August 4, 2022
The monetary situation in Cuba is quite complex. Cuba’s official currency is the CUP - Peso Cubano. Foreign currencies (especially the EUR) are also widely used.
Cuban Pesos (CUP) formally have a fixed value of 25 CUP = 1 USD, however, as of August 4, 2022 the government has set the foreign currency exchange rate for cash transactions at 120CUP = 1 USD. When changing USD, an 8% conversion fee will apply so the effective rate is 110CUP = 1USD. All other currencies have a 2% conversion fee. With this change it is no longer necessary for travellers to change money on the black market. Electronic transactions, such as credit card purchases and ATM withdrawal, are still using the 25CUP:1USD exchange rate.
What currency to bring to Cuba?
Euros (EUR) remains the best currency to bring to Cuba. It is the most widely accepted by locals therefore it can be used to pay directly to businesses or to exchange for CUP. British Pounds (GBP) has the highest official exchange rate but may not be as in demand by local businesses. USD is also useful, however, since it cannot be deposited into local bank accounts, some vendors will not accept it.
Below is the complete list of foreign currencies
- 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 2% for most currencies and 8% for USD)
- We strongly recommend exchanging only small amounts of CUP currency at any one time (e.g. 50-100EUR).
|*United States Dollar||USD|
Click here to see current exchange rates
- USD is accepted in private businesses in Cuba (such as restaurants and casas particulares) and for exchange to CUP. However, it is not able to be deposited into local’s bank accounts which makes it less favorable than EUR.
Where to exchange money?
Foreign currencies can be exchanged to CUP (at the official government rate) at airports, banks, hotels, exchange houses (CADECA), and shopping malls.
The Official Exchange Houses (CADECA) in all cities around Cuba. They provide the following services:
- Exchanging cash between foreign currencies and CUP.
- Exchanging traveller’s cheques to CUP. Nowadays not popular nor convenient.
- Credit Card - Cash advances (Visa and MasterCard). Possible throughout Cuba and 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.
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.
Except in rare circumstances, 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?
MLC (‘Moneda Libremente Convertible’) is Cuba’s official digital currency that represents a value of 1 MLC = 1 USD. Because of this fixed value, it is often simply referred to as “dollars”.
- MLC pre-paid cards are sold at CADECAS in denominations of $200, $500, and $1000.
- Some government stores in Cuba accept only MLC.
- The remaining balance of your MLC card will be refunded at the airport upon departure.
- Is accepted by some guesthouses and a couple of restaurants in Havana.
- Cuban Adventures accepts cryptocurrencies (ETH and BTC) as payment for our tours and services.
Our Tips and Recommendations
Bring EURO cash and plenty of small bills (€5, 10, 20). USD, GBP, and CAD are often accepted, but can be less versatile for paying directly to restaurants, casas, etc.
Bring plenty of cash. Access to your funds outside of Cuba may not be possible so bring more than you expect to spend, just in case. A good rule of thumb is 100USD equivalent per day if you are paying most of your expenses locally.
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.
Exchange only small amounts of money to CUP at any one time. Changing no more than 50-100EUR at a time will avoid having CUP to change back.
Don’t rely on being able to use ATMs. Additionally, only CUP can be withdrawn from ATMs and this will be at the lower official exchange rate.
Most private businesses (guesthouses, bars, private restaurants, small shops) will most likely prefer payment in EUR.
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 stores.
Some Hotels, most grocery stores, and all medical facilities will only take card payment, not cash. Very few of these places accept US cards.
Rules and regulations change quickly and often in Cuba, check on the currency situation before your go.
Always have a backup. Check with your bank prior to your trip to see if your cards will work. 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, bringing cash is best and cards should be brought as back-up.
The Cuban Peso is neither valid nor exchangeable outside Cuban territory, so on departures make sure you exchange it back to your preferred currency.
Glossary of Cuban Money Terms
- CUP- The Cuban Peso. The only official currency in Cuba. CUP has no value outside of Cuba.
- M.N. - Moneda Nacional. This is just another name for CUP.
- CUC- Cuban Convertible Peso. Cuba’s former second currency, but as of 2021 the CUC was taken out of circulation.
- MLC- Moneda Libremente Convertible (Freely Convertible Money). Cuba’s dollar equivalent digital currency.
- MLC Card- A pre-paid card you can buy in Cuba that will work in government stores, restaurants, and hotels.
- Official Rate- The CUP exchange rate offered in CADECAs (exchange houses), ATMs, Banks, Hotels, and with state-run entities. This rate is static and set by the government, not the market. CUP is pegged to USD at 25CUP = 1USD.
- Unofficial Rate- The exchange rate you get when you trade with individuals or private businesses, instead of state institutions. Also known as black market or ‘por la izquierda’, this rate is set by supply and demand and will fluctuate. Current rates can be seen here