Cuba Currency: Everything You Need To Know For 2023

Cuba Currency. CUC. CUP

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Cuba’s currency has changed – locals and tourists say goodbye to the so-called dual currency system and hello to the reactivation of the historic national currency, the Cuban Peso (CUP). However, visitors are reporting that you might not actually use any Pesos while visiting Cuba.

This guide will detail everything you need to know about Cuban currency, answer whether you can use your credit card in Cuba and discuss the rumoured USD tax AND exchange fee!

Want to share your currency in Cuba experience? Please leave a comment at the end of this guide or contact us.

Traveling to Cuba soon? Here’s our first timer’s guide to Cuba

What Type of Cuba Currency Is There?

There is now one unified currency in Cuba, the Cuban Peso (CUP).

The CUP which should trade at 24 pesos to the US Dollar.

However, travelers who have recently returned state that they didn’t need Pesos at all.

Previously, there were two currencies.

The CUP, outlined above, which tourists only really used for street food, and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).

The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC pronounced Cook), was the so-called Cuban tourist currency, used daily by foreigners to pay for accommodation such as casas particulares, buses, taxis, tours and food.

The CUC will be phased out, making way for the CUP.

Here is how to tell the difference between the two notes.

  • CUP = Pesos, pictures of people on the bill/note.
  • CUC = Convertibles, pictures of monuments on the bill/note
  • 1 CUC = 24 CUP, check the up to date rates here

The 3 peso note is popular with visitors as it has Che Guevara face on it!

Cuban Currency

Can I Get Cuban Currency in the UK/US/Etc?

No, you can’t exchange your native currency for Cuban in your home country or anywhere in the world apart from Cuba.

However, it is looking like you don’t actually need to worry about Cuban Pesos as hotels, restaurants and taxis are accepting US Dollar (USD), Pound sterling (GBP) and Euros (EUR).

You can also exchange money at these places too and it is being suggested that the street exchange value is much better than rates offered at official places.

Thanks to Tim and Carl in the comments for this update.

Note: Some locals refer to the Pound as Sterling or Libra, just remember that if you are trying to exchange money.

It’s a little muddier for US Dollars (USD) with some saying that they are accepted on the street and others saying restaurants and taxis will take USD but not all hotels.

Some hotels are offering 25% discount off the food bill if you pay with credit card using GBP or USD.

Thanks to A. Loch for the feedback from their most recent trip to Cuba.

You may also like our guide to scams in Cuba that actually happen.

Vintage Car Havana Cuba

What Currency to Take to Cuba?

You can’t buy CUP in other countries like you can buy euros for your trip to, say, Paris.

As a workaround, it was recommended* that you take either of the following three currencies to Cuba in cash:

  1. Pound sterling (GBP)
  2. Euros (EUR)
  3. Canadian dollars (CAD) – although a reader advised us (below) that CAD didn’t work well for them

You can see today’s Cuba exchange rate here as well as other currencies accepted and their exchange rates.

* Consider your home exchange rates before buying.

However, a reader called Carl has returned from Cuba and states:

“Under no circumstances should you take GBP/pound sterling to Cuba to exchange for Cuban Pesos or even for spending in restaurants/shops/on tours.

They can be used, but are converted at the same rate as Euros/USD & Canadian dollars when changing on the street/using in shops/hopping into taxis.

So you’ll effectively lose up to 30% of its value.

We spent time in Havana, Playa Coco, Santa Clara, Trinidad…

Time and time again we were repeatedly told that the GBP (known locally as ‘libra’) rate was the same as the USD./Euro/C$.

The ‘street’ USD rate was as high as 217 pesos to the dollar/Euro.

So for example changing GBP/£200 at CUP215:USD1 we were effectively losing USD60 or CUP12,900.

The official state-run bureau rate was CUP150 for the GBP.

We had no problem changing GBP on the street. Just check the notes carefully for rips.

So Brits should really only bring USD / Euros or even Canadian dollars.

Another thing to be aware of is that a lot of prices (restaurants, tours, taxis, public transport, shops) are quoted in USD or Euros.

If you want to pay in CUP/pesos they will use an exchange rate of 200-220. So unless you’ve changed money near that rate you’ll lose money.”

What is the Cuba Exchange Rate for USD?

Up until July 2020, there was a 10% conversion fee on the US “greenback” dollar.

