There are two existing currencies in Cuba: Peso Convertible (CUC) & Peso Nacional (CUP). CUC is known as the “tourist currency” and most of the shops sell their goods in CUC. Regular Cuban citizen has no legal way how to earn money in CUC. But it can be exchanged in the bank for CUP. There are only rationed food (in a limited amount) and technical goods of Cuban production available in the shops for CUP. For CUP you can also get vegetables, fruits at the market and a ticket for a cinema.
The Exchange rate is 1 CUC = 25 CUP. For CUC you can get food, clothes, household goods and other consumer goods.It is possible to use Euro as well but it is established in the isolated tourist centres only. The traveller has to be aware that the conversion from Euro will be on CUC, therefore he will receive his cash back in CUC as well. Until the October of 2004 U.S. Dollar was commonly used for a payments in Cuba but it has been called in and replaced by CUC. If someone wants to exchange USD to CUC nowadays, there is a 10% “anti-imperialistic fee” included.
The money is being exchanged solely in the banks, hotels and exchange offices with the mark CADECA (Casa de Cambio) not at all on the street. In Cuba, they don’t accept any cheque or credit card issued by an American banks. Regular bill in the hotel or when shopping has to be settled in CUC in cash. At certain places they accept ATM cards, especially VISA. The possibility of money exchange outside Havana & Varadero is rather limited.