Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cuban Currency

There are two currencies in Cuba, the Convertible Peso (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP). The Convertible Peso was introduced to stop the circulation of foreign currencies on the street. The value of the CUC is roughly that of the USA dollar. The exchange rate between the two Cuban currencies is 24 CUP for one CUC, making the Cuban Peso worth approximately four USA cents.

Foreigners are encouraged to use only Convertibles and to frequent those establishments that trade in them. The problem with this is, this is not where you will meet the Cuban people or get the best bargains! It is best to take some of the CUC's you get from the ATM's and exchange them for CUP's. There are many places to do this but one must be careful of not getting cheated. Even where you can use CUP's to purchase something you must be very careful that your change is in CUP's or, if change is in CUC's, that you get the correct exchange rate. It is confusing and even more so for those who are newly arrived on the island. I think we will be OK because of our extensive exposure to the Mexican Peso system.

Many people think the USA dollar is a "universal currency" and is good anywhere. This is not the case anywhere and in the specific case of Cuba, leave your USA dollars at home. The government has imposed a 10% tax on USA dollars so if that is your currency of choice, you will have lost 10% of your vacation money as soon as your plane lands. Canadian dollars and Euros are the currency of choice and are easily exchanged for CUC's. After that, ATM's are the best choice.

Three Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) worth $3 USD:

Three Cuban Pesos (CUP) worth 12 US cents:

1 comment:

  1. Should I ever make it to Cuba I will be sure to take Mexican pesos instead of dollars.