Whatever you do, make sure not to exchange money on the street. You are likely to be cheated. Remember, Cuba has two currencies, the moneda nacional (national money) and the CUC, also known as the convertible peso. Money changers on the street are known for trying to trick visitors into exchanging their money for the much less valuable moneda nacional.
Before you leave for Cuba make sure you have currency in something other than U.S. dollars. There is a hefty 10 percent charge to exchange American dollars into Cuban currency. In addition to the charge, the exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 0.87 CUC. If you are leaving from the U.S., exchange your money for Canadian dollars (or another foreign currency) before you leave.
Once you arrive in Cuba, exchange your money at the local banks. In nearly every visitor destination and in most airports you will come across a casa de cambio (or “changing house”) called CADECA. It’s also possible to withdraw money from non-U.S. based credit cards and debit cards and exchange currencies at either a Banco de Crédito y Comercio or a Banco Financiero Internacional.
Remember that you will be stopped at customs if you try to export more than $5,000 of any type of currency. You are not allowed to take Cuban money with you when you leave. It is also hugely expensive to withdraw money from American banks at ATMs in Cuba, with 10 percent charges added to your bank’s international withdrawal fee.
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