So To Be Clear ... Exchanging Money
(Thanks to Terry)
Accepted Foreign Currency
Canadian Dollars (CAD), Swiss Francs (CHF), Mexican Pesos (MXN), Japanese Yen (JPY), British Pound Sterling (GBP) and the Euro (EUR) are all accepted. Exchange rate is based on 1 Cuban Convertible Peso being equal to 1 US Dollar.
$1.00 US Dollar = $0.90 Cuban Convertible Pesos plus 8% after April 9. Americans should do their own calculating, but I find it very doubtful that they could exchange their US Dollars into another major foreign currency, then exchange that currency into Cuban Convertible Pesos for much less than the 10% service charge that Cuba levies against their US Dollars. Who knows though, perhaps some Americans – especially ones living near the borders – can get great rates on Canadian Dollars or Mexican Pesos and beat the 10% surcharge. Best of luck.
Always bring new bank notes, with no rips, tears or markings. Coins are useless, so all you Canadians please leave your Loonies and Toonies at home.
Very Important Note When Visiting the Bank or Money Exchange: Always take a calculator with you so you KNOW the amount of CUC that should be coming to you, and ALWAYS ask for the printed receipt. Ripping off tourists during money exchange transactions is a VERY common occurrence.
Airport Money Exchange
Most expensive exchanging than at a bank or CADECA Money Exchange elsewhere in Cuba.
Street Money Exchange
Lots of Cubans working money exchange scams. It goes without saying that any traveler is an idiot to exchange money anywhere except at a proper institution, or between trusted friends. (And as noted above, even at the bank you have to be frigging careful.)
Hotel Money Exchange
Verry expensive, at least in Havana, but handy. I assume the all-inclusive resorts would be better. The CADECA on Obispo Street in Havana – as with the other offices I went too – were all open to 10:00pm, so it’s not a big deal to get money. Best rate you get at: Banco Financiero International.
You are warned that counterfeit Convertible Pesos are quite common now, at least in Havana.
Easy to get cash advances with any non-US issued credit card. Bring your passport for I.D. Cuban banks charge 11% commission!
Not widely available, especially outside tourist areas. You can get ATM cash in Havana with your VISA credit card
Why should you? It costs a commission to cash them, they’re not always easy to cash outside of tourist areas, it’s very hit-and-miss if you can cash American based TCs like American Express, and if you lose them you can’t replace them while you’re in Cuba. They seem like a lot of trouble for very little convenience or security.
Last but not least ...
Getting rid of your Cuban Convertible Pesos: You can exchange your left-over Pesos at the airport when you leave, expensive, and many times they’re short of foreign currency. A better way to handle it is to budget wisely during the last few days of your trip so you don’t arrive at the airport loaded with useless CUP. Remember, you need 25 CUC per person for airport departure tax.