You can use
your home bank ATM/cash card or
card in Istanbul's many ATM/bancomat/cash machines. ATMs are all over Istanbul.
Of course, ATMs are run by banks, so
there will be not just fees, but significant
fees, perhaps 2% or 3% or more of the
money you receive. ATMs are an easy,
but expensive, way to get money.
If you want to exchange cash,
plenty of places will do it for you,
and it can be cheaper.
Currency Exchange Offices (Döviz
found at the Atatürk Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW), and in tourist and market areas.
Most offer better exchange
rates than banks, and may
or may not charge a commission (komisyon).
Offices in market areas tend
to offer better exchange rates than
those in tourist areas.
||A 0.010 spread: not bad, but still not the best available.
Except in Sultanahmet and other heavily touristed areas, currency exchange offices usually post
their Buy and Sell rates prominently,
so look for both the rates—which may
change by the hour—and the spread, or difference between them.
Few offices charge commission (basically,
a service fee) these days. Don't use
an office that charges commission. More...
Currency exchange desks are available in both the Departures and Arrivals areas of the International terminal. In the Departures area, rates are much better after you go through passport control. On 11 November 2012 I saw this rate in the check-in area before passport control:
Buy USD: 1.7366
Sell USD: 1.8437
Spread = 1.071
...a huge 1.071 spread. After passport control, I saw these rates:
Buy USD: 1.7730
Sell USD: 1.8080
Spread = 0.350
...a better, but still big, .350 spread. But compare that to the rate I saw the day before in a döviz burosu in Laleli (see below), offering a .003 spread:
Buy USD: 1.7860
Sell USD: 1.7890
Spread = 0.003
The spread is what you pay to change money, so you want the smallest possible spread.
The best spreads I've found in Istanbul are
in the gold dealers' section of
Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) near
the Mahmutpaşa entrance (map).
This is Istanbul's unofficial "spot
gold market," foreign exchange
is carried on big time, and exchange
rate spreads can
be truly minuscule.
You can also take the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram westward to the Laleli stop just west of Beyazıt Square and the Grand
Bazaar, just east of Aksaray. Right around the tram stop are exchange offices advertising rates as low as 0.003 spread for the US$, 0.004 for the euro. These were the rates at one Laleli döviz bürosu on 10 November 2012:
A 0.003 spread! Take it!
a map showing the location
of the Zeki
Döviz Bürosu near Istanbul's Egyptian
usually has better rates than offices
in touristy areas, but offices in the
Grand Bazaar may have better rates
still. There are other exchanges offices near the Egyptian Bazaar as well.
—by Tom Brosnahan