Istanbul Money Strategy: Cash Or Credit Card?

Picture of ATMs near the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey.

by Erlend Geerts

in Visa, Money & Safety

You will need cash during your stay in Istanbul, there is no way around it. Sure, credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, bars and stores, but there are occasions that require cash money.
So, do you bring cash along or do you withdraw it from an ATM? Do I bring Dollars, Euros or Turkish Liras? Where do I best exchange my money? Here’s my safe and practical Istanbul money strategy.

Why Do I Need Cash Money in Istanbul?

I agree with you that using credit cards to cover your expenses is easier and safer than carrying cash money on you. But some occasions simply require cash money — either because the amount of your expense is too small or credit cards are simply not allowed. For instance, taxis and public transportation don’t accept credit cards, nor do street vendors or market stands. And let’s not forget about tipping or small purchases such as a bottle of water or snacks. Also, most sightseeing venues won’t allow credit card payments — an attempt to keep the waiting lines short I guess.

And even if you have the choice between credit cards or cash money, the latter may be preferred. Often you will get a nice discount of 10% or more if you pay cash! Hotels and shops are widely known to use this tactic.

Do I Bring Turkish Liras, Dollars or Euros?

I’m sure you’re convinced by now that having cash money on you is a necessity in Istanbul. But what currency? Hotels may ask (or prefer) you to pay in Dollars or Euros. However, for all other expenses you’re better off or required to pay in Turkish Liras.

So, if your hotel gives you a nice discount by paying cash in a strong currency, make sure to bring that amount along and pay for your stay upon arrival. This way you prevent carrying a huge amount of money on you while exploring the city. After that it’s a matter of preference. Some tourists bring more cash along and exchange it into Turkish Liras whenever they run out, while others withdraw Turkish Liras from the omnipresent ATMs.

Using ATMs Is Common and Safe

I’m in favor of bringing a rather small amount of extra money in a strong currency, just for emergencies. For all my other expenses, I just use credit cards. In bars, restaurants, shops, and to withdraw Turkish Liras for my daily expenses.
But do check with your bank first how much they charge for every transaction and let them know you’ll be travelling to Istanbul soon. If their fees are too high, you may opt to bring Dollars or Euros along and exchange them in Istanbul. But don’t do it at the airport, hotels or shops! There are several exchange offices in both Sultanahmet and Taksim that offer much better exchange rates.

(Photo Source)

What's Next

{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary June 2, 2012 at 1:23 am

i want to know if i can use a credit card to pay for the luggage cost for my friend who is or has been working in istanbul for several months. i also need to know how much it will be to ship his luggage and any other cost, other than the tickets

Thanks
Mary Provost

Reply

Erlend Geerts June 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I’m not sure I understand your question Mary, but you should contact companies such as DHL, UPS, etc. for shipping details. There are just too many variables (size, weight) as well as tax issues.

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Allan July 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

On my way to Singapore, I have to spend 2 to 3 hours in Istanbul Airport.
What currency is accepted there as I would rather not buy Lira just for this short time.
Also, my stop there will be between 22.00 and 01.00 – will the facilities still be available and open?

Reply

Erlend Geerts July 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Hi Allan,

No need to buy Turkish Liras, at the airport they accept USD and EURO as well as all major credit cards, even for small amounts. Most facilities should be available and open.

Have a nice flight.

Reply

Ludi December 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Hello, have to fly with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Albania or Italy , i need to know how much money is allowed to have cash with me ? Thank you in advance !

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hi Ludi,

You can bring in as much cash money as you want, but you may have to declare it at the customs. However, you are only allowed to take USD 5000 in cash out of the country. With bank transfers there is no real limit.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Kris June 6, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Do you have to have $5000 in cash in order to leave Turkey? I heard it’s some new law they put in so you won’t be a burden on other countries. A person I know has been in Turkey 2 years and this is what I was told.

Reply

Erlend Geerts June 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Hi Kris,

As a tourist, you don’t any cash at all to leave Turkey. On the contrary, there is a limit on how much cash you can take out of the country.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Tamer February 6, 2013 at 10:48 am

could I bring egyptian pounds and exchange them with turkish liras in istanbul..or its better to do this exchange in egypt..?

