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I'm thinking of going to a resort in Cuba for a week or so. The price is all-inclusive so I don't have to pay for meals and such, but if I wanted to pick up some kinds of souvenirs, alcohol, cigars etc to bring back with me, what kind of monetary instruments should I bring? I'm Canadian so I have my local credit card, I also have a USD credit card, or I can go to a local currency dealer and buy some Cuban pesos to bring with me. What would be recommended for this sort of trip?

Thanks.

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Normally you would bring Canadian currency (CAD) and convert it to Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) when you arrive. Resorts would have a currency exchange there. Officially, you can only perform this exchange on the island, not before you arrive. You also cannot officially exchange using USD, despite the value being equal. Also, note that there are two Cuban pesos - the Cuban convertible peso and the normal Cuban peso. You want the convertible peso which is what you would be exchanging on resort. The normal peso is what the locals would use in their day to day, but is not what they would expect to use with tourists.

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  • Actually, if you want to make small purchases in the street (fruit, for example) then moneda nacional is better. Its use by tourists is increasing given Cuba’s recent early moves towards a single currency – Traveller Feb 28 at 19:02
  • @Traveller I think for the sake of a normal Canadian visitor to an all-inclusive resort, the complexity of the two currencies is unnecessary, and CUC is enough. – Matthew FitzGerald-Chamberlain Feb 28 at 20:05
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Your Canadian credit card will be accepted very happily at your resort. When I was last there credit cards on US banks were not accepted (if that's what you mean by a USD credit card), but since them restrictions have been loosened and retightened, so who knows what the state is now.

You can buy cigars and rum and other souvenir type things at the resort, so if your plan is to stay on the resort then just use the credit card.

If you want to go off-resort and spend money then getting convertible pesos is going to be necessary. You can shop around for different exchange rates, and the airport may be better than the hotel, but in the quantities you are talking about even if you get the worst possible exchange rate you are going to be down about $5. Use the most convenient exchange (the hotel) and forget about it.

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Neither Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) nor Cuban pesos (CUP, or ‘moneda nacional’) can be obtained in advance outside Cuba. Canadian $, Euros and £stg can be readily exchanged, while you’ll find that credit cards issued by a US bank or subsidiary won’t be accepted.

https://www.tourepublic.com/blog/cuban-currency/

If you just want a small amount of local currency, I’d recommend exchanging CAD$ at the airport cadeca on arrival in Cuba. Don’t rely on being able to use a debit card in ATMs (queues can be lengthy - I waited over an hour more than once on my last visit - and ATMs can frequently run out of cash or just go out of service if the system connection goes down). I’d avoid going to a bank to change small amounts of money, unless you don’t mind spending several hours waiting your turn (and remember not to wear shorts, or you may not be allowed to enter).

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