Saving for holiday - money in Cuba. What is the currency in Cuba in 2023?

The system of currency in Cuba has given tourists headaches for quite a while, so it is not at all strange that you are wondering what is the currency in Cuba!

The former dual-currency system in Cuba appeared complicated for most foreigners in the last decades.

In 2021, however, the Cuban government changed the monetary system, BUT the changes have not made the Cuban currency system any less complicated, unfortunately.

Whatever you are wondering about money in Cuba, what currency to use in Cuba, or what Cuba’s exchange rate is – here is what you need to know about money before your Cuba holiday in 2023.

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Quick Facts About Money In Cuba

  • The Cuban Peso (CUP), which the Cubans call the Moneda Nacional, is the only official Cuban currency valid after 2021
  • One Euro sells for around 170 CUP on the street in Cuba (November 2022, this number fluctuates)
  • You CAN use an international Visa or Mastercard central places in Cuba, but still not everywhere
  • Follow this link to check the current official value of the Cuban Peso from Cuban exchange offices
  • You can extract CUP from Cuban ATMs, but NOT from ATMs outside of Cuba prior to your holiday
  • US credit cards are NOT accepted anywhere in Cuba
  • US $$ is NOT officially accepted in Cuba in 2022, but it CAN be changed on the black market or used in private enterprises
  • Euro is VERY popular in Cuba 2022
  • You can change Euro in cash for CUP in exchange offices, or with a trusted person in Cuba
  • You CAN use Euro in cash for many services and in many shops in Cuba
  • Some places and shops do NOT accept Cuban CUP, ONLY Euro or credit card
  • Some places accept ONLY Euro in cash, NOTHING else
  • You can change money “on the street”, but be aware that counterfeit Cuban money does exist
  • Bring the majority of your holiday budget in Euro (or Canadian dollars) in cash for your Cuba holiday, you can pay in these currencies in most places – and in some places, it is even (unofficially) mandatory!

What Is The Currency In Cuba 2023?

In January 2021 the Cuban government reformed the system of dual currency in Cuba (CUC and CUP) that has existed since the 90ies.

They removed the CUC, so now the CUP, the Cuban Peso, is the only national currency that is valid in Cuba.

In June 2021, the Cuban national bank also announced a suspension of the use of dollar deposits due to the US sanctions.

For you, as a tourist in 2022, this means that US $$ in cash no longer has any value in Cuba (apart from “on the street”).

The foreign currency used in Cuba that really has value in 2023 is mainly the euro, and also the Canadian dollar. The euro, and Canadian dollars, are currently extremely valuable for Cubans.

Also read: 42 Legendary Things To Do In Havana!

The National Currency Of Cuba

The only official national currency of Cuba from 2021 is the Cuban Pesos (CUP), also called Moneda Nacional.

The CUP is only available in Cuba. You can withdraw CUP in an ATM when you arrive in Cuba, or you can bring Euro in cash and exchange this in an exchange office (or on the street).

The official value of one dollar (one MLC: Moneda Libremente Convertible) in Cuba is around 123 Cuban pesos in the bank in January 2023, and this value fluctuates.

In January 2023 one MLC is worth up to 170 CUP on the streets of Cuba, on the black currency market.

Also read: Fantastic Day Trip From Havana To Vinales!

Shopping Cuba money in Cuba

Currency In Cuba For Tourists

Before January 2021, when there were two currencies in Cuba, one of them was known as the “tourist currency”, the CUC.

Then the government changed the currency system in January 2021 and abolished the CUC.

In 2023, there is only one national currency to use in Cuba for everyone, which is the CUP, or Peso Cubano – also called Moneda Nacional.

Also read: Where To Stay Havana | Best Hotels, Neighborhoods And Areas 2022!

Currency In Cuba – Cards vs Cash

As the CUP is the only official currency in Cuba, in theory, you should be able to pay for anything with CUP. But this is not the case in reality.

Weirdly, euro and Canadian dollars are accepted almost everywhere due to their street value and value in the MLC shops.

Cuban citizens have two different credit cards from Cuban banks. One that has only CUP in it, and one that has only MLC in it. MLC means Moneda Libremente Convertible.

When the Cubans talk about MLC, it is generally the value of the US dollar they are referring to.

The Governmental Cuban MLC Shops

The reason Cubans need a special MLC card with foreign currency in it is that in Cuba there is a chain of governmental shops that do not accept the domestic currency CUP.

