Casa’s in Cuba.
I found a great place to book online. Very good list of houses to stay. Check Homestay for places to around Cuba.
The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)
As a general rule, all goods and service which a Tourist pays for will be in CUCs.
This includes all hotels, flights, buses and virtually all shops, restaurants and bars. Virtually all goods in shops are priced in CUC, with no option for payment in local money (for neither Tourists or Locals)
You can not buy Cuban Convertible Pesos CUC outside of the country, therefore you will need to exchange some money at the airport when you arrive.
Remember that once out of Cuba, you will not be able to use or exchange CUCs, therefore you MUST make sure that you spend/exchange/any left over money before leaving the country.
You can change CUC back into GBP/Euros/CAD at the airport or Cadecas anywhere.
Money changing in Cuba
Please note, you cannot buy Cuban CUC outside of the county, and will need to exchange some money at the airport when you arrive. Also, remember that once out of Cuba you will not be able to use or exchange CUCs.
Currency can be changed at banks, at casa de cambios called Cadecas and in some hotels. Most hotels can be funny if you are not staying there. Make sure you carry a copy of your passport or you could be waiting in a queue for ages and get refused!
The Cuban Non-convertible Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional (MN).
Cuban local money Moneda Nacional CUP. The national currency (CUPs) are used mainly for Cubans paying for basic items. Its good to have some if you want to use Collectivos, Buses as they are so cheap. A typical bus journey can cost around 40 centavos national. A shared taxi around 10 pesos. If you are a tourist they will ask what they think they can get. Pop into a Cadeca and get about 15 cuc worth. Its around 24 pesos to 1 cuc.
DO NOT change money on the street even from a Cuban in a smart white outfit with gold teeth, these guys are professional con men and you usually end up with CUPs instead of CUCs.
Always try to exchange as much as you can at one time, it saves a lot of time queuing which is a national habit.
Remember to take your passport with you when you change money.
Try to ask cashiers for small notes – They usually dont have and shrug their shoulders if you ask.
Do carry some cash (£ sterling/Euros ). Only English notes. If the notes are grubby or torn they sometimes wont accept.
ATMs in Cuba
There are NO ATMs in Viñales
ATM machines do exist in Cuba, but they generally don’t work too efficiently, so it’s best to have plenty of cash with you. Apparently only VISA cards will work in Cuban ATMs.
Many banks in Havana have ATM’s – try on Calle Obispo, near Plaza Vieja.
My question is: If the ATM swallows your card, and that’s your only way of get cash, what will you do?
Credit Cards in Cuba
You can get cash advances through your debit/credit card from banks and CADECAs, provided they are not issued by a US Bank. Be warned, you will be charged a whopping 12% commission for the privilege of using a debit or credit card.
Visa & MasterCard are accepted. The most accepted credit card is Visa, although authorisation can sometimes be denied due to poor computer connections or other problems.
The amount charged to your credit card will (ironically) be in US Dollars.
Getting a cash advance can be a very drawn out process and all banks will need to see your passport, although my experience at the CADECA in Viñales High Street have always been very quick & efficient.
Please Note: American Express and any cards drawn on American banks will NOT be accepted. I also had problems with my Alliance & Leicester card which really surprised me! I was told it was an American bank – its MBNA. Luckily I had my Barclays Debit card with me, as a back up!
Travellers Cheques in Cuba
Traveller’s cheques are a useful back-up which are popular for security reasons but they can be difficult or time consuming to change in Cuba. If lost, I believe that there is no way of reclaiming them whilst in Cuba. My question is this:- Are they worth the hassle?
Travellers cheques are accepted either in £ sterling/Euros or Canadian Dollars, but again they will NOT accept any traveller’s cheques that are printed by an American bank i.e. American Express.
DON’T BRING AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVELLERS