money exchange and U.S. credit cards
CAN I USE U.S. CURRENCY IN CUBA?
MONEY & CREDIT CARDS | CUBAN CURRENCY ($24.00 CUPS = $1.00 USD)
As a foreigner, you will be expected to pay for everything in Cuban Pesos known as CUP. You will need to convert your U.S. dollars into CUP at CADECA upon your arrival at the airport or your hotel. Conversion rates are standardized and you will receive the same rate at hotels or banks. There is a standard fee included when exchanging currency.
If you exchange $100 USD, you will receive 2400 CUP. If you have CUP remaining in your wallet at the end of you time in Cuba, you may convert them back to U.S. dollars at the airport.
Many people will tell you that you should convert your USD to Euros or Canadian Dollars prior to your trip to obtain a better exchange fee in Cuba. This option is your choice completely as it really ends up to be the nearly the same after the conversion fees.
CUBAN PESOS DENOMINATIONS
Multicolored Paper Bills: $1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1000
Coins: $0.01,$0.05, $0.20, $1.00, $3.00, $5.00
US cash currency no longer circulates in Cuba except for in airport shops once you have cleared immigration on departure. As an international currency, it is accepted for exchange for CUC in financial institutions.
There is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers will be allowed to engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for personal consumption there. U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. Authorized travelers can take up to $10,000 to Cuba in total family remittances, periodic remittances, remittances to religious organizations in Cuba, and remittances to students with an educational license in Cuba.
OFFICIAL EXCHANGE RATE
CUP trades at 24 Pesos to the US Dollar, as of July 16th, 2020 Cuba eliminated the extra 10% tax for exchanging US dollars.
INTERNATIONAL CASH CURRENCIES accepted for exchange to CUP in Cuba:
CAD (Canadian Dollars)
JPY (Japan Yen)
CHF (Swiss Francs)
MXN (Mexican Peso)
DKK (Denmark Kroner)
NOK (Norway Kroner)
SEK (Sweden Krona)
GBP (United Kingdom Pounds)
USD (United States Dollars)
CADECA exchange counters (banks & hotels have less favorable buying/selling rates) Where else can you exchange funds: Banks (BFI, Banco Metropolitano), and most hotel reception desks.
Travelers cheques are accepted in many banks (BFI/Banco Financiero Internacional or BM/Banco Metropolitano) and hotels (typically more so in larger cities) in Cuba. For US travelers, American Express Travelers Cheques are accepted at the BFI and BM. The exchange surcharge for travelers cheques ranges from 3 to 6%. BFI’s present exchange rate is $100USD = $2400CUP. Banco Metropolitano does not accept travelers cheques at any Havana branches. Those which are reported to have the most success are Visa, although in general travelers cheques are reputed to cause difficulty for the traveler in Cuba due limitations in where they can be negotiated, no possibility of replacing them in Cuba in the event of loss, and the exchange rates applied when cashing them in. You should bear the bank receipt for the original traveler’s cheque purchase since most financial institutions in Cuba that accept travelers cheques will need to see that prior to negotiating them for cash.
Visa and Mastercard (issued by non-US or US-affiliate banks) are widely accepted in Cuba. Cash advance rates at participating CADECA exchange counters are processed at an extra rate (except on weekends or holidays when the rate is slightly higher). Cash advances are available also in some banks or ATM machines (providing you have a PIN # for your credit card).
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I BRING TO CUBA?
We recommend passengers bring about $150.00, per person per day for extra meals, drinks, incidentals at the hotel, taxis, etc. This amount is a baseline and does not take in account the purchase of any artwork. It is likely you will not need this much, however, if you run out of money in Cuba you will find it impossible to replenish your funds. Better to have the cash and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
In an era when most Americans pay for everything with credit cards, many of us have forgotten what it feels like to have a wallet full of cash. It is not uncommon for U.S. travelers to Cuba to run out of cash because they were afraid to carry greenbacks. Do not make this mistake! Please carry a sufficient amount of money to Cuba. Each hotel room provides a security box to protect your valuables, keep your cash in the security box and only exchange money as needed. It is better to return with unused money than to go broke in Cuba.
ARE THERE ANY SPENDING LIMITS FOR AUTHORIZED U.S. TRAVELERS WHILE IN CUBA?
Pursuant to the U.S. Department of the Treasury frequently asked questions related to Cuba updated on October 14, 2016 there is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers may engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for personal consumption there. In addition, travelers are authorized to acquire in Cuba and import as accompanied baggage into the United States merchandise for personal use only.
Effective October 17, 2016, the prior limitations on the value of such imports has been removed. Such imports remain subject to the normal limits on duty and tax exemptions for merchandise imported as accompanied baggage and for personal use.
BUYING ART IN CUBA
U.S. regulations allow importation of artwork into America. There are no limitations placed on American tourists buying art in Cuba. When buying art in Cuba, several things need to be considered. Firstly, that the seller of art provides the buyer with the proper documentation that allows the art to be exported out of the country. As you leave Havana, airport officials will ask any traveler with a cardboard tube containing rolled artwork to provide exit papers that show the piece was inspected by a government official and deemed appropriate for export. This procedure is done to ensure that a priceless piece of Cuban patrimony is not smuggled out of the country. This permit, in the form of a stamp, can only be provided by one office in Havana Vieja and the process normally takes one day to complete. The artist you purchased the artwork from will take care of this stamp. You will need to provide your passport number. Photographs or prints are exempt.
If you should fail to get the necessary paperwork, you will likely need to pay a small fee at the airport of 15 CUC per piece of art. If airport officials believe your art is significant, they may seize your art and ask you to return to the airport with additional information. Obviously, this option is non-workable. Therefore, it is best to get the proper paperwork ahead of time.
CAN I PURCHASE CUBAN-ORIGIN CIGARS AND/OR CUBAN-ORIGIN RUM OR OTHER ALCOHOL
WHILE TRAVELING IN CUBA?
Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption. Authorized travelers may also return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use. OFAC considers “personal use” of an imported item to include giving the item to another individual as a personal gift, but not the transfer of the item to another person for payment or other consideration.
WILL MY U.S. BANK VISA/MASTERCARD/AMEX OR DEBIT CARD WORK IN CUBA?
Until U.S. financial institutions have enrolled Cuban merchants into their systems for transaction processing, your credit card will not work in Cuba. Now, only credit cards and Traveler's Checks issued by a non-U.S. bank or company will work. This time, you can leave home without your American Express. Most foreign bank cards are accepted in the larger tourist spots throughout the island; however, small merchants are likely not set up to handle such transactions. Credit card operations in Cuba do not always run smoothly. Cash advances are usually possible only on Visa and MasterCard (provided they are not issued by North American banks) at certain banks, and will require your passport and payment of a commission fee.