Currency in Turkey: Your Complete Guide - 2023
Turkey’s official currency is the Turkish lira.
This guide includes everything you need to know about getting and using Turkish lira, with some top tips to help you get the best possible deal when you switch your hard earned pounds to lira, ready for your holiday.
Before you head to Turkey, learn about:
Using a card in Turkey
Can you use GBP in Turkey?
How to buy Turkish lira before your trip
How to buy currency when you get to Turkey
What lira notes and coins look like
What currency is it used in Turkey?
Turkey’s official currency is called the lira.
The currency code for lira is TRY, and the symbol you need to look out for is ₺.
Can you use GBP in Turkey?
You can’t use pounds in Turkey. Prices will be shown in lira, and you’ll need to use TRY notes if you pay in cash. If you use a card, you’ll find your bank or travel money card can convert pounds to lira automatically, which can also be a convenient option.
More on how to manage your money in Turkey - including how you can convert currency for your holiday cheaply and conveniently - coming right up.
Using a card in Turkey
As we’ve mentioned, you can usually use a card in Turkey, either to pay in stores or to make cash withdrawals at ATMs. Using your normal bank debit card may mean fees (and using a credit card is even more expensive) - but getting a travel money card can be a convenient and cheap way to spend in lira while you’re away.
Travel money cards are usually issued by specialist providers, and linked to handy digital accounts you can use to manage your money with just your phone. You’ll need to add money to your account in GBP with a bank transfer or using your card, and then convert to TRY in advance or let the card do the conversion when you buy something or make a cash withdrawal. Travel money cards are normally cheap to get and use, and often have lower fees and better exchange rates compared to banks.
Here are a couple of popular travel debit cards you could take to Turkey, to give an idea of their features:
Wise travel debit card
Hold and exchange 40+ currencies including GBP and TRY - use your Wise card in Turkey and 150+ other countries
Mid-market rates apply to all currency exchange, with low fees from 0.43%
Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month, with low fees after limits exhausted
No ongoing fees and no minimum balance requirements
Revolut travel debit card
Standard plans have no monthly fee, or if you use your account often you can upgrade to a higher tier account with monthly charges
Hold and exchange 25+ currencies including TRY in your Revolut account
Some fee free ATM withdrawals and currency conversion - free transaction limits depend on your account plan
Other options, like accounts for kids, investment and insurance available, depending on your account tier
Is it cheaper to convert currency in the UK or Turkey?
Turkey’s currency has seen major fluctuations in value over the past few years. That can make it hard to know whether you should change your money before you travel, or wait until you arrive.
If it looks like the exchange rate is trending in your favour it’s tempting to hold onto your pounds in the hope of getting a better exchange rate once you’re out there. If the rates are going the other way you may want to lock in your travel money as soon as you can.
The reality is that there’s no best way to exchange your travel money - and it becomes even trickier to decide with a currency that has seen swings in value.
Because of the uncertainty, it’s not really possible to say whether it’s cheaper to convert currency in the UK or Turkey. Keep an eye on rates, with tools like those available here on Exiap, and shop around to see what’s available near you.
If you don’t want to carry lots of cash but still want to be able to leave it as late as possible to convert your funds, using a travel money card to make ATM withdrawals on arrival can be a good option. Choose a travel card from a service like Wise or Revolut, and you’ll also get a pretty good exchange rate and cheap or free withdrawals.
Don’t bother changing your money at places like airports and hotels. Services here are convenient, but as there’s no competition you’ll usually find high fees and poor rates. Head to a city centre exchange if you’re switching over cash on arrival instead.
Buying Turkish lira before your trip
Let’s walk through some key options if you’re planning on getting your TRY before you travel.
Using a travel card
Travel money cards from services like Wise and Revolut make it easy to manage and convert your holiday money - even after you’ve left the UK.
You will need to plan in advance to use this option, as you’ll need to open an account online or through an app and have your card delivered to your home. But once you have your card you’re free to add money in pounds and then either switch immediately to lira, or just let the card do an automatic conversion when you make a purchase. Whichever you choose, this can mean better rates than a bank, with low or no fees, depending on the provider and card type you pick.
