ATTENTION: An important change took place on January 1, 2021 regarding currencies. Cuba has put an end to its dual currency system (CUC and CUP). This unification leads to the definitive removal of the CUC (Cuban convertible peso) in favor of the CUP (Cuban Peso), with a fixed exchange rate of 24 CUP for 1 US dollar..
Credit cards issued by a bank (or any financial institution) that has a connection with the United States are not accepted in Cuba.
Most non-US-linked VISA and MASTERCARD branded credit cards are accepted in Cuba, but in general Visa is more widely accepted than MasterCard.
Some examples of cards that are not or may not be accepted:
American Express, MBNA, City Bank, Capital one, Diners, Egg, Marks & Spenser, Maestro, Alliance & Leicester, any MasterCard from a Canadian Credit Union, or any other US-linked credit card.
Check with your provider to confirm if your card can be used in Cuba.
But remember that even if they say it will work, it doesn't mean every merchant is going to accept it as a form of payment.
Using a credit card in Cuba as a form of Payment:
Credit cards are accepted as a form of payment in most larger hotels and resorts, large stores and restaurants, car rental kiosks, and travel and tours agencies; but usually not in open-air markets, handicraft kiosks, small restaurants, casa particular (B&B), privately own restaurant (paladar), smaller hotels, street vendors, and many other places off the beaten path.
Using credit cards to withdraw funds:
Credit cards can be used at Banks and Cadecas (Casa De Cambio) to get a Cash Advance, but remember that your card provider will charge interest from the day of the transaction. Cash advance transactions should only be used in emergency situations.
Notify your bank:
Before traveling, do not forget to contact your card issuer to inform them of your travel plans (where and for how long); as you should always do when traveling abroad. Banks are always on the lookout for fraudulent transactions. If your bank sees an unusual transaction, it can temporarily block your card.
Debit Cards and ATM
Debit cards are not (yet) widely used in Cuba so they shouldn't be relied on. More and more ATMs can be found each year, but they are still mostly available in large cities and major tourist areas. In Varadero there’s a few of them outside banks and one in the Plaza America shopping mall & convention center.
In some ATMs you can use a Visa branded Debit Card to withdraw cash. MasterCard debit cards are usually not accepted in ATMs so you may need to go inside the bank and withdraw money with the help of a teller. Debit Cards can't be used for in-store direct payment
List of banks located in Varadero
Lily & Normand