Using CUC currency in Cuba

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We've been told that you have to exchange dollars for CUC to shop in Cuba. Is is still possible to use Euros (left over from another trip) to shop in Cuba, or must Euros be converted as well? Can you tip in dollars? Thanks for any info. ------------- Moderator note: CUC = Cuban Convertable Peso

i'm going to Cuba next week and have been advised that I can convert euros, US dollars, and Canadian dollars, among other currencies into CUCs. However, there's supposed to be a ten percent surcharge for changing US dollars. So if you already have euros, it would make sense to use them. That's what I intend to do.

I don't think you'd be doing Cubans any favors by tipping in US dollars because they'd have to convert them, if they can do so legally, and, I suppose, pay the surcharge. I suggest using euros or CUCs instead. I'd also discuss all this with your guide or tour leader when you arrive.

We went to Cuba earlier this year with a tour that included all meals and we only changed about $100 into CUC. We did very little shopping and towards the end of the trip we still had most of our CUC. When I was contemplating what we would tip our guide and driver I asked the guide whether they wanted their tips in CUC or American dollars. Both wanted American dollars. My advice would be to get some CUC at the airport and wait until later to convert more money.

I recently returned from Cuba. You must exchange Euros, Canadian Dollars and/or US Dollars to CUCs in order to make purchases in Cuba. It can be exchanged at the airport or at the hotels. However, one hotel outside of Havana did not have CUCs at the time probably due to 'running out' (since it was a large tourist hotel). From my experience and from others on the tour, you will most likely exchange more than $100 throughout your time in Cuba. Of course, how much you will spend in Cuba depends on how much shopping you do. Also, you may want to account for drinks, snacks and tipping. But you can exchange money along the way so no need to exchange a large amount all at one time. As for tipping guides, I would not tip in U.S. Dollars. We all tipped in CUCs.

The amount of CUCs that you will need in Cuba will vary from person to person. We traveled with Eldertreks and all of our meals and tips to persons other than our tour guide were included in the cost of the trip. We rarely shop in foreign countries and don't buy snacks so most of the CUCs we originally got were spent on some mojitos or beers (but even then most, if not all, of our dinners included a complimentary beer or glass of wine).

Cubans can travel internationally, if they have a letter of invitation. Our tour guide had mentioned that he is planning on going to visit friends in the UK this coming summer and our driver's wife visits her daughter in Italy every year. Neither of them asked for a tip in dollars but if you are traveling internationally you need hard currency which is why we asked our guide towards the end of the trip what currency they preferred for their tips.

As Nancy mentioned, you will be able to convert money in various places during the trip. Currency conversion fees are high in Cuba, no matter what currency you are converting, although the 10% charged for US dollars is by far the worst.

Most of the people in our group seemed to have a substantial amount of CUCs left towards the end of the trip. I certainly would advocate asking the guide what he and the driver would prefer before obtaining more CUC on which you will pay a 10% currency exchange fee.

And I also suspect that any Cuban would not have much difficulty in converting American dollars into Cuban currency.