How to Send Money to Cuba from Canada | Finder Canada

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How to send money to Cuba from Canada

Bank wire transfers are convenient, but private money transfer services may be a faster and less expensive way to send money to Cuba.

Vintage car driving down a sunny street in Cuba

Despite the fact that the Canadian government has not imposed sanctions against Cuba, the island nation’s political relationship with its neighbour, the United States, makes it difficult to trade with and send money to. But not to worry! It’s possible to send money to Cuba through a bank, money transfer service provider or the AIS card program.

Load funds onto an AIS card

Cuban-based commercial corporation, Fincimex, used to issue American International Service (AIS) cards, onto which USD, euros or the Cuban Convertible peso (CUC) could be loaded to pay for purchases where foreign currencies are accepted in Cuba. Fincimex is no longer issuing AIS cards, but existing cardholders can continue to use their AIS cards as usual.

Getting an AIS card was relatively simple. If you wanted to send money to Cuba, all you had to do was provide AIS with your recipient’s full name, address and local identification number. A card would then be mailed to a FINCIMEX office close to your recipient’s home in Cuba, and he or she could go in person to pick it up. It could take from 5-20 business days to arrive.

Senders can still go online to deposit funds in USD or EUR onto AIS cards that have already been issued. Up to 3,000 CUC ($3,000 USD) can be sent per quarter, after which you’ll have to provide additional information if you want to send more.

Use a private money transfer service

There are a several dedicated money transfer services in Canada that will allow you to send money to Cuba. But you should do your homework to make sure you trust the service you choose to use.

Duales

  • Accepts many payment methods
  • Minimum $50 USD transfer amount
Duales is a privately-owned Canadian corporation established in 1994 that lets users send any amount at or over $50 USD to recipient’s homes (as cash) or directly their bank accounts. Senders have a variety of payment options including credit, debit, email money transfers, international money orders and bank drafts. Funds arrive in 1-2 business days for delivery to recipients’ homes or 1 business day for direct deposit.

Users can send money online or via Duales’s mobile app (available for iOS and Android). Fees range from $6-$8 USD per $100 sent, depending on the type of transfer and whether you’re sending through Duales’s online platform or mobile app. As of the time of writing, the company has not been reviewed on Trustpilot. But it has earned 4.40 out of 5 stars on REVIEWS.io based on more than 900 reviews.

Enviodinero

  • Lots of options for receiving funds
  • Transfer process can be complex
Canadian-based Enviodinero also allows transfers to Cuba with several options for receiving funds: mobile top up, deposit onto the recipient’s AIS card, deposit into the recipient’s Banco Metropolitano S.A. bank account or cash pickup in either CUC or CUP at a Banco Metropolitano S.A. branch. Funds are generally available on AIS cards within 24-48 hours, although an Express Service is available that is supposed to deposit funds within a few hours (conditions apply).

As of the time of writing, there aren’t many customer reviews of Enviodinero available online. The company has around 10 reviews on Trustpilot with an overall rating of 3.0 out of 5 stars. Complaints typically concern the administrative complexity of sending transfers and the website being down frequently. If you decide to check out Enviodinero, you should do so cautiously.

  • Important! Carefully researching money transfers services before sending funds can save you time and money. Pay attention to customers reviews, and carefully review transaction terms and details before moving ahead with any transfer. If you suspect a company may be a scam, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you’ve actually lost money due to a scam, contact your local police as well.

Send money through your bank: Wire transfers and online banking

All of Canada’s major banks support international wire transfers to Cuba, although you could be looking at fees ranging from $15-$50+ per transfer. And some banks even allow customers to transfer to Cuba through online banking.

We reached out to Canada’s “Big Five Banks” to verify what options are available for sending money to Cuba. The table below summarizes our findings. (Note that this information is current as of November 13, 2020. Service availability can change, so you should check with your bank or credit union to find out exactly what options are available to you now.)

