Save money with a credit card without paying foreign transaction fees.
Turkey, a popular tourist destination, is a credit-card-friendly country. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted. American Express and Diners Club International? Not so much.
Cash also remains a popular way to pay across the country, so a cash withdrawal could be an option.
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Consider a credit card without foreign transaction fees or an airline cobranded card that saves you money on flights, checked bags or lounge access.
Save money with these cards if you often travel to Turkey:
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United MileagePlus® Club card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Turkish Airlines and United Airlines are members of the Star Alliance. This means you can earn and redeem miles on Turkish Airlines flights with a cobranded credit card from United Airlines.
Also, the two United credit cards have no foreign transaction fees.
Potential credit card fees in Turkey
Whether you’ll pay any fees on your purchases abroad depends on your card. For example, you could pay:
- Foreign transaction fees. This could be up to 3%, which means for every $5,000 spent in Turkey, you’ll pay $150 in fees.
- Currency conversion fees. ATMs and vendors could offer you the option to pay in US dollars. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion and it comes with a poor conversion rate.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. Avoid this by paying in local currency and getting a credit card without foreign transaction fees.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Turkey?
American Express credit cards are accepted more widely than Discover cards — especially at expensive hotels and restaurants.
If you’re a Discover cardmember looking to make cash withdrawals, look for Citibank and Garanti ATMs. American Express owners can choose ATMs from Akbank, Vakifbank, Garanti and Turkiye Bankasi among others.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Turkey?
You’ll need cash if you’re planning to shop from street vendors, market stands, or if you’re going to use public transportation or taxis.
ATMs are widespread across Istanbul and other cities, but expect to pay high cash advance fees and APR if you’re using a credit card. Use a debit card to avoid cash advance fees and an APR.
Do taxis in Turkey accept credit cards?
Most taxis in Turkey accept only cash. There are some, however, that may accept credit cards.
Also, don’t expect to find Uber rides in Turkey, as Uber has been declared illegal since 2018.
Chip and PIN credit cards
These are the most common types of credit cards used in Turkey. You could use a chip and signature card, but it may not be accepted everywhere. To avoid unnecessary frustration, ask your bank to provide a four-digit PIN for your card before traveling.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Turkey?
Using a credit card in Turkey is safe, but exercising caution is advised.
- Select ATMs with care. Choose an ATM attached to a bank. These ATMs are less likely to be tampered with and you can quickly retrieve your card if it gets eaten by the machine.
- Take two cards. Having a backup card could save you time, money and stress.
- Keep your card in sight. Always keep an eye on your card to avoid misuse.
How to prepare before traveling to Turkey
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This can save you up to 3% on every transaction.
- Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. American Express is also accepted, but not as widely.
- Notify your bank before you travel. Otherwise, your bank may consider your activity outside the US fraudulent and block your card.
- Get your bank’s phone number. Quickly resolve any card-related issues by calling.
- Get a backup card. This way, you’ll be covered if something happens to your primary card.
- Get some cash. Having cash is a must if you’re planning to haggle, use a taxi or purchase items from street vendors. Making a cash withdrawal could be an option, but use a debit card to avoid paying fees.
You can use your credit card in most places in Turkey, including hotels, restaurants and most museums. But you may still need cash to fully enjoy Turkey.
If you’re looking to make cash withdrawals, consider carrying a debit card to avoid cash advance fees and an APR. For all other card purchases, get a credit card without foreign transaction fees.