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This is an important country to cover regarding bank/ATM fees, because from personal experience staying in Turkey myself, it’s definitely NOT as straightforward as some other countries in terms of being able to avoid high bank fees when drawing out money on foreign bank cards.
Regardless of what the rules are for your bank card in terms of foreign ATM withdrawal fees, most Turkish banks will still try to charge you a fee for drawing out money with bank cards that’s aren’t Turkish. Even if you’re not meant to be charged for foreign ATM withdrawals by your bank, if you go to just any ATM in Turkey and try and draw Turkish Lira (TL/TRY) out, you’re still highly likely to charged a fee (sometimes as high as 200 TL – about $10!).
Therefore, you need to be more strategic when drawing out cash in Turkey as a tourist/nomad/expat. Here are two main tips:
- Try ATMs belonging to Ziraat Bankasi or PTT Bank first (less likely to charge fees)
- Use Wise Borderless Card to load and spend Turkish Lira balances and spend for free, plus $100 or £/€ 200 free ATM withdrawals per month (as long as you use the right ATMs)
Let’s cover each of these in more detail to give you the best chance of withdrawing cash cheaply or for free in Turkey.
Turkish Banks Which Don’t Charge Cash Withdrawal Fees For Foreign Cards
It’s true that most commercial banks will charge you for drawing out money abroad anyway. If this is your bank, check out the Wise card below for a fee-free solution. However, some high street banks still offer either zero fees on foreign withdrawals, or at least zero fees up to a certain amount each month.
However, even if you DO have this offer in place from your bank, many people still find ATMs in Turkey trying to charge them, even for drawing out Lira. It’s definitely not easy in Turkey finding a bank which won’t charge to draw out cash, so you have to shop around a bit.
I did some research and testing out of this, because I’m in Turkey at the moment, and here are the banks to try first:
- Ziraat Bankasi
- PTT Bank
As of early 2023, from personal testing, Ziraat Bankasi and PTT Bank did not charge for drawing out local currency (Turkish Lira) on a foreign card, although it was the Wise Borderless card which specifically allows you to load a TL balance onto it, which we’ll cover below. But other cards are also reported to work fine with these ATMs.
And then some other banks to try, which worked with zero fees as of late 2022, but may no longer work as bank rules can change regularly in Turkey:
ING Bank are another provider who are frequently cited as not charging ATM fees, but they did try to charge for using my UK-issued Wise card, so they’re a no-go for me, but you can try your card if you like.
Again, be sure to proceed through the menus on the ATM carefully to make sure no fee is to be charged, but these are also ATMs to try first when using foreign bank cards. Pretty much any other ATM you use in Turkey will try to charge you using a foreign card (anyone finds any more banks that don’t charge, contact me to let me know).
And then here are some key rules for drawing out money at Turkish ATMs on foreign bank cards:
- Always draw out in local currency only (Turkish Lira – TRY/TL). Withdrawals in other currencies like EUR/DOL are more likely to incur a fee.
- Decline any conversions the ATM offers you.
- Proceed through the steps on the ATM very carefully. If the bank will charge you to draw out, they will say so (sometimes referred to as “Commission”), and you can press the Red X/Cancel button to decline the transaction and return your card.
- If the bank does not mention any fee, yet you check your statement and they have charged you, contact your own bank to get a refund, as you’re meant to be notified of all fees charged by the ATM.
Multi-Currency Card Option – Wise Borderless Card
If your bank charges for all foreign ATM withdrawals anyway, and you’re looking for an alternative option, then the Wise Borderless Card is a good bet. It’s what I use when abroad and I’ve recently managed to draw out money in Turkey with zero fees, although I did have to use the ATMs listed above.
Wise used to be called TransferWise, and are a multi-currency card provider with a specific goal to reduce or eliminate foreign bank fees:
They are a great competitor to the traditional banks, who offer the ability to attach multiple balances in different currencies (including Turkish Lira) to a single debit card, and spend for free in the local currency on that card, plus withdraw for free up to a certain limit.
The Wise Borderless card is available to residents in most countries now:
- USA (all states except Nevada)
- New Zealand
- Most European countries
- See here for a full list of available countries
Click here to sign up for a Wise Borderless card
If you’re specifically looking to spend in different currencies, then you need the “Cross-border/Borderless” Wise card.
Just have a passport or other photo ID, and bank statement to confirm your address, and that’s usually enough in most cases to get signed up and confirmed. You’ll have your Wise multi-currency card sent to you within a few days.
