Currency in Turkey – Money tips and info about the Turkish Lira

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Want to know more about the currency in Turkey? They use Turkish Lira (TRY) and here’s a guide with tips and more information about the Turkish currency as well as how to handle money in Turkey as a tourist.

I will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about ATMs, currency exchange, card payments, etc.

Quick facts about the Turkish Lira (TRY)

  • Name: “Türk Lirası“, Turkish Lire in English.
  • Currency in: Turkey
  • Date of introduction: 2005.
  • Denominations: 1 lira in coins. 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş. Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira
  • Subunit: 100 kuruş
  • Abbreviation: TL.
  • Currency code: TRY.
turkish currency

Photo: Shutterstock

Can you pay with Euro in Turkey?

The Euro is widely accepted as currency in Turkey in tourist areas. However, the rate that you will be given will likely be much worse than the actual value of the Euro, which means that you will lose a lot of money by paying in Euros in Turkey. 

Always pay in the local currency – Turkish Lira. 

Can you pay by card in Turkey?

VISA and Mastercard are accepted in many restaurants, hotels and larger stores, but it’s still a cash-based society and it’s recommended that tourists always carry cash for smaller purchases, local restaurants, smaller shops, bus rides, taxi, etc. 

Should you exchange money before your trip? 

Exchanging money in an exchange office is usually a bad idea due to poor exchange rates. I never recommend to exchange money before your trip and the best way to save money while traveling is either by paying by card or withdraw cash from a local ATM. 

Bring a travel card without exchange fees or ATM fees, and you will save plenty of money in Turkey. I recommend Revolut for Europeans, but some countries have banks offering travel cards as well. 

Get Revolut and avoid expensive currency exchange fees

Did you know that you can get the same market rate in Turkish currency when paying with your Revolut card? It doesn’t have any exchange fees when withdrawing money or paying by card abroad. It’s 100% free to get via the link below and will help you avoid unnecessary fees. 

Get your free Revolut card today

Revolut card and app

Money and ATMs in Turkey

My recommendation is that you pay with card in the places where you can, and if paying by card, always choose to be charged in the local currency. The same goes for ATMs, never choose your own currency because you might lose €5-15 per time due to the poor exchange rate.

Take out cash from ATMs that are connected to a bank. Never ever use a Euronet ATM because they charge a fee as well as offer a poor exchange rate. It’s likely that your bank will charge a fee when withdrawing cash abroad, usually about €5 per withdrawal + exchange fees. 

You can easily avoid this by getting a free Revolut standard card which has zero exchange fees when paying by card or withdrawing cash abroad.

ATM in Turkey

Photo: Mehmet Cetin / Shutterstock.com

More about Turkey’s currency

The Turkish currency is given out by the country’s central bank (Türkiye Cumhuriyet Merkez Bankası, TCMB) which has its headquarters in Ankara.

Turkish Lira was introduced as the currency in Turkey in 1923 the first time, and it replaced the former Ottoman lira. The first version remained until 2005 when they devalued the Lira due to high inflation.

Below is a comparison between the Turkish Lira and US dollars. 

  • 1966 – 1 U.S. dollar = 9 lira
  • 1980 – 1 U.S. dollar = 90 lira
  • 1988 – 1 U.S. dollar = 1,300 lira
  • 1995 – 1 U.S. dollar = 45,000 lira
  • 2001 – 1 U.S. dollar = 1,650,000 lira

As you can see, the trend was terrible and it did go as far as making the Turkish currency ranked the least worth currency in the world according to the Guinness Record Book between the years 1999 and 2004. When they switched and introduced the new Turkish Lira, 1 lira was worth 1 000 000 of the old lira (TRL). 

Since then it has been relatively stable although they’re still facing economic problems in Turkey. After the devalutation, the new lira was abbreviated as YTL (Yeni Türk Lirası). However, since 2009, it’s once again named as just Turkish Lira, just like it did when it was first introduced in 1923. The difference is, of course, the value, but also the new currency code (TRY). 

Turkish currency in various denominations

Coin: 1 lira.
Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira.
Kuruş (cents): 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş.

 

turkish coin

 

turkey currency

Photo: Shutterstock

Why is Euro not used as the currency in Turkey?

The biggest reason for this is simply because Turkey is not a member of the EU. However, for many years, they have expressed a wish to join the union, but the response has been that they don’t fulfill the criteria to join the European Union due to human rights and other criteria that need to be met. 

Frequently Asked Questions about money in Turkey

Yes, debit cards can be used in Turkey as long as you don’t have a restriction from your bank. VISA and Mastercard are the two most accepted types of debit cards. I recommend that you get a free Revolut card which offers zero fees when paying in other currencies. 

Yes, you can use your credit card in Turkey as long as you don’t have a restriction from your card processor. VISA and Mastercard credit cards are accepted in many places, but not American Express or Diners.

However, not all places will accept card payments.

Also, your credit card may have high fees when paying in other currencies, so I recommend that you get a free Revolut card which offers zero fees when paying in other currencies.

The best currency to use in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY). The second-best is Euro, and then US dollars. However, you will get more value for your money if paying in Lira rather than Euro and dollars. 

Tourist shops, restaurants and hotels sometimes accept US dollars, but outside of the tourist areas, the US dollar is usually not accepted as currency in Turkey. Also, the rate given when paying in US dollars in Turkey is bad and it’s much better to use the local currency – Lira (TRY). 

There is no limit on how much money you can take to Turkey. However, if you carry more than 10,000 Euro or equivalent in another currency, you need to sign a declaration form upon arrival. 

The currency used in Istanbul is Turkish Lira (TRY). However, due to it being a cosmopolitan city, there are lots of money changers that accepts Euro, US dollars and other major currencies. It’s best to pay in the local Turkish currency when traveling to Istanbul. 

Some shops in tourist areas will accept Euros in Istanbul. But it’s better to get some Turkish Lira because the exchange rate given is likely to be unfavorable, and change will be given in lira. 


Do you have more questions about the currency in Turkey? Leave a comment below!

August 14th, 2019|

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Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

My vision with this blog is to inspire people to travel more and better by sharing useful travel guides and tips from my adventures around the world.

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2 Comments

  1. Mary Wu 10/04/2019 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Hi there,
    I will be on a 15 days group tour through a Turkey. 13 breakfasts and 9 dinners are provided by the tour. So, I need to pay for my own 2 breakfasts, 5 dinners and 15 lunches. I’m not a big shopper of souvenirs. Based on this, how much Turkish currency should I be carrying to cover for the personal meals, a few local souvenirs and a few cab rides in the Istanbul? Please advise. Thanks! Mary

    • Alexander Waltner 10/09/2019 at 6:37 am - Reply

      Hello Mary, a meal in Turkey can cost anywhere from 15-120 TL depending on if it’s a local place or tourist restaurant or a more expensive restaurant. Local souvenirs are cheap unless you buy something exclusive that is handmade with expensive materials. For taxis, I suggest using UBER in Istanbul to avoid being ripped off.

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