Havana Cuba Business Travel Culture and Politics

Havana Cuba News

Cuba Business News

Posted November 20, 2009 by publisher in Business In Cuba

Email this article | Print this article | Search Havana Journal        

Cuba has more than one peso

Cuba has always been known as one of the hottest travel destinations in the Caribbean. Before the 1959 revolution, Americans loved to visit Cuba. The island is filled with exotic beaches, fabulous hotels and casinos that never close. Since the revolution, Cuba has been subjected to U.S. travel, and trade embargoes. The value of the American Dollar went to zero after the revolution and Cuba’s economy suffered a dramatic decline. Cuba decided to link their Peso with the Soviet Union’s Ruble when U.S. relations broke down and that moved stimulated their economy. Tourism became Cuba’s main industry, replacing sugar cane as the main source of revenue.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba’s economy collapsed again. In order to pull out of a social and economic nightmare, the Central Bank of Cuba decided to fix the rate of what’s called the Convertible Peso to the U.S. Dollar. The rate was fixed at 1 CUC equals 1 USD. Then in 2004, the Cuban government decided that U.S. Dollars were no longer legal tender and all transactions in hotels, restaurants and shops would have to be done using the new Convertible Peso. The Peso Nacional is the local currency that Cuban citizens use to make local purchases. They get paid in both currencies, but the Peso Nacional is not used for everything. The Convertible Peso is used just like the American Dollar which was used before it was banned from the country. In fact, some people call the Convertible Peso the Dollar.

In 2005, the Cuban Government decided to revalue the Convertible Peso against all currencies by 8%. Instead of an exchange of 1 CUC equals 1 USD, it became 1 CUC equals 1.08 USD. In May of 2006, the Convertible Peso was revalued again by 3% and a 10% tax was imposed on any transaction that included U.S. Dollars, so now if a tourist wants to exchange U.S. Dollars for Pesos, it’s expensive. U.S. bank credit cards are no longer accepted in Cuba, but credit cards from other countries are accepted.

Other currencies like the Canadian Dollar, British Pound Sterling, the Japanese Yen, the Euro, the Swiss Franc and Mexican Pesos can still be exchanged for Convertible Pesos in Cuba without the 10% tax, so Americans who want to travel to Cuba should exchange their Dollars into another currency and then make the exchange to Convertible Pesos. Banks do charge 3% on all exchange transactions, plus the 8%, but that’s still better than paying another 10% for a straight Dollar to Peso exchange.

Valuable currency tips when traveling to Cuba

Canadians have been traveling to Cuba since the 1970s and have learned some valuable lessons when it comes to saving money in exchanges. Convertible Pesos are only available in Cuba. Always bring a calculator, so you know how many CUC you should receive when you make the exchange and ask for a printed receipt. Exchanging currency at the airport is more expensive than using a Cuban bank or the CADECA Money Exchange. Exchanging money on the street in Cuba is usually a scam, ripping off tourists is an every day event for some locals. If you exchange money in a hotel, be prepared to pay for the convenience, it’s an extremely expensive transaction.

There is a huge counterfeit Convertible Peso market in Cuba, so only exchange money at banks to avoid fake currency. You can exchange your left over Pesos at the airport before you leave, but don’t expect to get a decent exchange rate. Try to use the money you have exchanged before you leave the country, but save enough to pay the $25 Convertible Peso departure tax before you get on the plane.

This article was provided by the experts at ForexTraders.com.  For additional information and countless articles on currency trading and visit the site.

Find Cuba on Amazon

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 30, 2009 by kirk with 3 total posts

    So the cold war is not over yet. Americans should not visit Cuba, because is not much to admire there, to the contrary, tourists really are impacted, because they understand how Cubans are banded from Hotels, consume of tabaccos and from their own beaches.

    In america, we too, have wonderful paradises, places such as Florida, Nevada, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii etc.

