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UPDATE MARCH 2011
Cuban Peso Convertible Devalued
Until November 8th 2004, three official currencies were accepted in Cuba. After this date only the peso convertible and the peso nacional (peso cubano) are allowed.
The CADECA exchange office Obispo street Old Havana
Before November 8th 2004 the US dollar was accepted everywhere as legal tender in restaurants, hotels, bars and the so-called “dollar shops.” The dollar is no longer accepted, and can only be exchanged for peso convertible in the official exchange agency CADECA, but you have to pay an extra 10% increase.
The peso convertible replaces the dollar and is the only method of payment available to tourists. It exists in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 3, and 1 peso CUC. The Cuban coins are 1 peso, 50 cents, 25, 10, 5, and 1 cent. For recent pictures of the Cuban money go to the site of the NATIONAL BANK OF CUBA website
On April 9th 2005 the peso convertible revalued by 8% against all other foreign currencies, so all tourists now have to pay an extra 8% to purchase the peso convertible. Including commercial margin you now receive roughly about 80 peso CUC (convertibles) in exchange for 100 US dollars and 112 peso CUC for 100 Euro (exchange rates May 2005).
This is the internal currency used exclusively by Cubans. The salaries are paid in peso nacional.
1 peso convertible equals 24 Peso Nacional The banknotes are 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 3 peso CUP. The coins are 25, 10, 5, 3 (special Che Guevara coin) and 1 centavo.
Do not mix up the two Cuban Currency systems, take a good look at the color and the size of each. Never change money in a bar or on the streets, chances are great that you will get counterfeit or outdated banknotes.
Do not exchange large banknotes - 100 or 50 CUC in bars or restaurants. Keep in mind that a banknote of 50 peso convertible for the average Cuban is equivalent to two months' salary. The average salary in the country is 500 peso nacional (15 USA dollars a month). Don't take much cash with you when you go out and leave your passport and credit card in the hotel safe. Cuba is a safe country but don’t jump into the nightlife with a thick wallet.
Exchange only in official agencies. These include agencies:
- At the airports
- At the banks
- State owned exchange agencies like CADECA
- Most state owned hotels.
At this time one of the most efficient money exchanges in old Havana is the CADECA agency, located at halfway Obispo street not far from the hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway stayed. At the entrance you find two ATMs (automated teller machines) where you can pick up peso convertibles with your Visa or MasterCard, or you can go inside, where you'll receive prompt and friendly service. Visa and MasterCard are only accepted if NOT issued or processed by a US bank. Thomas Cook traveller cheques are accepted; American Express traveller's cheques ARE NOT.
For good service and money exchange we also recommend these banks:
BANCO FINANCIERO INTERNACIONAL SA
5ta avenida n° 9009 esquina calle 92
miramar playa la Habana
BANCO DE CREDITO Y COMERCIO – BANDEC
Calle Amargura 158 esquina calle Cuba
5ta avenida y calle 112
miramar playa la Habana
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