Which currency do I need in Cuba?

by Anni & Wladi
Cuba has two different currencies. Which currency do you need? Maybe both? How do I get Cuban pesos?  Can I just pay with my credit card?

At first sight it might seem confusing that there are two currencies in Cuba. But it really is not confusing in the end. Here is a short explanation about what currency matters.

The two official currencies in Cuba are the CUC and the CUP. The CUC (=peso Cubano conbertible) is the “tourist currency” und the one you need locally. 1 CUC is equivalent to $ 1 (US-Dollar), so depending on the current exchange rate it is around 0,80 €.

The CUP (= peso Cubano, moneda nacional) is Cuba’s “national currency”. For 1 CUC you get 24 CUP. As a tourist you don’t really need that currency but you might hear different opinions on that theme. As a foreigner you are expected to pay in CUC. Maybe when travelling to villages in remote areas you might want to bring some CUP, just in case.

Which currency do I need on Cuba – You pay often cash like in the Rum museum in Havana

To get CUC seems like another obstacle, that really isn’t one either. The easiest way is to bring Euro in cash and change it into CUC at your hotel reception. Don’t expect an official receipt stating a current exchange rate or anything like that. You push your Euro over the counter and receive CUC in exchange; converted by rule of thumb. Done. The “exchange rate” can vary from hotel to hotel. It takes some time to get used to that but it works out completely unproblematic. Just take a moment to check that all your bills are CUC and that not a CUP wrangled itself in.

Once you are in larger towns like Havana or Santa Clara you will find ATMs where you can draw cash with your credit card. If you have the “right” credit card you will not even have to pay a fee. One thing you have to expect is a long line in front of the bank, like in various other stores as well.

If you are in need for some CUP against expectation you need to exchange Euro into CUC and then CUC into CUP. But as I already said: That really shouldn’t be necessary.

Which currency do I need on Cuba - long line in front of the bank

Which currency do I need on Cuba – long line in front of the bank

Talking about the credit card issue again: On Cuba you can hardly find a place where you can actually pay with a credit card. Therefor it is indispensable to have enough cash with you, since prices on site are equivalent to European prices.

Please note: Make sure you spend all your Cuban money before you are leaving to go back home because tourists are not allowed to export Cuban currency. Read here the complete experience in Cuba.

And here are the Key-Facts: 
  1. 1 CUC = $1 (US) » 0,80 €
  2. 1 CUC = 24 CUP
  3. Change cash at you hotel reception or go to an ATM, which is only possible in bigger cities (be aware of long lines though!).
  4. As a tourist you only need CUC.
  5. Don’t plan on using your credit card. It is hardly possible anywhere.
  6. Get rid of all your Cuban cash before leaving to go home, because tourists are not allowed to export Cuban currency.

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