Monzo in Cuba 🇨🇺


(Idrive) #1

HI, I don’t appear to find a previous post on using the card in Cuba. Anyone had experience so far? thanks!


Travelling with Monzo: The Americas
(Alex Sherwood) #2

I haven’t been but I expect you’ll struggle since as according to the TripAdvisor guide on this subject -

As recently as 2015

No card issued by a bank that has any connection with the United States will be accepted in Cuba

While MasterCard did say it would lift it’s block on it’s cards in Cuba by March 2015. Obviously it will take a while for merchants to purchase terminals…


(Idrive) #3

that is the point. I have been many years ago and I believe i used a Cirrus/Maestro card or a Visa Credit/Debit issued in EU.
I am not sure about the whole Mastercard issue as I believe the embargo relates to the Issuer Bank not the system. so a Mastercard issued in UK/Germany/Spain would be ok while an American issued card would not work if used as a card. for ATM i read that may be an issue, yes.

let’s wait till someone can advise with fresh experience!
thanks for your answer btw.


(Samuel Nogalski) #4

I went to Cuba a few months ago (albeit without a Monzo card) and cash. They will allow you to use Visa/Mastercards as long as the issuing bank is not from the USA as per what idrive said.


#5

Attempted to use my Monzo card at various ATMs in Cuba and it didn’t work, whereas my other bank card worked without issue.

Monzo did work flawlessly when catching connecting flights in Germany & Canada (& in mid-air…) so guessing it’s a Cuba specific limitation.

If anyone else is planning on travelling to Cuba my advice would be to contact Monzo and ask them to look into it as may just be something that’s been overlooked and easy to iron out.


(James Billingham) #6

Did you try enabling magstripe ATMs?


#7

No I didn’t so can’t say whether that would of helped; but, shouldn’t it, ideally, ‘just work’ - like it did for my other card.
Shouldn’t we reasonably not need to worry, or have to know about things like that?


(Rika Raybould) #8

Ideally, yes, it should just work.

However, magstripe is so easily cloneable compared to an EMV chip that for a small bank, you would have to argue your case quite hard for leaving it on all the time because it leaves the door wide open for fraud. Almost all ATM fraud you’re told about (skimming, etc.) relies on the weakness of the magnetic strip.

Post-current account rollout, I’d like to see Monzo improve the proactive offering of the magstripe ATM switch while improving the country entry feed items with more information. As more industries integrate with Monzo and they have full control of their card fraud and processing systems, I would love to see Monzo have context about where you’re going and be able to automatically enable magstripe ATM support in the destination countries until you return safely home.


#9

Interesting point about the idea of fraud being a particular concern for smaller banks.

And yeah, it’s kinda understandable that it’s turned off for normal use cases.

It does make me wonder how the big banks handle this - suppose it’s possible that when someone says they are visiting a different country there’s technology in place that can automatically enable magstripe.

It’s one of those areas where a new bank with nascent infrastructure like Monzo probably hasn’t built processes to deal with yet. Imagine the same could be true for various other edge cases - such as certain types of fraud detection etc.

Equally, it could just be that it’s enabled 24/7. I remember having a friend who could only use his card at certain locations as the chip part of the card had stopped working.


#10

Just to be clear, I don’t think it is the Cubans who won’t allow the use of US cards,. It’s the other way around; American companies are restricted by US government policy from involvement in Cuba. Outrageously, I was prevented from buying Cuban Fairtrade coffee here in the UK through Amazon Pay, because of this.


(Prudence Peat) #11

I just came back from Cuba and was unable to use Monzo there in banks or in the ATM even with the mag stripe activated.

What made it more difficult is that the internet in general is quite difficult to access - you need to buy a card and go to certain internet points so it’s hard to keep enabling the mag-stripe (as it only stays active for 24 hours - for security I assume)

Other cards didn’t work in Cuba either though, you need to check if yours will work beforehand. I would suggest taking cash in your currency and then exchanging it on the way around.

I hope that helps :slight_smile:


(Alex Sherwood) #12

Thanks for sharing this feedback :pray: I guess this is less likely, due to the limited internet connectivity but did you see any errors in the app when you tried to use the card?


(Prudence Peat) #13

HI Alex,

There was very limited internet connectivity while I was there, so there
was a delay in receiving messages in the app, but it did alert me to the
transaction being denied for a certain reason which was helpful.

Let me know if you need any more info.

Thanks,

Pru


(Alex Sherwood) #14

Yes please - could you let us know the reason?


( related to Monzo CEO, Investor in Monzo ) #15

we are assuming you were a verified user , with sufficient limits on your spending for ATM withdrawal ?


(Prudence Peat) #16

Hiya,

I was not verified at the start of the trip, bit the team helped me out to
increase my limits. Even when I attempted to use the machine after that it
didn’t let me, nor in a bank at a branch. I didn’t receive any app alerts
at this point but it could have been due to the very limited internet, its
normally very good.

Thanks!

Pru


#17

Hi Guys

I’m currently in Cuba and it’s safe to say Monzo doesn’t work here. I’ve enabled the mag stripe and tried at the counter at the Cadecas (their bureau de change) and at ATMs. I’ve actually seen ATM s swallow cards so be careful.

My tip is to bring as much cash as possible (either pounds or Mexican pesos). The US currency has a further 10% penalty on it. Change it all at once because there seems to be a flat 6 CUC commission added.

The CUC is pegged to the US currency, as such, Cuba isn’t as cheap as you’d imagine so just factor that in. 1 CUC = 1 Usd. Small cans of beer are 1-2 CUC for instance.

My Santander card worked fine at the Cadeca.

Regarding the Internet cards, touts sell 1 hour cards which you can use over a month for 3 CUC. At official ETECSA outlets they’re only 1.50 but be prepared for long queues in Havana. You can buy a maximum of three at a time


#18

I’m just back from Cuba so here is the latest…
Monzo beta pre-paid card worked fine in various ATM machines in Habana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Camaguey. You do need to enable magstripe use.
However, it didn’t work in some of those same machines on other occasions. As a check, I tried an alternative visa debit card in the same machine and on two occasions it did not work either. Conclusion: the machine had run out of cash…

The bank I visited could accept the alternative visa card for processing but told me that the Monzo mastercard could only be processed in an ATM.

Finally, I could not get any ATM to give me more than $100 (Cuban Convertible Pesos CUCs) on any one transaction. It did give me a second tranche of 100 immediately when I repeated the process.

Sunday evening in the old town of Habana proved particulalry challenging. All four of the ATM locations rejected my cards, both Monzo and Visa. They must have run out of cash.

My general conclusion is do not rely absolutely on ATMs but ensure you keep a reserve of cash. Effectively I did rely in Monzo for most of my cash needs for the best part of two weeks in Habana and three other towns.

Very few restaurants or stores accept cards as payment. When purchasing 25 very expensive cigars for a cousin who actually smokes the things… after a little bit of persuasion, they did accept a visa vard. Monzo rejected.


(Alex Kelly) #19

Hi there! Just wondering if there’s anything more on whether Monzo works in Cuba? Thanks!


(Chris Phillips) #20

I was able to use Monzo without any issue while in Cuba in June - used in Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos and Trinidad.

You will need the magstripe function on and internet access can be difficult, but you can use the chat function and ask for it to be switched on for longer. It became a feature of the trip for two of us to go to the public hotspot, buy internet access and try to stay on long enough to enable magstripe ATMs.