TD Canada Trust bank logo

TD Canada Trust

CIBC logo

CIBC

RBC bank logo, small

RBC

BMO logo, icon only

BMO

Scotiabank icon

Scotiabank

Wire transfer (in branch)Green check mark outlined by a circleGreen check mark outlined by a circleGreen check mark outlined by a circleGreen check mark outlined by a circleGreen check mark outlined by a circle
Money transfer via online bankingGreen check mark outlined by a circle

Via TD Global Transfer on TD’s mobile app or EasyWeb

Red X outlined by a circleGreen check mark outlined by a circle

Send up to $2,500 CAD (or more via in-branch wire transfer)

Red X outlined by a circleRed X outlined by a circle

TD Canada Trust also offers Visa Direct, a service that lets TD Visa card holders send between $10 and $2,500 to 170+ countries (including Cuba) in 150+ currencies. Both the sender and the recipient must have a Visa Debit, credit or prepaid card enabled with Visa Direct. Funds are deposited within 24-48 hours into whatever account is linked to the recipient’s Visa card. Not all banks support Visa Direct, so you have to contact your recipient’s bank in Cuba to find out whether this option is available.

Bank fees for wire transfers

What you should know about Cuban currencies

There are 2 cash currencies being used in Cuba: the Cuban Convertible peso (CUC) and the National peso (CUP). The CUC was introduced after the CUP as a stronger, alternative currency and is pegged to the US dollar (1:1). The government reportedly plans to phase out the CUC over time and create a new, unified unified CUP (no specific date has been announced yet).

In light of economic pressure from COVID-19, the Cuban government recently introduced a third, card-only “freely convertible currency” called the Moneda Libremente Convertible (MLC). Cuban residents spend MLC by loading foreign funds onto a giro card, which can be used to pay for purchases at state-run “foreign exchange stores.” By making it easier to buy Cuban goods in other currencies, the government is attempting to prevent foreign money from being spent in nearby countries.

The table below summarizes the differences between these 3 Cuban currencies:

National pesoCuban Convertible pesoMoneda Libremente Convertible
Currency abbreviation
  • CUP
  • CUC
  • MLC
Date introduced
  • 1857
  • 1994
  • 2020
Currency format
  • Banknotes and coins
  • Banknotes and coins
  • Loaded onto a giro card (card only; no banknotes or coins)
Relationship to the US dollar
  • 1 CUP = 24 CUC = 24 USD.
    (Most state-owned companies and banks exchange CUP and CUC on a 1:1 basis, which can confuse the real value of assets held in either currency.)
  • Pegged to the US dollar (1:1)
  • Exchange rate fluctuates, but is generally around 1 MLC = 0.0054 USD. (So, $50 USD would be approx. 9,260 MLC.)
Where is it accepted?
  • Accepted in most places in Cuba (although a few stores only accept CUC). State workers are paid in CUP.
  • Typically used to pay for more luxurious purchases. Also used for tourism and transportation purchases like hotels, restaurants, taxis and buses.
  • Used to purchase everyday goods in state-run “foreign exchange stores.”

If you’re transferring money to Cuba, try to send CUC, and make sure your recipient knows to be on the lookout for scam artists who try to swap out CUC with CUP without being noticed.

Which currencies are popular in Cuba?

Given the political climate, Cuba does not welcome currencies from everywhere. You will find it difficult to exchange most currencies in the country, and travellers are warned that they will be hit with a sizeable commission fee when they are able to transact. Up until recently, the Cuban government hit US dollar transactions with a sizeable tax. The tax has since been removed in light of shifting trade relations with the US and the devastating effect coronavirus has had on the Cuban economy.

The most welcomed currencies in Cuba are the Canadian dollar, British pound sterling and euro, so your best bet is to bring currency from home if you decide to convert on the ground and put some CUC or CUP in your pocket.

Bottom line

Your options for sending money to Cuba are limited, but it’s not impossible. Bank wire transfers may be your easiest option, but you can also look into using private money transfer services or topping up an AIS card if your recipient has one. If you hold an account at TD or RBC, you can transfer money to Cuba via online banking.

Want to know about your transfer options to other countries around the world? Check out our A-Z listing of countries you can send money to, and compare transfer service providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

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