This meant visitors were charged the 3% conversation fee discussed above and a further 10% fee so 13% fee in total.

Previously, this would have meant:

  • $10 USD – 13% (1.30) = $8.70
  • $100 USD – 13% (13) = $87

According to many news outlets, as of July 2020, the 10% tax has now been scrapped. Do you have experience of this? Please leave us a comment or email gemma(at)twoscotsabroad(dot)com.

However, the official Banco Central De Cuba still shows GBP, EUR and CAD to offer better conversions than the USD.

How to Get Cuban Currency

As mentioned above, you might not need to Cuban currency during your trip.

However, for your own knowledge, here is how to get Cuban currency.

The official Cuba money exchange is called CaDeCa (Casa de Cambio).

They can be found everywhere in Havana and the bigger cities but less so in smaller towns.

We were caught out in Caleton by Playa Larga as the bank hours were limited.

Luckily new friends lent us some CUC so we could go diving at the Bay of Pigs the next day.

To exchange money at CaDeCa you need:

  • An early rise
  • Your passport
  • Patience

Be prepared to wait in long lines.

I read that CADECA shops close at 3pm so get there early, at opening times is recommended.

Although changing money in Cuba is not impossible, it can be taxing on time.

There are two CADECA at Havana airport, check upstairs for the quieter one which had no line when we arrived.

It is recommended to exchange as much as you are comfortable with at the airport.

The airport ATM did not work during our departure.

Cue panic as we were not aware that there was a tax you have to pay to leave. Luckily our airline had already covered it.

Read our guide to Cuba to avoid the silly mistakes we made.

You can also exchange GBP or EUR to Peso locally; ask your casa host, hotels or taxis drivers.

Line at bank in Havana Cuba

Should I Exchange Money at my Casa?

It is common for visitors to exchange money at their casa.

Not all casas will offer this service but they will point you in the right direction of who can help if you want to exchange money.

You can shop around this way too.

Have you exchanged money at your casa? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Read next: a guide to casas in Cuba.

What about ATMs in Cuba?

There are ‘hole in the wall’ ATMs in Cuba and we used them after our cash ran out.

Non-US Visa is the preferred card. Others may not work.

Again, there may be lines and there are instances when the money runs out. ATMs also max out so you may have to return for more.

Cash may come out before your card so remember to lift it out the machine or it will get swallowed. We had a swallowed card incident in Peru and it sucked, boom boom!

Overall, getting cash in Cuba is relatively easy if you have a non-US card that works, can beat the crowds and don’t mind making a few runs.

Can You Use Credit Cards in Cuba?

Increasingly, hotels, restaurants and tour accept non-US credit cards.

It isn’t certain whether your credit card will work in Cuba so it is best to have cash too.

Vinales Casa Particulare Cuba

So How Much Does Cuba Cost?

The total budget for 3 weeks in Cuba came to 1903.50 USD.

That’s 90 USD per day for two people with limited activities and one week in an all-inclusive resort.

You can read the full details here in our breakdown guide.

Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba

Frequently Asked Questions

What money is used in Cuba?

Officially, the currency used in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP) but EUR or GBP are widely accepted. USD more so.

Can I use USD in Cuba? 

Possibly. Some say the street value for USD exchange is good.

Should I exchange my USD before I go to Cuba?

You can’t actually exchange USD to CUP outside of Cuba.

Should I exchange my USD to another currency before I travel?

Readers in the comments below suggest USD is now widely accepted.

If you want to exchange for peace of mind, it very much depends on what exchange rate you can get for GPB or EUR.

If the rate is poor, it may be worth you taking USD.

If it involves you having to drive for miles and eats into your time, just take USD and be prepared to wait in line.

Further Reading 

Vinales Farmer Cuba

Final Words

I hope this has helped answer your question – what currency do you use in Cuba?

To recap, the best currency to take to Cuba was either EUR, GBP or CAD, depending on where you are traveling from.

In the comments section, readers suggest USD.

Did you find this useful?
Why not over image and pin to Cuba travel board?

Planning a trip to Cuba in the future? You need to know about Cuba's currency changes. Gone is the so-called tourist currency, the CUC. Click to find out more.

Any questions or comments?
Have the experience to share? 
Please leave below.

