Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forums Other Destination advice Currency for Istanbul

  • Jess 37 posts

    I am going to Istanbul on Sunday and was planning to just use my credit card for spending. Does anyone know if I should also take some currency or are cards accepted everywhere? It will be mainly for transport and food and drink. Thanks.

    John 1,095 posts

    You will get a far better rate exchanging pounds in Turkey than in the UK, and if you do exchange cash you should do as little as late as possible, because it’s more likely than not the Turkish lira will drop in value during your stay

    Skywalker 762 posts

    Lucky you 😁 Istanbul is a great place

    Cards accepted in most places – that said, I don’t remember seeing many (if any) Amex acceptance signs in windows.


    @John
    is right re: cash exchange, as you will need cash to pay in some places. But if you have Revolut, it is great for cash withdrawals/incidentals, accepted pretty much everywhere and gives a great rate too.

    davefl 1,457 posts

    I was there a couple of months ago for 5 days. Take pounds and change them at the places you’ll find on the street. Great rates both ways, in fact I ended up with too many Lira on my last day and got them changed to USD for my upcoming trip.

    ATM charges are extortionate unless you can find one or two particular bank chains, I think one was ING, but the vast majority of INGs shown on google maps didn’t exist when I walked miles to find them.

    Lady London 2,178 posts

    They like Euros too quite often if you have any cash lying arounď

    BBbetter 821 posts

    While its sound advice to convert when you are there, get some cash to cover your needs for first few days. Tips for taxi and hotel staff etc. You also dont want to be forced to go to a dodgy moneychanger right after you land at the destination.

    davefl 1,457 posts

    I said last year that inflation is so bad over there that the locals will take anything apart from Lira if they can get you to pay them that way. Pretty much all restaurant bills had TYL/EUR/USD options on them.

    Was 34 Lira to the pound when I was there in Oct, it’s 41 now.

    can2 580 posts

    I still find Istanbul very expensive for whatever it is worth.
    Lira is sinking but the prices are increasing fast.
    I guess that’s their way to deal with hyper inflation — increase the prices before the inflation eats it up. Sad.

    Aston100 1,502 posts

    ATMS from Halk, ING and a couple of others are fee-free (obviously decline DCC when offered) and should have a presence at IST and SAW airports.
    Cards accepted in most places.
    In addition, ATMs from PTT (the post office) are fee-free and there should be a few around the city.
    As above, don’t take out too much cash as the Lira is on a downward spiral.
    Use Lira if cash payment is unavoidable. Don’t be a wally and pay in Euros unless you’ve got some lying around.
    Tip in cash, but don’t feel the need to tip excessively – you can round up your taxi fare to the next 50 or 100 Lira. You’re not in the USA or western Europe.
    Make sure taxis turn on their meter, otherwise get out and find another (chances are they’ll call you back and turn the meter on after all).

    Jess 37 posts

    Thanks everyone for your help. I shall definitely heed advice and ensure I only have a small amount of lira ant a time. Also, I might possibly have some euros at home.

    louie 138 posts

    I was most recently in IST last June and couldn’t find any of the lower fees bank ATMs mentioned by Aston100 at the airport. PTT ones were easier to find in the city. But I don’t think any of them are fee free, just lower than the 7% that most of the ATMs wanted to charge.

    Aston100 1,502 posts

    I was most recently in IST last June and couldn’t find any of the lower fees bank ATMs mentioned by Aston100 at the airport. PTT ones were easier to find in the city. But I don’t think any of them are fee free, just lower than the 7% that most of the ATMs wanted to charge.

    There are definitely four banks whose ATMs do not charge a fee. In addition to the PTT.
    The most likeliest cause of fees is when accidentally accepting the DCC offer (on by default).

    Source: I use Turkish ATMs multiple times per annum with my Halifax Clarity.

    cin3 170 posts

    There is zero reason to exhange cash almost anywhere in the world and Turkey is definitely no exception.

