Welcome to Cuba! You’re planning your trip to Cuba and you just found out there are 2 currencies!! How does that work!! Well though it sounds complicated it is really simple once you figure it out.
- CUC or Pesos Convertibles – This currency has a 1-1 relationship to USD (or almost). It’s used basically for tourists and they refer to it as “Ce-U-Ce” (spanish spelling of it), “Convertibles” or “Divisas”. You’ll use them to pay for “Casas”, Viazul and Taxis (colectivos that are not inner city).
- CUP or Moneda Nacional – This is the local currency which has a ratio of 24CUP=1CUC as of “Casa de Cambio” in Dec ’17. They refer to it many times as “Peso Cubano”. You’ll use it to pay trucks, motos, guaguas, ferries and food.
Now the biggest question comes: “How do you know if it’s one or the other?” – well first of all, learn your prices (how much does each thing cost more or less in the country and have exact change, moto taxi’s are normally just 10 MN). If you ask they’ll probably just say CUC (as they are in one go just getting paid 24 times more for the same service). My advice is always pay directly in Moneda Nacional, they’ll let you know if you underpaid. Plus, don’t call the CUC and CUP, they hardly use that terminology and their pronunciation is hard to distinguish sometimes, call them “Convertible” or “Divisa” and “Moneda Nacional”