Turkish banking system: an overview of reliable banks for foreigners


The size of the banking industry is 80% of total financial sector in Turkey. According to official information, there are about fifty banks: 3 public deposit, 11 private deposit, 16 foreign deposit, 4 public investment, 5 private investment, 4 foreign investment, 4 participation banks and 2 banks under the supervision of the TMSF 

Turkish banks - general information

All the banks are members of Türkiye Bankalar Birligi (the Turkish Banking Association). The purpose of the Association is to preserve the rights and benefits of banks, to carry on studies for the growth of the banking sector, for its functioning and the development, to take the decisions to prevent unfair competition and to coordinate its actions with the current government.

The financial and banking systems in the state interact with each other. It is a result of historical and economic formation. In the foreign exchange and stock markets, these institutions conduct almost all financial activities.

Foreign banks form a minority in the current financial system and are keen on innovations.

Most national banks have their ATMs. Foreign citizens withdraw personal funds while they stay in Turkey. In the resorts, you can use debit and credit cards. Exchange offices are open until late at night.

One of the largest banks in Turkey is Finansbank A.S. It is the alliance of several companies from different countries. It has a network of branches and international investments. More than 150 of them operate in Turkey.

The top banks in Turkey

List of banks:

  • Akbank is the largest bank operating internationally. It offers a range of services, in particular, mortgage lending.
  • Private FinansBank is the fifth-largest privately owned Turkish bank. It has millions of customers.
  • Denizbank is Turkey's fifth-largest lender. About 700 of its branches operate in Turkey.
  • Yapikredi Bankası in Ankara offers saving account, personal and business loans.
  • Türkiye Garanti Bankası. The central office is in Istanbul. It works with private clients and foreign companies.
  • Ziraat Bankası offers saving account, personal and business loans.
  • Vakıf Bank is the third-largest bank in Turkey in terms of asset size and one of the best in terms of services. It has branches abroad.
  • The state-owned Turkish bank is Halk Bank.

Foreign banks in Turkey

Turkey's banking sector has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. Therefore, foreign banks open their branches here.

Among the foreign banks, there are Citibank (the USA), German Deutsche Bank, Dutch Finansbank, French Societe Generale, ING Bank (the Netherlands) and HSBC Bank. Representatives of banking services from Korea, China, Japan are also keen to open their branches. Bank of China operates in Turkey, other similar organizations (Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi and Dubai) show their interest.

Helpful information!

Do not rush to withdraw money. It is better to clarify first if the cashback is available.

Also, consider letting the bank know about your trip. Otherwise, the card may be blocked. Take a spare card with you.

Working hours

There is one nuance all the visitors need to know. Depending on the region and city, the working hours of Turkish banks may vary.

Working hours:

Weekdays: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm.

Lunch break: 12:30 - 13:30.

Days off: Saturday, Sunday.

During the high season, the banks work seven days a week. On the territory of airports - 24/7.

The national currency of Turkey

The national currency of the Republic of Turkey is the lira (TL).

Lira is equal to 100 kurus.

There are banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 TL. Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 kurus and 1 TL.

Interestingly, all banknotes depict Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic and the first president.

Currency exchange tips in Turkey

One of the most profitable domains in Turkey is tourism. The government does its best to make tourists from abroad enjoy comfortable and convenient holidays. The same rule applies to the exchange of money.

There are currency exchange offices in every region and city, be it a private or state company. As for resorts such as Istanbul, Antalya, Alanya, Bodrum, Marmaris, Kas, exchange offices are everywhere. There is a lot of competition in this domain. Each company in the foreign exchange market tries to maintain a high level of service and simplicity. The exchange rate is almost the same.

There is a wide range of currencies available.

Here are some tips on how to exchange money:

1. Be sure to exchange a large sum if you are planning to travel to remore places. Sometimes in small villages, there may be no exchange offices. Locals will exchange your money at an unfavourable rate.

