‘I Ran Out Of Cash In Cuba’: A Cautionary Tale
By Bianca Lambert
You plan your trip to Cuba down to the exact amount of CUCs that you’ll need … until its time for you to take a 25 CUC taxi back to José Martí International Airport. Then, you look in your wallet and realize, you only have enough to pay your cab driver that drove you three hours to the province of Viñales, 25 CUC for your casa, 8 CUC for one meal, 2 CUC for a 1-hour internet card, and the 14 CUC to catch the bus back to Havana.
What should you do here?
B. Turn on your data and call your parents to send them into a panic
C. Find a Western Union
D. Check your luggage for extra money
E. All of the above
Well, I chose all of the above only to find out I stowed away 60 CUC to take care of my last day in Havana along with my fare for my ride to the airport. To say I was over myself is an understatement. Since I went through this experience, I thought it was only right I share this information with you, so you don’t panic if you run out cash on your trip.
If you’re an American citizen that banks with American banks, the only way to get money while in Cuba is Western Union — and they have over 490 agent locations throughout Cuba.
You can have your loved one wire money to you online or by phone. My dad found it easier to take care of it by phone with a credit card since transactions paid for with debit cards aren’t instant like with credit cards. My dad needed my name, location, passport number, and the expiration date. One of my biggest challenges was trying to figure out which address my dad should send it to since I didn’t know Havana streets well, and there were so many location options. Luckily my casa hosts were able to help me figure which Western Union would be closest to us.
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One piece of advice I want to give you if you’re traveling to Havana, especially as a solo traveler, is to take more what you’ll think you need, and then take a little more than that. Cuba can be a budget-friendly country to visit, but costs do add up when you’re taking taxis and trying to live your best life.