Reply

Erlend Geerts February 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Hi Tamer,

Given the current instability in your country, I think it’s better to exchange them before coming here. Another option would be to exchange a part in Turkish Liras to get by the first few days, and part in Dollars or Euros as a backup. The choice is yours.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Johnson February 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I will be bringing some Turkish currency so I can use the metro. how do I get tokens at the airport? Do the machines accept all TL bills or only certain denominations?

Reply

Erlend Geerts February 26, 2013 at 8:00 am

Hi Johnson,

You can get your tokens from sales booths or machines located at the entrance of the platforms. In either case, try to stick to 5, 10, and 20 lira notes.

Erlend

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David April 27, 2013 at 1:22 am

Hi,
A couple questions:
I am a US citizen, but have been in Germany for a while so I only have euros. can I pay the visa fee in Euros?

Should I withdraw euros in Germany and exchange them for lira in Turkey, and withdraw enough lira in turkey from an ATM at the airport for transport into the city?

I understand you can take the tram from the airport. can I get a tram pass there?
Thanks
Dave

Reply

Erlend Geerts April 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hi David,

I guess you can pay with Euros, but they will convert the fee due in Dollars to Euros first. As for transportation, don’t use foreign currency, only use Turkish Liras. I suggest to withdraw from the ATM at the airport, and exchange Euros you have later in the city center. The airport exchange rates are always less favorable.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Nachiket June 8, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Hi Erlend,

A warm greetings from India. Your blog is just superb & I am getting all the information I want to know.

I will be visiting Turkey for my honeymoon. Will stay there from 12 Nov to 26 Nov. Could you please tell me the exchange office near Taksim which offers best rate?

Another question. I & wife will be taking havatas from Ataturk to Taksim. Do they take Euros? We have some Euros with us right now. If they accept Euros then our plan will be to do all the exchange near Taksim. Exchange happens from Euro / Dollars to TL or can I exchange Indian rupees with TL as well?

Best Wishes,
Nachiket

Reply

Erlend Geerts June 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Hi Nachiket,

Exchange offices in the city center have more or less the same exchange rates. It’s hard to compare anyway, because rates may change while I travel from one to the other :-)

A popular exchange office in Taksim is located on Istiklal Caddesi, on the left (on a corner) coming from Taksim Square. To play safe, I would bring Euros or Dollars along instead of your local currency.

For the Havataş shuttle, make sure you have some Turkish Liras on you. I suggest to have 100 TL in small notes (5 and 10) upon exiting the airport to cover your first needs (transportation, a bottle of water, etc.).

Kind regards,
Erlend

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maureen June 10, 2013 at 12:45 am

Ekol Travel recommends that we stay at a hotel near the airport the night before we leave because of the Istanbul traffic and disorganization at busy Ataturk Airport. We are leaving
on Oct. 19, 2013, 9AM flight to London, so I assume we should arrive by 7AM. Is that early enough, and what time should we leave via taxi from either Sultanahmet or Beyoglu for Ataturk to arrive safely on time? I’m thinking that since Ekol is located in Kusadasi, perhaps they aren’t familiar with traffic patterns and are being over-protective? I would really like to change our reservations to 1 of the downtown Marriotts(I need excellent A/C because of migraines) to be able to see and do more, especially the Dolmabahce Palace. Any advice on either of the Marriotts?
Your web-site and advice are incredibly well-done. Are you a travel agent? If you ever visit Miami, Florida, please let us know in advance, so that we can take you to lunch.
I’ve signed up for emails, but it asked for my Google address, which I don’t use, so if no response, send emails to this one. Thanks for so much good information. We will be in Istanbul from Oct. 17 – 19, arriving the 17th on the Nautica. Maureen and Mike Linden

Reply

Erlend Geerts June 10, 2013 at 7:45 am

Hi Maureen,

It is custom to be at the airport two hours in advance for international flights, so yes, I would aim for 7AM. This means you’ll leave your Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet hotel around 6:30 by taxi, which is plenty of time to get you to the airport. At that time of the day, there shouldn’t be any traffic issues.

I can’t recommend any of the Marriott hotels since I never stayed in one myself. Having said that, I can recommend Witt Istanbul. And I experienced personally that their air conditioning works perfectly fine.

