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Head83

Melia Habana Hotel

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So my parents are heading to the island in the next few weeks and wanted to try and stop into a place to get me a few boxes.  They are staying at the Melia Habana hotel. They aren’t the most adventurous types but If something is nearby, they will go.  Does anybody have any recommendations of shops and/or rollers nearby I could direct them to?

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Hotel Comodoro is just around the corner, about 10 min walk. Get some La Puntilla off Alex.Drop him a message to order and have them waiting for your parents to pick up.

Also 5ta y 16th is down the road, about 2 miles (40-60 min walk).

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The Melia Habana has a La Casa del Habano store on the basement level. This particular store isn’t the most popular in terms of selection and hard to find gems, but it will definitely be convenient for your parents to drop in. 

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Isn't Yolanda's shop at the Melia Habana?  Alex's shop at the Comodoro is right next door, as I recall.  I know it's very close.  I get the Melia Habana and the Melia Cohiba mixed up, but I'm pretty sure Yolanda's shop is in the hotel your parents are staying in.

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The Melia Havana has an awesome open air garden lobby with a fantastic little LCDH. The selection wasn’t the greatest, but you are really there to buy bundles from Yolanda. She had a bunch of great almost dalia / coronas extra when I was there and is famous for piramides. Hotel Comodoro is a short walk away through a kind of shopping center pavilion area where the locals drinking strange pitchers of beer and blast music with street food vendors for quick food. I don’t know of much to do in that area other than the two hotels, that shopping center and maybe a walk down 5ta Avenida to check out all the mansions.

Good news is that you are right in the heart of some of the best custom rollers down there. Alex and Yolanda do not work on Sunday.

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On 2/2/2019 at 6:40 AM, stogieluver said:

Isn't Yolanda's shop at the Melia Habana?  Alex's shop at the Comodoro is right next door, as I recall.  I know it's very close.  I get the Melia Habana and the Melia Cohiba mixed up, but I'm pretty sure Yolanda's shop is in the hotel your parents are staying in.

I always get them mixed up to. How I remember is the irony of it. Melia Havana is not in Havana it’s in Miramar. 

Melia Cohiba is in Havana.....Just my dumb way of thinking 🤔 

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1 hour ago, madandana said:

I always get them mixed up to. How I remember is the irony of it. Melia Havana is not in Havana it’s in Miramar. 

Melia Cohiba is in Havana.....Just my dumb way of thinking 🤔 

I hope they don't build Meliá Miramar. 😁

I've been doing mnemonics associations my whole life and they work pretty well but in this case it's easy to me: I spent my honeymoon in Meliá Cohiba. 

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This is perfect!  I showed them the Commodore on the map.  I figured the hotel could point them to the shop in Melia Habana if they ask.   I wrote up a list with Alex and Yolanda's name.  I figured if they got there, they could just show the list to them and they could help them out..  They have no clue what they are doing but willing to give it a shot.  I told them to go for customs and a few hard to finds if they should be there by chance.  It will be very interesting to see what comes back lol.  For anybody from the US, is it possible to use a US based credit card at these two shops?   

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7 minutes ago, Head83 said:

For anybody from the US, is it possible to use a US based credit card at these two shops?   

U. S. based credit cards don't work in Cuba.  Take Euros and convert them to CUC at the airport or any number of other places.  Sounds like you need to study the Ultimate Visiting Cuba thread on this forum. 

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They already got CAD to take down to convert.  I read the thread and that is what my understanding of it was.  However, when I was looking at the current price list of the YUL cigar blog, they state on the first page:  "If you pay with a credit card, since the CUC is only used in Cuba and nowhere else in the world, you will be billed in USD and exchanging USD in Cuba comes with a small surcharge of 3%, not 6 not 10, 3% period."  The way this reads, it almost sounds like its possible but they are talking about credit cards from every other country BUT the US.  Figured I would ask the experts for clarification.    

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9 hours ago, Head83 said:

They already got CAD to take down to convert.  I read the thread and that is what my understanding of it was.  However, when I was looking at the current price list of the YUL cigar blog, they state on the first page:  "If you pay with a credit card, since the CUC is only used in Cuba and nowhere else in the world, you will be billed in USD and exchanging USD in Cuba comes with a small surcharge of 3%, not 6 not 10, 3% period."  The way this reads, it almost sounds like its possible but they are talking about credit cards from every other country BUT the US.  Figured I would ask the experts for clarification.    

