Currencies in Cuba

By Skip Carpenter
This item appears on page 15 of the April 2016 issue.

My wife, Bonnie, and I returned from a trip to Cuba in January 2016. If you are an American planning to visit, take US dollars with you, and the communist government there wants them to be new, clean and pristine.
The official exchange rate was $1 to 0.87 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs). In other words, $100 would buy you CUC87.
Don’t worry about where to get the best exchange rate. The dollar-to-CUC rate is fixed, so it’s the same at the airport, at exchange houses, in banks and in hotels. This isn’t the case with other currencies. The euro, the British pound and the Canadian dollar float and are exchanged at market rates.
The CUC is one of two official currencies in Cuba, the other being the Cuban peso, or moneda nacional (MN), more commonly used by the locals. During our visit, one CUC would buy you 24 Cuban pesos.
We found that some places off the tourist trail would accept CUCs, such as vendors at the farmers’ market.

Coronado, CA