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Travel Money Guide: Turkey

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How to pick the right travel money product to take with you to Turkey

For Australians travelling to Turkey, it pays to know a thing or two about the right type of travel money to take with you. This article will provide information on the travel cards, credit cards and debit cards that are geared towards international travel to Turkey as well as give some tips about using cash and traveller’s cheques.

Which option is right for your next trip?

Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard

Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard

$0 foreign transaction fee with a $0 annual fee.

  • $0 p.a.
  • 17.99% p.a. on purchases
  • 2.99% p.a. for 9 months on balance transfers
  • Cash Advance Rate of 21.99% p.a.
  • Up to 55 days interest free

Compare travel cards for Turkey

Rates last updated July 25th, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4.00
$0 p.a.
An introductory offer on balance transfers, plus complimentary travel insurance & access to a 24/7 Concierge service.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% or $4.00, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy a high credit limit with complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest Qantas World Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$270 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases and receive complimentary travel insurance.

Compare up to 4 providers

 
Rates last updated July 25th, 2017
$
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
$0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
Westpac Choice
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
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Rates last updated July 25th, 2017
Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
ANZ Travel Card
ANZ Travel Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
NAB Traveller Card
NAB Traveller Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0 $0 Go to site More
Qantas Cash
Qantas Cash
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
Velocity Global Wallet® Card
Velocity Global Wallet® Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, ZAR AUD 0.00, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, THB 60, USD 1.95, ZAR 20, Other than above: AUD 1.95 $0 $0 Go to site More
Westpac Global Currency Card
Westpac Global Currency Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, ZAR

Non-Westpac Group ATM in Australia / non-Global Alliance ATM overseas: AUD 2.00, USD 2.00, GBP 1.50, EUR 2.00. NZD 3.00, CAD 2.50, HKD 15.00, SGD 3.00, JPY 200, THB 75.00, ZAR 20.00

Over 50k ATMs (Global ATM Alliance network & Westpac): $0

Transferring through another financial institution (BPAY) may attract a transaction fee. $0 Go to site More
St.George Global Currency Card
St.George Global Currency Card
AUD, HKD, USD, SGD, GBP, JPY, EUR, THB, NZD, ZAR, CAD AUD 2.00 USD 2.00 GBP 1.50 EUR 2.00 NZD 3.00 CAD 2.50 HKD 15.00 SGD 3.00 JPY 200 THB 75.00 ZAR 20.00 $0 $0 Go to site More
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The Turkish currency - Lira

Turkey uses the lira and although you can pay with euros in some places, you’re always going to get a better deal if you transact in the local currency. You can get lira from ATMs using your debit card or travel card — withdrawing cash on credit is not advised — Visa and Mastercard cards will work all medium to large businesses throughout the country.

How much lira do I need to bring to Turkey?

Turkey is a value destination for Australian travellers. Like all places in the world, Turkey is as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.

IstanbulBudgetMidrangeA royal experience
foodDürüm kebab (street) $5At a mid-range restaurant 10 - $20 per dish5 star restaurant, mains from $40+ per dish
sleepHostel dorm $10+ per night2 star hotel $40+ per night5 star hotel $150 - $800 per night
cameraStroll through the Grand Bazar freeOne day sightseeing tour $100 per person (includes lunch)Private photo tour of Istanbul $400 per person for 4 hours

*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history

The Australian dollar has strengthened against the Turkish lira in recent years. If you believe this trend is set to continue, you can take advantage of weakening lira by using your card to take advantage of the card scheme exchange rate, which is close to the market rate.

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Turkish lira (TRY)
20121.285697
20131.328464
20141.329165
20151.109729
20161.105170

Which exchange rate is the best?

Transactions on Visa, Mastercard and American Express branded credit cards and debit cards use the card scheme exchange rate. This is as close to the market rate as you’re likely to get when you exchange funds from Australian dollars to Turkish lira. Travel cards use a different rate. The financial institution which provides the travel card applies a margin when you exchange funds between currency wallets.

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Should you take a travel card, a debit card or a credit card?

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Turkey. American Express cardholders may have issues with card acceptance, especially outside the major cities. There is an abundance of ATMs in Turkey, and if you think you're going to have an issue using your card in a particular destination, make a withdrawal and use cash instead. There are debit cards which waive the currency conversion fee as well as the international ATM fee, this is preferable to using a travel card in Turkey as no prepaid travel cards support Turkish lira.