These are called MLC shops. In these shops Cubans (and foreigners) can only pay with international currency credit cards.

These are the shops that have clothes, shoes, all kinds of soap and vanity things, canned foods, detergent, cleaning stuff, kitchen appliances, interior accessories, refrigerators, and air conditioners, anything really, except fresh foods.

In order to deposit currency to their MLC cards, Cubans need someone outside the country to transfer currency to their account.

Or, they can deposit MLC (like Euro) in cash by physically going to the bank and depositing it.

In 2023 it is not possible to withdraw international currency from any bank in Cuba, only CUP. Hence, Cubans can only get foreign currency like Euro, in cash, if tourists bring it on their holiday to pay for stuff.

Because of the weird system with domestic MLC shops, the result is you can pay with Euro (or Canadian dollars) in cash in many places on the street because people need foreign currency to do their domestic shopping.

What Is the Currency In Cuba for Paladares and Particulares

This goes for many paladares (private restaurants), taxis, tourist services, sports activities, tours, and almost any service Cubans offer to tourists really.

It is also often the case for particulares, which are privately registered enterprises in Cuba

So you should bring a lot of Euros in cash. Pay for stuff in Euro, change what you need into CUP in Cuba, and change back what you don`t use when you go home.

Because you can pay for most things with CUP in 2023, although people prefer MLC. Fruit and vegetables, sandwiches on the streets, memorabilia in tourist shops, or propina, the Spanish word for tips.

Or the bici-taxis. You should definitely make sure you carry some CUP around.

Also read: 19 Best Things To Do In Varadero Cuba!

International Credit Cards In Cuba

Cash and credit cards: money in Cuba. All you need to know about the currency in Cuba in 2023.

Regardless of what is the isolated domestic currency in Cuba, you can use your international credit card like Visa, or Mastercard, in an increasing number of places in 2023, but the majority of places are not online yet.

Large hotels and resorts will most likely accept payment with credit cards.

Yet, I went scuba diving in Varadero in 2022 and was expected to pay for the day with Euro, in cash. Electronic payment proved super difficult, so be prepared.

More and more restaurants and bars accept electronic payment, but mostly in the cities, and still far from all. So again, bring cash, or effectivos, as the Cubans call it.

What are you going to do in Cuba?

You can pay for some Cuban services online with your credit card, like bus transfers on the Viazul Bus Company homepage. You can also pay online for prebooked accommodation of course.

You can easily extract CUP in Cuban ATMs and banks at the official exchange rate.

Note that American credit cards are not accepted anywhere in Cuba, so American travelers need to bring all the money they need for their holiday, in cash. In Euro, not $$.

Also read: 10 Perfect Day Trips From Havana!

How Much Cash Should I Bring To Cuba?

Well, how big is a fish? If you are wondering how much cash you should bring to Cuba, it all depends on how you plan to travel. In luxury or backpacking style, or somewhere in between?

As a rule of thumb, I would say bring the amount of money in cash (Euro or Canadian dollars, not USD), that you plan on spending in Cuba.

Also what activities and adventures do you are planning to do on your Cuba holiday in 2022, and how much they cost.

So make sure to do your research before you go to have a good idea of what amount you need.

Castillo del Morro Santiago de Cuba
Castillo del Morro Santiago de Cuba

Plan your whole budget for (not prepaid) accommodation, food, shopping, transport, and activities during your stay in cash. You can easily change back what currency you don’t spend when you get back home.

Be aware that during the pandemic, due to the monetary reforms, ongoing sanctions, and the covid-closing of the country – there has been large inflation with prices increasing 500-1000% on many foods and items in the shops and on the black market.

Therefore prices in Cuba are higher than before the pandemic, which for tourists will be detectable in the prices of food and drinks in restaurants.

What are you going to do in Cuba?

Below you have three examples of travel budgets for Cuba; cheap, budget, and luxury, to give you an idea.

What are you going to do in Varadero?

The Cheapest Cuba Vacations

A daily backpacking budget for Cuba in 2022 should be at least around €80-100.

This budget will get you something like a shared room at a hostel or Casa Particular (€10-25), three cheap meals a day (€50ish), a large bottle of water (€2), a couple of beers (€3-4 each), a wifi card (€1), one or two taxi tours in the city center and entrance to a museum.

This budget will not cover a full night out, journeys, activities, or other transport.

Below is an example of the absolute cheapest hits on hotels.com and on Hostelworld in December 2021 for Havana, Cuba. As you see, a lot of casa particulares are promoted in both places.

