Best money option for a US citizen?
Replies: 92 - Last Post: May 17, 2012 4:00 PM Last Post By: peloblanco
Apr 16, 2012 11:38 AM
30I will be even happier this summer when I use CT Card
That has been the experience of everyone I have spoken with who spent less time opening a free CT account than has been spent here indulging in lengthy diatribes about 3-way currency exchanges and all the costs and hassles intrinsic with them, or losing $5/$100 in order to take a wad of fragile USD cash needing constant protection with them to Cuba, with no option for its replacement or augmentation, rather than spending 15 minutes to open a free CT account. It takes 15 minutes, and it's free. What part of that is more difficult than any of the 3-way currency exchange, wad-o-cash protecting, $5/100 money-losing options that keep being suggested as though they were better, or safer, or easier, or cheaper options?
I really have always been befuddled why anyone thinks there is a superior option to the CT card for Americans (and others) or a valid argument that might sustain that thinking. I have never heard anyone who has actually used the CT card offer up any of the arguments that are constantly proffered by those who never have, whenever the subject comes up. It's always people who have no need of it or would never use it. Why is that do you suppose?
(The one thing I havent seen mentioned with this method is what if there's a problem making an ATM withdrawal, like your magnetic strip won't read or the machine swallows your card, or the various other ATM snafus one might encounter? Then what?)
Not sure what the canadian option would be but as regards the CT card, then you contact one of many CT offices all over Cuba and get a replacement card in a day or two. They have even arranged to get me some cash in that brief interim, the day I first contacted them.
FWIW, I have never heard of an ATM eating a card. That seems to be one of many Cuban myths that comes up from time to time as though it had legs. My need for a replacement came when I trashed the card in the ocean. A replacement was delivered to me in Santa Fe the day after I reported it's loss. I think they actually have a copy of your card in a box somewhere in the Fincimex office in Miramar on Tercera at 6. At least they did when I lost my Duales card some 7 or so years ago. I got it replaced the day I first walked in to report its loss.
Edited by: peloblanco
Apr 16, 2012 2:57 PM
Apr 16, 2012 5:22 PM
32#32 "we would give you 935CAD for 1000 USD."
On yesterday's Forex rates that is more than 6% commission.
Changing all of that to CUC and assuming no need to change any back to CAD/USD you would be less than 40 CUC better off than simply taking 1000USD!
And in case the ATM doesn't work at Toronto airport do make sure you have some cash already with you!
Enjoy the rest of your trip.
Apr 16, 2012 5:32 PM
33This is giving me a headache.
OP, I thought you did not want to hassle debit cards and TCs? Take your $1000 and withdraw what you can from an ATM in Canada. Use your CAD and then your US. I bet you won't find more $4-5 difference per $100 after fees etc.
Jesus, it is only $1000.
Apr 16, 2012 5:35 PM
Apr 16, 2012 11:40 PM
35I shall take US cash and also grab what I can from the Toronto ATM. (And I've definitely heard of ATM's eating cards on occasion, at least in America. No idea about Cuba, though I wouldn't be surprised.)
I agree the discussion has progressed for longer than necessary, and I actually don't care that much about a few dollars in the end, but it was somewhat interesting to think about and discuss nonetheless. Sadly for Peloblanco who must own stock in CT considering how hard he lobbies for it, I find that option rather unappealing on a couple of levels. (And when I took a quick glance at the site, did I see correctly that they charged horrible rates? Like if you transfered 100 bucks they'd give 80 CUC on the CT card? Maybe I misread?)
Off in a few hours. Perhaps I will report back when I return. Thanks for the all the suggestions, guys. Take care.
Apr 17, 2012 12:02 PM
36did I see correctly that they charged horrible rates?
As with everyone who paints CT as something it is not, it is a half-truth and very misleading. If you use a credit card for a small amount every form of exchange comes up wanting. If, OTOH, you use it the way any traveler would and deposit larger amounts into it with a Money Order, it returns far better rates than you will experience if you are taking USD cash.
$917 CUC / $1000 USD as against $870 CUC / $1000 USD
All the ancillary benefits, e.g. protected, replaceable and replenishable money and ease of access, far outweigh the 15 minutes it takes to get a free CT card. Why others seem to want to ignore that fact and suggest it is not an extraordinarily simple rocess to execute, remains a mystery to me. How anyone can argue that those 15 minutes are more of a nuisance than any of the other options they tout instead, simply defies logic, imho. Unlike them, I have used every form of dealing with money in Cuba and on several occasions. CT is by far and away the simplest to execute, the most economical and safest option of them all, hands down.
The reason I keep speaking out for CT is because others, who have NO experience with all of those options, keep describing it inaccurately. When you describe something as important as how to deal with money in Cuba in a secure and economic manner, from the point of view of ignorance or some misconceptions, you do a disservice to the vast majority of posters here who are owed the facts. All I ever do is dispel the distortions a few seem desirous of presenting here.
Have a great trip. I hope you do not forced to discover, as I once did, how few are the options you face as an American should you find yourself in need of additional or replacement money while in Cuba. If you do, you will be incapable of thinking yourself smart for having avoided spending the 15 minutes it takes to get a free card that would have protected you against an event that has ruined the vacations of more than a few travelers.
Please do let us know what sort of rates you get with the ATM USD-CAD swapout. I think that sounded like the best of all options from the point of view of ease and rates, which seemed to be what you were pointing towards. Too bad the ease of using an ATM in Cuba is lost to you with cash only. Maybe you'll get lucky and not run into the long lines that are a big part of Cuban culture.
Apr 26, 2012 10:34 PM
Apr 26, 2012 10:43 PM
38For starters, I am glad to hear you did not run out of money and had no such problems. FWIW, my house did not catch on fire either. Because I'm not an imprudent fool, however, I still pay for fire insurance.
those lousy CT card rates
You mean $917 CUC for $1000 USD in a protected debit card account?
Not exactly informative, other than to reveal a strikingly unsubstantiated bias. Perhaps you could reveal something more than that which could actually help others ? You know, like facts?
What better rates for your converted-USD-CAD-CUC wad-o-unprotected-cash did you get?
Exchange rates? $USD? to $CAD to $CUC ?
Apr 26, 2012 11:35 PM
39pthrone ,, what airline did you fly out of? how was your visit?
i'd believe CAD(from an ATM) to CUC would yield the best rates.
CT Card has it's benefits however it does cost more roughly 9% on transactions higher than $1k. Again the security benefits (lost card/replaceable) and ease of access at ATMs (no charge) make the 9% fee worth it, as well as linking to a credit card.
People have different needs , some folks may want the CT Card, CAD Cash , or even the dreaded USD.
Apr 27, 2012 12:36 AM
Apr 27, 2012 1:57 AM
41So the choice is either bringing USD or trying to get Canadian money from the airport atm,
or perhaps an exchange booth at the Toronto airport.
If I can save some money with the Canadian currency, I guess that's the best way to go.
Anyone know approximately what kind of expenses or service fees I might incur with the
Canadian ATMs and/or currency booths?
Edited by: pthorne
About 2% at a bank or exchange place if you shop.
About 10% at the airport where you have no competition.
If you're flying and visiting in Toronto you might shop rates a bit
otherwise I'd stick with the USD and exchange at Hotel National in Havana
who another poster has indicated gives a fair rate.
Be careful with your cash if you are out and about at night.
Apr 27, 2012 2:06 AM
Apr 27, 2012 2:18 AM
Apr 27, 2012 2:55 AM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$399.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$269.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$229.00 per night