Currency exchange in Cuba: the CUC and the CUP


The currency exchange in Cuba, sometimes confusing even for the Cubans themselves, is one of the great questions that every traveler asks himself before his trip to Cuba. There are two official currencies that coexist on the island, the CUP (Cuban peso) and the CUC (Cuban convertible peso), although the latter is in the process of being unified with the first.

We tell you everything you need to know to make a correct currency exchange in Cubaas a tourist, something really simpler than it seems

Currency in Cuba: a little history

In the years of the first occupation of North America, between 1899 and 1902, three types of currencies circulated in Cuba: the US dollar, Spanish pesetas and French gold coins. It was in 1902 when the Cuban peso was established as the official currency, but in parallel to the US dollar (which continued to circulate), since Cuba's economy depended heavily on the United States.

The Cuban Revolution arrived and with it he blocked the North American currency. From 1993 the Cuban currency was divided between the CUP and the US dollar (to avoid clandestine circulation) in combination with the CUC By November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdraw the dollar from circulation, for reprisals against the Helmd-Burton Act (from the United States embargo to Cuba).

Thus the currency exchange in Cuba was divided in two, CUC and CUP, until the present times, when Castro has announced the progressive unification of both.

The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) for tourists

The CUC is the currency used by tourists in Cuba,also used by Cubans to buy luxury items. It is linked to the dollar pair and is worth 25 times CUP. It also serves to pay the rental car deposit when you pick it up (they return you back) + All information explained in

EUR / CUC exchange:

You can see the price of the day in this converter euro exchange in Cuba 

All cash purchases in Cuba have to be made in CUC (and / or CUP). No other foreign currency is accepted. If you are going to be in a private house, in a hotel, or any other accommodation, In all you have to pay with CUC.

The CUC is also available in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos. It is the unit with the highest value of “pesos” in the world

You can also pay by credit card, these cards are paid in US dollars, plus an additional 3% service charge. Credit cards issued by American banks cannot be used in Cuba although these restrictions are expected to be canceled in mid-2015

How do I identify them?The CUC have printed some emblematic building of Cuba

Can the local Cuban Peso (CUP) be used?

The currency exchange in Cuba, of the CUP with the dollar or the CUC is 25 CUP / CUC. We as visitors can use it for public transport, the purchase of food in the market (vegetables and fruits), maybe some juice or a pizza in the street (as we did on occasion during our adventure in, in our route by) or just as I remember

Beware of the CUC to CUP exchange scams, one of the most common and well-known (they try to sell you a coin with the face of Fidel for a high cost, when it really is not worth even 1/25 of CUC).How do I identify them? The national pesos have the faces of a national hero printed, unlike the CUC

Since February 2015, with the end of this convergence between CUC and CUP, there are 250, 500 and 1000 CUP bills (large) in order for them to have regular use in the market.

Currency exchange in Cuba

You can get Cuban coins only in Cuba. You can change your foreign currencies in the following places:

BANK: In theory, the best exchange rate.

CADECA:It is a government exchange housewhose exchange rate is a little higher than the bank, but usually you can find it in various places such as airports, in most hotels, resorts or shopping centers. Ask for small tickets to pay taxi drivers and other services.

At José Martí International Airport of Havana You will see there are two CADECAS, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor. In which there is less queue, passport in hand, take the opportunity to change your first euros to CUC and even a few CUCs to national pesos.

HOTELS:In the hotel where you stay you can also change your currency, it's the easiest option, but it's usually not the best rate you'll find. Commissions can be quite high, on average 3 to 6%, and they can be higher in some luxury hotels, and their rate is not regulated by the government.

A passport is required to exchange money at a bank or CADECA, but not at the hotel reception. Rips with tears, stains or tears are not accepted, so be sure to bring bills in good condition.

Useful practical information for your currency exchange in Cuba

- The first thing is that don't carry american dollars, for what has already been explained of the 10% that will be discounted, if you use dollars make sure you exchange it before entering Cuba for any other currency. You will get more for your money if you carry pounds sterling, euros or Canadian dollars.

- Change your coins in the CADECA, in a bank or in the hotel. If you go to the street to change the currency, not only will you not get a better rate than the bank, but also not being familiar with the 2 currencies you will risk receiving CUP coins instead of CUC.

- You have to exchange your leftover CUC at the end of your trip, although the exchange rate is very bad for this case. Why? The CUC has no value outside of Cuba, and therefore it is better to receive small amounts than to lose everything, so plan your budget so that you get the lowest amount of CUC possible.

Always have a calculator on hand when you make a currency exchange in Cuba, so you know exactly how much you have to receive. A usual scam for tourists to settle during currency exchange transactions (don't be alarmed, it's not usual either)

- Do not forget have at least 25 CUC for the exit tax.

You already know everything about currency exchange in Cuba, and the necessary recommendations to do it correctly, with this they will not have any problem. Do you have any doubts? You already know where to find us!