Money in Cuba: this is a little complicated but you must have a debit or credit card to use in Cuba – your MASTER CARD, EFTPOS or AMEX card WILL NOT work in Cuba. Your options for money are:
a) Changing your money to CUC’s (US$1 = 1CUC)
b) Withdrawing from your debit or credit account (ONLY VISA CARDS ARE ACCEPTED IN CUBA)
c) DO NOT BRING USD INTO CUBA– you cannot exchange them (well you can, but you lose about 25% and they do not accept USD in Cuba if you want to buy something)
We recommend option b)
When you are at the airport, go to the CADECA (CASA DE CAMBIO) and tell them you want to withdraw money (sacar dinero) or exchange money (cambiar dinero). You will need to show your passport.
I would withdraw as much as I can/want because your chances of running into another working CADECA on the island are a little complicated. Furthermore, Cuba is not as cheap as you think!
There are two types of money in Cuba: 1CUC = 25MN.
- CUC- CUC’s is the Cuban Convertible Peso. Basically this is the tourist money and it was designed for the tourists to pay for hotels, transport and food. Travelling in Cuba, 90% of the time you will be using CUCs.
- Moneda Nacional: this is what the Cuban people use to pay for their rations, transport, food etc. You will be able to use the MN to buy street pizza, some fruit and veggies at the local market, some peanuts in Havana… The Cubans get about 500- 750MN a month as their monthly salary if they work for the government (so about 10-30USD). You will see that a lot of things on the Island are only available in CUC which many Cubans cannot afford.
Remember to always ask for change (cambio) – there is a lack of change situation in Cuba.
I would also change about 10CUC into Moneda Nacional. 10CUC should get you about 250 MN – money to buy some street pizza, peanuts, ice cream in Havana (cultural experience!!!) etc.
Taxi to Havana- this should be about 30CUC – they should have a meter, but most of the time coming from the airport they don’t use it. To learn more about the Taxi and airport in Havana, please see our post Travelling To Cuba.