No, I’m not a travel agent. I just enjoy writing about Istanbul. Thanks for the invitation btw!

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

tal July 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

hi
there are atm machines at the airport where i can withdraw liras using my credit cards,right?
From my experience I find credit cards giving the best rate with some small charging fees
Best,
Tal

Reply

Erlend Geerts July 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Hi Tal,

Yes, in abundance.

Cheers,
Erlend

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Zakarya Saadat August 5, 2013 at 7:43 am

Dear Erlend,
Hi
Me and my family are coming from Lahore Pakistan to visti Istanbul next week,following you advice I will be using the ATM to withdaw local currency. My question : how much cash can I withdaw from the ATM in one day?
Thanks.
Best regards,
Dr, Zakarya Saadat

Reply

Erlend Geerts August 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Hi Zakarya,

Mainly the restriction is with your bank, but as a rule of thumb take 1000 TL as a daily limit per credit card.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Jeff landry August 26, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Hi, can i buy a public transportation card with a credit card ? Thank you

Reply

Erlend Geerts August 28, 2013 at 7:45 am

Hi Jeff,

At some spots you may, but the easiest is with cash money.

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Carol MacDonald September 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm

We are going to Istanbul in Oct.2013. Will have Euros for the hotels and will get the 10%discount. We would prefer to use our debit cards to with draw money due to the fee changes for cash advance on credit cards. will this be a problem. can you exchange the Lira back into Euros at the airport before we leave. leaving at 0825 in am so will the offices. Thanks Carol

Reply

Erlend Geerts September 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hi Carol,

There is no problem withdrawing money from ATMs with a debit (maestro) card. Just inform your bank you’ll be withdrawing from Turkey that period to avoid false suspicion from the bank’s side.

You can of course buy euros back. I do think the exchange office at the airport is open at that time, but to play safe, maybe exchange the majority already the day before.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Omar October 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Erlend,

IS there a limit on how much cash can be brought into Istanbul? I plan to carry somewhere in $8,000-$10,000 USD and want to ensure there will be no issues. I surely will not be carrying anymore than $10K USD.

Thanks in advance and please advise,

Omar

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 11, 2013 at 7:45 am

Hi Omar,

There is no limit on the amount of cash you can bring in. However, you can’t take more than $5000 (or its equivalent) out if the country.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Jessica October 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Hi,

I will be traveling from an Euro country but have a US bank account. I plan to bring some emergency funds with me in euros (as I no longer have access to USD) but imagine the cheapest way to get cash for daily use is with an ATM. Do you know if the ATMs in the airport charge a higher withdraw fee or worse conversion rate than those in downtown Istanbul? Should I withdraw cash upon arrival at the airport or wait to take it out in Sultanahmet?

Thanks,
Jessica

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Hi Jessica,

ATM rates are the same, wherever you withdraw money.

Erlend

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Satish October 30, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Hi Erlend,
Many thanks for your useful answers. I’m wondering which denominations of TL does the ATM dispense? Lets say I withdraw 1000 TL at the airport ATM and it gives me 10 notes of 100 TL. Well, then it would be really difficult for me to buy tokens or the Istanbulkart to use public transportation.

Another question is regarding language. I assume all or most ATMs in Turkey will have instructions in Turkish. Would this be correct?

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Hi Satish,

Good questions. Yes, there is a possibility that the ATM will indeed give you 10 notes of 100 TL for an amount of 1000 TL. This happened to me too. That’s why I always enter an amount like 980 TL. This way I force the machine to give me at least 1 10, 20, and 50 lira note :-)

As for languages, most machines have a choice between three or four language, and at the very minimum the choice between Turkish and English.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Joel November 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hello, Erlend. I am going to be in Istanbul for a short stopover (2-4 days). Will be arriving at Ataturk and staying in Taksim. Excluding accommodation, how much would you recommend I plan on spending?

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 4, 2013 at 10:31 am

Hi Joel,

These are the type of questions I can’t answer. It all depends on your lifestyle and (food) preferences. And one day may be very different from another.

As a rule of thumb, food is considerably cheaper than most Western countries. However, alcoholic beverages are usually (much) more expensive here in Turkey.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ahmed November 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hi Erlend,

Nice job here.