If you want to carry lira in cash when you travel you may be able to get a better GBP-TRY rate by ordering your travel money online. Some banks, the Post Office, and services like Travelex let you get your money brought to your doorstep for low or no delivery fees, or allow cash collection at branches around the country.
Home or Office Delivery
Here’s a quick look at the collection and delivery options for one popular UK service - Travelex:
Order for home or office delivery - or get your money in a store instead
Home delivery can be next day if you order Monday - Thursday before 3pm
Delivery is free if you exchange more than 600 GBP; fees apply otherwise
You’ll need to be home to collect your cash, and may be asked for ID
Exchange rates are likely to include a markup - which is a fee
Brick and mortar money changers on your local High Street may be among the fastest ways to get travel money - but they are also often expensive. Fees vary but there is almost always a markup added to the exchange rate used to convert your pounds to Turkish lira. Call ahead to check the money changer you’ll use has TRY in stock.
Some popular UK banks still offer cash currency exchange, but you’ll probably need to order TRY in advance and collect at a branch a day or two later. As with any currency exchange service it’s worth double checking the rates to check you’re getting good value.
As tempting as it may be, airport currency exchange services should be avoided if at all possible. That’s because there’s normally no competition nearby, which means they'll usually be expensive.
If you’re going to need cash as soon as you arrive, you’re usually able to get money out of an airport ATM on arrival in Turkey. This can be cheaper as you’ll usually get a reasonable exchange rate - plus you may have no ATM charge and a low (or no) foreign transaction fee if you use a travel money card for your withdrawal.
How to exchange currency in Turkey
If you take clean and undamaged GBP notes with you when you travel, you’ll be able to use currency exchange services in major Turkish cities or popular tourist areas. As always, shop around to get the best available rate and lowest fees.
More about the currency used in Turkey
Get set up for your trip with a quick lesson on the currency used in Turkey.
Denominations of Turkish lira
Let’s take a closer look at the Turkish lira notes and coins, so you’ll be familiar with TRY money when you arrive.
Turkish lira notes are available in the following values:
Each lira is split into 100 kuruş (shortened to kr).
The TRY coins you’ll see are:
Travel money tips for Turkey
Here’s a summary of some of the best tips to do more with your money when you’re travelling in Turkey:
Use a travel money card - specialist cards from services like Wise or Revolut let you add money in GBP, and spend with the mid-market rate and low fees when you arrive
Carry different ways to pay - keep a travel money card, local UK debit card, and some cash on hand, just in case your preferred payment method isn’t accepted
Avoid airport currency exchanges - they aren’t subject to much competition, and travellers may not pay much attention to the costs by this stage, which usually means high fees and bad rates
When you’re in Turkey, pay in TRY- you may be asked if you’d rather pay in GBP when using your card. In this case it’s best to say no. When you pay in pounds the merchant chooses the exchange rate, which usually means higher overall costs
Read your card fees carefully - for example, you may pay ATM fees each time you withdraw, making it more cost effective to take out fewer, larger amounts
Avoid using a credit card to get cash - cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees, and interest add up quickly making this an expensive option
Don’t carry too much cash - tourists are frequently victims of opportunist theft
How much does a trip to Turkey cost?
Let’s take a quick look at some key costs you may encounter when you visit Turkey from the UK. Each trip is different so you’ll need to research and draw up your own budget as well, but this gives a flavour.
Visa cost: No visa usually required for trips for up to 90 days
Transport in Turkey: Local transport tickets are around 10 TRY each way
Taxi: Around 14.5 TRY to start, then just over 16 TRY per mile
Car hire: Cheapest compact cars are likely to start from 600 TRY per day (around 17 GBP)
Room at a hotel: Very varied - in Istanbul, the lowest costs for a mid to high end option in central areas may be 2,000 TRY or so per night (in the region of 60 GBP)
Dinner at a mid- range restaurant: 500 TRY for 2 people (around 15 GBP)
Where comparisons are given to GBP, the exchange rate is correct at time of writing, 14th August 2023 - rates and costs change all the time, so do double check before you plan your trip.
Track GBP-TRY exchange rate
It’s easy to keep an eye on the mid-market rate for Turkish lira, so you can compare the rates offered by different currency exchange services.
Use the Exiap rate tracker to view and track the live mid-market exchange rate for GBP - TRY, so you can spot the best deal on offer.