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Frequently Asked Questions

On average, calling from a tourist hotel costs about $2.40 per minute. It is advisable that you always check rates before making an international call, as rates can vary depending on where you are calling from.

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 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.

Good brought back over this amount, may be subject to U.S. Duty. Please visit the U.S. Customs Duty information page for more information. 

Tipping in Cuba is a uniquely rewarding endeavor. The customary tip is very important in supplementing the average Cuban’s income, so we encourage our travelers to embrace the joy of giving, and feel good about leaving gratuities for the Cuban people who work to make your experience so memorable.

Gratuities for luggage handling, restaurant service, and programmed activities throughout the tour are handled by insightCuba. Customary end-of-tour gratuities for the Cuban guide, driver, and tour leader are left to the guest’s discretion and should be based on the guest’s satisfaction with the level of service received. 

One reality of Cuba’s dual-currency system is that only some items are subsidized by the government and can be purchased with the Cuban peso (CUP). Many things — particularly higher-quality goods such as foodstuffs, clothing, and household items — are sold in the Cuban convertible peso (CUC$).

Accessing CUC$, whether in tips, remittances from abroad, or even dealings in the black market, is part of most people’s daily struggle, otherwise known as La Lucha. Cuban staff will share their tips with their families, friends, and coworkers who don’t have access to CUC$. Please be mindful of excessive tipping, which can lead to unrealistic expectations regarding future visitors from America and how much they will be expected to tip. 

To assist you in tipping your Cuban guide and driver, we’ve created a simple guideline below based on your satisfaction of the services received. Tipping is a highly personal matter and the guideline below is only suggested rates for tipping. You may tip more or less depending on your preference: 

  • Cuban Guide: CUC$5-8 per person per day
  • Cuban Bus Driver: CUC$3-5 per person per day
  • Bartenders: CUC$1 per drink
  • Housekeeping*: CUC$1 per day
  • Taxi Drivers: 10 percent of the fare
  • Musicians: CUC$1
  • Bathroom Attendants: Use your small coins — 10 centavos, 25 centavos, etc.  

*We suggest tipping housekeepers on a daily basis, rather than at the end of your stay.

No, credit cards and debit cards issued by U.S. banks cannot be used in Cuba. Due to the official embargo, U.S. issued debit/credit cards are not recognized by Cuba banks. It’s necessary to bring a sufficient amount of cash with you to cover the entire duration of time that you'll be in Cuba.

How much money should I bring to Cuba?

You can safely and legally exchange your U.S. dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros, and many other currencies at a CADECA (Casa de Cambios), your hotel lobby, or at international Cuban banks including Banco Central de Cuba. We recommend exchanging currency at the CADECA at the airport after going through customs.  There are two kiosks available for this service before you exit the airport arrival hall. If these kiosks are not open upon your arrival, often the CADECA kiosk in the departures hall, right next door, is open and can provide the same service. If you don't have time to exchange your currency at the CADECA at the airport, you may do so at your hotel.

Generally, the exchange rates that you will receive at a CADECA and your hotel are similar, and better than those at the international banks which charge a larger commission.

There is a 13% tariff on the exchange of U.S. dollars, which is not levied on Canadian dollars, Euros, or other currencies. Currently, the exchange rate for U.S. dollars and CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos) is 1:1.

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