You can exchange foreign currencies at the following locations in Cayo Santa Maria:
For the time being there’s only one bank in the “Cayos de Villa Clara”, it’s located in the commercial center called Plaza La Estrella (aka Pueblo La Estrella). This is where you’ll get the best exchange rate.
2. Cadeca (acronym for Casa de Cambio)
This is the official government’s currency exchange house. Exchange rate can be just a little bit higher than the bank, but they usually are more conveniently located. Cadecas can be found everywhere in Cuba: airports, many hotels and resorts, on the streets, shopping centers, etc. According to our experience, the Cadecas located in airports usually charge a higher service fee. In Cayo Santa Maria most Cadecas are located inside the resorts.
3. Front Desk of hotels and resorts
Exchanging currency at the Front Desk is the most easy and convenient option but usually not the best rate you will find. Service fees vary from a hotel to another, on average 3% to 6%. Note that in some hotels the money exchange booth located in the lobby may be an official Cadeca, and in other hotels the exchange is made at the Front Desk.
Useful tips about money exchange:
- The passport is required to exchange money at a Cadeca or bank, but not at your hotel’s Front Desk.
- Banknotes with tears or markings are not accepted, so make sure to bring notes in good condition.
- Please note that no foreign coinage can be exchange, notes only.
- Before leaving the exchange desk, always check the cashier calculation to make sure that the right exchange rate was applied, and count your money to make sure you received the right amount.
Many foreign currencies may be exchanged for CUC (such as: CAD, EUR, USD, GBP, CHF, MXP, DKK, NOK, SEK, and JPY) at the daily exchange rate, but not all banks, cadecas or hotels can handle all of these currencies. The "Banco Nacional de Cuba" publishes the official daily exchange rates in its website www.bc.gov.cu (note that this website takes a long time to load!).
US DOLLARS: USD exchange against CUC is different; a 10% surcharge (penalty) is added; so avoid bringing US dollars if you’re not American. This is the only foreign currency that is penalized with this additional fee.
You can exchange back leftover CUCs at the end of your trip but then the exchange rate (sale) is bad. The CUCs have no value outside Cuba so it’s better to exchange smaller amounts at the time and budget wisely at the end of your stay. Note that the airport’s shops usually accept foreign currencies.
Travellers’ checks: They are not very useful in Cuba because it’s difficult to find a place to cash them and you have to pay a commission. Plus, you cannot have them replaced in Cuba if you loose them or they get stolen, you’ll have to wait until you come back home.
It’s forbidden to take Cubans pesos (CUC or CUP) out of Cuba.
Lily & Normand