euros, Canadian Dollars, and British Pounds in Cuba.
- Exchanging traveller’s cheques to CUP. These are not popular nor a very convenient one.
- Credit Card - Cash advances (Visa and MasterCard). These are widely accepted throughout Cuba and are valid from accounts in every currency, except for cards linked to banks in the United States. Cirrus and Maestro are not accepted at all in Cuba.
There is a CADECA at the airport if you urgently require cash. We do not recommend changing money at the airport. On departure you can change your left-over Cuban money to another currency (it is illegal to take Cuban currency outside of Cuba).
ATMs- Credit/Debit Cards
The ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) should work in Cuba for Visa, Mastercard, and American International Service (AIS). You will need a pin number for your credit card to be able to use the ATMs.
No Card issued by a US institution will work in Cuba, so it is important to check that your bank is not associated with a US financial institution. We do know that Visa credit cards obtained through the following banks will NOT work in Cuba:
- Westpac (Australia)
- St George (Australia)
- 28 Degrees
Some rechargeable Travel Cards (Visa and Mastercard) may work in Cuba even though obtained through these banks.
We recommend that you check with your bank before you come to Cuba and have a back-up plan for obtaining cash in Cuba in case your credit card does not end up working.
MLC Card - what is it?
- The Cuban government has announced that to avoid cash transactions, which they would like to eliminate due to hygiene concerns, they are offering prepaid debit cards at the airport. These cards, known as MLC cards, will be sold in denominations of $200, $500, and $1000.
- MLC is a term you may hear quite frequently, it stands for Moneda Libremente Convertible, or Freely Convertible Money, which means foreign currency. Although MLC can be EUR, USD, GBP, etc, it is treated as if it's a currency itself. Bank cards are used for transactions in MLC.
- Some stores in Cuba only accept MLC and tend to be better stocked.
- The remaining balance of your MLC card will be refunded at the airport upon departure.
- Is quickly gaining popularity in Cuba, and there are some accommodation options and a couple of restaurants in Havana that accept Bitcoin and other cryptos.
- Cuban Adventures accepts bitcoin payment for our tours and services.
Our Tips and Recommendations
Don’t bring USD cash, but do bring EURO, GBP or CAD
It is recommended to bring plenty of cash. The monetary unification process could result in instability. How the CUP will function in Cuba is still unknown so bringing cash is currently your best option (preferably EUR)..
Don’t rely on being able to use ATMs for all your money concerns.
On arrival avoid changing money at the airport CADECA if possible.
Exchange only small amounts of money to CUP at any one time.
Always ask your Tour Leader or Guide first before exchanging any money.
USD is not permitted. The most popular alternative recommended is EUR, although any of the other exchangeable currencies is fine.
Rules and regulations change quickly and often in Cuba, so you should always contact your bank before you travel to Cuba to check if your cards will work.
Always have a backup. Even if your bank says that your card WILL work, it is best to not rely on only one source of money - as a precaution and for other unforeseen circumstances. In Cuba, a combination of cash and cards is best.
Always take more rather than less, because Cuba is likely to be more expensive than you imagine, and prices for some items such as food and drink have tripled. Don't spoil your trip in Cuba by potentially being short of funds.
Most private businesses (guesthouses, bars, private restaurants, small shops) will most likely prefer payment EUR or MLC cards.
All Cuban State operated sites (Museums, Parks, State run restaurants, official sites, ETECSA, markets) will always require payment in CUP with exception for the MLC store.
The Cuban Peso is neither valid nor exchangeable outside Cuban territory, so on departures make sure you exchange it back to your preferred currency.