Take a Starling Bank card to Turkey
- Starling Bank is a great option to take to Turkey
- Order now and it can arrive within 3 business days
- No ATM fees
- No international transaction fees
For Brits 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.
It’s good to know that while the traditional way of getting travel money is all well and good, there are a range of digital apps that can make the process even simpler. These include Starling, Revolut and N26. If these new age solutions float your boat, you can read our guide to learn more about them. For the best way to get travel money for a trip to Croatia, though, stay right here for all the info.
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.
Turkey is a value destination for British travellers. Like all places in the world, Turkey is as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.
|Istanbul||Budget||Midrange||A royal experience|
|Dürüm kebab (street) £3||At a mid-range restaurant £6-12 per dish||5 star restaurant, mains from £25 per dish|
|Hostel dorm £6+ per night||2 star hotel £25+ per night||5 star hotel £100 – £500 per night|
|Stroll through the Grand Bazar free||One day sightseeing tour £60 per person (includes lunch)||Private photo tour of Istanbul £200 per person for 4 hours|
*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.
The Pound Sterling 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.
|Year||Average annual exchange Pound Sterling (GBP) to Turkish lira (TRY)|
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 Pound Sterling 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.
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.
|Travel money option||Pros||Considerations|
|Debit cards for travel|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
|Credit cards for travel|
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between 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.
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.
A travel money card is a fairly safe way to take money abroad, however, unlike a debit card, it is not linked to your bank account in order to prevent identity theft and if it is lost or stolen a replacement can be sent to your holiday address. Once you’ve received and activated your card, you can top it up and use it as you would a debit card in merchants and shops across the world. Once you are home, you can continue to use it or simply withdraw all the remaining funds
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.
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.
If paying by cash or traveller’s cheque even is old hat by your standards, then you should consider using a digital banking app on your travels. These apps, including big names like Starling, N26, Revolut and Monzo, provide a straightforward way to make payments while abroad without incurring any transaction or withdrawal fees. Most, if not all, of them are supported by Visa or Mastercard, so you won’t have to worry about your card being rejected. If this sounds good, all you need to do is download one from the App Store or Google Play and get set up.
If you’d like to know more about the quickly evolving world of mobile banking apps, read our guide here.
Whilst you can buy lira in most high street or online travel shops, you will get a better deal if you wait to purchase lira in Turkey as the rate is likely to be worse than what you’ll get from an exchange office or ATM when you arrive. You can compare travel money services here.
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 Pound Sterling 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.
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.
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.Back to top
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