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Turkey - Banking

Turkey has a certified currency known as YTL (the new Turkish lira). Some time ago, the Lira was a very unsteady currency. However, the currency has now stabilized significantly thanks to various monetary policies that reduced the zeroes from Turkish bill values and the current economic growth. The currency instability in Turkey caused foreign currency investments to be undervalued in the country for a long time. Nevertheless, today many Turkish banks will provide you with the option of opening up an account with the new Turkish lira or with a foreign currency. Garanti Bankası, Türikiye İş Bankası (Isbank), Yapı Kredi Bankası-Koçbank and Akbank are some of the major banks in Turkey. Expats can open different types of bank accounts with foreign-owned and local banks in Turkey.

Garanti Bankası is popular with expats because it has English-speaking staff in most of its branches. Most EU expats prefer Isbank because it has a number of European branches, making it highly suitable for them. In addition, Turkey has several foreign banks including J.P. Morgan Chase, HSBC, Citibank, and Deutsche Bank.

Islamic banks Turkey has two main Islamic banks, namely Türk Arap Bankası and Turkish Bank. These banks conduct their operations in adherence to the Islamic laws. Islamic banks do not pay or charge interest (faiz) on loans or accounts. In addition, they do not invest in companies associated with gambling, pork, or alcohol. These banks also buy homes and sell them at higher costs, but the purchasers are allowed to pay in installments.

Opening a Turkish bank account

You must register for a Tax Number before you are allowed to open a bank account in Turkey. Many banks demand a residency permit from applicants before they are allowed to open an account in the new Turkish Lira. However, some may make an exception, especially for customers with large investments. Even if you do not have a residency permit or fail to negotiate with the bank staff, do not give up because many banks will happily open up an account for you in other currencies including the US dollar, British Pound, or Euro. The only drawback with foreign currency accounts is that they offer little or no interest.

Generally, you will be required to fill in an application form and provide your tax number before you can open an account in Turkey. Consider opening a current account first because it allows you to deposit and transfer cash. Many banks in Turkey do online banking, which allows you to conveniently pay for utility bills. Alternatively, you can open a savings account. However, it is important to know that a savings account is charged fifteen percent withholding tax. All interest rates are inclusive of the withholding tax.

Opening hours

Many Turkish banks open between 9:00 hrs and 17:00 hrs. The banks remain open during lunch, but avoid banking at this time of the day because you might have to wait a long time for service.

Cash, cards and ATMs

Ensure that you always carry cash while in Turkey because some shops and restaurants do not accept debit and credit cards. Normally, only big and popular stores accept credit cards. Apply for an ATM or debit card as soon as you open a bank account. Use the card to withdraw money from your account. You should be able to use any Cirrus card, Switch or Maestro with any ATM in the country. However, you might also find some ATMs that cannot work with your card. When applying for your ATM card, confirm with your bank for ATM transaction charges. Most transactions are usually charged at a fee.

It is important to know that Turkish banks do not provide overdrafts. Therefore, ensure that you are aware of your balance to avoid being denied access to cash or debit money. Lastly, avoid carrying around huge amounts of money, especially if you live in a city. Carrying large amounts of money may attract criminals.

Credit and debit cards

Even though debit cards are not accepted in some shops, you can apply for one to enable you to withdraw money from ATMs. Credit cards eliminate the inconvenience of having to go to the bank whenever you need cash.

You are required to be a Turkish citizen to apply for a Turkish credit card (kredi kartı). However, exceptions might be made, especially if you have significant funds to deposit in a bank account. However, this may affect your credit.

Many credit cards are activated by phone. The PIN is also set during the telephone call. You may also activate your card online. Research the activation process and have all the required details ready before you start the activation process.


Checks (çek) are available in Turkey but its best if you avoid using them altogether because many businesses in Turkey do not accept them. When you pay for items using a check, the shop owner has to verify that the check has cleared before handing you your goods. Your merchandise is kept in reserve until the check has cleared. Due to the slow check processing procedure, checks are used in commercial transactions and for expensive purchases only.

Travelers’ checks are also inconvenient. Many merchants and banks do not accept them and those that do will force you to visit a particular branch to be served. Moreover, you might be charged up to 20% of the check’s value for it to be cashed. Therefore, it is wise to stick to credit, cash, and debit.

Foreign-Owned Banks in Turkey

Denizbank A.Ş.
Tel: (212) 355 08 00
Fax: (212) 274 79 93 - 266 93 00

Eurobank Tekfen A.Ş.
Tel: (212) 371 37 37
Fax: (212) 357 08 08

Citibank A.Ş.
Tel: (216) 524 50 00
Fax: (216) 524 50 50

Deutsche Bank A.Ş.
Tel: (212) 317 01 00
Fax: (212) 317 01 05

Expats can open bank accounts with the banks in their home countries or with Turkish banks.

Read more about this country

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