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12 Traveling to Cuba: An American Perspective

The Survey

Currency and Credit Cards in Cuba

What are the facts?

As of October, 2015, changes are happening quickly in terms of paying for goods and services in Cuba. Cuba technically has two currencies. The Cuban Peso (CUP) is the local currency, and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the tourist currency. Travelers will deal almost exclusively with CUC, but it can be helpful to understand the difference between the two. Travelers should expect to exclusively use cash (CUC) while in Cuba. There are still restrictions on American credit card use and, due to the country’s outdated technology, there are practically no working credit and debit card terminals.

When you arrive in Cuba, you’ll need to convert your money into CUC at the airport. Since there is a 10% penalty tax on exchanging American dollars, you can save some money by preemptively exchanging the USD for Euros or Canadian dollars while still in the states.

It can be a hassle to find a working ATM, so it’s best to bring a liberal amount of cash. You’ll also want to budget wisely because, due to steep exchange rates, you will lose money if you choose to exchange your leftover CUC back to your local currency upon departure.

Credit Cards vs Cash

The preferred method of payment in Cuba is primarily credit cards, with 63 percent of respondents saying they would prefer to use credit cards. However, credit cards are not widely accepted in Cuba.

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