Money in Turkey: A Tourist Guide to ATMs, Cards and Exchange

Visiting Turkey and wondering how to manage the money there? This article is for you!

I will tell you all about withdrawing from an ATM, exchanging currency, and paying by card.

Do you want to know which ATMs don’t charge an access fee? (hint: Ziraat Bank)

Do you wonder if you can use Revolut, Wise, or other similar cards in Turkey? (Yes, no problems at all)

This is the full guide to money in Turkey for tourists and backpackers!

Currency in Turkey

The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira with code TRY.

It’s been persistently dropping in value since 2007. Inflation in Turkey is a big problem and prices change monthly. It’s funny how the new price on museum tickets is plastered over the previous ones 3 or 4 times – when you go to Turkey you will understand what I’m talking about!

All Turkish lira banknotes feature Mustafa Kemal Ataturk but in different stages of his life

The Turkish Lira is divided into 100 kuruş. With the lira having lost so much value, these are used less and less. I didn’t see a single kuruş coin during my 35 days in Turkey.

The banknote denominations are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200.

All coins’ tails and the obverse side of all banknotes feature Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Yes, he is a big deal in Turkey. Read my top fascinating facts about Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey.

Can you use your card in Turkey?

Yes, you can use your foreign card to pay in Turkey.

Foreign card payments are common in big cities and seaside resorts. These places will accept a card:

  • Fancy restaurants in big towns like Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Antalya;
  • Entrance tickets for super popular places (like Hagia Sophia for example);
  • Shopping centers and trendy malls
  • Luxury hotels
  • Some coffee shops in Istanbul and Antalya
  • Expensive tours (if it’s under 30 USD, you should probably pay cash)

On the other hand, smaller stores, traditional bazaars, guesthouses, intercity dolmus (the minibuses), small cities’ museums, street vendors and pretty much all places in rural areas will only accept cash.

3 debit cards (Visa and Mastercard) from Monese, Revolut and Curve
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Turkey

All kinds of cards are accepted: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Maestro with the first two being the most widely.

ATMs in Turkey

ATMs are abundant in Turkish cities. You won’t have to walk more than a few meters to find an ATM.

Even in smaller ones, there will still be an ATM or two in the town square. You don’t need to carry large quantities of cash unless you’re going to the wilderness for days on end. And there why would you need cash at all?

A row of ATM boxes in Turkey
A row of ATMs in Turkey

Turkish ATMs accept all kinds of cards. The maximum withdrawal limit is usually 5000 TRY per withdrawal.

Withdrawal Fees

Here comes the tricky part – avoiding those pesky ATM withdrawal fees. I’m not talking about the fees you get charged from your bank – those you can avoid by using a FinTech solution like Revolut, Curve, or Monese.

Most ATMs in Turkey charge a withdrawal fee between 50 and 150 TRY (1.7-5$). But there are a few ATMs that have 0 fees up to a limit!

ATMs without withdrawal fees

The only 2 banks that never charge for withdrawals are Ziraat and HSBC.

Travelers have reported that ING and PTT bank also don’t charge for withdrawals, but I haven’t used them to confirm. Let me know in the comments.

All the other major banks including Akbank, Denizbank, Garanti, QNB Finansbank, SekerBank, ISbank, VakifBank, and YapiKredi charge a withdrawal fee.

Ziraat Bank's ATMs are the best to withdraw money in Turkey.
Ziraat Bank – no withdrawal fees and widespread ATMs!

Ziraat Bankası is relatively common in Turkey and you shouldn’t have a problem finding one of its ATMs nearby.

Look for the stylized wheat ear in red on a white background.

Paying Directly in Foreign Currency

In Antalya and the region, paying in USD, EUR and GBP is more widespread than you can imagine. The city is a massive tourism hotspot, usually ranking in the top 10 most visited cities in the world every year.

This is not to say that you should. You will be paying extra for convenience in the form of a bad exchange rate.

Outside of Antalya, even in Istanbul, it’s not that common to pay in foreign currency. However, with the Lira being so volatile and losing value by the week, I wouldn’t be surprised if some vendors started listing prices in more stable currencies.

Exchanging Money in Turkey

First things first – Do NOT exchange for Lira in your country. The rates are definitely poorer than in Turkey where it is THE currency.

Also, you don’t need to exchange money in Turkey if you have a debit or credit card with low fees. Exchanging physical cash will probably turn out to be more expensive than withdrawing cash from an ATM due to the exchange rate margins, especially given the galloping inflation.

But I understand if you carry cash when traveling and exchange it for the local currency. It’s normal and safe. So here’s how to be prepared to exchange money in Turkey.

What currency to bring

Euro, US dollar, and British Pound are the best currencies to carry.

You will also be able to exchange most other European currencies and larger world economies (Canada, Australia, etc.) too.

Where to Exchange Money

Turkey is a popular travel destination and exchanging money is common, widespread, and standard.

According to Turkish Law, it’s illegal to exchange money anywhere other than a bank or an authorized money exchange office. These are also the places most likely to update their rates daily, even hourly.

Even with inflation changing prices and the value of the currency quickly, the currency black market is not popular.

To avoid getting scammed or worse – caught breaking the law – exchange in an office in the center of a big city.

The most popular exchange bureaus and banks to exchange money in Turkey are:

  • Aksa Döviz;
  • Albaraka Türk;
  • DenizBank;
  • Garanti Bank.

How much cash to bring to Turkey?

This depends on the duration of your stay, what kind of activities you will be partaking in, and what your budget is. Using your card in Turkey is pretty easy so there’s no need to carry too much physical cash.

My advice is to have at least 200$ just in case something goes wrong with your bank cards and you need emergency cash until you sort it out.

A portion of Ali nazik kebab
Ali Nazik kebab in Gaziantep – only 120 TL (4$)

When I went to Turkey I had exactly that much stashed away but since I exclusively used my Revolut and Curve cards, I didn’t exchange at all.

If you’re asking how much money you need to travel to Turkey, you can check out my backpacker’s budget report for Turkey.

Bargaining

Bargaining is an inseparable part of shopping in Turkey.

The rule of thumb is that if a price tag is displayed, no haggling is required. This rule can be disregarded in very popular and touristy markets like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

The first price you will hear is usually 3-4 times higher than the real price. You will never get the real price, but with some friendly banter, you will meet the vendor in the middle.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Turkey.

You are expected to tip 10-15% in restaurants and bars. Round up the amount to the nearest 10 lira (or 50 with inflation being so high nowadays) for taxi rides. Tip however much you think your masseuse deserves in massage parlors and hammams.

No need to tip for street food like kebabs and Kahramanmaras ice cream – even if the famous “I tricked you” performance is included.

The rule of thumb about tipping in Turkey is that if you pay first, you don’t tip. If you pay after – you may tip but it’s not compulsory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of your most burning questions about money in Turkey.

What is the ATM withdrawal limit in Turkey?

ATMs commonly have a withdrawal limit of 5000 TL.

Can you use US dollars in Turkey?

With the Turkish Lira being so volatile and losing value every day, paying in US dollars (or Euros or British Pounds) may even be preferred in some places.

However, you will always be paying at a very bad exchange rate.

Can you use Revolut in Vietnam?

Yes, Revolut cards work in Turkey. Both VISA and Mastercard work. You can withdraw from ATMs and pay on POS terminals with your Revolut card.

Similar fintech apps like Wise, Monese, Curve, N26, and Starling also work there.


If you’re going to neighboring Georgia, check out this guide to money in Georgia too!

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