Dollars to Cuba?

Do you take US Dollars to Cuba or exchange them before you go into another currency?

Well, conventional wisdom states that, since there used to be a 10% penalty on the exchange Dollar/CUC you should win a few percentage points by exchanging your dollars to Canadian or Euros before you go.

‘Used to be’ because this penalty has been lifted in 2019. Most travel guides still mention it however. At the moment the USD is king. People use it to buy goods at the MLC store (Shops in which you can only pay with a card in Hard Currency). And the need cash USD to go shopping in Russia and Mexico to bring back stuff to sell. (Thats big business and a lot of USD get exported. Everybody is hungry for USD! So much that while the USD is about 20% less than the Euro on the world market the difference here is only 10%! So bring USD.

But… (in Cuba there is always a but)

The Cubans are opening hard currency stores were you can only buy products in foreign hard currency and the products are priced in USD. Demand for Dollars is high at the moment and this morning I was offered 65 in the street where the official rate is 24!

So at the moment the debate about currency is more about courage. Do you dare to exchange in the street with the ‘illegal’ currency traders? Then do take US Dollars! (And know the difference between CUC and CUP before you make a deal!)

Update Nov 19: And suddenly the Dollar madness was over. US$ back to 1,02 CUC in the streets. (that’s still a whopping 15% higher than the official exchange rate!)

Now in June 2021 the whole market is berserk! Prices of cash USD and USD on a bank card vary wildly but are still a bit under 3 times the official value. If you have the stomach for it… bring cash and play the game!

Before you go to Cuba, get your money straight!

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