Our pick for travel credit card
American Express® Gold Card
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Cuba has two legal currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban peso (CUP). You’re going to come across both currencies, but convertible pesos are a tourist currency. Some visitors use convertible pesos only, but having CUP will let you experience the true flavor of the country – 1 CUC is equal to about 24 CUP.
Delicious street treats like fresh juice is available for cheap using CUP. You can pay with CUC, but it’s cost-effective if you’re using the same currency as the locals. Spending CUC and getting CUP as change isn’t uncommon either. Be sure to spend all of your CUP before you leave the country, as you won’t be able to change it back when you return home.
Note: As of June 2019, President Trump has banned civilian tourist travel to Cuba. This restriction is meant to serve as a punishment for Cuba and its communist policies by keeping US tourist dollars out of the Cuban economy.
However, you can still visit Cuba by acquiring a general license, albeit only for certain circumstances. This includes visiting family, religious activities or humanitarian aid.
Our pick for travel credit card
American Express® Gold Card
Our pick for multi-currency debit card
Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card
A debit card is definitely the way to spend in Cuba as you shouldn’t have any problem using it to withdraw cash from a bank — though you may have issues using ATMs on the street. Mastercard and Visa will typically work for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, but be aware that some card brands won’t work at all. Generally speaking, credit cards originating in the United States will not work in Cuba.
Although no prepaid travel cards currently support Cuban pesos, preloading a currency with a good history against the Cuban pesos could be beneficial. While there are travel cards that don’t charge for currency conversion, it is important to consider the back-end fees, exchange rate and if you want to manage an extra account.
Like we mentioned before, cards can work in some places and not in others; this is why it’s important to spread your funds across a couple of different types of travel money options. Take as much cash as you can with you to Cuba and use a debit card when you need more money.
Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of using different types of travel money products in Cuba.
You’re currently out of luck when it comes to using a credit card in Cuba. If you have a credit card from another country however, such as Canada, you might find some success. Where credit cards are accepted, Visa and Mastercard credit cards will give you no problem making purchase or withdrawals from ATMs in Cuba. Look for a card that waives foreign transaction fees like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. Generally, not many places accept credit cards in Cuba, so you’ll want to focus more on access to cash.
If you’re going to use a debit card when you’re on vacation, paying the extra fee for currency conversion is may be unavoidable, unless you can get your hands on the Capital One 360 debit card.
No travel cards support the Cuban Pesos, so look for a card that waives currency conversion fee, such as Travelex. It won’t charge for currency conversion when you spend in pesos, which can be higher than what you’d pay if you use your regular debit or credit card. The downside is these cards charge a couple of dollars for international ATM withdrawal in Cuba.
Take as much cash with you as you can as it will be easy to exchange when you go to Cuba. Make withdrawals from your debit account and use your credit card for big purchases. We’ve heard different cards will and won’t work in different places, which is why it’s important to have as much cash on you as possible.
Don’t worry about traveler’s checks in Cuba as there are fewer places than ever to get a traveler’s check cashed. Card providers can give you a full refund if you get your credit or debit card scammed.
|Year||Average annual exchange US dollar (USD) to Cuban Peso (CUP)||Average annual exchange US dollar (USD) to Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)|
*Exchange rates are accurate as of 5 September 2017
Cuban banknotes are quite different so you may want to familiarize yourself with it before heading there:
|Banknote||Cuban Peso (CUP)||Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC)|
You can’t buy Cuban pesos in the US, so you’re going to have to wait until you get there to obtain local currency. When you arrive in Cuba, you can get your cash changed at the airport or look for cadecas (money changers).
All prices are in US dollars.
|Budget (Cheap)||Midrange||Luxury (High-end)|
|Accommodation||Hotel room per night|
|Casa Particular (double room)|
|Hotel Nacional de Cuba Havana|
|Meals||Real Cuban restaurant|
Meal for two, no alcohol
|Meal for two with one alcoholic meal|
|Meal for two with a bottle of wine|
|Activities||Wa-Wa – local bus|
depending on length of journey
Viazul: Havana to Varadero
*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
We interviewed Oliver, a finder.com user, and asked about how he spent money during his visit to Cuba as he explored Havana, Trinidad and Camaguey.
Do you have any Cuba travel money tips?
Oliver says it’s better to take euros than US dollars to Cuba. If you’re trying to exchange US dollars, a 13% fee applies to the transaction — 10% for changing US currency (other currencies such as euros don’t incur this fee) and 3% for actually exchanging the cash (this applies no matter which currency you’re trying to change).
Heading to Cuba? Travel insurance is a must. Since May 2010, travel Insurance for the duration of your trip with sufficient medical cover has been a requirement for entry into Cuba.
Travel insurance can protect you from common travel risks such as:
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