As I see you recommend carrying small TL notes of 5, 10 & 20, what is the smallest note available at the ATMs ?

One more question, I should be departing from Ataturk airport on Saturday 23rd at 17:00, so at what time do you recommend to start heading from Taksim ?

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hi Ahmed,

The smallest Turkish Lira note is 5 TL. I would calculate one hour minimum to get to the hotel, just to play it safe.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ashwin December 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Hello – travelling to Istanbul and Cappadocia in early January and your site is a gem! Thank you very much.

One question: On our way back from Cappadocia, we land in Ataturk airport at 9am and our flight back home isn’t till 5pm. What do you recommend we do in that half day? We would have already spent 5 days staying in Sultanahmet area, so is there anything worth seeing / eating near the airport, that’s easy to get to?

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

Hi Ashwin,

That may be the ideal time to visit the magnificent Istanbul Aquarium (http://www.wittistanbul.com/magazine/istanbul-aquarium-a-spectacular-tourist-attraction/) in Florya. You can easily spend a few hours in there.

It’s not far from the airport, about 10 minutes by taxi.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ashwin December 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Great advice! Thanks Erlend, much appreciated.

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Syed December 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

Hi Erlend,

A warm greetings. Your blog is just superb & we are getting all the information we needed.

Myself and my wife will be travelling to Turkey – Istanbul, for the first time from Dubai – UAE, we have already made hotel booking in Istanbul for 10 nights starting from Dec. 12 to Dec. 22 , 2013.

Can you please advice on a average how much Turkish Lira do we need to carry for our 10 days stay in Istanbul, to cover our food and other daily expenses.

Your advise in this regards is of great help.

Kind regards,
Syed

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 9, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hi Syed,

Thanks for your nice words.

I’ve responded to a similar question earlier. It’s impossible for me to give you a daily budget. There are just too many variables. What may be cheap for you could expensive for someone else. Some people love souvenir hunting, others prefer to spend more on food and drinks.

As you can see, personal preferences will influence your expenses. But if you’re on a budget, it’s wise to set a daily allowance.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Syed December 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

Hi Erlend,

I will landing in Sabiha airport at 23:30 hours. our hotel is located in Fabrka Sok, No.3-5, Yenikpi, Istanbul-34130. does public transport available at this time (11:30 pm) if not who much it will cost if i hire a taxi.

Kind regards,
Syed

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

Hi Syed,

Did you have a look at this page explaining how to best get from Sabiha Gökçen Airport to your hotel – http://www.wittistanbul.com/magazine/how-to-get-from-istanbul-sabiha-gokcen-airport-to-taksim-or-sultanahmet/ ?

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Syed December 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Hi Erlend,

Thanks for the information, doing a great Job, really it helps Hundreds of Thousands tourist those who travels to Turkey.

Best of Luck,
Syed

Reply

Farid January 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Dear Erlend.
Hello. I will arrive in Istanbul on Sunday and my is hotel located in Feridiye St. Taksim.

My question is:
Could I find any open Exchange near Taksim station at 9:00 Sunday to change my Dollars to TL?

Reply

Erlend Geerts January 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Hi Farid,

I’m not sure about that since there is no stock exchange on Sundays. But I’m pretty sure that the one at the airport will be open. Alternatively, you can use your ATM or credit card to withdraw money. The machines always give Turkish Liras.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ron Constanrine February 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Hi Erlend
What is the rule of thumb on tipping in Istanbul (i.e. tour guides, taxis, restaurants, hotel services). Also How much money TL should I take with me.May.

Regards,
Ron

Reply

Erlend Geerts February 12, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hi Ron,

This article will answer all the questions you have about tipping in Istanbul.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Mushfiq March 7, 2014 at 2:44 am

Hi Erlend,

This is the best travel related website I have found so far :-) Thank you for giving us a such a helpful website.

My hotel address is Little House Hotel. Katip Mustafa Celebi Mah. Abdullah Sok. No:9 Taksim , Beyoglu. Istanbul, 34433, Turkey. I will be arrive in Sabiha Goken around 12:20 on 26 March. From your blog, my estimation is the Taxi fare would be roughly 78-90TL. The questions is:
1. How long it will take to reach my hotel if I take a taxi at 13:00. I assume if I go by Havatas Bus then the journey time will be around 100-120 mins.

