Cuba Seeks To Extend Prepaid Cards in Hard Currency for Tourism

Several people form a line at an exchange house (Cadeca). (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 22 April 2023  — Cuba wants to extend to tourists who visit the Island the use of prepaid cards in Freely Convertible Currency (MLC), a Cuban virtual currency based on foreign currencies, directors of the official Casas de Cambio (Cadeca) reported this Friday.

Those cards began to be marketed in 2021 with an initial balance of 200, 500 and 1,000 MLC (the exchange rate is similar to the US dollar) and now expand to 50 and 100 MLC cards, the Cadeca official, Ángela Maday, explained at a press conference.

She added that for each card purchased, a commission of $5 or its equivalent in other currencies is applied.

Foreign visitors not residing in Cuba can buy them at exchange offices, hotels, airports and tourist centers, and use them to pay for goods and services in stores that sell in foreign currency, rent cars and for other things.

Maday commented that the service is not yet available for private shops such as restaurants, nor do they allow recharges from outside Cuba. In addition, the cards cannot be used in gas stations.

These cards are good for two years and can only be used in Cuba. In addition, they are not personalized and are activated with a PIN code.

Another feature is that they allow you to withdraw cash in Cuban pesos at ATMs at the official exchange rate of 120 pesos for each dollar, and, in addition, any balance left over will be refunded.

Since 2019, the MLC has been operating in the network of stores that sell exclusively in that virtual currency backed up in foreign currency. In Cuba there are two official exchange rates: one for companies, at the rate of 24 pesos per dollar, and the one established for individuals, at 120 pesos per greenback.

There is also a third rate, on the “informal” market, where the US currency was quoted this Friday at 175 pesos, according to the daily calculation of the independent media El Toque, the reference indicator for economists and transactions of this type on the street.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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