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I will go to Cuba in the following days and I am not sure how to tip.

On Tripadvisor

It says: Do not tip with coins of your own currency, because foreign coins can not be exchanged in any country

But here on VisitCuba.com

It says : The best currencies are Euros, Canadian Dollars, or...

The problem is that 1$ Canadian is only available in coins. The lowest paper money we have is a 5$. Which is too much for me to tip each time. I'm not that rich yet.

How can I solve this problem?

EDIT: Back from vacations, I can say the best is to exchange money at the hotel and tip with their CUC money. But don't stress it if you tip with Canadian 1 dollars because they understant that you've just arrived. Their 1 dollar is also in coins like Canadian 1 dollars.

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I went there twice in the last 3 years. Just get the CUC. You can exchange CAN$ for CUC at any hotel bank (hotels I've been to had bank "branches") or at the airport money exchange (on Cuba side) –  Slav Aug 20 at 17:35
    
If you want to tip $1 but only have $5 notes you could try tipping one time in five events? –  Paul Aug 22 at 15:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I believe you are mixing two pieces of advice.

  1. The best currencies are Euros, Canadian Dollars...

    This is because of the trade embargo against Cuba from the USA. This means US dollars are very expensive to exchange in Cuba, so other currencies should be used. Euros are often said to get the best exchange rate.

    This is not saying that vendors, hotels or restaurants will accept Euros or Canadian Dollars (some may--most likely won't, or will charge more to accept them).

  2. Do not tip with coins of your own currency, because foreign coins can not be exchanged in any country

    Most banks and currency exchanges only accept paper bills, or sometimes coins of a sufficiently large denomination ($1CDN may or may not be accepted, depending on where you go--I've exchanged £1GBP and €1EUR coins without problems before).

    Further, this is just common sense. If you were a waiter (in Canada) would you appreciate receiving a tip in Euros, or Cuban Convertible pesos? The first time it might have a novelty factor, but after that it just gets annoying. And if you're working in a tourist trap (i.e. places you're likely to go in Cuba) it would be annoying very quickly.

In summary: Take your Canadian dollars, then exchange them for Convertible pesos when you arrive. Then tip in Convertible pesos.

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If you're from the USA: wikitravel.org/en/Americans_in_Cuba –  Canadian Luke Aug 20 at 17:57
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@CanadianLuke: I'm well aware of the complications with visiting Cuba. I have Mexican residency, which will allow me to open an Mexican bank account which I can use there, though. –  Flimzy Aug 20 at 18:48
    
Awesome! Just posted for reference –  Canadian Luke Aug 20 at 18:53

The second page you link also has a section on tipping, which talks almost exclusively in terms of CUC.

However, since the CUC is really a substitute for the US dollar it certainly used to be acceptable to use 1 USD bills. In fact, US dollar bills appeared to be more common than CUC notes, although I don't recall seeing many US coins. (Note that I haven't travelled in Cuba since 2000, so this advice may be out of date).

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Apparently USD are no longer officially recognized in Cuba as of November 14, 2004. –  Flimzy Aug 20 at 18:56

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