There is one US CC that works in Cuba. Stonegate out of Florida. It’s a great way to go and does save you the 10%. The rollers won’t accept them for customs but you can use it for regular production.

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I really don't think it's worth changing USD into other currency before your trip. IYes you pay 13%--after the 10% penalty for having USD, plus 3% in exchange fees--but there is some cost in first switching to another currency, then some cost in switching that to CUC, and by the time you add in those incremental losses, plus your time running around beforehand...maybe you've saved $30 per thousand? A few percent at best. A friend of mine just did that with USD to Euros before our visit, and when we compared my USD to CUC, vs. his USD to Euros to CUC, I was about $20 ahead of him per thousand. Remember this is because every time you change currencies each bank takes a cut--this is often left out of the equation in online forums where people just focus on the straight currency exchange rates...each time you exchange any currency you lose some money, at your local bank or in an airport, etc--before even considering the conversion to CUC in Cuba...I have also changed $ to CUC in Cuba thru various contacts outside the banks and this always saves 6-7% total. You have to do this with someone you trust, and they will take care of it. It's a very common under-the-table gig in Cuba now. Of course I don't recommend that to your parents on what sounds like a first visit for them...

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We ordered Euros for pickup at our local bank office for 3% fee and then with the fee in Havana to convert Euros to CUC saved about 5% - so $50 per $1000 - compared to the 13% fee in Havana on USD, which really adds up.  My $.02, that’s an extra night of lodging or the checked bag fee to haul back a bunch of rum and cigars or a nice dinner out in Havana or even a box of cheap and cheerfuls for every $1000 brought down. I say it is worth it if you can order foreign currency for pickup through your online banking. Now, exchanging with Travelex is probably a neglible end result.

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1 hour ago, DSegal said:

I really don't think it's worth changing USD into other currency before your trip. IYes you pay 13%--after the 10% penalty for having USD, plus 3% in exchange fees--but there is some cost in first switching to another currency, then some cost in switching that to CUC, and by the time you add in those incremental losses, plus your time running around beforehand...maybe you've saved $30 per thousand? A few percent at best. A friend of mine just did that with USD to Euros before our visit, and when we compared my USD to CUC, vs. his USD to Euros to CUC, I was about $20 ahead of him per thousand. Remember this is because every time you change currencies each bank takes a cut--this is often left out of the equation in online forums where people just focus on the straight currency exchange rates...each time you exchange any currency you lose some money, at your local bank or in an airport, etc--before even considering the conversion to CUC in Cuba...I have also changed $ to CUC in Cuba thru various contacts outside the banks and this always saves 6-7% total. You have to do this with someone you trust, and they will take care of it. It's a very common under-the-table gig in Cuba now. Of course I don't recommend that to your parents on what sounds like a first visit for them...

Granted I've only been once, but when I start going more often, I will be bringing minimum $5k USD - $10k. Anyway, my bank doesn't charge a fee. You order the currency, and it gives that current global rate. So for $10,000 USD to Euro currently, your 13% is $1300 USD. That's unequivocally nuts. I might as well burn the cash

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19 minutes ago, Derboesekoenig said:

Granted I've only been once, but when I start going more often, I will be bringing minimum $5k USD - $10k. Anyway, my bank doesn't charge a fee. You order the currency, and it gives that current global rate. So for $10,000 USD to Euro currently, your 13% is $1300 USD. That's unequivocally nuts. I might as well burn the cash

I had thought about doing the USD - Euro - CUC when my wife and I went, but the exchange rate at the time was USD $1.14 to €1 Euro, 14% (it actually is currently still there at 14%), so I actually saved 1% by going straight USD - CUC at 13%, in addition my bank charges a currency conversion fee on top of the exchange rate for ordering Euros. Not worth it in my mind. Now, if the exchange rate for USD - Euros drops below 13%, say $1.08 for €1 (8%, I would save 5%) then I would look at doing that. 

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2 minutes ago, FatherOfPugs said:

I had thought about doing the USD - Euro - CUC when my wife and I went, but the exchange rate at the time was USD $1.14 to €1 Euro, 14% (it actually is currently still there at 14%), so I actually saved 1% by going straight USD - CUC at 13%, in addition my bank charges a currency conversion fee on top of the exchange rate for ordering Euros. Not worth it in my mind. Now, if the exchange rate for USD - Euros drops below 13%, say $1.08 for €1 (8%, I would save 5%) then I would look at doing that. 