2. Carefully choose the exchange centre.

  • A bank with acceptable rates.
  • Post Office ( Turkish Post or PTT). Not all PTTs provide the service. Usually, you can change dollars and euros.
  • Private companies. Here, a hidden commission is possible. Check the info in advance.
  • Often the front desk staff will offer assistance.
  • It is possible, but you need to be extremely careful, as there is always a chance to get caught by scammers.
  • ATMs in Turkey. They have a limit of $ 500.

3. Avoid changing money at the currency exchange kiosks of the airport that you are arriving in, as these kiosks often have extremely low rates and high charges. They operate for clients who need to get currency and benefit from inexperienced tourists who feel insecure without local money outside the airport.

4. You need your passport to exchange money at the bank. There are digital queuing systems, so you can safely wait for your turn. Senior citizens, regular customers, gold cardholders do not need to wait.

Useful recommendation!

The best banks for currency exchange are Akbank, QNB Finansbank, Garanti Bank BBVA, Yapikredi Bankasi, Central Bank of Turkey, Halk Bank.

Almost everywhere, it is possible to pay with a card. Nevertheless, it is worth having cash if you need to get a taxi, use public transport, go shopping at a local market.

Deposits in Turkey

Deposits in Turkish banks are a profitable enterprise. It is the right choice for those foreigners who have decided to move to Turkey and save funds. Today, it takes a few clicks to make a transaction. However, if you plan to open a bank account with high deposit rates in one of the banks, you should visit the bank. Many local banks attract foreign investment with interest rates on deposits.

On average, more than half of banks offer about 20% per annum. Isn't it tempting? Also, every financial organization undertakes to return up to 100,000 liras in case of bankruptcy.

Mortgage loans for foreigners

Usually, you take a loan to purchase real estate. Mortgages have recently become more popular. At the first stage, you will not need to pay the entire amount for the purchased property. You can pay in euros, lira, dollars. It depends on the developer or the owner of the property.

Basic rules for mortgage lending:

  • The term issue is up to ten years.
  • The lowest percentage is around 5%.
  • The total amount of funds cannot exceed 70% of the total price for a property.
  • The amount of the first payment depends on the seller. Usually, it does not exceed 30%.

There are not so many banks that provide mortgage loans to foreigners. However, their number grows altogether with the country's success in the economic field. Check Akbank, DenizBank, HSBC Bank.

There are not so many banks that provide mortgage loans to foreigners. However, their number grows altogether with the country's success in the economic field. Check Akbank, DenizBank, HSBC Bank.

Money transfers through Turkish banks

More foreigners visit Turkey every year. Sometimes there is a need for financial support or transferring money. What is the most convenient and efficient way to transfer funds? Let's consider the popular options.

Transferring money from Turkey to Europe

The main point is the amount since the movement of funds between different powers implies conversion and commissions. Therefore, it is more profitable to send bigger amounts.

The options are:

International payment systems. There are no restrictions on the type of banknotes. The rate and interest in different companies vary.

The most popular are Western Union and MoneyGram.

Transfer to a card: you will need to use terminals of a partner or other banks.

Skrill, PayPal, Sofort. They are popular since there are representatives in almost every large city in many countries. They have their service fees, depending on the size of the translation. Advantage: there is no need to go anywhere or wait in line for registration. Often electronic wallets make their plastic cards that support Visa, Master Card.

How to transfer money from Europe to Turkey

Transfers to Turkey are important when you need to send a large amount.

The safest options are:

Cash-out. A resident of the country can take out no more than EUR 10,000 (or its equivalent in another currency). Everything from above requires a declaration. If the amount of funds is twice as large, you need a document from the tax office.

Sending money to a bank account. The amount is not limited. In the case of real estate purchase, the transfer is specified in the seller's or developer's contract.

Western Union, MoneyGram and other wallets. The limit is $8,000. The main advantage is that there is no need to have a bank account.

As you can see, the main problem with transactions is the limit on the amount. Electronic wallets are convenient, but the certification process (sending a scanned passport) can take up to three days. There are fees for speed, cash flow authentication, and other additional costs.


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