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Hotel employees asking for change

In December, I experienced a first, as a couple of HUSA (CSTM) employees asked us for CUCs in exchange for their American/Canadian tips (between 20 and 50 CUC in both cases).

Could this be a scam of some sort or do employees generally have trouble getting their foreign tips exchanged at their hotel?

The only place I’ve ever seen Cubans with Canadian money is at the airport. Numerous times I’ve been asked to exchange loonies and toonies for CUC’s. they are of no value to a Cuban unless they can get them exchanged. I’ve never been asked at a hotel though

1.) The only time it’s a big hassle for Cubans to exchange their foreign currency tips is when they receive coins because the bank/Cadeca won’t accept them. People, leave those Toonies, Loonies, 1 pound coins, etc. at home!

2.) The only time it’s a slight hassle for Cubans to exchange their paper foreign currency tips is sometimes they’re not allowed to use the Cadeca at work, they have to exchange at a bank/Cadeca elsewhere.

Whether it’s a scam or not is simple math… look at the exchange rate and see if what they’re requesting is fair. I’m betting that almost undoubtedly they’ll be making a few percentage points at your expense…


I get asked to change US$ to CUC every visit. The Cuban workers know it’s worth more to us than to them.
They should have a concession at the airports to sell us back our coins. LOL

I get asked almost every trip too. I used to do it but I think word gets around among the staff and you suddenly get asked a lot.
I tell staff that when someone tips in coins, they should hand it back and say, “Thank you so much but I can’t use Canadian coins here in Cuba”.
This is not unique to Cuba. We’ve had staff in Mexico ask us to exchange money too. Watch out for scams.

No one will ever hand back a “useless” coin when they know there are loads of tourists who will exchange it into paper for them…


As most tourists arrive in the hotel and bellboy bring bangs to the room tourist leave tip in Canadian coins. So as they have no use of it and CADECA will not exchange Canadian coins for them they ask tourist to exchange for them as tourists can take coins to Canada and use them here. Usually Cubans would give 1CUC for $1 so as $$CDN slips tourists make profit 10% :slight_smile:

Foreign coins get passed out everywhere. The other day, I got a Fiji nickel in my change at a local burger joint.

I understand why some people tip with their own coins if they haven’t had time to get to the cadeca. But it would be so much more helpful if the people that hand out coins when they first arrive would help out the staff by changing back the next day.

But then there are the ones that habitually tip with loonies through their whole trip. They are the ones that need to be educated.

The problem is that I do not want a pocket full of loonies to take home, even if I made 20%. Maybe I am the only one but I don’t like carrying change even in Canada. When I’m on holidays, I do carry a few bills in my pocket for tips and that’s it, nothing else to weigh my mind down.

But it all depends how much change they have … if they have 5 loonies for me is ok to exchange but $50 in loonies is not easy to carry around.

I think that is backwards, isn’t it? They are asking me to give them 1 CUC for 1 Canadian loonie. I’m the one losing on that transaction.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating. The only way to “fix” this is for tourists to refuse to change money. Lately Cubans have been soliciting Canadian change, often telling you “we’ll take your loonies and toonies, no problem!”. They know they can find someone to exchange with them, so why not? Telling people on forums not to tip in coin when the Cubans are telling them the opposite makes it a difficult point to sell.

Ditto eeeefarm… the tourist is (as usual) the one getting hosed here… paying 1 CUC for 1 Loonie is (as usual) subsidizing the Cuban’s transaction.


But if you calculate in the added 10% tip to them for helping to exchange their money, then it’s OK. just joking. :-X

[quote=@eeeefarm][quote=@admin] Usually Cubans would give 1CUC for $1 so as $$CDN slips tourists make profit 10% :)[/quote]I think that is backwards, isn’t it? They are asking me to give them 1 CUC for 1 Canadian loonie. I’m the one losing on that transaction.


No CUC is stronger than CND and now last few few weeks even more string than CND! 1 CND = 0.90 CUC

the guy at the airport gets a toonie for carrying someone’s bag, and it’s of no value to him, so if the guy has six bucks and I give him 6 CUC, I lost 60 cents but the guy now has a few bucks for his family, to me, no big deal. I’ve never been asked at a resort, only at the airport. I’ll tell you, I’d much rather that than the way I was jumped by people when I got off the ship in St. Lucia.

One time I was asked by a bartender to exchange Canadian coins for CUC. There was about $7-8 worth of change and I gave hime 10 CUC. Yes I got less than I paid but for the remainder of my stay he made sure I got served first so for a cost of $4-5 which I would have tipped anyway I got superior service. Was it a scam…not really we both benefitted from the transaction.

Of course it wasn’t a scam so long as you made it clear that you were tipping him.


we have at the airport exchanged loonies and toonies into Canadian paper currency. no harm no foul just a little extra weight in the pocket. this way they can do an exchange…even wait to when there is a good rate for exchange

I don’t mind getting a few coins (maybe $10 worth) for bills at the airport when departing. It’s a simple transaction and as Canuks says, adds only a bit of extra weight in my pocket.

I love having some coins CUC for my next trip. Nothing better than cold beer in the bus on the way to hotel.