Euros was just an example. Can use any major world currency, just look up whatever gives you the best conversion at that time.

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20 hours ago, DSegal said:

I really don't think it's worth changing USD into other currency before your trip. IYes you pay 13%--after the 10% penalty for having USD, plus 3% in exchange fees--but there is some cost in first switching to another currency, then some cost in switching that to CUC, and by the time you add in those incremental losses, plus your time running around beforehand...maybe you've saved $30 per thousand? A few percent at best. A friend of mine just did that with USD to Euros before our visit, and when we compared my USD to CUC, vs. his USD to Euros to CUC, I was about $20 ahead of him per thousand. Remember this is because every time you change currencies each bank takes a cut--this is often left out of the equation in online forums where people just focus on the straight currency exchange rates...each time you exchange any currency you lose some money, at your local bank or in an airport, etc--before even considering the conversion to CUC in Cuba...I have also changed $ to CUC in Cuba thru various contacts outside the banks and this always saves 6-7% total. You have to do this with someone you trust, and they will take care of it. It's a very common under-the-table gig in Cuba now. Of course I don't recommend that to your parents on what sounds like a first visit for them...

I agree with this. Depending on what your bank charges you in the states as a fee for conversion, it’s not worth it to me. All the screwing around for to save a small amount of cash.

What does work well is if you happen to be going to Europe at some point ahead of your Cuban trip, stock up on Euros from the ATM. 

 

 

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For US travelers to Cuba.

Whether or not it is worth converting your USD$ to euros before you go depends entirely on the exchange rate and commission you pay at your US bank when converting to euros. 

Say, for example US$2,000 for a week in Cuba, accommodation costs etc. 

That $2,000 will get you 1,740 cucs in Cuba (3% + 10% fee on US dollars = 13% total), costing you $260.

If you convert those US Dollars to Euros in the US first, regardless of the exchange rate between US Dollars and Euros, you will save 10% in Cuba, as Cuba does not charge the 10% penalty on Euros.

So it comes down to what you pay for the conversion to euros in the US. One poster mentioned he could get a rate of 3%, I'll use that as an example.

The current exchange rate is about 1.14 USD = 1 euro

So, $2,000 = 1,754 euros.

1,754 euros - 3% = 1701 euros.

So if you buy 2,000 US dollars worth of euros in the US and pay 3% commission, today you will get 1,701 euros.

Convert that in Cuba today and you will get the conversion rate from euros of 1.14 (minus 3% Cuban commission) 

That equals (1,701 X 1.14) - 3% =  1,880 Cucs

So converting 2,000 dollars to euros first in the US and, paying 3% commission in the US to do that, will save you (1,880 - 1,740) = 140 cucs or about 7%

140 cucs in Cuba gets you two boxes of Ramon Allones Superiores or a jar of H. Upmann Noellas plus a couple of mojitos to celebrate.

To summarize, a saving of about 7% makes sense, as you will have paid 6% conversion charge (3% for USD - Euro in the US and 3% for Euro - CUC in Cuba)

Rather than 13% in Cuba (3% plus 10% US Dollar penalty)

The 3% conversion charge in Cuba for non-US currencies hasn't changed in years.

The variables are: The percentage you pay for Euros in the US, that depends either on how well you can shop around or possibly the relationship you have with your bank.

The other variable is how much in euros you bring back, and then have to convert back. The trick is, don't bring any euros back to the US from Cuba. Convert them all to cucs on arrival in Cuba, then when leaving Cuba convert what cucs you have left over to US Dollars, which you would be doing anyway, regardless of whether you had brought USD or Euros to Cuba with you in the first place. There is no 10% penalty when buying US dollars back at the airport in Cuba, just the 3% conversion fee.

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21 hours ago, FatherOfPugs said:

I had thought about doing the USD - Euro - CUC when my wife and I went, but the exchange rate at the time was USD $1.14 to €1 Euro, 14% (it actually is currently still there at 14%), so I actually saved 1% by going straight USD - CUC at 13%, in addition my bank charges a currency conversion fee on top of the exchange rate for ordering Euros. Not worth it in my mind. Now, if the exchange rate for USD - Euros drops below 13%, say $1.08 for €1 (8%, I would save 5%) then I would look at doing that. 

