The unit of currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira. (Türk Lirası, denoted by TRY or TL). TRY is the international 3-letter sign according to the ISO 4217 standards. In 2009 new banknotes were printed and a new symbol was introduced for the Turkish Lira.
Turkish Lira Symbol
Exchange rates in Turkey are favorable for many currencies, lowering expenses for a good travel value. For your convenience, a currency conversion calculator is provided on this page to the right. A typical price for Turkish cuisine featuring a complete fish or meat dinner plate in many cities runs from 15 TL (Turkisk Lira) to 20 TL, depending the establishment. Most menus will have pictures of the food and wait people commonly speak at least some English. Run the currency calculator to find out how much a 20 TL Turkish meal costs today, for your currency.
Credit card use is heavy in Turkey. Check with your credit card company before leaving your country to see if they'll charge extra international fees (some do not). You may also be able to change credit card plans to one that is favorable for international travel.
While most business establishments take credit cards, be advised that not all hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. will, especially if you are looking for a bargain. The most commonly accepted cards are VISA and Mastercard/Eurocard. American Express is more commonly accepted at the pricier establishments, such as resorts. It's best to use Turkish Lira for smaller purchases.
When traveling in Turkey, especially in smaller towns or more remote areas, it's a good idea to carry Turkish Lira made up of smaller notes up to 50 TL. Small restaurants, shops, and other vendors may not want to break larger bank notes.
Prior to leaving your home country, be sure to tell your credit card company or bank's debit card division the dates that you'll be visiting Turkey. If you don't, they may block your card. Credit card fraud is all too common here. Avoid the headaches by preparing in advance.
There are many ATM machines in Turkish cites. Do not rely on finding them in more remote areas, however. At an ATM machine, you can use your debit card to withdraw cash, but there will be a charge for this service. Be advised, the fees can vary widely, but 2% to 3% for Turkish bank charges is common, plus any charges from your home bank. As noted above, check with your bank before leaving for Turkey to see what those ATM withdrawal costs will be and how to minimize them.
If you arrive at an airport in Turkey, it's advisable to check with several exchange companies for the best exchange value. A local PTT (post office) in the airport may be your best bet. Here's their sign. Once in Istanbul, currency exchange can be found in the Eminönü area without much difficulty.
If you run out of Turkish Lira and only have your own currency, it may be accepted, depending on the business. Euros enjoy the best success, followed by the US dollar, and then UK pounds sterling. Do not rely on being able to spend your home currency, however.
If you're paying with your home country's money, its always preferable to know the latest exchange rate, to check correct change is given. Although typically exchange rates for the Turkish Lira do not fluctuate widely over short periods of time, it's a good idea to check the internet in your hotel room before leaving. An increasing number of locations in Turkey are offering free wireless internet access (Wifi), including restaurants, cafes, and even some public locations such as the popular Hippodrome (At Meydani)in Sultanahmet, Istanbul.
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Sample Small Denomination Bank Notes
(The diagonal Turkish words mean "Specimen. Not negotiable.")
(About 16 TL)