Since I will be coming from UK so which options shall I go for:
a) withdraw TL from Airport ATM
b) Exchange money at the Airport
c) Purchase TL before taking the flight

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 7, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Mushfiq,

It will take the airport shuttle or the taxi approximately the same amount of time to go from any airport to the city center. The difference is the price.

I would go for option a or b, depending on the fees your bank charges to withdraw money from an ATM in Turkey.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Mushfiq March 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Thank you Erlend for the advice. So I will take the Havatas if I can catch the 13:00 bus.

On 28 March at 7.30 in the morning I have to catch the Turkish Airlines flight to Antalya from Sabiha Goken. Now please advice me, at what time shall I get out from the hotel and which mode of transportation shall I take to reach the airport?

Can you advice on Antalya tour as well?

Regards,
Mushfiq

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Hi Mushfiq,

Well, that early in the morning on a Saturday I don’t expect any traffic. Ask the Havataş guys when they drive you to the city center since they know best, but my guess would be to take the 05:30 bus.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

greg March 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm

must tell you you are very good at this. would gladly a fee for all this useful info.
Thanks.

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Thanks a lot Greg, much appreciated!

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Pedro March 31, 2014 at 2:40 am

HI!! Thanks a lot for the great info!! :) I am travelling to Amman and i have a 6h35m layover in istanbul ataturk airport. I touchdown at 18h and leave at 00.35am. If there are no delays, i was thinking of going to the city to have dinner and a stroll and then come back for my connecting flight. Do you think it is a feasible idea?

What do you make of this? When i went to cyprus, i payed a cab driver to spend the day with me, taking me around for sightseing. I payed around 150 euros. I was thinking it would be nice to ask a cab driver to do the same in istanbul for that amount of time (6h). Do you advise against it? How much would you think it would cost?

Do you have any alternative suggestions? Thanks a lot!

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 31, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Hi Pedro,

Let’s suppose you arrive at 18:00, it will take you approximately one hour to get out of the airport (assuming you already have your visa). So, you’ll hit the streets at rush hour, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1,5 hours to reach the city center. Driving back to the airport at night will be quicker, approximately 30 minutes. Don’t forget you need to be at the airport two hours ahead for international flights.

Now, you do the math and decide if it’s worth it. Dinner is possible, I would not recommend a taxi driver to drive you around town though. You’ll be stuck in traffic at that time of day.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ryan K. April 1, 2014 at 5:45 am

Seriously fantastic blog and extremely helpful. I’m off to Istanbul this week and couldn’t have asked for a better last minute study guide. Keep up the good work.

Thanks.

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Arhtim April 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Pre paid master or visa card may be also a good option

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Andrea April 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Hi Erlend,

Great site you have here! Congratulations.
Me and my husband are going to Istambul this week. Can u please let me know if 35€ for a shuttle from the Ataturk airport to Beyoglu is a fare price? Or do you recommend getting a cab?
Many thanks in advance for your help.
Andrea

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Erlend Geerts April 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hi Andrea,

Did you read this article on current cab fares? You do the math.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Cheryl May 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

Dear Erlend,

Thanks for all your great advice. Do you know if prepaid Visa or Master Charge gift cards purchased in the U.S. will work in Turkey? We have heard conflicting reports We thought about bringing a few for back-up/emergency cash if bank card problems or credit cards were stolen.

Thanks,
Cheryl

Reply

Erlend Geerts May 6, 2014 at 10:29 am

Hi Cheryl,

I have never used either of them myself, so I can’t comment on this I’m afraid.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Jenni May 8, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I really appreciate your blog. My daughter is going to Istanbul for the entire month of June to attend an Educational Immersion program. I was wondering how to best send her spending money. I will plan to send a combination of cash and credit/debit cards. Thank you very much for providing this information to ease a mother’s mind.

Jenni

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Erlend Geerts May 8, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Thanks a lot Jenny for your kind words.

Erlend

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Hussain May 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Hi Erland,

Is there a major difference in rates if we exchange USD to Turkish Lira from Ataturk airport? I found the below currency exchange offices on http://www.ataturkairport.com located at the arrival lounge.

