Cuba uses two currencies, the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). The name sounds similar but there is a big difference in value.
100USD = 100 CUC
100USD = 2500 CUP
The CUP is the local currency and not for tourist use. The CUC is the currency used by tourist. There is also a 10 to 13% fee to change USD to CUC depending on where the exchange is. Since US debit and credit cards don’t work in Cuba, it’s essential to carry cash. The question is always how much, and my answer will always be as much as you can carry. (Emergencies happen)
The British Sterling Pound, The Euro, The Canadian Dollar and the US Dollar are all acceptable currencies to change in Cuba. People often purchase foreign currency to change in Cuba, opinions aside, it doesn’t make sense. You end up paying two fees along with a host of other problems.
100 USD = 100CUC – 13 % fee = 87 CUC.
100 USD = 71 GBP - Bank fee (10%) =64 GBP.
64GBP = 89 CUC.
There is also a 3% fee on any currency so using the numbers above, it works out to be the same thing. Change your money in intervals. This allows you to only use what you need and save you money on changing fees instead of changing all at once. Change enough to get you around but always shop for the best price. The Currency Exchange is located to your left once you leave Terminal 3 at Jose Marti Airport. (follow the line)
Afterward, securing a cab to the city is easy. The taxi stand is next to the currency exchange. The cost of a taxi from the Airport to Central Havana is 30 CUC.
When shopping at a local establishment, there are two different prices. If a Cuban wants to buy a bottle of water, they will pay 2 CUP. For the same bottle of water, the tourist will pay 2 CUC or 50 CUP. (Don’t be alarmed or think you are being ripped off, it’s just how it works.)
It’s good to know the difference between the two when shopping locally. You might pay in CUC and receive your change in CUP as an error, if you’re not sure what to look for, you will get scammed.
Spend your money wisely if you're on a budget and if not, remember life is about experiences, not things.
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