Istanbul - Obtain Turkish Lire

I am going to Istanbul. Everyone states the best thing to do is go to an ATM.
I want to get Turish Lire while I am in Istanbul. What ATM do you go to if your bank is not in Turkey? Or if your bank is in Turkey, but you cannot get to that bank. Can you use any ATM and just have them charge a fee. I am just confused about the whole process of get currency while in Europe. Can you use your Visa card to get currency and have them bill you the funds you took out from the visa and if so how do you do that? Thank you for your help in this matter.

Posted by Paula
Arlington, TX, USA
280 posts

A VISA card and an ATM card are not necessarily the same. You want an ATM card..if you are unsure, check with your bank. After you clear customs and claim you baggage you will have your first opportunity to use your ATM card. There are several and chances are your bank will not be tied to the banks inTurkey, so just choose one. When using an ATM in Istanbul, it is a good idea to use one that is located inside or just outside a bank. You will have to memorize your four digit PIN number. It is a very simple, straight forward will be able to access the transaction in English and you may be charged $3-$5 for the transaction..this will be a draw on your bank

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4470 posts

Yes, you can get money from any ATM that is part of the international networks (which the banks in Turkey are). You insert your card, select English, put in your PIN, select "withdrawal," choose your amount, and get your money. The only hard part is knowing how many lira to ask for. The machine will not show your balance (in either dollars or lira), and will not convert your withdrawal to dollars. So, you go to or to get the conversion, so you know how much your desired "dollar amount" is in lira. For your first withdrawal, get an odd amount so you get some smaller bills. For example, if you want 700 lira, ask for 680, so you will get at least one 20 lira and one 10 lira bill. Here is a page of Rick's links about getting money in Europe. Just read all of them, and you'll be a pro: One more tip: check what your bank charges for foreign withdrawals. If it's high (Chase charges $3 plus 3%, per withdrawal), open an account at TD Bank. They charge 0% markup; if you have a basic account, they charge $2 per withdrawal, and a fancier account with a $2500 minimum balance has a fee of $0 per withdrawal. When you open an account there, they give you an ATM card right away, so even if you're leaving soon, you can get this set up.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4470 posts

It's detailed in Rick's tips, but don't use a credit card to get cash at an ATM, except in an emergency. This is treated as a "cash advance" and has high fees. For instance, my credit card charges 3% for foreign transactions and 3% for cash advances, and I was told that if I got cash at a foreign ATM, both charges would apply. Instead, use an ATM card with the Plus, Cirrus, Mastercard, and/or Visa logo. These indicate that it is part of the international networks. I used a variety of bank ATM's in Turkey, and all of them worked fine with my TD card. Yes, there's a "chorus line" of 4 or 5 ATM's in the airport on your way out, each with a different bank. There are also ATM's all over town; once you know the bank logos from seeing them at the airport, you'll know these are legitimate. One is always advised to avoid ATM's that are not affiliated with a bank, but I don't even recall seeing these in Turkey; as I said, there's no shortage of bank ATM's around.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
829 posts

It might be helpful to print conversion charts showing dollars and Turkish Lira as found on the Oanda website under the Currency Converter tab.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
734 posts

Right by the Haghia Sofia in Sultanahmet (Old City) (and lots of other places) there is a line of ATMs - any one of them will work. I used several. I had no trouble getting money at the airport either (just don't use a Travelex ATM - major ripoff). I even found a bill-to-coin exchange machine in the airport and used it to exchange some bills for smaller coins. Used some small coins to get tokens for the subway & tram into the center. Really, it will be no problem getting Lira - just stay away from exchange places and Travelex ATMs at the airport.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
217 posts

Honestly, this is what banks are for. You go to your bank. You explain that you wish to use cash machines in Europe/Turkey (Turkey is not in Europe) to withdraw cash from debit cards. You get a card for the trip. When you get to Turkey, you find a cash machine. They all are multi-language. Look for the English flag, and push that button. Instructions will come in English. It is honestly no more complex than doing it here. Let the bank know where you are going, and you will have no problem. When you return, you cut the cards up, if you wish to be a bit more safe. We did this in Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia, and had no problems whatsoever.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

(Turkey is not in Europe) It's maddening when they keep moving the Bosphorus around.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

Turkey straddles both continents. Istanbul has an "Asian" side and a "European" side, as you will learn when you visit there. Turkey has been trying to join the EU for several years. The water link between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, part of which is the Bosphorus, is the traditional border between Europe and Asia. This water link bisects Istanbul.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
1081 posts

"When you return, you cut the cards up, if you wish to be a bit more safe." Paul ... I'm trying to figure out why you would cut up your debit cards after your trip?? They're good for more than one trip.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2080 posts

To answer your question that gets asked almost weekly on this web site, you may want to check out: "Graffiti Wall > Money/Communication > ATMs: Minimizing Fees" for more information on this subject. I would also suggest that your get a copy of RS's "Europe thru the Back Door" and read it carefully if you have not done so already. Then get a copy of his Istanbul Guide Book if you do not have that one yet. I have been to Istanbul twice and have never had a problem getting local currency with my debit card tied to a checking account at a local credit union used at ATMs that are all over Istanbul. Just make sure you use an ATM that has the symbol of whatever card you are using and avoid using any that are sponsored by a currency exchange company as they have terrible fees and exchange rates. Happy travels and I would go back to Istanbul in a minute.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
669 posts

WE always get the currency of the countries that we visit from our Bank of America before departing. I like to arrive at our destination, grab our carry-ons, and get going without lining up at an airport ATM behind tourists trying to make the machine spit out some Lira. Last I knew you will need a US $20 bill each for your entry visa at the airport. We also got Lira from Istanbul ATM's, but at our leisure. You can exit the arrival point way ahead of those trying to get Lira to pay a taxi driver or purchase a tram ticket into Istanbul. Some hotels will have a driver meet you if you stay 3-4 nights in their hotel. You will be enchanted by Istanbul and the very friendly residents.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1624 posts

In 2012 we used the ATM at the airport. No line. What we didn't know until later that who ever filled the ATM had put in an "old money" bill that no one would accept. Not even the state bank. Its a souvenir now.

Posted by Paula
Arlington, TX, USA
280 posts

It is now possible to purchase your visa online so no need to stand
In line prior to clearing immigration.

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
332 posts

I just wanted to thank everyone who responded to my questions. It was most helpful and informative. Again, thank you! You have all answered my questions and helped me.