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Can I send money to someone in Cuba?

New sanctions may limit how much you can send and what options you have.

The Philippine government heavily regulates money transfers from the Philippines to Cuba, leaving money transfer companies in a difficult position. With a new wave of restrictions from the US that started on Nov 26, 2020 — what options are left to send money to Cuba?

Can I send money to Cuba through Western Union?

As of Nov 23, 2020, Western Union halted its money transfer service to Cuba. Western Union states on its website that “[t]he U.S. Government recently changed the regulations for sending money to Cuba. When moving your money, we are obligated to comply with all government regulations. The new rule, which was published on October 27, 2020, provided 30 days to implement the new restrictions. We have been working around the clock to explore every possible option to keep our services open between the U.S. and Cuba as we recognize this is a vital channel for our customers. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a solution in this limited time frame.”

Philippine remittance regulations generally follow US policies, including its sanctions. A quick check on Western Union’s Philippine website shows that it indeed is not sending money to Cuba from the Philippines.

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 (USD$3,000) 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

  • Important! Carefully researching money transfer services before sending funds can save you time and money. Pay attention to customer 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 Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Consumer Care. If you’ve actually lost money due to a scam, contact the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti Cybercrime Group as well.

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


  • Accepts many payment methods
  • Minimum USD$50 transfer amount
Duales is a privately-owned Canadian corporation established in 1994 that lets users send any amount at or over USD$50 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 USD$6-$8 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 based on more than 900 reviews.


  • Accepts both Visa and Mastercard
  • Has received complaints about poor customer service
Sendvalu supports transfers for cash pickup at one of over 455 locations in Cuba or by direct deposit into the recipient’s Cuban bank account. Transfers are typically executed within 48 hours (longer during holiday periods), and both Visa and Mastercard are accepted. The company claims that its fees are less expensive than withdrawing money from a credit card at an ATM.

Sendvalu has a rating of 2.0 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on 500+ reviews. Complaints typically revolve around poor customer service and transaction delays. On the other hand, it has a much more positive rating on (a Google Licensed Review Partner), earning 4.67 out of 5 stars based on nearly 3,800+ reviews.

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 USD$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 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 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, USD$50 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 travelers 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 one of these currencies if you decide to convert on the ground and put some CUC or CUP in your pocket.

Bottom line

Transferring money to Cuba involves abiding by Philippine laws and sanctions. Because of this, verify that whatever method you use is up to date on the latest restrictions by contacting it directly.

To get the best deal on any international money transfer, compare transfer providers before getting started.

Frequently asked questions

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