    LD27 217 posts

    That’s not true for Belgrade. Went to Nikola Tesla museum this afternoon. Big sign at entrance – No cards no Euros. Would only accept local currency. Didn’t have enough local cash, but a kind fellow traveller gave us what we needed. Thank you to Victor from Chilean Patagonia.

    JDB 4,854 posts

    That’s not true for Belgrade. Went to Nikola Tesla museum this afternoon. Big sign at entrance – No cards no Euros. Would only accept local currency. Didn’t have enough local cash, but a kind fellow traveller gave us what we needed. Thank you to Victor from Chilean Patagonia.

    And the trams, which are a great way to get around Belgrade, don’t take cash in any currency or cards!

    LD27 217 posts

    @JDB. It’s really interesting. I thought that was the case last year. However there is no consistency. Bus 72 from airport needed to pay by text and await confirmation – we ended up getting taxi. Some buses/trams you can now use card at machine by driver. Others you still need to buy from kiosk or text.

    davefl 1,457 posts

    There is zero reason to exhange cash almost anywhere in the world and Turkey is definitely no exception.

    I’m afraid that’s simply not true. I’m in Italy at the moment, and been in at least 2 places to buy a bus ticket that only accepted cash. The buses woouldn’t accept cash or card on board, only a pre-purchased ticket.

    I can name plenty more examples.

    JDB 4,854 posts

    @JDB. It’s really interesting. I thought that was the case last year. However there is no consistency. Bus 72 from airport needed to pay by text and await confirmation – we ended up getting taxi. Some buses/trams you can now use card at machine by driver. Others you still need to buy from kiosk or text.

    When I was there in December I was told the only way was on the app which I signed up to. I wondered initially if the trams were free after not seeing anyone buy a ticket or tapping/validating anything!

    memesweeper 1,331 posts

    There is zero reason to exhange cash almost anywhere in the world and Turkey is definitely no exception.

    do you have cash in the UK? there’s a handful of places here that are cash only, and there’s a handful in Istanbul. a little cash is always handy. I did spend an inordinate amount of time in Istanbul trying various ATMs to find the magic combo of (a) not charging a silly fee and (b) actually having some cash inside … eventually managed it, but now don’t recall actually needing cash for anything. I think I used the last of it up in duty free.

    Oh, the duty free on arrival in Istanbul (IST) is NOT a rip-off, and cheaper for many items than departure duty free.

    BBbetter 821 posts

    Cin3 was trolling.

    memesweeper 1,331 posts

    Cin3 was trolling.

    Doh! The tip on duty free stands…

    cin3 170 posts

    There is zero reason to exchange cash almost anywhere in the world and Turkey is definitely no exception.

    do you have cash in the UK? there’s a handful of places here that are cash only, and there’s a handful in Istanbul. a little cash is always handy. I did spend an inordinate amount of time in Istanbul trying various ATMs to find the magic combo of (a) not charging a silly fee and (b) actually having some cash inside … eventually managed it, but now don’t recall actually needing cash for anything. I think I used the last of it up in duty free.

    Oh, the duty free on arrival in Istanbul (IST) is NOT a rip-off, and cheaper for many items than departure duty free.

    I am not trolling.

    Please note what I wrote. Exchange cash. You don’t exchange cash you get local currency out of an ATM. One of the only places where you do exchange cash was Argentina and it’s getting like that now in Istanbul but I still wouldn’t bother.

    I did not say you don’t need local currency. You very much need local currency in dozens of countries if not the majority and very much so everywhere in Turkey.

    cin3 170 posts

    And the situation might be changing but there were definitely free ATMs last time I was there.

    Alternatif Bank, HSBC, ING, Ziraat Bankasi are the ones I remember.

    can2 580 posts

    I comfortably survived in istanbul with no cash as now Uber is working with yellow cabs there.

    Just withdraw some little cash from a fee free card like curve to feel safe.

    cin3 170 posts

    You definitely definitely need cash if you’re going to any local places.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.