Examples of cheap hotel prices havana 2021
Hostelworld cheap cuba travel accommodation

Cuba Budget Travel

A medium-level daily budget for Cuba budget travel would be around €150-200.

On Airbnb, you can get private rooms or even a studio or whole apartment to yourself for down to €25 per night, breakfast not included. But mostly the prices are higher than that.

The prices also vary a lot, so do some research for different dates if you are flexible.

In Trinidad you can get a room in a Casa Particular for around €15 per night, breakfast not included. Breakfast was €5 before the pandemic, currently, it will be between €5-10.

Good restaurants OR restaurants that are in the middle of the tourist hotspots in Havana will have higher prices than the casual little ones off the beaten track. A nice dinner can easily be around €30-50 per person including drinks and lunch a little less.

A couple of taxi trips (€20), entrance to a museum, drinks at night in one of the music bars, water & wifi, and a little tourist shopping and your budget is already up.

If you want to go shopping, scuba diving, have treatment at a spa, or anything like that, you need to upgrade your budget too.

Cuba Luxury Holidays

Luxury hotels in Cuba, You can spend all the money in Cuba you want!

Cuba’s luxury holiday budget can quite frankly be limitless, you can get insane luxury in Cuba if money is not an issue.

For 5 stars hotels in Cuba or the equivalent, check out the Casa & Hotel overview, starting with the best hotels in Cuba, sorted by destination.

I recently stayed at the Iberostar Selection Bella Vista in Varadero as well as the Melia Paradiso Varadero, both beautiful places.

Prices were €185 and €285 per day respectively, all-inclusive. Any activities or not-included amenities (like spa treatments) add to the budget.

Luxury hotels in Havana tend to offer room and breakfast or half board, not the all-inclusive option as people generally go exploring outside the hotel for lunch and dinner during their stay.

Also read: Best travel resource tips & advice for bookings of flights, accommodation & adventure

All inclusive hotel Varadero Cuba pool is also something you book online, and then you dont have to worry about the currency or exchange rate in Cuba.

One night at the super stylish Manzana Kempinski hotel at Parque Central in Havana starts at around $360 per night for one room and two people in January 2023, including breakfast.

Iberostar Parque Central which is also a beautiful hotel centrally located between Old and Central Havana starts at €187 per night including breakfast.

You can also search for mansions or casas on Airbnb, there are some super fancy options with luxury amenities, pools, jacuzzi, and more.

I rented a house that I would call a mansion in the summer of 2021 for my birthday for one night, and that was €400.

This is a mansion in Havana that was for rent the summer of 2021. If you book online, you do not have to worry about what the currency in Cuba is or how to change it.
My birthday mansion rental

In that particular house, there were four bedrooms and room for eight people sleeping. Also a huge kitchen, a living room with an oversized TV, a backyard with a pool and bar, and a jacuzzi on the roof.

Also read: Resorts in Cayo Santa Maria

At the all inclusive resorts in varadero cuba accept any foreign currency in Cuba.

There is a good scene for fine dining in Havana as well, read this overview of the best restaurants in Havana including recommendations for fine dining at a la carte places.

Be aware that a lot of restaurants, although super elegant, do not accept credit cards. Ask beforehand, and be prepared to pay in cash.

Pretty much all paladares (privately owned restaurants) normally accept payments in CUP, euro, or both US and Canadian dollars, as US dollars still have street value.

With no budget limitations, you can get a convenient taxi to take you or collect you from anywhere, ride in style with the old classic car taxis that roam the streets.

Read the shopping guide if you need to do some shopping during your stay. Be aware though, that Havana is not a shopping mecca. My advice is to not expect to be able to buy everything you might want to here!

This is why packing smart for Cuba is the best advice I can give you!

The drivers of the Classic American Cars prefer payment in euros.
The drivers of the Classic American Cars prefer payment in euros.

How To Get Cuban Currency

Again, you will not be able to get Cuban current CUP outside of Cuba.

Once in Cuba, you can extract CUP from Cuban ATMs with your national credit or debit card, which is easily available in most cities and towns.

You can also bring foreign currency in cash to Cuba, and change it when you get here. You can change your foreign currency at the airport, in exchange offices in Cuban cities, or ask your host for advice.

Remember, American credit and debit cards do not work anywhere in Cuba in 2023. If you are an American, you are advised to bring cash the equivalent of the holiday budget you plan to spend.

