Can I send money to Cuba from the UK?

Your options for sending money to Cuba are limited, but it's not impossible.

Due to the strict US sanctions, it can be pretty difficult to send money to Cuba. But don’t worry – it’s still possible! Here we look at how you can do it.

Load funds onto an AIS card

Cuban-based commercial corporation, Fincimex, used to issue American International Service (AIS) cards, onto which USD or euros 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 they could go in person to pick it up.

Senders can still go online to deposit funds in USD or EUR onto AIS cards that have already been issued. You can send up to $3,000 USD every three months, after which you’ll have to provide additional information if you want to send more.

Use a private money transfer service

Most money transfer companies like Western Union and MoneyGram don’t offer transfers to Cuba from the UK. Smaller operations such as Sendvalu and Fonmoney can help – but you should do your homework to make sure you trust the service you choose to use.

  • Important! Carefully researching money transfers 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 Action Fraud. If you’ve actually lost money due to a scam, contact your local police as well.

Fonmoney

  • Positive reviews for customer service and process
  • Transfers can take up to 10 days

Fonmoney lets you send money directly to a recipient’s AIS debit card, for cash pickup at 150+ branches or straight to their bank account. Both Visa and Mastercard are accepted, as well as direct bank transfers. Fonmoney claims that there is currently no cheaper way to send money from Europe to Cuba.

Fonmoney has an “excellent” Trustpilot rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, based on almost 3,000 reviews. Reviewers praise the speed and helpfulness of the customer services team and say it was a clear and easy process to send money – although not the fastest (ranging from 48 hours for AIS transfers to up to 10 days for some bank transfers). It is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Sendvalu

  • Accepts both Visa and Mastercard
  • Has received complaints for 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 a cashpoint.

Sendvalu has a rating of 1.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, based on more than 500 reviews. Complaints typically revolve around poor customer service and transaction delays. On the other hand, it has a much more positive rating on REVIEWS.io (a Google Licensed Review Partner), earning 4.65 out of 5 stars based on more than 4,000 reviews.

Cheap ways to send money abroad from the UK

Send money through your bank

It’s best to ask your bank directly if it lets you send money to Cuba – if it does you could be looking at fees of up to £40 per transfer.

Also check if yours offers Visa Direct, a service that lets Visa card holders send money 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 as well as asking yours you’ll also have to contact your recipient’s bank in Cuba to find out whether this option is available.

Bank fees for wire transfers

How to compare transfer options to send 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 have 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.

The Cuban convertible peso

Prior to 2021, the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) was a second official currency in Cuba, pegged at 1:1 to the United States dollar. It’s no longer accepted by merchants, and although banks may still exchange it, the Cuban convertible peso isn’t really much use to anybody. So if you’re transferring money to Cuba and you’re given the choice, try to send CUP rather than CUC.

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 large 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 pound sterling, the euro and the Canadian dollar, so your best bet is to bring currency from home if you decide to convert on the ground and put some CUP in your pocket.

Bottom line

Your options for sending money to Cuba are limited, but it’s not impossible. Ask your bank, or look into using private money transfer services or topping up an AIS card if your recipient has one.

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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