    Let us expende our money in our contry

    Kirk Nelson, from Newe York, USA


  2. Follow up post #2 added on December 01, 2009 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    kirk is really out of date…..
    Cubans are not banned from hotels anymore (provided they have the CUC or a friend who will pay for them.).  Regular tourists who have made good friends of Cuban families sometimes bring them onto the resorts with day passes.
    Banned from consuming tobacco?????  Peso cigars which many, if not most smoke, costing 1 CUP each are often decent quality and are Cuban cigarettes.
    And as for being banned from their own beaches????  Go to Playas del Este just outside of Havana and take a look.

    One can build up valid arguements for not going to Cuba and for spending money at home instead of abroad, but lets base those on facts.


  3. Follow up post #3 added on December 01, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Manfredz is right but the fact that the Cubans were banned from the hotels on their own country is shameful.
    Also, I understand that while now they are allow mostly everywhere there are some places where average Cubans are still not permited to enter, I’m not competely sure but I understand that Cubans are still not allow in Cayo Largo. Additionally there are some hotels that when Cubans go to rent they are told that temporarily they are not accepting Cubans.


  4. Follow up post #4 added on December 02, 2009 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    dont know about that, but cant rule it out ...  even in our countries a hotel/motel can be suddenly full when they dont want someone.
    And you’re right it was shameful that they were banned for so many years.
    Its still shameful that unless a cuban has legal or illegal CUC income or friends/relatives from outside who give him/her CUC or pay, there is still no way they could even begin to pay for one of these resorts - hopefully that wil change, albeit slow.  (In varadero I’ve several times stayed at a 2 star resort that is about 80% used by Cuban families (usually a reward vacation for exceeding quotas etc) and all in all found it made for a more rewarding holiday.


  5. Follow up post #5 added on December 03, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    I have Cuban relatives that have stayed in hotels in Cayo Coco, Veradero, Guardalavaca, and Havana and had a good time. I have seen E mail pictures of them eating ice cream, CUC beer, and good food and beer in the restaurants. I have talked to Cubans and their families on the same beaches that the tourists use when I have been in Cuba.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on December 03, 2009 by paul

    It’s about time right pipefitter? took your Cuban masters long enough to allow *gasp* Cubans into their own hotels. Talk about apartheid. Leave the evils of western Capitalism to the well connected government workers.

    Now you’ll reply with some reference to the US or Bush or another zzzzz generic red herring.


  7. Follow up post #7 added on December 03, 2009 by kirk with 3 total posts

    Look, I love cubans, its muisc, its food its history, but I do not like its public officials nor its political idiology, overall, because the Cuban’s wealth uneven distribution, meaning 1% of the population takes 99% of the country’s wealth, while on the oder hand 99% of the population carries 1% of the country’s wealth.

    On hearth, no men, nor an organization must take away people’s freedom.

    Humanity stands and runs over the soil, while marine life swims freely in the oceans, and birds in the air. Why? Because that is the way that, God, our creator though, therefore, nobody or system under God’s rules can prevent nor denied us such gift.

    I suffer, especially, when I watch cuban’s children and elderly people, about how their mental depression consumes them daily. Their empowered defensenless were are born slowly to disappear so quickly.

    God bless all cuban’s. I hope that all bad experiences from 1959 to now, can be suplemented throughout concerned cuban citizens to make a real happy united family to cubans. The day is coming, and pretty soon.

    Kirk Nelson, from New York, USA


  8. Follow up post #8 added on December 03, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Kirk, You better take an accounting course so you can get your numbers right.
    Your God has done very little for the Cubans in the past, lets hope that the Cubans (the real ones that live there) will pressure their government to keep making life better for them in the future. When I look at the pictures of Cuban children I see healthy smiling examples of kids unlike those in many other 3rd world countries. As has been said before, you will not find any kids sleeping in the streets in Cuba like in many other countries.
    Yeyo, blacks were banned from lots of places not too long ago also.
    Change will eventually come in all countries as we have seen happen in the past. 
    Paul Balart, How are you. Did you just get back from picking up your welfare check?  As you Know, a lot of the hotels are jointly owned by foreign companies and the Cuban government in partnership. I know of lots of hotels in Mexico, for example, that don’t let all Mexicans into them, nor do they let them all onto the beach.


