In Cuba, cash is king and credit/debit cards simply won't work. There are two currencies: Cuban Peso Nacional (CUP) for locals and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) for foreigners.
1. CUP - Cuban Peso Nacional
CUP is the national Cuban currency, used primarily by locals.
The exchange rate is around 25 CUP / 1 USD.
You might use it for street food, local peso restaurants, flea markets, ice cream or giving tips.
2. CUC - Cuban Convertible Peso
Cuban Convertible Peso is the currency used in the tourism industry. Travelers will need it the most.
Exchange rate for CUC is pinned to the US Dollar, which means 1CUC equals 1USD.
All currencies have a 3% exchange fee, (US Dollars have an additional 10% tax upon exchange)
Most hostels, restaurants, bars, museums and taxis only take CUC.
Where to Exchange
Airports - Airport’s lines to exchange money can be quite long.
Cadecas or exchange houses in the city. (Ask your casa particular owner or hotel front desk for the closest option, they may even offer to do it for you.)
BFI and Banco Metropolitano.
To save money, we'd recommend exchanging at most 5% of your money to CUP. You can only use this for local food options or local deals.
Paying for lodging via a website (online) is helpful, as it lessens the amount of cash you need to carry.
No credit card associated with an American bank can be used in Cuba, contact your bank in advance if you are not sure.
All other credit cards, most hotels and high-end restaurants will accept credit cards.
ATMs will not accept Americans debit cards. Visa debit cards associated with a non-US bank are accepted at ATMs.