Best currency for Cuba to take or exchange beforehand?

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  • edited 4:05AM
    This has been BY FAR the most useful and informative site we have found so far.
    Info on Money, Politics, Transportation and Culture.
    Thank you Terry for sharing all of you're valuable experience and knowledge.
    You have already made our trip amazing and we don't leave until April!!!
    Can't wait, Thanks All,
    "Cuba or BUST!"

    K
  • edited 4:05AM
    Thanks K. Any other issues please feel free to ask. I don't know much about the resort scene, but I do have experience with most other aspects of the country.

    Have a gas!

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • edited 4:05AM
    Hi Terry,

    Thanks so much for you extremely thorough information. I'm an Australian off to Cuba in 3 weeks and just can't wait.

    After reading all the posts I just have a couple of questions, one which I'm sure you've answered 1000 times but hey, 1 more for good luck. I was informed by my travel agent that you can't use any form of credit/debit cards in Cuba that are owned by an American bank. I'm under the impression that Mastercard/Visa are American. My Commonwealth Bank debit card is a Mastercard, will this work or should I just stick to taking GBP?

    I'm spending 3.5 weeks travelling all through Cuba and was hoping you could please give me a rough guide as to how much spending money I should bring. This is only for food, drinks, souvenirs and optional activities and while I understand that everyone wants something different out of their holidays, I'm hoping you can provide a rough $$ per day figure. I'm finding it quite difficult to estimate a budget and don't want to get all the way over there and find out I don't have enough money and my cards don't work.

    Eagerly anticipating your reply.

    Steph
  • edited 4:05AM
    1.) There are lots of Visa and Mastercards that have no US affiliation so they work fine in Cuba.

    2.) I don't know anything about the Commonwealth bank, sorry. I do know the Westpac Master Card and Westpac Debit Master Card are fine. VISA debit card issued by MECU ANZ Visa works - but not their Travel Card. Don't ask why, they have no clue. Wizard/28 Degrees Mastercard which is close to the best for overseas usage (no fees ) does not work in Cuba because of their US connection.

    3.) If you're not a hardcore partier and you stay away from high-end nightclubs and restaurants and you're not buying endless rounds for your new "frens" then 100 CUC/day is a ballpark figure. That gets you a nice casa, good food and booze, taxis, cover charges, etc.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • I am going to Cuba in a few weeks from the US, flying through Mexico. I am wondering, since likely my credit cards won't work (or will charge a large fee + percentage of any purchase/withdraws) which currency I should travel with, USD or MXN. Since I will probably end up exchanging cash, I was thinking of taking cash out in Mexico (where I am not charged any fees at all) and convert those to CUC when I arrive in Cuba in order to prevent all of the exchange penalties for exchanging USD. What are your thoughts on American Dollars versus Mexican Pesos?
    Any other advice or recommendations for a 10 day trip (including a 5 day conference) would be appreciated!

    Best,
    Emily 
  • Emily, all your money exchange questions are answered here:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g147270-c109329/Cuba:Caribbean:Money.Exchange.html

    As you'll see US Dollars and Mexican Pesos are the two worst currencies to bring.

    Any questions after reading that link, please ask away...

    Cheers,
    Terry

  • Is there any good news about using Canadian debit cards in Cuba?
  • Canadian Debit Cards were useless in Cuba but this is finally starting
    to change. The CIBC Advantage Visa Debit Card is now joined by the TD
    Canada Trust Visa Debit Card and the Visa Desjardins Prepaid Card
    working in Cuban ATMs (and Banks and Cadecas) because they display the
    Visa symbol on the card. Until this becomes common though do NOT assume
    your Debit Card will be of any use there. Any card without a Visa or
    Mastercard symbol is useless.

    Bottom line, never depend on one source of money... cash is king and credit/debit cards are good for emergency back-up and large purchases.

    Cheers,
    Terry
  • Hi Terry

    I have a mastercard that was issued by Barclays Bank so I assume it's ok? The only problem is that is a pre-paid card, will the banks in Cuba not accept the pre-paid card?

    Thanks in advance

    Seany.
  • I don't believe a stand alone pre-paid card will work - there's no way for the vendor in Cuba to check your balance.



    If it has the Visa or Mastercard symbol it'll likely be okay, but obviously don't depend on it as your only source of funds...



    Cheers,

    Terry
  • Yes it has the mastercard symbol on the front of the card also with my name but like you say I won't make it my only means of funds. Thanks again.
  • Hi Terry,

    Thanks for all your info on this site, it's been so helpful, however in your post above you calculate 100 CUC/day as a ballpark figure, which sounds like heaps!!  Is Cuba not cheaper than other countries?

    Also, do you know if it's possible to get a taxi from Havana airport to Viñales, from around 6pm onwards??

    Cheers,
    Catherine 
  • edited December 2014
    Like many island destinations Cuba is not cheap compared to the mainland. There are lots of places in Central/South America that are way less expensive than Cuba by any measure.

    That said, any developing country can be cheap for an experienced budget backpacker, especially if they speak a bit of the local language.

    The 100 CUC/day is of course at the upper end of a daily budget. I have no clue how experienced anyone is or anything about their travel style so that guesstimate has a huge safety net built in.

    Cheers,
    Terry

    Taxi Service: http://taxivinalescuba.com/

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