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Can I send money to someone in Cuba?
US sanctions limit how much you can send and what options you have.
Updated . What changed?
The US government heavily regulates money transfers from the US to Cuba, leaving Western Union among your best ways to send money to family members on the island. You can send a maximum $1,000 per recipient every 90 days, with cash pickup available at more than 400 agent locations.
See rates for sending money to Cuba
Not many money transfer providers can send money to Cuba, leaving you with Western Union and a few banks until more companies enter this market. See how much your transfer could cost by entering the amount you want to send and clicking Calculate.
What's in this guide?
Options for sending money to Cuba from the US
- Bank transfers. Bank-to-bank transfers are a reliable transfer method when you want to send money to loved ones in Cuba, but can be expensive.
- Online money transfer providers. Companies like Western Union offer quick, secure transfers to Cuban bank accounts and may be more affordable than your bank.
Banks versus money transfer services
Most major banks can convert US dollars to Cuban convertible pesos and then send the funds overseas. But because no US bank currently conducts business in the Pearl of the Antilles, they need to rely on correspondent banks to facilitate the transactions. This means high fees, weak exchange rates and potentially long transfers.
A money transfer specialist like Western Union can get your money there in minutes and can cost much less. But Western Union doesn’t transfer directly to bank accounts for Cuban transfers — your recipient will need to pick the money up in cash.
Steps to send money to Cuba
- Choose a money transfer provider who sends money to Cuba.
- Register for an account with your name, contact information and date of birth. You might need to upload a valid photo ID.
- Enter your recipient’s name, address and contact details. For bank account deposits, you’ll need to include their bank account information.
- Enter how much you’re sending, confirming the exchange rate and any fees.
- Complete your transaction, saving your tracking or receipt number to track the progress of your transfer.
How to compare transfer options when sending money to Cuba
Saving money on your next transfer doesn’t have to be expensive — if you know how to compare your options. Pay attention to details beyond the rates and fees to find the cheapest you’re eligible for.
- Exchange rates. Stronger rates mean more money to your recipient, so shop around for a company offering consistently competitive rates. Keep in mind that the best rates may mean higher fees.
- Fees. You’ll typically pay a fee for your transfers — whether a flat rate or a percentage of the amount. Look for companies offering fee-free thresholds — like no fees on transfers of $500 or more.
- Transfer methods. Can you queue up a transfer from your phone or an app? Does the company man a branch you can visit? Find a provider offering a method you’re most comfortable with.
- Transfer options. If this isn’t a one-time thing, look for the flexibility of scheduled payments and hedging options, like limit orders and forward contracts.
- Turnaround time. Depending on your payment and delivery, it can take as little as 10 minutes with some money specialists. Others require several working days to get your funds to your recipient.
- Minimum transfer. Some companies require high minimum transfers, which may not serve you if you need to send only a small amount.
- Pickup methods. Two common options are account deposits and cash pickups from an agent. But depending on where your recipient lives, you might also choose from mobile top-ups, e-wallets and even home delivery.
- Customer service. Learn how and when you can get support, if you need it — by phone, email, app or live chat.
What is a foreign exchange rate?
The exchange rate is how much one country’s currency is worth in another currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weak currency.
Cuban currency is split between the Cuban peso (CUP) — the currency in which Cuban citizens are paid that’s used for staples and nonluxury items — and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which tourists use. You’ll exchange US dollars for CUC at money changers called Casas de Cambio (CADECA).
Like most countries, Cuba’s exchange rate is flexible, which means it can change from moment to moment. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Outside of the exchange rate, you’ll pay a 10% US dollar remittance tax.
Tips for picking up cash in Cuba
Cuba is a safe country for international visitors. But that doesn’t mean you can throw precautions to the wind when picking up cash from a money transfer agent.
Use common sense to ensure your safety. Make sure you know where your wallet and bag are at all times. Keep your cash concealed from strangers, and deposit it in a safe place (preferably your bank account) as soon as you can. Carrying around a large amount of money can be a recipe for disaster.
Keep in mind that if you send USD to Cuba, your recipient will have to pay a 10% tax to convert in into CUC. Using a transfer company that converts your money to CUP or CUC before sending is one way to avoid this tax.
Cash pickup locations in Cuba
Transferring money to Cuba involves abiding by US laws and sanctions. As of April 2019, that means sending no more than $1,000 every three months. But because sanctions are constantly changing, it’s a good idea to check for any new rules before initiating a transfer.
To get the best deal on any international money transfer, compare transfer providers before getting started.
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