A quick summary of travel money options for Turkey

Travel money optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Save on currency conversion fees
  • Waived overseas ATM withdrawal fees
  • Only one option: Citibank Plus Transaction Account
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Hold different currencies
  • Save on currency conversion fees
  • ATM fees
  • Exchange rate fee
Credit cards for travel
  • Rewards program
  • Contactless payments
  • Interest-free period on purchases
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • Cash advance fees
  • International ATM fees
Traveller's cheques
  • Acceptance
  • Security
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Not all merchants accept traveller's cheques
Cash
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards. 

How do travel cards, credit cards, debit cards and more work in Turkey?

Using debit cards

Much like a prepaid travel money card, a travel debit card lets you spend your own money. You can use a debit card over the counter and to withdraw money from ATM where Visa and Mastercard are accepted throughout the country, which is most places. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the only travel debit card on offer. This product lets you spend your own money without paying extra for currency conversion, and you won’t pay for international ATM withdrawals either.

  • Tip: Citibank no longer have a presence in Turkey. You can use your Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card to make free ATM withdrawals from Denizbank ATMs (and most ATMs from Turkish banks), the company which purchased Citibank’s Turkish operation.

Using credit cards

Credit cards give you a line of credit to use for emergencies, large purchases or over the counter transactions. Remember that your purchases will collect interest though, so either make use of interest-free days by paying your account in full each month or take up a card with a low or 0% purchase rate. Using your credit card at an ATM will cost you a high cash advance fee, as well as interest and international ATM fees. You’ll also want to pick a card that doesn’t charge currency conversion fees, as these will add up each time you use your card to pay in a foreign currency. Credit cards designed for overseas use often come with additional perks such as complimentary travel insurance and rewards programs that could come in handy.

  • Tip: Some no currency conversion fee credit cards also offer travel insurance when you pay for your return travel ticket, which is a further saving.

Using prepaid travel cards

No travel cards support Turkish lira, look for a card which waives the currency conversion fee (Qantas Cash and the American Express Global Travel Card) if you’re set on taking a travel card when you visit Turkey. These products won’t apply the additional charge for currency conversion when you spend in lira, which can be higher than what you’d pay if you use your regular debit or credit card. The compromise is these cards will charge you to use an international ATM withdrawal in Turkey, which is a couple of dollars for each withdrawal. You can load these cards with euros, and some merchants in Turkey will accept euros — but don’t count on it — and you’ll pay an unfavourable exchange rate too.

  • Tip: Travel cards are dual card accounts, so you’ll get two cards. This can come in handy if your first card is lost or stolen, so make sure to keep the second card in a safe place.

Using traveller's cheques

It’s far more convenient (and it can be cheaper) to use your travel friendly debit card or prepaid travel card to make ATM withdrawals rather than a traveller's cheque when you need cash. Traveller’s cheques must be cashed at banks and they are not accepted at exchange offices or businesses.

Paying with cash in Turkey

Always have lira on you when you’re out and about in Turkey, as you’re bound to run into situations where a business won’t accept your card. Cafes, small eateries and tea houses are all cash only. Larger stores are likely to take cards but some of the best experiences, like shopping in the Grand Bazaar, are a cash affair.

  • Tip: Avoid carrying large amounts of cash on your, tourists are often the target of criminals, especially in areas of Istanbul. Common sense is the best approach.
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Luke’s trip to Turkey

Luke visited Turkey in 2014, he spent a week in Istanbul before joining a TopDeck tour which took him to the Gallipoli dawn service at Lone Pine. He left the tour early as it finished in Istanbul. He went to Greece instead. What cards did you take with you?

Why did you take these cards to Turkey?

Luke says he took the St.George cards because St.George are his Australian banking institution. He applied for the Citibank account specifically for this trip so he could use it to make purchases and withdrawals without paying the currency conversion fee as well as the international ATM withdrawal fee.

Were there any places where you had trouble using any of your cards?

Luke says in Istanbul card acceptance wasn’t a problem. There were a large number of local and international bank ATMs where he could withdraw cash and major retailers and large restaurants (not the kebab shops on the side of the road) where he could use his card. In Gallipoli, he made sure he had enough cash to cover the cost of purchasing snacks and drinks, he says there are limited facilities at ANZAC Cove.

Do you have any travel money tips for Turkey?

