How can I locate info about money exchange?

Question: How can I locate info about money exchange? I know that the US dollar is not acceptable so where can I get the US dollar exchanged and learn about the CUC, its value, etc.

Answer: In November 2004, Cuban authorities took US Dollars – and all other foreign or “convertible” currencies – out of circulation in Cuba. All these foreign currencies, however, including US Dollars, are still accepted within the country as currencies of exchange for CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos) at banks and CADECA (Casas de Cambio or official exchange booths).

Also in November 2004, the Central Bank of Cuba established an 8% exchange tariff on all currencies when they are exchanged for CUCs, with the exception of the US Dollar which has an additional 10% tax that is applied before the 8% exchange rate is calculated, whether the US Dollars are held by foreign visitors or nationals. In practical terms, this means an almost 20% devaluation of the US Dollar against the CUC.

A site, one in Spanish and the other in English, that provide information on money exchanges, including the US Dollar exchange rate, and CUCs in general, are the following:

This is the official website of the Banco Metropolitano S.A., one of Cuba’s main banks. It’s a Spanish language site but the Google translation tool is acceptable for helping with the exchange rate chart, which is updated daily. This chart is located on the main page in the bottom right hand corner, and shows the exchange rates of some of the major currencies against the CUC. The column that will be most important to you is the one that says “Compra” (“Purchase”), as this shows how much USD, CAD or other foreign currencies you’ll need to buy one CUC. Only for the Euro and the pound sterling are the rates reversed, showing how many CUCs will be in each unit of foreign currency.

The currencies normally listed are the following:

Country and acronyms

CAD – Canadian dollar

GBP – British Pound

MXN – Mexican Peso

CHF – Swiss Franc

EUR – Euro

DKK – Danish Krone

NOK – Norwegian Krone

SEK – Swedish Krona

JPY – Japanese Yen

CUC – Cuban Convertible Peso

USD – US Dollar (a 10% tax is applied before the exchange)

This is an English-language site under the title of Banco Metropolitano S.A. | Cuba Currency & Money Guide. It has a number of sections with basic information on the following topics:

  • Currencies of Cuba / Cuban Pesos
  • Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC), with images
  • Cuban Pesos (CUP), with images
  • The 10% tax applied to the United States Dollars (USD)
  • Where to exchange currencies to CUC

NOTE Posted on September 16, 2010: The Banco Metropolitano website has been down for three months.  Here’s another way to access the exchange rate information:

Go into the Banco Central de Cuba website through the following URL – Don’t be concerned that it’s in Spanish; it doesn’t appear that you can get the Banco Metropolitano exchange rate information through the comparable English-language URL. But, as you’ll see, the Spanish is very easy to decipher.

However, don’t stop on this page, which although it provides official exchange rates, is exclusively for the use of Cuban enterprises when registering operations made in foreign exchange. The indicated rate of exchange is not valid for currency purchase and selling operations for the population at large.

Instead, go to the bottom of the above page, under Enlaces de interés (Interest links) and click on Tipo de cambio Banco Metropolitano (Temporal). This takes you to a page that gives you the Banco Metropolitano daily exchange rates. Here’s how it works:

The first column, Compra (Purchase) is the rate you’re being charged to BUY Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC).

The second column, Venta (Sell), is the rate you’re being charged to SELL Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC).

The asterisk (*) beside the GBP (Pound Sterling) and EUR (Euro) means that you multiply instead of divide.

For the USD, there is an additional 10% surcharge that Cuba charges.

Note: Not all banks or CADECAs handle all ten currencies listed, so sometimes you may have to go to a main branch.