The problem is you have to take a currency into the country to change into Cuban, but herein lies the problem, which is the best?
American gets slapped with a 10 per cent tax, so is the euro or pound best?
Good move on getting there sooner rather than later! It looks like things are changing fast over there as more and more US tourists venture down.
As far as currency goes, the US dollar is one to avoid. Cuba is largely a cash-based society and actually has two currencies — with vastly different values. The only one you need to worry about is the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) — the other currency is confusingly called the Cuban peso, but it's only really used by locals. The convertible peso is named such as it directly converts to the value of the US dollar — so it'll be easy to work out the value compared to the NZD.
You won't be using your credit card much outside of hotels, so it's best to be well-stocked with cash.
From what I've read, the best currencies to take to Cuba to exchange are UK pounds, euros, or Canadian dollars — any will do, just do a bit of research before you leave and work out what will get you the best rate at the time.
Pick up some CUC as soon as you arrive in the country — it cannot be obtained outside of Cuba. At most major airports you'll find CADECA currency exchange bureaus, as well as in the cities. As the airport, bureaus can have less favourable rates, it might be a good idea to exchange a smaller amount of cash initially and convert the rest later.
Apparently there aren't many ATMs in Cuba and they accept most Visa cards, but not Mastercard. I've also read that there have been some issues with Visa debit cards from Australia not being accepted in Cuban ATMs, so if you have one, check with your bank that it will work there.
Before you leave Cuba, make sure you've spent or exchanged all your CUC — it can't be changed in other countries, although you might want to save a couple of notes for souvenirs.
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