  9. Follow up post #9 added on December 03, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter, you are factually wrong, in Mexico if you are allow or not into a hotel depends only if you can paid for it, as simple as that.

    Regarding to your example of discrimination, blacks are still severely discriminated in Cuba, over 50 % of the country is black, mulato or mixed but only about 5 % of them are in high government positions, large companies management etc.

    So you think that the Castro government have been making the life of the Cubans better, oh man, you are out of your mind, I would like to be so positive as you are but I can because the reality is overwhelming. I do not count myself among the ones that consider that everything Fidel Castro has done is wrong, but I can tell you that since 1970 he has done very little for his own people. At the same time any good he did has been shadowed by his ambition of power and his actions in order to perpetuate in power at any cost.


  10. Follow up post #10 added on December 04, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    To prove the point about blacks being descriminated against in Cuba a group of African-Americans have finally woken up to the fact. See this article in Americas Quarterly:

    African-Americans Denounce Cuba on Race
    December 2, 2009
    by AQ Online

    Sixty prominent African-Americans signed a four-page declaration to the Cuban government, calling on Havana to confront racism and demanding that President Raúl Castro end “the unwarranted and brutal harassment of black citizens in Cuba who are defending their civil rights.” The “Statement of Conscience by African-Americans” also petitioned for the immediate release of Darsi Ferrer, a well-known Afro-Cuban physician and civil-rights activist, who has been in jail since July while under investigation for the illegal possession of two sacks of cement.

    Signatories to the declaration include Princeton professor Cornel West, actress Ruby Dee Davis, and former congresswoman Carrie Meek. Afro-Cuban author Enrique Patterson called the declaration “historic.”

    Alberto González, spokesman for Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Washington, called the accusations against the Cuban government “absurd” and accused the declaration of being “part of a campaign of subversion against Cuba.”

    Afro-Cubans make up at least 62 percent of the 11.4 million people in the country, but are not adequately represented in Cuba’s science, academic and leadership ranks. Victoria Ruiz-Labrit of the Cuba-based Citizens’ Committee for Racial Integration estimates that 70 percent of Afro-Cubans are unemployed and a briefing statement included with the declaration noted that Afro-Cubans make up approximately 85 percent of the country’s prison population.


  11. Follow up post #11 added on December 04, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Cubana, I think you schould look at taking care of the racism in your country before saying it is bad in Cuba. As you know when someone calls a black man Negro in Cuba it doesn’t have the same meaning as it’s equivalent in the U.S.. I just came back from thanksgiving in the U.S. with relatives and have seen that it is still realy bad there. What percentage of the prison population are blacks in the U.S.? Of course the signatories of the declaration realy know first hand what is going on in Cuba not living there and such. I guess the in jail figure would not be because they are 70 % of the unemployed.
    Yeyo, I think you also schould maybee take an accounting course to get your embellished facts straight as I have just checked your figures with on line photos of the Cuban Government and out of 113 uppermost positions there are, 69 wht or 61%, 30 mixed or27%, and14 blacks or 12%. The percentage for blacks is also much higher in local governments than that. There are also, 75% men and 25% women in this group. You are also wrong on Mexican hotels, I have seen Mexicans hustled out of hotels and off the beaches also.


  12. Follow up post #12 added on December 04, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    You should post the photos you are mentioning here. But in any case photos do not mean much.
    The fact and the matter is that the top of the government in Cuba is white and the only highly positioned blacks were Almeida (decease) and Esteban Lazo, that’s it. Some people goes further as to speculate that Almeida and Lazo were both kept there to show the world that there were blacks in government.


  13. Follow up post #13 added on December 04, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, you can look up the photos, just google-chart-cuba-leaders.jpg


  14. Follow up post #14 added on December 04, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    This could be an example for Cuba to follow. Look at the google video,  (the mondragon experiment part 1)


  15. Follow up post #15 added on December 05, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Very interesting the Mondragon experiment. However I have no idea what it has to do with the Castro experiment because the Mondragon experiment appears to be a success but the Castro experiment is a disaster.
    By the way, I looked for the chart Cuba leaders but could not find them. In any case I know my figures because I have seen them with my own eyes.


