This is a great question. It's important to note that ATM, debit, and credit cards from the U.S. do not work in Cuba due to the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Therefore, any spending money you may want or need for incidentals has to be brought with you in cash. How much an individual spends when traveling varies a great deal, depending on personal preference. We do recommend bringing a minimum of $150 per day. If you think you might want to purchase artwork, music, cigars, rum, enjoy evening entertainment, or buy gifts for friends and relatives, you may want to plan on bringing more than $150 per day. It's always easier to bring your excess money home with you rather than to run out of money while in Cuba.
It's also worth noting that Cuba isn't a commercial culture, meaning there aren't a lot of items to buy. However, items that are available are generally expensive. Most prices for goods are comparable with costs in the United States.
Please note, as of December 2019, Cuba's cash economy is now shifting to accept U.S. dollars (USD). Private vendors such as artists, paladars, taxi drivers and souvenir markets are now accepting payment in USD, but will provide change in local Cuban currency, the CUC. We recommend that you bring a mixture of USD in small bills in addition to larger bills. You may still need to exchange some money into Cuban CUC for state run stores, such as for local official stores where you might buy water or entrance to evening shows or activities. Exchange small amounts at a time to avoid collecting too many CUCs as you travel. Your guide will be able to provide you with more details when you arrive. Please note that CUC can only be converted back into USD in Cuba.
Please note, as of October 17, 2016, the purchase or other acquisition in Cuba and importation as accompanied baggage into the United States of merchandise is authorized, provided that the merchandise is imported for personal use only. This includes Cuban made cigars and alcohol. According to the U.S. Customs Duty information webpage, Cuban goods as well as any other goods brought to the U.S. in baggage from any other international destination qualify for the U.S. Resident exemption, which allows up to $800 total in goods, and adults 21 and older may include 1 liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, and 100 cigars, duty free. This exemption also applies to travelers, arriving from any country in the world, with declared Cuban merchandise.
Goods brought back over this amount, may be subject to U.S. Duty. Please visit the U.S. Customs Duty information page for more information.
Please note: $30 airline baggage fees must be paid at airport for each flight, in Cuba this must be paid in cash. This cost is subject to the airline and can change at any time.