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Cuba anyone?

We had been planning a cruise that included Cuba but that has been cancelled due to a change in government regulations. Upon reading an article in the NYT travel section I noticed that it would be advantageous to carry Euros or Canadian Dollars as they are more easily exchanged in Cuba. Does anyone know if a French debit card would be accepted in Cuba? Many thanks for any suggestions.

Posted by
1119 posts

We took some euro and sterling cash which was easy to exchange for the convertible version of the local currency. We also had credit and debit cards from British banks (all Visa logo'd if that makes a difference). The debit cards worked in cash machines to get more currency - we mostly used cash in shops, restaurants, taxis, etc . The credit cards were generally only of use in larger tourist places such as hotels and tour organisers. If British cards work, then I'd assume French ones do but, obviously, it's worth checking with the specific issuer.

Wonderful country, by the way. Very pleasant holiday.

Posted by
20595 posts

If you are a US citizen or use US banking system, then anything US based does not work. Assume in the tourist zone, the French card would work. When we were there a couple of years ago we were not permitted to enter the tourist zone so had to rely on US dollar conversions to local currency at the Cuban established exchange rate. The is a huge difference is how things are handled between the tourist zone and the rest of the country.

Posted by
572 posts

Hi, Mike,
The Website of the French Embassy in Havana has banking advice for French citizens that will likely apply to your French banking account and credit card. Here is a link to their FAQ, banking is under “Divers” topics:
https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/conseils-par-pays-destination/cuba/

Here is the Google Translation of the banking/currency information:

“The cost of living in Cuba is high for foreigners (more or less equivalent to that of France). The transactions are essentially in cash in Cuban convertible pesos, the dollars are not allowed. People traveling to Cuba must bring in euros, not dollars, to avoid a surcharge of 10%. Money transfers are long and difficult, it is advisable to have sufficient means of payment (most French banks refuse to make transfers to Cuba, where they have no correspondents). It is possible to transfer money by Western Union France but under certain conditions and only from agencies in major French cities. Only Visa and MasterCard credit cards (the latter if they are European banks) are accepted by hotels. Traveler's checks are not accepted in Cuba.”

I’d be tempted to send an inquiry to the French Embassy in Havana, they probably have personal experience with French debit and credit card problems.