In Cuba, the main currency is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and it’s the one that usually travelers use. Sometimes tourists get some Cuban Pesos to pay a few things like collective taxis or to use in the farmer’s market but it’s not very usual.
What currency to bring?
Even though USD is bench-marked 1 to 1 as the CUC, exchanging US dollars into CUCs carries an additional 10 percent (10%) fee. A fee which doesn’t apply to other currencies. That’s why some American travelers take Canadian dollars, Euros, sterling pounds or Swiss francs with an overall savings of about 8%.
Where to exchange ?
While you can change part of your money into CUC at the airport on your arrival, you will get better rates at a Cuban bank or at CADECA kiosks (CAsas DE CAmbio – exchange bureaus). The exchange rates at hotels is also higher.
It’s better not to exchange money on the street with strangers as you could be easily tricked into getting Cuban Pesos.