You're calculations are a bit off here.

Yes the exchange rate is still about USD $1.14 to €1 euro. But that does not mean there is a 14% charge. In fact that means there is no charge at all, i.e. 0%, if you are lucky enough to get that rate in your bank (usually there is a 3%-5% commission charge, like anywhere).

In Cuba, it is not 1 CUC to 1 Euro, as it is 1 CUC to 1 USD%

In Cuba, it is 1.14 CUC to 1 Euro, same as anywhere else, of course they take off the 3% charge so you get about 1.11, same as anywhere else.

Unlike changing USD$ in Cuba where they charge you 13% in total. That is a charge.

The receipt attached is one I got in Cuba in December, changing €500 euros. They charged me about 3% as usual so I got about 1.11 CUCs to 1 Euro. Actually 1.11404

€500 euro got me 557 CUCS, after charges (3%).

Do you see where I'm coming from?

What currency conversion rate from Dollars to Euros does your bank charge you?

Say, for example, it is X%. Then (10 - X)% is how much you will save if you convert your dollars to euros before going to Cuba.

So, if your bank charges you 3% to convert to Euros and you want to bring $2,000 to Cuba, you will save (10 - 3 = 7)% or 140 cucs out of $2,000

500Euros_Jan2019.thumb.jpg.5c6fd7ea56f3c27625af27054145eecb.jpg

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50 minutes ago, Ryan said:

You're calculations are a bit off here.

Yes the exchange rate is still about USD $1.14 to €1 euro. But that does not mean there is a 14% charge. In fact that means there is no charge at all, i.e. 0%, if you are lucky enough to get that rate in your bank (usually there is a 3%-5% commission charge, like anywhere).

In Cuba, it is not 1 CUC to 1 Euro, as it is 1 CUC to 1 USD%

In Cuba, it is 1.14 CUC to 1 Euro, same as anywhere else, of course they take off the 3% charge so you get about 1.11, same as anywhere else.

Unlike changing USD$ in Cuba where they charge you 13% in total. That is a charge.

The receipt attached is one I got in Cuba in December, changing €500 euros. They charged me about 3% as usual so I got about 1.11 CUCs to 1 Euro. Actually 1.11404

€500 euro got me 557 CUCS, after charges (3%).

Do you see where I'm coming from?

What currency conversion rate from Dollars to Euros does your bank charge you?

Say, for example, it is X%. Then (10 - X)% is how much you will save if you convert your dollars to euros before going to Cuba.

So, if your bank charges you 3% to convert to Euros and you want to bring $2,000 to Cuba, you will save (10 - 3 = 7)% or 140 cucs out of $2,000

No, my calculations are not off. I used the wrong word, I should have said "currency conversion or conversion rate" 🙄 I'm still losing money by exchanging for Euros, last time I checked the conversion of USD to Euros was $1.14 = €1. And that was just for the flat out currency conversion not even taking my bank's fee into consideration. Your bank may differ. My math is NOT off. I lose money. Period.

Using current currency conversion rates of the US market, and what my bank charges for currency conversion as of today 2/8/19:

If I exchange for Euros at my bank today, like right now, €1 will cost me $1.195. That's 19.5%. If I go to Cuba and exchange USD to CUC, the "conversion rate" is 13%, that's 6.5% more for me for not going to Euros. Euros are still more for me when factoring in the "conversion rate" and the extra charge my bank costs for ordering foreign currency. 

$1000 = €805 at my bank, taking into account everything I am going to pay. 

$1000 = 870CUC in Cuba, I'm ahead 65CUC and it's 5 less steps for currency in the process, time which I don't have to run around shopping from bank to bank. 

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Maybe it's different if you're looking to take $10,000 of whatever currency you have with you, but I would never be bringing that much. If I spent that much on cigars/rum/Cuba trip, my wife would kill me, literally. If you have that much to throw around on a trip, more power to you!  I hope to be at that level some day, but I'm not right now. So for me, the difference of a few dollars in exchange rates is not worth my time or effort given my banks rates.

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I have found that converting my USD to Canadian dollars gives me the best return in Cuba. But it seems everyone has a different understanding of conversion rates. I have actually gotten into some big arguments with family and friends over this very topic. I gave up on trying to convince people which method is best and just let them figure it out themselves. 

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