68 thoughts on “Cuba Currency: Everything You Need To Know For 2023

  1. Tamara says:

    Very helpful! Currency problems can be a nightmare for sure. I traveled to Cuba (US citizen) from the Dominican Republic in 1999. It was a spur of the moment trip, and with only credit/debit cards based on US banks, ATMs were not an option. We ran out of cash fast. Even after borrowing a few dollars (how humiliating) from a guy I overheard say he was studying at my former university (later met up in NYC to return the $$), we still left the country hungry. Planning ahead better would have made a much less stressful visit.

    We also ran into trouble on our last visit to Venezuela a few years ago. The currency there is in such an unstable state, it’s impossible to deal with. We were traveling, and didn’t have much cash with us. The rate for getting money from an ATM is the official rate. At that time, we would only get 1/8 of what we could get on the “parallel” market. We changed the cash we had in illegal casinos (long story, but good option) and then ended up having to travel to Colombia over the border to take out Colombian pesos and change THOSE unofficially into Venezuelan bolivars. What a mess.

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      Man what added stress. We’ve heard a lot about The Blue Dollar in Argentina whilst in South America but your Venezuela trip sounded way tougher. We let a chick from England borrow some money from us too in Cuba and were thankful of two girls we met in Playa Larga who were will helping us out in our time of need. Thanks for sharing your story Tamara.

      • Tim Forsyth says:

        We have been 3 days from 2 weeks in the Holguin area. We have been to Cuba over a dozen times. As the article ‘sort of’ says exchange a little money at the airport – enough to get you to where your staying. Once there NEVER use the official exchange methods again. Talk to a bartender at your resort, or a lifeguard, or a shopkeeper, a taxi driver just about anyone BECAUSE while the official rate for Canadian dollar exchange is approximately 17-18 pesos for 1 Canadian dollar BUT the rate on the street is 60+ pesos for 1 Canadian dollar !!
        Buying on the street being a far better deal is true for any currency.

        • Gemma says:

          Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, Tim. Appreciate you sharing your experience! Please let us know if there is anything else you’d like to share with readers.

  2. Marie @ Marie Away says:

    This sounds like suuuch a stressful experience. I’m always so confused about exchanging money. The Canadian dollar is crap right now so I’m terrified about exchanging for the American dollars I’ll need in Ecuador in a couple of weeks, although I know it’ll probably just keep dropping.

    Also, I probably rely too much on my visa, something I don’t really want to carry around with me all the time in South America. I suppose I’ll have to learn to use cash again!

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      You are covering great areas! We’ve got heaps on our travels in Cuba – lots of tips on things to do, where to eat, scams to avoid etc. Highly recommend hiring bikes and cycling to Playa Acon from Trinidad early morning (then get a bus or taxi back, so hot!)

  3. Francis says:

    is it easier to exchange US dollars for CUC now that things have stabilized somewhat? I’m concerned that during my trip to Cuba in a couple of weeks it may be too expensive to exchange currency. I will some Euros but mostly dollars. Any advice would be appreciated.

  4. Victoria says:

    Hello I am going to Cuba in April and wanted to ask what if I take Mexican money and then exchange to CUC?? How can I get GBP I am from San Diego

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hi Victoria. We actually travelled around Cuba with a Brit who now lives in Mexico. I’ve just asked her what she did regarding cash and said that she had a British debit card but she * thinks * you can exchange Mexican pesos. I can’t say for sure though I’m afraid. Trip Advisor says you can. You’d have to check XE for exchange rate though.

      San Diego, California? You’d just exchange USD dollar for pound at money bureau or bank (like you would to go on holiday to the UK).

  5. beardo says:

    “ATMs charge you $4.50 … every time you use it and the max you can withdraw is $150”

    Others have mentioned a limit of 150 – that was not my experience, I only found limits of 40 of whatever the notes were. So if CUC 20, the limit was 800.

    And that 4.50 sounds like the 3% exchange from CUC to USD. I wonder how that compared to the multiple exchanges GBP to COP to EUR to CUC that you did with the cash.

    The exit tax has not been collected separately since May 2015 – it is included in the ticket price.

  6. ann phelan says:

    We are US nationals so cannot use our credit cards. We only have US currencies. We arrive at 5 PM on a Sat. We are hoping we can convert money at the airport. Quite honestly, this is the only aspect of the trip that is tripping me up.

