HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I TAKE TO CUBA?
MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED!
That’s right, the short answer is bring more money to Cuba than you think you’ll need. There is only one U.S. bank that issues a credit card that works in Cuba, and unless you have the Stonegate Bank Mastercard then none of your cards will work anywhere on the island. Very few private businesses accept credit cards in Cuba, and even at government stores the credit card terminals are frequently out of service. Cash is king throughout the island and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Whether you’re a journalist on assignment or you’re on a people to people tour of Cuba, remember that it’s a lot easier to take along extra money than to have someone in the U.S. send a Western Union money transfer, which you then have to pick-up at one of the few offices Western Union has in Cuba. If you happen to travel with us, a small boutique agency, then we will lend you money. But with the large agencies, the ones that operate with big-bus tour groups, that is not an option. Your only option will be to depend on the kindness and generosity of your fellow travelers or have someone in the U.S. wire money to you through Western Union. I suggest Americans visiting Cuba on organized tours bring along at least $100 per day, and simply return with whatever you don’t spend. This $100 per day is for meals and incidentals, and not for your lodging or transportation, which would have been paid in advance to your tour operator. Meals throughout the island are unbelievably cheap, but if you are staying in a touristy area, like Old Havana, cheap eats are hard to find. And instead of the average price per meal of $3 at restaurants that cater to locals, you will be spending over $12 per person at restaurants that cater to foreigners. If you plan on buying art work or similar items, then bring even more cash. Another Cuba hack, don’t exchange your U.S. dollars for Canadian, just bring your U.S. dollars which can be used in a lot more places around Cuba than Canadian money. See you in Havana!
By Frank Gonzalez