Luke says take note of the following:

  • Register your travel plans with smarttraveller.gov.au
  • Let your banks know where you’ll be heading so they don’t block your cards.
  • Don’t be tricked by exchange offices at Istanbul bus stations. He says he got severely ripped off the first time he tried to change cash. This only happened once, but Luke says the memory still stings.
  • You need to have Turkish bank account if you want a Turkish debit card to use while you’re on holiday. Luke says he didn’t encounter any shops or businesses selling these cards to tourists.
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Buying lira in Australia

You will get a better deal if you wait to purchase lira in Turkey. Not all foreign cash services can sell you lira in Australia, and the rate is likely to be worse than what you’ll get from an exchange office or ATM when you arrive. The following companies will sell your Turkish lira in Australia, and businesses like Travelex have convenient cash pickup locations at Australian international airports:

Exchanging cash

If you have a no currency conversion fee and no international ATM fee card, ATMs are the best way to get lira in Turkey. When you use your card to withdraw cash, you’ll get the card scheme foreign exchange rate, which is a better rate than what you’ll get at exchange offices or banks. If you have cash to exchange, most exchange offices will buy Australian dollars and sell you lira. You can find these businesses in tourist areas, for example Taksim in Istanbul, and unlike banks you may not pay a commission. Avoid exchange cash at the airport, the rates are poor.

ATM withdrawals in Turkey

You can use a Visa or Mastercard debit card, credit card and travel card to get cash from Turkish ATMs. Most ATMs give you the choice of withdrawing Turkish lira or euros. Lira is the currency of Turkey, so you’ll need to use lira for cash purchases to avoid losing out by ‘over the counter’ foreign currency exchange rates.

  • Tip: Turkish bank ATMs do not charge a local ATM operator fee. There are instances when the transaction times out, if this is the case, try a different ATM. If charges are applied for a transaction and you don’t get cash, contact your bank to have the situation rectified.

Finding cash and ATMs in Turkey

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options to take to Turkey

You won’t have any problems using your Visa and Mastercard credit card and debit card in Turkey, but a thousands things could happen to your card when you’re away. So you should always have more than one way to access your money in Turkey, or anywhere for that matter. A debit card is ideal for ATM withdrawals, especially so if the product waives the international ATM fee. Meanwhile, a credit card gives you a line of credit that can come in handy for large or emergency purchases. Remember that most credit card purchases will incur interest though, which can heighten your expenses. Travel cards are not the best product to take to Turkey; however, if you’re travelling to the eurozone as well, these products may be worth comparing. Use the right product for the right situation and you’ll save yourself enough for an extra beer, meals, souvenir or even a night out by the end of your trip. Turkey is the gateway to Europe and the meeting point between the East and the West. Compare travel money products which let you spend in foreign currencies and make cheap ATM withdrawals so you can avoid giving your bank a slice of your budget which should be spent enjoying yourself.

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This page was last modified on 19 July 2017 at 6:26pm.

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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    liliAugust 3, 2015

    Dear Madam/Sir,

    Would you please let me know how can I buy debit card in Istanbul?
    Furthermore, getting debit card does not need any bank account in Turkey, just getting Visa /master card does need personal account in the bank.
    Am I right?

    I am waiting for your kind reply.
    Best Regards
    MR

    • Staff
      SallyAugust 4, 2015Staff

      Hi Lili,

      Thank you for your question.

      As you’ll see on our Turkey travel money guide, there are a number of travel debit cards to use in Turkey.

      The debit cards listed on the travel money guide are only available in Australia. These debit cards don’t require you to have a bank account in Turkey. Instead, you open the account and load the funds in Australia which can then be used while you’re travelling overseas.

      I hope this has helped answer your questions.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  2. Default Gravatar
    April 21, 2014

    HI,
    WHERE can i buy prepaid travel card in istanbul

    • Staff
      MarcApril 22, 2014Staff

      Hi mery,
      thanks for the question.

      You might want to try a post office or supermarket to find a prepaid credit/travel card in Turkey. Alternatively if you already have an internet banking account with an institution in Australia you might be able to apply for a travel card and have it sent to you.

      I hope this helps,
      Marc.

  3. Default Gravatar
    rezApril 16, 2014

    hi
    i am traveling to VAN in turkey , can i use my australian mastercard( westpac debit card) to withdraw money from ATMs in there ?

    • Staff
      MarcApril 17, 2014Staff

      Hi Rez,
      thanks for the question.

      This is possible but will come with fees such as the foreign transaction fee, and international ATM withdrawal fees. For more information about what fees you might pay when using a debit card overseas consult our guide.

      I hope this helps,
      Marc.

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