Once you’ve got it, you can open up a Turkish Lira (TRY) currency balance (complete with local bank details), and use it to spend on holiday in Turkey, or draw out. Turkish Lira accounts also have local bank details, so you can also receive money within Turkey (but not from outside yet).
You deposit money into your GBP/USD/EUR account first, and then convert to TRY for a small fee.
What Can You Do With Your Wise Turkish Lira Balance?
Once you have a TL balance loaded, it’s yours to spend within Turkey as though you had a local bank card.
This means you can:
- Spend your TRY balance in Turkey online, in shops, restaurants etc, just like a normal bank card, with ZERO fees (just like a domestic Turkish bank card). Tap and spend or Chip and Pin without any fees.
- Withdraw up to £/€ 200 worth of Lira (around 4000 TL at current exchange rates) per month in a maximum of 2 transactions with ZERO fees. The limit on US issued cards is lower – $100. Again though, you need to pick the right ATMs to get this – Ziraat Bankasi and PTT Bank are your best options currently.
- You can also actually send money to others in Turkey from your TRY balance, as long as you have the recipient’s account details. Hit the Send button from your TL balance and proceed through the steps.
- You can also receive Turkish Lira from others within Turkey as well (but not from abroad yet). Once you open a balance, you get an IBAN to give to others.
List of Fees With Wise Card
Let’s list a summary of the general fees, fee-free limits and rules with the Wise Borderless Card:
- You can withdraw up to EUR/GBP 200 or $100 worth of Turkish Lira (see conversions below) from an ATM with ZERO fees each calendar month (again, though, you need to use very specific ATMs in Turkey to do this – see above).
- You can make up to 2 ATM withdrawals each month with ZERO fees. If you make more than 2 withdrawals, there’s a fee of EUR/GBP 0.50 per transaction, until you hit the limit below:
- After your 200 GBP/EUR equivalent limit is breached, you’ll pay a 1.75% ATM fee for all withdrawals.
And here’s a concise list of ATM fees you’ll pay for card holders in major English speaking countries:
- UK based cardholders (ATM):
- Currently – Can draw out GBP 200 worth of local currency in maximum of 2 transactions for free each calendar month. After that, 1.75% fee for ATM withdrawals, plus 0.50 fee for any withdrawals over the permitted 2 free ones each month.
- US based cardholders (ATM):
- Currently – Can draw out $100 worth of local currency in maximum of 2 transactions for free each calendar month. After that, 2% fee for ATM withdrawals, plus $1.50 fee for any withdrawals over the permitted 2 free ones each month.
- Australian based cardholders (ATM):
- Currently – Can draw out A$350 worth of local currency in maximum of 2 transactions for free each calendar month. After that, 1.75% fee for ATM withdrawals, plus A$1.50 fee for any withdrawals over the permitted 2 free ones each month.
- Fees for cards issued to residents of other countries vary, but are usually in the same general ballpark (couple of hundred free each month in max 2 ATM transactions., then 1.5-2% fee after that)
In other words, if you’re going to use your Wise card to draw out money, you need to make two big withdrawals each month, but specifically calculated amounts, to stay below your limit and avoid paying fees. For Turkish Lira, that means drawing out about 2000 TL each time in 2 withdrawals (see below for exact conversions).
You can’t really make loads of smaller withdrawals as it’s not efficient and you’ll end up paying fees.
Current Exchange Rates For Turkish Lira (Subject To Change)
Turkey is one of those countries with a volatile currency and high inflation, so the conversion rate from major currencies to Turkish Lira is changing all the time.
However, here’s some up to date rates as of early 2023, with the current Wise free limit included as well (always check live currency rates with TL though, as they change regularly):
- 1 USD = 18.73 TRY. 100 USD = 1873 TRY (check current rate here)
- 1 GBP = 22.41 TRY. 200 GBP = 4483 TRY (check current rates here)
- 1 EUR = 19.76 TRY. 200 EUR = 3952 TRY (check current rates here)
Therefore, when using the Wise Borderless Card:
- Be sure to open and load a TRY balance first.
- Pick a suitable ATM that doesn’t charge (Ziraat Bankasi or PTT are my current recommendations).
- Draw out the relevant limit in 1 or 2 transactions per month.
- After that, you will also incur some fees from Wise regardless of what the Turkish ATM charges.
Always check current rates with Turkish Lira as the exchange rate has changed drastically in the last year and may change again.