Bring Euros or Canadian dollars, not US dollars.

Cuba Transportation Options And Prices

Transport between destinations in Cuba is definitely the cheapest and quite easy by bus, but more convenient, more expensive, and less time-consuming by taxi.

The following are price examples for Viazul bus travel in Cuba in 2022.

  • Havana – Varadero $9
  • Havana – Vinales $12
  • Havana – Trinidad $21
  • Havana – Santiago de Cuba (long haul) $56

You should definitely buy your Viazul tickets online beforehand if you can. It is safe, and you do not need to stand in lines or deal with the bureaucracy of buying from a ticket office at a Cuban bus station.

Also, you get your ticket electronically and are guaranteed a seat.

The Viazul bus from Havana leaves from the Terminal de Omnibus Nacionales, on Avenida de la Independencia, Esquina (corner) Calle 19 de Mayo (take a taxi here).

NB: You normally need to be at the bus station ONE HOUR prior to departure. Depending on the day of the week, departure place, and destination, there might be queues for check-in, luggage drop-off, and entering the bus.

Remember to bring your passport also for domestic transportation!

In Havana, you can take bici-taxis for short distances, which will be around €1/200 CUP.

A private taxi between Old Havana and the Vedado for tourists can be €5-10/500-1000 CUP dependent on the day and time.

A one-hour tour of Havana with a classic American car is around €35 in January 2023.

Also read: Your guide to Havana nightlife

Examples Of Prices In Cuba

  • A bus ride (the guagua, the city bus) or taxi collectivo a short stretch within a city in Cuba should be 1 or 5 CUP (dependent on the bus), which is less than €1/4.

  • Bici taxi a short stretch (2 persons) around 3-500 CUP or €4.

  • Private taxis between city areas, like between Old Havana and Vedado, probably will be around 1500 CUP for tourists (day-night/weekday/weekend) or €8-20.

  • One can of foreign beer is 230-260 CUP or around €2-3.

  • One bottle of wine is a minimum of 1000 CUP in December 2022, or around 10 Euro, and one bottle of rum from between 2000 and 3000 CUP.

  • A breakfast or lunch in the daytime with a drink starts at around 450-700 CUP or €4-7 and up.

  • Between Havana and Varadero (2,5 hours), a private taxi will be around 25000 CUP €200-300 dependent on the day of the week, time, and your bargaining skills.
Research cheap and budget travel like backpacking by knowing what is the currency in Cuba!

FAQ Money In Cuba

How Much Is One $US In Cuba 2023?

The official value of the Cuban peso fluctuates in 2023. Follow this link to check the current value of the Cuban peso CUP.

What Is The Best Currency To Use In Cuba?

In 2023, the best currency to bring for your Cuba holiday is euros or Canadian dollars.

You can change euros or Canadian dollars in official exchange offices in Cuba, or with a trusted person in Cuba.

Can You Use US Dollars In Cuba?

In 2023, private enterprises will accept US dollars as payment in Cuba, although the American currency officially is banned from use in Cuba.

The reason is that the government has an “amnesty” for people returning US dollars that are circulating on the street on the black market.

My advice, nevertheless, is to bring euros, or Canadian dollars, in cash instead of dollars for your Cuba holiday to be on the safe side.

What Are The Two Currencies Uses In Cuba?

There are no longer two currencies in Cuba in 2023.

The only official currency in Cuba in 2023, is the Cuban peso, the CUP, also called Moneda Nacional.

Wrap-Up What Is The Currency In Cuba?

From one currency system to another, although there are no longer two official currencies in Cuba, there is still one official and now several unofficial currencies to wrap your head around.

The different foreign currencies have slightly different values on the street of Cuba, “en las calles“, which is the term Cubans use for whatever goes on outside the private home!

My suggestion for your key takeaway is, to bring cash in Euro or Canadian dollars, and change them with a trusted person. Cubans need foreign cash to shop in the Cuban MLC stores.

Pay in foreign currency when you can, a lot of vendors and service workers will prefer that.

And lastly, spend your money on private enterprises like paladares (privately owned restaurants) and empresas particulares (private businesses)!

Check out this comprehensive guide for more general travel tips for Cuba!

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One Comment

  1. Nice… A lot of questions answered here. Sufficient cash/euros is definitely of the essence. One of my colleagues was planning a backpacking trip through the country, but he didn’t bring any cash, and had a very hard time… Ended up leaving for home earlier than planned.

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