  16. Follow up post #16 added on December 05, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    I said it could be an example for Cuba to follow.


  17. Follow up post #17 added on December 05, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    For some reason link won’t post. Maybee Pub has got it blocked or something.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on December 06, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    pipefitter,

    No, nothing blocked here unless people are spamming or intentionally abusive.

    The link was bad so the system was kicking it out.

    I believe you are trying to post this link to this Cuban Leadership Chart from April 2009.



    Cuba consulting services

  19. Follow up post #19 added on December 06, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Thanks Pub!


  20. Follow up post #20 added on December 06, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Kind of old your chart. A bunch of people there has already pass to better life and some others are in plan pijama.


  21. Follow up post #21 added on December 07, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    Pipefitter - I am British not American so you comments regarding racism in the US are irrelevant to me. I agree that the US is a racist country, notwithstanding the election of a “mixed race” president, but (i) this is a website on CUBA not the US and (ii) two wrongs do not make a right.

    Your statistics on the racial make up of the Cuban government are also telling. They are the exact opposite of the racial make-up of Cuba, where the majority of the population are black or mixed race NOT white as the census statistics of the Cuban government ludicrously show.


  22. Follow up post #22 added on December 07, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Cubana, you are a cousin then! My Dad is from Derby. How many blacks in the British parliament? The majority of Cubans are not black as you say, Cuba is about 50% white and 50% mulato and black, look at the statistics. If you have lived in Cuba you can see that racism in Cuba is a lot less of a problem than in most other countries.
    Yeyo, the chart is from April 2009. We will all be in plan pijama at some point.


  23. Follow up post #23 added on December 07, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    You continue going back to what is wrong here or there.
    We are not talking about US or Uk but about Cuba.
    Why you do not compare the minimum salary, standards of living etc in the US and UK with Cuba.
    Any Cuban black can tell you there are more racism in Cuba than in the US or UK.
    The problem is that in the US and UK they discuss about it openly and as you well know there is nothing open in Cuba.

    By the way there is something wrong with that chart because Fernando Remirez was sack out at the same time than Roque and Lage, and non o the last two are there. A bunch of people there is just showing off but they are nobodies just to show that there is some representation. If you go to Cuba you would learn that the real power in Cuba is held by a small group close to Castro and all of them are whites.


  24. Follow up post #24 added on December 08, 2009 by Cubana with 282 total posts

    pipefitter - I did NOT say that the majority of Cubans are black - please read my post again.


  25. Follow up post #25 added on December 08, 2009 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Cubana, please translate what you mean then when you said that my statistics on population are the exact opposite of the make up of the Cuban Government.
    Yeyo, I am glad that you are finally realizing that you can’t compare Cuba to Canada, the U.S. or Great Britain etc.. you have to compare it to the other third world countries. It looks like we may be able to convert you to a socialist yet. It is a fact that in this world one child dies of malnutrition every 6 seconds and I am sure that almost none of these are in Cuba.
    Yeyo, the chart is from April 2009, give us a break.


  26. Follow up post #26 added on April 20, 2011 by livingston

    if an american lives in mexico, should she consider taking mexican pesos to cuba or should she look into taking canadian dollars?? which would make more economic sense??  livingston


  27. Follow up post #27 added on May 11, 2011 by manfredz

    From what I understand, next to US$ (because of the 10% service fee), Mexican Pesos are the next worst currency to convert in Cuba.


Would you like to add more information?


Only members can add more information. Please register or log in

  • Advertise at Havana Journal Inc
Images of Cuba
Ernest Hemingway's study in Cuba
Follow Havana Journal
SUBSCRIBE to our Cuba Watch newsletter
LIKE us on Facebook

FOLLOW us on Twitter

CONNECT with us on Linked In

Section Archive
Havana Journal, Inc. BBB Business Review



Member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy