uba has a dual currency system. Its two currencies are the CUP (Cuban peso or moneda nacional) and CUC (Cuban convertible peso, pronounced “cook”). The CUC is similar in value to the US dollar and is worth around 25 CUP. As a tourist, there are very few instances where you will have to use CUP as most products and services available to tourists are sold in CUC.
You can’t get Cuban currency outside of Cuba. Take pound sterling with you – not dollars which are subject to a surcharge when exchanged. Change a small amount of money at an airport currency kiosk when you arrive (just enough for your first evening and morning). Then, to get a better exchange rate, change your money at a bank or use an ATM machine.
Cash is king in Cuba as very few establishments accept debit or credit cards. You will not be able to use cards associated with American banks (such as American Express).
If you feel a bit confused about Cuban currency, let us know. We will brief you on money issues, including where to go to obtain cash (nearby bank most recommended), how to differentiate your bank notes, or even how much you should expect to pay for common items such as transportation, meals, drinks, and souvenirs.