Tipping in Cuba
Cuba has a modest but very present tipping culture. In restaurants, taxis, and for personal services, all tips are at your discretion. Many locals, especially those working in the service industries, are poorly compensated for their work so tipping helps them earn decent wages. Knowing who and how much to tip in Cuba is not always an easy task. Refer to this blog for your ultimate guide to tipping in Cuba.
Who should I tip in Cuba?
Cubans tend to tip anyone who offers them any kind of service. Cuban people will leave tips for waitresses at restaurants, grocery store cashiers, mechanics, bartenders, taxi drivers, barbers, maids, etc. During your travels in Cuba, we suggest tipping anyone who gave you service that went above and beyond their duties. Also, anyone who helped enhance your experience is a very good candidate for a tip. If you did not receive exemplary service, you are not required to tip.
What currency should I use for tips in Cuba?
A tip in any currency will be appreciated but we recommend that US travelers tip in USD or CUP (the local Cuban currency) while in Cuba. If you’re from another country, tips in EUR are generally accepted if you’re not bringing USD. For more information on what currency to use in Cuba, check out our blog about Exchanging Money in Cuba.
Leaving a tip of 10% of the total bill in restaurants and bars is a good rule of thumb.
When tipping in USD, you might want to leave a 1 – 2 USD tip. When eating out, you might consider tipping as a group and taking turns. For example, one person will tip for the group with a 5 or 10 USD bill at a meal. And at the next meal, someone else can leave the tip and so on.
When tipping in USD, we recommend bringing about $30 – $50 worth in 1/5 USD bills to leave as tips.
When tipping in CUP, the 10% rule also applies, but it’s a bit trickier and involves a little more math. The exchange rate for CUP vs USD may be different in private businesses than in the government exchange offices. Many restaurants will value 1 USD at varying rates so be sure to ask.
You can read in our blog about the currencies in Cuba to better understand how this works.
If you pay in USD, you’ll more than likely receive change in CUP. Before calculating your tip in CUP, you should ask what the restaurant’s exchange rate is for CUP vs USD.
From there, the example below explains tipping in CUP:
- The restaurant values 1 dollar at 180 CUP.
- Your meal at a local restaurant costs 15 dollars.
- You pay with a 20-dollar bill. Your change is 900 CUP (5 dollars).
- You want to leave a tip of 2 dollars in CUP.
- 2 dollars x 180 CUP = 360 CUP* is the tip in local currency.
*You can just round up to 400 CUP to make it easy on yourself!
How much should I tip in Cuba?
How much to tip in Cuba is always up to you, but as mentioned previously, 10% of the total bill is acceptable in a restaurant. You’re always free to leave more if you feel like the service you have received went above and beyond the call of duty. Below is a recommended list of who and how much to tip in Cuba:
- Taxi drivers: 1 – 2 USD (if very good)
- Luggage porter: 1 – 2 USD per suitcase (keep in mind weight & size, more if very big and heavy)
- Waiter/Bartender: 10% of the total bill
- Cleaning ladies: 1 – 2 USD per day
- Local guide/Trip leader: 5 – 10 USD per day (or in one lump sum at the end of the trip)
- Bus driver: 2 – 4 USD per day (or in one lump sum at the end of the trip)
Tipping in Cuba is really all up to you; there are no set rules. Just tip what you feel is right and deserved. Remember that those who give you service will usually be appreciative of any tip you may give. Another way to help the Cuban people is to bring gifts with you to Cuba due to the lack of access to goods there. Check out our blog about bringing gifts for the Cuban People to learn more about this. Happy travels!