A Cuban currency exchange from Dollars to CUC and the experience in-between

Cuba: a country full of history – from its architectures, classic cars, and its people.

To visit Havana is like hopping on a time machine and traveling to the 1950s. This trip nurtured me in a unique way. Many things “new” to me caught my attention. I got to chance to live the educational experience among a group of friends, 19 to be exact, it was amazing.

After arriving to José Martí International airport from JFK, near the exit of the terminal a long line awaited to the currency exchange window. The line was not moving at all, it has been a little over an hour since we got off the plane, but the line brought my anxiety level back sky-high. I asked a gentleman who was shouting “Taxi” outside the terminal if the taxi driver would take US dollars. “Si” he responded and off we went.

Bye Bye long line! … For now.

The yellow minivan took me and 5 of my friends to our AirBnB apartment, which we managed to book in advance thanks to the information provided by Yuya and her post “How To Travel To Cuba From USA”.

The next day, I went with my friends to try to exchange our Dollars once again. We arrived at the exchange house, CADECA (CAsa DE CAmbio) as it is called. The line caught up to me again, but this time was because in some locations you can’t just walk in the place. There is a person at the door controlling the traffic, letting a small group of people in and out at a time. When I finally managed to reach the window the teller asked for my passport. I had forgotten to take my passport with me and they weren’t making any exception. Anxiety levels rose again! 

Next to CADECA there was a bank, thanks to my poor memory I cannot recall the name, but I do remember the line, after another wait I was face to face with the bank teller. I handed my bills and my drivers license, that was almost sufficient, but the teller took a close look at the bills and said “We’re sorry, we cannot exchange these” My dollars were a little battered, wrinkled and had some ink. One of the advantages of traveling with friends is that, those with impeccable looking bills can lend you some cash.

If you are planning to visit Cuba please keep in mind the following: Take your passport with you at all times. Exchange your money at the CADECA They have a better rate than the bank. Travel with impeccable or brand new bills, so before you board the plane make sure to visit your local bank.



6 thoughts on “A Cuban currency exchange from Dollars to CUC and the experience in-between”

  1. You can avoid this charge by exchanging your US dollars into another accepted currency before you leave the US. Once you arrive in Cuba, you can exchange your cash into Cuban currency.

    1. US also charges a fee to change dollars to Euro, at the end you end up paying the same amount, and if your AirBnb host changes money, they usually give .90 to 1 CUC.

    1. This is true, but to make that conversion you also have to pay a percentage in the states, so when you add the difference you end up paying the same amount that if you change it at your local Airbnb host. Which in our case they were changing .90 to 1cuc

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