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Useful Information - Cuban Currency
Since 8th November 2004, the US dollar has not been accepted as money in Cuba for tourists visiting the island. The official currency of Cuba since then has been the Cuban convertible peso (or CUC), which had been in use before then but was not as widely spread as the US dollar. Visitors to Cuba will be liable to pay a 10% tax if trying to exchange US dollars into Cuban currency, so visitors are advised to bring pound sterling or euros when exchanging money. Cuba also does not recognise Scottish bank notes, so these should be avoided. You will not be able to convert Cuban currency back into Sterling, so try to ensure you have no excess money on leaving Cuba, but remember you will need 25CUC departure tax per person.
Credit cards are accepted instead of Cuban currency in most hotels but are not generally accepted as payment in shops and restaurants. It is essential to remember that due to the US embargo, traveler's cheques or credit cards issued by American banks will not be accepted anywhere on the island. As there are an increasing number of credit cards with obscure names, please double check with your card issuer that it has not been issued by an American bank - especially if you are relying on it for money in Cuba.
Bank Facilities in Havana
Banks are generally open from 09:00 to 14:00 hours, Monday to Friday. Banks can be found in the following locations:
- Banco Metropolitano (Metropolitan Bank) - Monserrate St. ATM machine available.
- Banco Financiero Internacional - Corner of Oficios & Teniente Rey Streets. ATM machine available.
- CADECA (CAsa DE CAmbio or exchange shop) - Obispo St. between Cuba & Aguiar Streets. ATM machine available.
- CADECA with anATM machine outside. Corner of Obispo & Compostela Streets.
- CADECA with anATM machine outside. Corner of Lamparilla & Tacon Streets.
- For those at the Nacional Hotel, there is a bank branch at the business centre, you can draw Cuban currency from credit cards and an ATM machine.
- Outside the Tryp Habana Libre, there is a branch of the Banco Financiero Internacional.
What to buy in Cuba
Spending money in Cuba is very easy when the island is so well equipped for shopping. Cuba is most famous for its cigars and rum, both of which make excellent purchases. A tour of the cigar factory is highly recommended, even for those not cigar shopping in Cuba, as you can see the cigars being handmade. The Partagas factory in Havana is well worth a visit, and is just a short walk from the Capitolio building. If you can, try and visit around 10-11am, as you may witness the tradition of the official news being read to the staff making cigars which gives a real sense of the traditions maintained in Cuba.
The Havana Club rum factory also makes an excellent excursion and again you may be interested in shopping for Cuba's rum or a selection of Havana Club branded goods in the shop. This factory is located near to the Santander hotel in Old Havana.
There are many other cigar and rum factories available to visit across Cuba, please ask our local representatives for further information.
In Cuba, shopping for goods and art may give an unusual but unique memento of your trip, and the open air market gives the option to buy such items. The market can be found next to cathedral square in Havana, and is open every day except Sunday when it is replaced by a smaller art market.
Havana airport also features some duty free shops, which have a selection of tax free cigars, alcohol and other Cuban mementos.
We recommend that if you receive good service on the island it should be rewarded with some money. Cuba's workers, in our experience, often provide a higher level of service once tipped (wrong as it may be). Salaries in Cuba are usually very low so a small tip can make a big difference!