Can You Use Credit Cards in Cuba: Know about American Cards

Cuba is fast becoming one of the most visited countries for tourists but due to the country’s past relationship with the US, it wasn’t until 2014 that Americans were allowed to travel to its southern neighbor, albeit not for vocational reasons. 

If you’re a heavy credit card user and plan a trip to Cuba, you might be wondering whether credit cards work there since the socialist country is effectively locked out of the international system in many respects, especially for Americans. 

The short answer is no, Cuba still largely has a cash culture and the credit card payment infrastructure is not widely ingrained within the Cuban financial system. With that said, there is acceptance of credit cards to a low degree, particularly the ones operated on Visa and Mastercard networks. 

Can You Use American Credit Cards in Cuba?

All credit cards as well as debit cards issued by US banks are prohibited for use in Cuba, with the exception of Stonegate Bank, a local Florida bank which works with the Cuban government. Credit cards issued by Stonegate Bank do work in Cuba but you’ll have to pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on your primary charges. However, as said earlier, the island’s financial system lacks the necessary infrastructure for credit card transactions and card use is rare.

Even if you’re a US based traveler to Cuba who is carrying US dollars in cash, you won’t have much luck since the use of US dollars is suspended in the island nation due to embargo restrictions with US and foreign banks. So you’d have to get Cuban Pesos in cash before departing for Cuba and you’d have to declare the amount on arrival if the cash you’re carrying exceeds the equivalent of $5000. 

Money in Cuba

Money in Cuba works a little differently. There’s two local currencies, i.e Cuban Peso (CUP) and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The former is used by the locals while the latter is sanctioned for use by visitors. The Cuban Convertible Peso holds a higher value than the Cuban Peso with 1 CUC equalling 27 CUPs. When you convert your local currency for travel, you’d need to get it converted into CUCs. 

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