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What is the official currency in Cuba?
Cuba has an official currency for the entire territory, it is the National Currency or Cuban Peso, recognized by its acronym CUP. Recalling its origin, in the years of the first occupation of North America, between 1899 and 1902, three types of coins circulated in Cuba: the US dollar, Spanish pesetas and French gold coins.
But in 1902 when the Cuban peso was established as the official currency. Parallel to it was the US dollar, which continued to circulate because Cuba’s economy depended on the United States.
After 1959 the state blocked the North American currency and only the Cuban peso remained. In the 90s of the last century it was divided between the CUP and the American dollar in combination with the CUC.
In 2004 the dollar was withdrawn from circulation, due to the embargo and thus remained at two, CUC and CUP, until today when the progressive unification of both is announced.
Can you pay in another way?
Yes, in general, those who come to visit Cuba use the CUC, but you should know that if you wish, you could also use the national currency to exchange, which is done at the exchange houses, also known as CADECA.
If you have CUC and need pesos, the change will be 1 CUC for 24 Cuban pesos. And if what you need are Cuban pesos, the change will be 25 for 1.
Varadero and Havana airports provide CADECA service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at the same price as in the rest of the country.
There is a tendency that many people are waiting for the service, especially at night and only one is open. Keep in mind that if your bank offers free money withdrawals, it is better to go to an ATM.
What if I bring another coin?
Do not worry, you can change any type of currency you bring, this can be done at airports, banks in the country or CADECA. It is good to know that if you bring American dollars, a 10% exchange tax is applied to this currency, while others such as euros, pounds or Canadian dollars are free of that tax.
For a long time it can also be paid in euros in places such as Varadero, Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo or Jardines del Rey, Playa Santa Lucía, in Camagüey, Playa Covarrubias in Las Tunas and on the beaches of Holguín, either Guardalavaca, Don Linen, Emerald or Fishing.
Stores or people do not accept payments in USD, you must change it obligatorily, the change is 1 CUC for 25 CUP and with an additional tax of 10%.
This means that you will lose 10% more if you bring your money in dollars than if it were in another currency. If it is the currency that you will bring, I recommend changing it to Canadian
dollars or Mexican pesos before traveling to Cuba.
Coins and banknotes in Cuba.
Coins and banknotes of the Cuban peso (CUP).
Coins: 1, 2, 5 and 20 cents, 1 and 3 pesos.
Banknotes: 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.
Coins and banknotes of the Convertible Peso (CUC).
Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and the 1 peso coin.
Banknotes: 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 CUC.
How to distinguish coins and banknotes from CUC and CUP?
Since you don’t know the currency you could get confused, so pay attention.
In the case of the CUC, the coins are silver in color and relatively small in size, with the exception of one cent, they are copper in color.
The very rare 5-CUC coin is similar in size and appearance to the two-euro coin, but with a gold trim and silver center.
In CUP, coins that are worth less are also silver in color, but much less heavy. Those of a weight are of a dark golden color.
All coins in CUP are homogeneous in color, without rims and there are none in copper.
Using credit and debit cards in Cuba, can you?
Yes, you can, although the economy works mostly with cash payments. You can use credit and debit cards mainly at resorts and ATMs. 3% is recharged on all withdrawals made at ATMs. Thus, in practice, 1 CUC will cost an additional 3% at the current exchange rate and the bank that issues your card may also make a surcharge.
The most common with which operations are carried out are Visa, Mastercard, Cabal, Transcard and Amigo TRAVEL Card, THEY CANNOT HAVE BEEN ISSUED BY US BANKS OR THEIR SUBSIDIARIES. VISA and MasterCard cannot be used in any particular business, or infrastructure, to accept card payments.
You can also use traveler’s checks issued by Thomas Cook and Américan Express, but I clarify that not all banks or hotels accept them and you have to pay commission both when buying and selling them.
But if you run out of money, Western Union can be a quick option. Check that your country has an agency and ask someone close to send you a shipment in your name.
You will also need the shipping number, and some identification document, for the money to be delivered. This procedure must be carried out quickly, since in less than a week the person who made the shipment will be reimbursed if you do not collect it.
In Havana and other big cities there are many. However, in inland towns or smaller cities, more remote or smaller places, there are far fewer. You must take this into account to facilitate your stay.
Important! Something you can’t forget.
Never exchange money on the street with anyone even if they offer you apparently more attractive prices, for your safety use the sites for that purpose, which are hotels, airports, banks and money exchange offices (CADECA).
Remember that you can lose everything if you are given fake or out of circulation bills. If this happens to you, report it to the nearest police station, although you need to know that you have also violated the law by trading on the so-called black market.