The main question – Money (How much would I need?)
From 1st of January 2021 the Peso Convertible (CUC) will be eliminated as an official means of payment in Cuba. The Peso Cubano (CUP), also called Moneda Nacional, remains the only valid currency. There is a fixed exchange rate of 1:24 against USD (as of December 2020). EUR and CHF will be exchanged at the current USD exchange rate.
We recommend taking enough USD and EUR in cash, as private restaurants will also accept these currencies as means of payment. However, please note that EUR and USD are often converted 1:1. Depending on the current USD – EUR exchange rate we recommend changing EUR into USD in your home country in order to not make a loss. Besides that, the Peso Cubano (CUP) will also be accepted in private restaurants.
All of the above currencies can be easily exchanged at all CADECA branches and most banks around Cuba. Try to bring relatively fresh and new-looking bills, as Cubans can be fussy when it comes to old banknotes.
Cuba’s banks are probably the best places to exchange money, the two main ones being Banco de Crédito y Comercio and Banco Financiero Internacional. They are generally open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, though please remember that US credit cards will not be accepted. The national chain of exchange bureaus is known as CADECA and is also a good place for exchanging money. Their branches can be found in most major cities and tourist destinations, as well as international airports.
It should almost go without saying that you should never exchange money on the streets, since it is illegal. Please only change in official exchange offices, banks or hotels.
MasterCard and Visa are both widely accepted at hotels, car-rental agencies as well as official restaurants and shops – but not those issued by any United States bank. Diners’ Club cards are accepted in some places, although much less commonly, and American Express cards won’t be accepted anywhere on the island.
In general Cuba is a country where you mostly pay in cash, even though state-run businesses more and more accept payments by credit card. Payment in cash (including foreign currency) is no longer possible in hotels and hotel shops. In addition, rental car providers do not accept payment of insurance and additional services in cash.
MLC supermarkets only accept credit cards. Likewise, the change from payment in cash to payment by card at petrol stations is being discussed.
It is also possible to withdraw money at the exchange offices (CADECA) with your credit card on presentation of your passport (cash in advance). The additional service commission of 3% per withdrawal or payment with a credit card will likely be dropped. The additional fees for the usage of the card abroad (mostly between 1.5% and 2.5% of the withdrawal or payment amount) need to be calculated as well.
Remember, in more remote areas of Cuba, cards won’t be accepted at all. So if you’re planning on visiting a paladares (private-home restaurant) or any casa particulares (private-home accommodations) be sure to take enough cash with you.
Depending on what you wish to do and buy while in Cuba, it can actually be quite expensive. You should be prepared to pay as much for food and services as you would in any western country, and so you could find yourself paying between $35 to $150 a day. A safe, minimum budget is at least $50 each day, although this does not include accommodation.
The prices for food can vary greatly depending on where you eat. In Havana, a meal can cost around $20-$25 whereas in the provinces you might only pay $10-$15.