Basics of banking in Turkey



Opening a Bank Account in Turkey

The New Turkish lira (YTL) is the official Turkish currency and most Turkish banks will give you the option of opening an account in Turkish lira or a foreign currency. The largest Turkish banks include Yapı Kredi Bankası-Koçbank, Türikiye İş Bankası (Isbank), Akbank and Garanti Bankası. Foreign banks like HSBC, Deutsche bank, Citibank, and J.P. Morgan Chase also operate here. The Turkish Bank and Türk Arap Bankasi are two major Islamic banks in Turkey.

To open an account in Turkey you will first need to register for a Tax Number to be submitted with an application form. Most banks will require that you have a residency permit before you can open an account in Turkish lira; however, some may make exceptions for customers making larger investments. If you don´t have a residency permit and cannot convince the bank staff, most banks will be happy to open you an account in US Dollars, British Pounds and Euros. The only disadvantage of foreign currency accounts is that they pay little to no interest.

You might want to open a current accounte first. This account allows you to deposit and transfer money, has the facility of online banking and sets up automatic bill payment for your telecom and utility bills. You may also open a savings account which must remain open for at least one month. All interest earned is subject to a 15% withholding tax. It would be wise to apply for an ATM card to make withdrawal instead of visiting the bank in person.

Normal banking hours are from 9:00 to 17:00, with no closure for lunch. But expect to be served very slowly if you do choose to go to a bank during lunch hours. 

Credit & Debit Cards in Turkey

Debit cards may not work in many shops but can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs.

To apply for a Turkish credit card you need to have citizenship. Banks might make exceptions if they see you as someone with a lot of money to invest. Despite the fact that you are "supposed" to be able to use a Switch, Maestro, or Cirrus card in Turkey, reality could be quite different. 

Money Transfers in Turkey

Bank transfers are convenient and will be processed in less than a week if you have opened a foreign currency account (in your home currency) and have a bank account in your home country. Wire transfer services like Western Union and MoneyGram offer their services for a fee. Freelance foreign exchange brokers who sometimes offer better exchange rates than banks are also able to give you high quality advice on limiting taxes and fees are commonly found in most Turkish cities are another good source to tap.



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Banking Guide