In Cuba there are two types of official coins: the Cuban Peso or Moneda Nacional (CUP), and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) which is considered the Cuban currency for tourists.
Why is there a double currency system in Cuba?
The use of CUC dates back to the 90s when the American Dollar was used by tourists for the purchase of luxury goods.
During that period the value of the two Cuban coins was the same: 1 CUC = 1 USD. In 2004, the Cuban government ordered local shops not to accept dollars and decided to apply a 10% exchange fee (which is still used today on the dollar exchange rate).
As a result, the use of CUC as Cuban currency became common between people.
It is important to recognize the two Cuban coins in use:
1. Moneda Nacional (CUP), the Cuban currency used by local citizens to purchase goods produced in Cuba.
2. Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), the Cuban currency used by tourists to purchase goods.
The value of the Cuban CUC is much higher than that of the Moneda Nacional (CUP), so it is important to know how to distinguish them.
In the pictures below you can notice two important details: the Cuban tourist currency CUC presents the inscription “pesos convertibles” which does not appear on the CUP currency; moreover, the CUC coin has brighter colours than the CUP one. By following these two tips you will certainly not get wrong!
Upon you arrival you can exchange euros with the Cuban currency CUC at the airport, at the Hotel, at the Bank or at the Cadeca (the exchange office of Cuba).
The euro-Cuban CUC exchange rate, although with some small variation, is similar in each of these places, only in the Hotel is slightly less advantageous.
We advise you to spend all CUCs before departure or to change them at the airport before leaving the island, as outside Cuba you can’t use or change them.
To check the Cuban currency/euro change or the CUC/ other currencies change, you can consult the website of Banco Central De Cuba.
There is a fee for all payments to Cuba with credit cards that varies from 3 to 3.6% of the transaction (this is applied to restaurants, car rental, hotels and any other product purchased with credit card).
Because of problems with the United States during the years, it is important to know that Cuba does not accept cards issued by American banks.
Visa and Visa electron, Poste Pay and Mastercard circuits are accepted in Cuba while debit cards cannot be used.
For the withdrawal of Cuban money you can go to all banks or ATMs using the PIN code.
If you need more information for your trip to Cuba read our tips .