It is a question a receive every year at this time as travellers prepare for their first visit to Cuba.
There is ample reason for the confusion. Cuba is not like most other foreign destination.
While many will find Canadian banks and other currency exchanges to convert our dollar to other country’s notes before departure, this cannot be done when travelling to Cuba.
Cuban currency is not traded internationally so you are unable to purchase it in advance. You buy it when you arrive in Cuba.
The major legal tender for travelers to Cuba is the Cuban Convertible Peso, or CUC as it is most often referred. The CUC is pegged to the international value of the United States dollar.
Many believe it might be better to bring along US dollars for CUC conversion. In fact, they would be penalized 10% plus a 3% currency exchange fee.
Seldom used by tourists is the second legal currency of the country, the not so valuable Cuban Peso (CUP).
On small purchases the CUP can be handy, since there is no conversion to an inexpensive purchase of 10 CUP as example. For such purchases in CUC you will pay approximately 50 cents, for what is essentially a 10 cent cost.
The most recent information I could find on the CUP was an exchange value of 24 CUP for one CUC. Even though this currency can be handy, considering the impoverished state of the many economically low level people you will be dealing with locally, considering their conversion bonus as a tip may make you both feel good.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. More columns, tips, and stories can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com