Cuba has two currencies: the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the ‘Peso Convertible’ (CUC). The official currency is the Cuban Peso. This currency is mostly used by the Cuban population, and accepted in Peso Nacional stores. The choice of products in these stores usually isn’t great. The Peso Convertible is the currency for foreign visitors. It can be used to make purchases in shops, hotels, restaurants, car rental companies, etc. Most of these shops do also accept the CUP nowadays, but you will need a lot of them! The exchange rate for the Peso Convertible is pegged to the US dollar. Therefore, the value of the Peso Convertible is almost the same as the value of the US dollar. At the time of writing, US$1=CUC$0.87.
VISA and Mastercard/Eurocard are widely accepted in hotels, large restaurants and (state-owned) shops with a wide selection of goods. They do not accept American Express and Diners Club credit cards. When using a credit card, you will be charged an extra 3%.
There are only a few cash machines/ATMs in Cuba. You can only withdraw cash with a VISA or Mastercard credit card. The currency will be CUC. There’s also a chance that cash machines/ATMs are empty or out of use.
Tip! At the airport you can use most bank cards with a PIN number. It might be sensible to already withdraw some cash here, to avoid you’ll be without cash if the cash machines/ATMs are
empty of out of use during your trip.
Cash withdrawal over the counter at a bank
At the BFI bank (Banco Financiero International) and the Cadeca bureaus de change, you can withdraw CUC over the counter with a credit card (VISA and Mastercard/Eurocard only. NO American Express or Diners Club cards). You will have to show proof of identity.
Please note: when paying or withdrawing cash with a credit card, you will be charged an extra 3%.
Cubans accept tips. You will usually tip bell boys (approx. CUC$0.50 per suitcase), chamber maids (approx. CUC$1 per day), taxi drivers (discretionary), and in restaurants (10%-15% of the bill), but make sure to check if you haven’t already paid a service charge).
It is also usual to tip in ‘all-in’ hotels. The staff will be grateful. Your driver and local tour guides work in the service industry. Their wages are incredibly low. But you do need to be happy with the service you are receiving. As a guide: tip your driver approx. CUC$2 per person, per day, and your guide approx. CUC$3 per person, per day. This is a guide only, and not mandatory.
You will need a valid passport during your trip in Cuba – at least valid until the day you depart. You will also need a tourist card. The costs for such a card are approximately €30 per person. When booking your trip to Cuba, we can organise a tourist card for you. When you live in Holland, there will be no delivery costs. Within Europe the card will be sent registered, with DHL. There will be a charge for delivery.
Travel and accident insurance
All visitors to Cuba need a travel and accident insurance, valid in Cuba. In some instances they might ask for proof of insurance upon arrival in Cuba. So make you sure to carry proof of your insurance with you, in English. If you cannot show proof of insurance, you will need to take out a Cuban insurance, for around €3 per day.
Tip! often you can request a proof of insurance online or by phone with your insurance company.