Currency: Cuban peso (Cu$)
Cash US dollars and 'convertible pesos' (equal to US greenbacks in Cuba; worth the same as Monopoly money elsewhere) remain the currency of choice at state-owned and licensed private hotels and restaurants; bus, train and airline offices; and most other tourist-oriented enterprises. Cuban pesos, or moneda nacional, can be used at local venta libre stores, cafeterias and street stands, cinemas, and many other businesses away from popular tourist destinations. Cadeca, with kiosks throughout Cuba, changes currency at fair rates.
Credit cards issued by US companies may be accepted, but be aware that the US could theoretically confiscate the entire transaction, leaving you high, dry and further in debt. A Visa or MasterCard (or two) issued by a non-US bank is the way to go. Traveler's checks denominated in US dollars, even those issued by US banks (at last report, the Banco Financiero Internacional was happily accepting American Express), can be cashed with a 2.5-4% commission.
Cuban tourism workers rely on tips. People who deserve a US$1 tip include museum staff who give you a complete tour, hotel guards who watch your rental car all night, helpful bus drivers, attentive waitstaff or anyone in the service industry who goes beyond the call of duty. Do not offer money to officials to obtain preferential treatment; governmental corruption is rare in Cuba and attempted bribery will only make things worse.
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