Question: Which currency is better to bring with us to Cuba (Euro, USD, Russian roubles)?
Answer: There are a number of different foreign currencies that are easily exchanged in Cuba for the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) at Cuba’s national banks as well as at official exchange booths (or CADECA) located throughout the country. These include the Pound Sterling, Canadian dollar, Swiss Franc, Japanese Yen, American dollar, Mexican Peso, Danish Krone, Norwegian Krone, Swedish Krone and Euro.
Of the foreign currencies listed above, it is difficult to say which is best as the exchange rates vary slightly from day to day. And even on the American dollar, which has an additional tax of 10% that is applied before performing the conversion to CUC, it may still sometimes give a better rate than, for instance, the Canadian dollar.
What is best is to check the exchange rates before travelling to Cuba, and decide which currency you’d like to bring. You can do this through two different sites, although they tend to open the same page:
- www.banco-metropolitano.com is the official website of the Banco Metropolitano S.A., which gives daily listings of the CUC against major foreign currencies. This would be the most accurate information available as it comes from within Cuba itself, and the exchange rate chart is updated daily. Look at the column marked “Compra” (“Purchase”), as this shows how much one CUC will cost. Only for the Euro and the pound sterling are the rates reversed, showing how many CUCs will be in each unit of foreign currency.
- www.cubacurrency.com/banco_metropolitano_s_a.html (note: the last part of the URL is banco_metropolitano_s_a) which is another website for Banco Metropolitano S.A. | Cuba Currency & Money Guide. Available in English, it provides exchange rates for all the currencies listed above, and it is updated every hour. In addition, the site also provides useful information on Credit & Debit Cards, Sending money to Cuba, Financial Institutions, Euro Currency Guide, US Currency, Related Links, etc.
It is recommended that you consult other questions and answers in the Havana Times Cuba Travel section for additional information on currency matters in Cuba.
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 – www.bc.gov.cu/Espanol/tipo_cambio.asp 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.