Tocororo national Cuban bird

Money matters

Despite the warming relations between Cuba and the United States, US dollars are still frowned upon in Cuba and you will be charged an extra 10% for exchanging them on top of the normal commission that you would pay.

The Cuban Convertible (CUC) is pegged 1:1 to the US dollar. So an item in Cuba that is for example 15CUC is $15.

Dual currency

Cuba has a dual currency system, Peso Cubano (referred to as moneda nacional, abbreviated MN) and Peso Convertible (referred to as CUC$).
In general, travelers will pay almost exclusively in CUC.
However, it is a good idea to have a small amount of Peso Cubano for paying for ítems you might purchase from a street merchant such as bottled water, an ice cream or often you need to leave a tip for the bathroom attendant.

Changing money

You will be able to exchange money once you arrive in Cuba either at the airport or at a CADECA (bureau de change).
Also, larger chain hotels can exchange money and are often the most convenient place.
Be sure to have proper ID (passport) on hand and make sure you receive a receipt for the transaction and count your change.

Do not ever accept offers to exchange currency from anyone who approaches you on the street.
It is illegal and a common scam that is practiced all over the world to take advantage of travelers, who are unfamiliar with new currencies.
This is particularly applicable in Cuba due to the dual currency system.

Securely carry your funds in a money belt and leaving excess funds behind in your accommodation is also a good idea.

US credit cards are now accepted in Cuba but you will not be able to use them in most places.
Cuba is still a cash economy so you will need to bring all the money that you will need for your trip in cash.
Bring a credit/debit card for emergencies only.

Money Scams

A few scams to look at for while in Cuba.

Make sure to check your restaurant bill to make sure that only the items that you ordered are on the bill.

When paying in CUC, make sure that the change you get back is also CUC. It is common scam to give change back in Peso Cubano which is virtually worthless.