1. Akbank T.A.S.
2. Arti Döviz A.S.
3. Türkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S.
4. Türkiye Is Bankasi A.S. Bank
5. Türkiye Ekonomi Bankası

Any idea who is the best in Istanbul offering lowest rates at airport? Thanks in advance !

Reply

Erlend Geerts May 16, 2014 at 8:37 am

Hi Hussain,

I’ve never compared them one by one on any given day, but I doubt there will be huge differences.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Kelly Wilson June 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Hi,

I am travelling to Istanbul for a short trip this weekend. I am a solo female traveller and am scheduled to land at 1:05am on Friday morning. I am staying in a hostel very close to Taksim Square. I’ve read a few blogs about taxis vs shuttles vs private transfers. But I am unsure what is best? Should I wait in the airport until the shuttles start and take one? Should I chance a taxi? Or should I play it safe and cough up for a private car? Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Kelly

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Erlend Geerts June 3, 2014 at 10:45 am

Hi Kelly,

If you really want to be safe, have a look at http://www.ataturkairporttransfer.net/ The are secure, and don’t cost much more than a regular taxi.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Mary Beth June 2, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Dear Erlend,
I’m enjoying reading all your information. Thank you! Are there any ATMs in Istanbul from which I can get Euros?
Mary Beth

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Erlend Geerts June 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

Hi Mary,

There used to be quite a few years ago, but I haven’t seen those around for a long time now.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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David July 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I plan to get my attraction tickets online and will only need about TL12 for the tram to and from the port. What is the SMALLEST number of Lira dispensed by ATMs in Istanbul?

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Erlend Geerts July 18, 2014 at 5:44 pm

A 5 Lira note.

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Len July 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Hi Erlend. I like your blog and it clearly puts a lot of people at ease. I use a cash card when travelling overseas, which I load in the UK. I have used the cash card to obtain cash-money in the USA, NZ, HK and Iceland. Do the cash cards work in the Turkish ATMs ?

Rgds Len

Reply

Erlend Geerts July 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Hi Len,

I’ve never heard of a pre-paid cash card here in Turkey. To make sure, maybe contact and HSBC office in your country, they should give you a 100% correct answer.

Erlend

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Len July 20, 2014 at 11:50 am

Hi Erlend. I asked my card-issuer (Caxton FX) and your followers may be interested in their reply.
The Caxton card runs on a VISA credit network, therefore, we would expect the card to work wherever a VISA logo is displayed, regardless of the country or currency, whether at ATM or point of sale (shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.). We have not had any feedback suggesting that there would be any problems using our cards in Turkey; there is therefore no reason to suspect you should encounter any issues.
Rgds Len

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Erlend Geerts July 20, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Hi Len,

Thanks for clarifying that.

Cheers,
Erlend

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Haroon Khan Niazi August 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Hi Erlend

I am planning to visit Turkey (Istanbul, Antalaya and Capadoccia) on a 10 day trip along with my wife in September. I have paid all my expenses already to my tourist guide including domestic flights and hotel expenses. I just wanted to know how much cash should i carry for some local shopping, dine out at restaurants, visiting museums and local tourist attractions plus the taxi rides to those place. I am thinking to carry 800 to 900 USDs for it which is somewhere around 1800 to 2000 turkish lira. Will that be enough.?

Regards
Haroon

Reply

Erlend Geerts August 25, 2014 at 12:49 am

Hi Haroon,

It’s hard to say. You’re a party of two. Let’s assume you visit two to three sightseeing spots with an entrance fee. That would be 3 x 25/30 x 2 = 150 TL already, at least. Add to that some wining and dining, as well as some transportation, and you’ll easily exceed your average daily allowance of 200 TL. And you didn’t shop around yet.

Of course, Istanbul is more expensive than Antalya, but still, I would budget a bit more not to have to turn every coin around before spending it. It’s a holiday after all.

Kind regards,
Erlend

PS: this goes for every world city. I don’t think a daily budget of 100 USD would allow you much sightseeing, dining, and shopping for two in let’s say Paris, London or NY.

