Cuba’s Bandec Introduces New Dollar Prepaid Cards in Cuba for Nationals and Foreigners

Starting this Wednesday, these cards, similar to those sold in hotels, will be valid for five years and can be used at fuel stations that accept foreign currency.
Cuba's Bandec Introduces New Dollar Prepaid Cards In Cuba For Nationals And Foreigners
Cuba Bandec Begins Selling Prepaid Dollar Cards

Bandec’s announcement detailed that the cards, in addition to bank branches, will be available at Casas de Cambio (Cadecas) across the island. Diverse groups, including individuals, MSMEs, cooperatives, and self-employed workers, can acquire these cards. The minimum deposit is $50, with a one-time card fee of $4 deducted by the bank.

These rechargeable cards accept cash deposits in authorized foreign currencies and transfers from abroad, with no limit on the amount. However, cash withdrawal is capped at $100 or its equivalent when leaving the country.

This initiative seems tailored for American and Cuban-American tourists unable to use their bank cards in Cuba due to embargo restrictions. For travelers from Europe, Canada, and Latin America, using Visa or Mastercard remains more direct.

Recent announcements by Cimex also revealed a similar foreign currency card for fuel purchases and imports. Unlike Bandec’s offering, Cimex’s card converts remaining funds into pesos upon the cardholder’s departure.

Bandec’s card, which can be requested from abroad, requires no minimum deposit to activate, except the initial $4 cost. It operates with a numeric key, allowing anonymous transactions.

Despite Bandec’s enthusiasm, the initiative has faced customer skepticism over its practicality and clarity, especially for Cuban residents. Queries about the card’s capabilities in wholesale markets and fuel purchases using existing MLC (freely convertible currency) cards have been raised. The move reflects the government’s broader strategy to retain foreign currencies, even as salaries remain in pesos, causing frustrations among Cubans and international travelers alike.

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