MONEY – Cuban Currency
Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC): The Cuban economy formerly operated in U.S. dollars, but since November 8, 2004, all purchases by foreigners in Cuba, including goods and services from stores, restaurants, hotels and taxis can only be made with Cuban convertible pesos, called chavitos in Cuban slang, abbreviated as CUC. This money was used in Cuba before 2004 as a supplement to the U.S. dollar in times of short circulation and its value at that time was exactly one-to-one with the dollar. With the change in the currency system in 2004, a 10% fee was added to exchange dollars for CUC. In April 2005, the value of the CUC was reassessed in relation to other foreign currencies and given a value of about 8% more. This makes it impossible to avoid losing money on the exchange of any currency for CUC. CUC paper currency depicts national buildings and monuments.
Cuban Convertible Peso front
Cuban Convertible Peso back
Cuban Peso front
Cuban Peso back
Cuban Pesos (Moneda Nacional): This is the official national currency. The exchange rate is approximately 24 Cuban pesos for one CUC. Cuban pesos look different (most portray Cuban heroes) and have a different value than the convertible peso. It will not be necessary to change money into Cuban pesos as the CUC is now used for all tourist purchases. If you like, you can easily get some Cuban pesos at the cadeca (money changing institution) and use them for things like shopping in the agricultural market or buying a cup of cafˇ on the street. The kinds of purchases that can be made with Cuban pesos are limited, especially for foreign travelers.
MONEY – Currency Exchange
Cadecas and Banks: You can exchange money at many locations. The exchange is basically the same at banks and cadecas (money changing stations), but there may be a longer line at the bank. Cadecas can be found in hotel lobbies and on street corners all over town. The cadeca at the Hotel Nacional is open until 11:00pm and the Havana Libre is open 24 hours. Otherwise they close early so change enough money during the day and donÕt get stuck with no chavitos!
U.S. Dollars: There are high costs to exchange all international currency to CUC. The U.S. dollar typically has the highest loss at about 12%. American credit cards have not been accepted in Cuba (altho this is changing as of spring 2015), but credit cards from other countries are accepted in many hotels and restaurants. You can cash all types of travelerÕs checks in Cuba, including Tomas Cook and American Express, but they arenÕt recommended (except for extra emergency money), as you will be charged an additional 3–5% to cash them.
We do not advise changing a lot of money at the airport because exchange rates there are typically poor.