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      I know it really is a tough and annoying one. You just have to take the low rate hit, unfortunately. We honestly spent the day converting money in Colombia, trying to get our hands on Euros and British Pound. Would have been a lot easier if we were doing a UK to Cuba trip but that wasn’t the itinerary. Come back to me and let me know how you get on, please. I’m sure you’ll have a fun trip once the money is dealt with.

      Are you stopping over at another airport? You could change currency there possibly or take money out at the ATM.

  7. Boaz says:

    As Scots you should probably point out that Scottish notes are not accepted anywhere in Cuba. I know this because I had a Spaniard living in Scotland begging me to buy his Scottish notes for Euros, as he had practically no useful money.

  8. Doug says:

    Please be more specific as to if “high” exchange rates means “favorable or “unfavorable”.. (good exchange rate or bad?) I will pick up British pounds or Canadian Dollars from my bank before I leave in order to get the best exchange rate. Wells Fargo will provide any currency for no exchange fees, just a $7 “delivery fee” if you order them just two business days ahead.

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Thanks for the input about currency delivery. High exchange rate = favourable. You don’t want to take USD Dollar with you! It sounds like you are organised now 🙂 Have a great trip and come back to let me know how you get on.

  9. Andy says:

    Hi, just a quick recap about debit en credit cards: Only American cards are not accepted, but our Belgian ones will be?


    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hi Andy. We used cash everywhere because we have Amex which you can’t use. Double check your own credit card provider before you go. Come back and let us know how you get on, please.

  10. Sharon Roberts says:

    My husband & I going to Cuba soon, we are both in Edinburgh.
    Cheers for the great advice re; potential currency issues
    Will change our Scottish notes for English & hopefully have no trouble buying the CUC when we’re there. I will also know take my MasterCard Debit card too.

  11. Argo says:


    We are landing in Havana at 6:35 PM (way past 3 PM). We plan on bringing GBP or EUR in cash. In you blog you mentioned “I read that CADECA shops close at 3 PM so get there early. So although changing money in Cuba is not impossible, it might be taxing on time. There are two CADECA at Havana airport” Do the CADECAs at the airport also close by 3 PM or does the 3 PM rule apply only to CADECAs outside the airport? Thank you.

    Best wishes,

  12. Paul Comeau says:

    HAVANA, July 16 (Xinhua) — Cuba announced Thursday that it will eliminate a 10-percent tax on U.S. dollars.

    “Removing penalty on the U.S. dollar will benefit Cubans on the island and abroad alike. This will provide them with more purchasing power,” Cuban Economy Minister Alejandro Gil told state TV Mesa Redonda Internacional.

    The tax, which has been effect since 2004, will be lifted on July 20, to absorb more hard currency in response to the country’s economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the tightened U.S. economic sanctions, Gil said.

    The decision will allow citizens to use dollars to buy food, hygiene products and other goods via bank cards from nearly 70 stores.

    Since last year, Cuba has begun to allow the public to buy with dollars imported goods such as electronics and car parts sold at state-operated stores. Enditem

    • Gemma | Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hi Paul, thank you for the update. Do you have any personal experience of this? I’m seeing the same message across lots of news sites but no from the ground experience. Difficult with the pandemic naturally.

  13. M says:

    I travel frequently to Cuba through Havana: not a good idea to xchange a lot of cash at airpirt…higher rates. Best to get enough for cab / transpo to casa/hotel + evening expenses n then gi to a cadeca in AM. Ive never had a longer wait than 20 minutes and that was when i went in the early afternoon. Counr youe m9ney carefukky before accepting it …often little amounts get ‘miscounted’ = ‘bonus tip’ in clerks pocket 🙂

  14. Paul says:

    Banks only pay you a fraction of what your money is worth. DO NOT use banks in Cuba. Bring only cash, GBP, USD, EURO. You can change some with the locals for up to 4 times what the bank pays you. You can also pay directly in many places with your own currency. They may negotiate an exchange rate for this, but at a rate way superior to any bank.

      • Jonatan says:

        Hello! Save your holiday and take with you EUR that covers all your cost. Exchange on the street! (Soundse f*ked Up, but otherwise the banks fick you up). The currancy really bad after they took away Cuc, and after Covid. Don’t use ATM, it’s a gamle. Change the Eur on the streets, can’t push in this enough!!!

        • Robert Leckie says:

          We’re travelling to an all inclusive resort in July and really only need money for tipping. Would Cubans accept £1 of 1€ coins? Or am I better exchanging notes in the airports for the local currency?

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