At long last, American tourists can now fly to Cuba and experience all the rum, cigars, and beaches we can take! Before you dive head-first into the warm Havana nights, make sure you’ve got cash at the ready!
Currently, American debit and credit cards don’t work in Cuba. Even if they did, they wouldn’t get much use, as this island nation has an almost entirely cash-based economy. Until this changes, your best bet is to bring as much cash as you’ll think you’ll need during the entire duration of your Cuban stay.
You can exchange your United States (or any other) currency for cuban dollars at the airport or your hotel. Cuba uses two currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban peso (CUP.)
If you’re visiting Cuba from the USA, you’ll need your cash to be converted to CUCs. As of the time of this article’s release, one of these Cuban convertible pesos is roughly equivalent to one U.S. dollar.
Be advised: If you accidentally snag CUPs, there aren’t many places U.S. tourists can use them, and you may end up having to pay another exchange rate to convert that cash into CUCs all over again.
Tip: Unfortunately, there’s a whopping 10% exchange fee for turning your U.S. dollars into Cuban convertible pesos. Some travelers have advised heading to your local bank, stateside, before you go so you can exchange your US dollars into either Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos. Once you land in Cuba, you can convert these two types of foreign coins into Cuban currency for a much lower exchange rate.