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Dileep Yadav August 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm

We are visiting (from India) for a week tourism in Nov 14. Few questions:
1. Travel agency quote is in Euros to be paid on arrival. We will have USD with us for payment. Is USD to Euro conversion easily done? Or we need to bring Euro only. Please.
2. What is normal amount of tips generally to be paid in TL for common services?
Thank you for your assistance.

Reply

Erlend Geerts August 29, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Hi Dileep,

Either Euros or Dollars are easily exchangeable. Check out this page for tipping advice.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Joe September 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Turkey ATMs:
My Canadian bank debit card has “PLUS” & “Interac” printed on the back. Would this allow me to get cash out of Turkish ATMs?
Do I need a card that supports “Cirrus” or “Maestro”? What the heck are all these names anyway?
Thanks a lot!

Reply

Erlend Geerts September 2, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Hi Joe,

The best way is of course to ask your bank. If your cards are visa and maestro compatible, then the answer would be yes.

Erlend

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Geoffroi September 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Hi Erlend !
I would like to know what’s the best way to get TL in cash : with my French credit card or changing Euros in a exchange office ? How much are the fees of an office ?
With my French bank, each withdraw or payment with my credit card costs 2,1% + 0,30 € (b.e. 300 TY = 10 € +2,1% + 0,30 € = 10,51 €)
Thanks for your answer !
Yours,

Reply

Erlend Geerts September 12, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Hi Geoffroi,

Well, there is no fee for exchanging cash money. The exchange rate is displayed outside the office. You either agree with the rate or not.

I understand Visa will charge you for withdrawing money from an ATM machine, but I would be surprised if visa charges you money for making purchases.

Bottom line, the cheapest way is to bring and exchange cash. But that’d also the most risky way, because you can loose your money (theft or real loss).

I hope I could help,
Erlend

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Geoffroi September 13, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Thank you for your answer.
You saw that I made a mistake with my example ! 300 TL = today 105 € (et not 10 !), so withdrawing 300 TL is for me 107,73 €.
And I confirm that, with my French credit card Master, it’s the same for each purchase (it’s like a withdraw).
Best regards,

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harpreet September 17, 2014 at 8:06 am

Hello

I will reach Istanbul SAW aiport at 7 AM and my friends will reach Ataturk at 10:15 AM. Can I reach Ataturk by 11 AM (by the time they clear customs), using Havatas Shuttle Bus

Reply

Erlend Geerts September 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Hi Harpreet,

You didn’t give me the date or day, but in any case that should be achievable. So, yes, but don’t waste time.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Samantha September 23, 2014 at 8:13 am

Hi Erlend,

I am gathering soooo much more information from this website than I have from many others over the last 1 month. Am very grateful for that. Perhaps I missed it out, but I did not find any information on prepaid/tourist SIM cards in Turkey. I will be in Turkey for 24 days and I hope to be connected to the net at all times, meaning I would love to have unlimited data throughout Turkey (Kapadokya/Selcuk/Pamukkale/Istanbul).

Which mobile company and plan would you recommend for this and if you have already written about it (I apologise if I’ve missed that out) could you send me the link, please?

Regards,
Samantha

Reply

Erlend Geerts September 24, 2014 at 10:39 am

Hi Samantha,

As a tourist with a valid passport, you can buy prepaid SIM cards which you can reload once you run out of credits.

You can find shops of Turkcell and Vodafone (the major players) in the main exit hall of the airport. I can’t give any prices, because their packages and fees change constantly due to fierce competition. You’d better compare once in Turkey.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Agit September 30, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Hi Erlend

Really grateful finding your website.

I’ll be there to watch the Champions League Match between Galatasary vs Dortmud on 22 Sept 2014.

Is there any way I can get the ticket locally, as most that I searched online is through third party website that sells very high price.

Thank you

Warm regards

Agit S.M

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Hi Agit,

I’m afraid that this is the only way to get your hands on one. You may check out the Biletix website if you haven’t already.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Vinod October 8, 2014 at 9:27 am

Hi

I want to withdraw cash in dollars from ATM at Istanbul Airport.
Can it is possible for me???

