New Turkish Lira - Money Tips for Turkey

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Money Tips for Turkey

The New Turkish Lira (the YTL) was released on 1 January 2005. Even with the new currency replacing the old lira, Turkey will still hold financial challenges for visitors. Some tips to minimise these challenges and make the most of your time in Turkey follow.

Prior to Visiting Turkey

Memorise the different denominations
The combination of many zeros on the older Turkish lira along with two sets of coins and notes in circulation (for 2005) will create difficulties for first-time visitors. To reduce both this confusion and the chance of getting defrauded by airport taxi drivers, visitors should memorise the coin and notes. An easy way to do this is to visit the Turkish Lira Picture page.

Take internationally recognised debit and credit cards
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are extremely common in almost all Turkish cities, towns and even some villages. Almost all ATMs are linked up to one or more of each of the major debit and credit card systems.

Do not bring travellers cheques checks)
Travellers cheques are difficult to change outside the largest cities and in almost all cases are expensive to change.

Bring hard currency as a back up
EUR and USD are changeable in almost every town. Some businesses, particularly in tourist areas even accept payment in these currencies, although this should not be relied upon or expected.

Be aware of the Turkish lira’s inflationary past
Turkey has a history of hyperinflation (see the Turkish Lira FAQ for more details). Previously, one was recommended not to hold too much lira in case it devalued. However, with the past few years of currency stability, this concern is not a major issue now.

When In Turkey

Convert easily between the new and old lira rates
One of the simplest ways to convert from the new lira to the old and vice versa is to print and carry the Lira Conversion Chart from the FAQ section of

Maximise your change
There is a large gap in the 1 million and 5 million notes (and the equivalent 1 YTL and 5 YTL notes). Shopkeepers are often reluctant to give back three or four 1 million notes as that maybe the only change they have. Shopkeepers also may not like receiving 20 million (or equivalent YTL) notes for small purchases.

As Turkey lacks 2 or 2.5 million lira notes and 5 million lira notes are relatively scarce, it is very easy to run out of change. This can be problematic when needing to make a small purchase with a large note that the shopkeeper won’t accept. To get around this, one should
a) pay with larger notes in supermarkets and other high-turnover businesses that have plenty of change; and
b) always take stock of your note denominations.

Change your foreign currency money at a “doviz” (umlaut on the “o”) not a bank
Doviz are specialist moneychangers that generally have very good rates and no fees. Before changing your money, check the buy and sell rates they offer and compare them to other changers. Often several doviz are located in the same area. Banks in Turkey may charge fees to change money and often have long cues to wait for.

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