Thanks

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 11, 2014 at 12:06 am

Hi Vinod,

To my knowledge, ATM machines only give Turkish Liras, no foreign currency.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Susan October 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Hello:
We will be on a cruise stopping in Turkey on a shore excursion. Taking euros, U.S. but have no liras as of now. Will ATMs be available in Ephesus, or on the way, do you think? Everything, including lunch, is pre-paid, so we would only need liras for shopping, water, etc.
Great website. Thank you.

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 15, 2014 at 7:40 am

Hi Susan,

This blog is about Istanbul, but I would assume there would be an ATM everywhere the cruise ship docks.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Kobus November 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

Hi Erlend, we will arrive at Istanbul on 02/12/2014 for 8 days. We want to take a cruise on the Bosphoros. Will it be available during that time and how mutch does it cost.

Thx

Kobus

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 19, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Hi Kobus,

Please check up this post about Bosphorus cruises. Please also go through the comments.

Erlend

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Omar November 23, 2014 at 4:10 am

Hi Erlend,

I am a student from the US and will be studying abroad in Istanbul for about 5-6 months. Is it better for me to bring a small amount of cash and use my debit card for the rest? What do you recommend I do money wise and are there any banks you recommend for me to use?

-Omar

Reply

Erlend Geerts November 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Hi Omar,

Don’t bring cash for your whole stay for sure. Bring a small amount to get by in the beginning, open a bank account, and then transfer money from your US bank to your local bank. Internet banking is common here. Maybe check out which US bank have affiliation with Turkish banks, so you don’t pay too much for EFT/International Money Transfers. There are many banks here. Big names are Yapı Kredi, Garanti, Akbank. As a foreigner you are allowed to open a bank account, get an ATM card, but you won’t be able to obtain a VISA/MASTER card easily. Keep that in mind.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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debbie December 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Hi Erlend

Can you advise which is better, Cash (change @ city centre), Credit or Atm?

I’m not sure which gives better rates – i’ve heard changing money at the money changers gives better rate than ATM, or credit cards.

Can you advise?

Thanks!

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 1, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Hi Debbie,

It all depends on the transaction rates your bank gives you. Ask them what fee you need to pay for a cash withdrawal from an ATM in Istanbul. Different bank have different fees, based on the country of withdrawal.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Silvio December 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Hi Erlend,
I am an italian student and I will be in Istanbul for a 5 months Erasmus program.
I have found a nice bank account in Italy which doesn’t charge me anything when I withdraw money from ATM all around the world, in any currency (with official “Maestro/Mastercard” exchange rates).

So, for me, is it better just to bring the ATM card?
Is it possible that some ATM in Istanbul charge me extra fees, a part from my agreement with the bank? I mean, does the ATM have any fix usage cost, independently from my bank?

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide
Best regards
Silvio

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 5, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Hi Silvio,

I have to congratulate you on your research. The rule of thumb is that the bank you withdraw money from makes the charges. Since you made a nice deal with your Italian bank, that would be zero in your case. However, I would double-check with them what Turkish bank(s) they partner with to have this fee-free deal. ATMs here are bank dependent, so you may want to learn which banks/ATMs they prefer to work with or with whom they have an agreement.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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AD December 6, 2014 at 12:45 am

Hi,
I will be visiting Istanbul with my wife for the first time next month. For a week. Is it safe for us to travel around without any guide? And we also plan a day trip to Uludag. Any advice? Thanks

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Hi AD,

Sure, most people travel around without a guide. Istanbul is one of the safest world cities, providing you use common sense. You’ll find Turkish people in general very welcoming, honest, and welcoming. However, in every fruit basket, there are unfortunately some rotten apples. To be better equipped sorrow free stay, I suggest you read these two pages regarding common tourist scams and bad taxi practices. Please do read the latest comments to find answers to any extra questions you may have.

Have a nice stay,
Erlend

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Dassi December 22, 2014 at 3:44 am

Hi Erlend

Thank you so much for your precious and valuable information..my wife and myself will be in Istanbul on Tusday 23 December..we’ll be reach Ataturk airport at about 8.30 pm, and I guess it will take some time to leave the airport..we rented an apartment at Omer Hayyam Caddesi Beyoglu.. So I would like to know how to reach there please..apart from the taxi which is a little bit expensive for our budget, is thare anothe way to go to that adress??

thank you in advance

Reply

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