Best Ways to Take Money to Turkey in 2023
With a rich history, great food and an attractive climate, Turkey (Türkiye) is a great destination for adventurous travellers looking for a new experience. If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, you’ll need to figure out how best to pay your way in Turkish lira. It’s not the easiest currency to get your hands on in Canada - so giving your options some thought in advance will mean your trip goes smoothly and you’re not stuck without enough travel cash.
This guide has you covered with 4 possible ways to take money to Turkey, including their benefits and drawbacks, to help you pick the right one for you.
Prepaid travel cards to use in Turkey
Ideal for: easy ways to hold, withdraw and spend Turkish lira alongside Canadian dollars and other major currencies
Prepaid travel cards can offer a secure and convenient way to hold, spend and withdraw foreign currencies while you’re abroad. You’ll usually find you get a card which is linked to a multi-currency account you can manage from your phone. While different cards and providers support a varying range of currencies, some - like the Wise card which we’ll look at in a moment - let you hold Turkish lira for simple spending during your trip. All you’ll need to do is add money in CAD, and either switch over to TRY in advance using the app, or just let the card do the conversion for you when you pay.
Some prepaid travel cards also have extra features like ways to send and receive international payments, with good exchange rates and transparent fees. Because your prepaid travel card isn’t linked to your main CAD account it’s secure to use overseas, and you can always view and manage your transactions in the app.
Learn more about our picks for the 5 best prepaid cards - there’s more on our top choice, Wise, next.
Wise - our pick for prepaid travel card
With this card:
Hold and exchange 40+ currencies and manage your money from your phone
No annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement
Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup
Some free ATM withdrawals available every month
Receive payments to your account with local bank details for up to 9 currencies
|Wise card pros||Wise card cons|
✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate
✅ No foreign transaction fees apply
✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies
✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies
✅No minimum balance or ongoing fees
❌ It can take up to 14 days for your physical card to arrive by mail
❌ Free ATM withdrawals are limited to 2 per month, to the value of 350 CAD. Fees of 1.75% + 1.5 CAD after that
❌ 10 CAD fee to receive payments to Wise in CAD, via SWIFT
Pros and cons of taking money to Turkey with a prepaid travel card
Some cards let you hold a balance in TRY so you can set and manage your travel budget easily
You can manage, view and freeze your card from an app for security
Cards are available with no minimum balance or ongoing fees to pay
Currency exchange may have better rates than a bank will offer
Not all prepaid cards have international features - look out for one specifically optimised for travel
Exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market rate
ATM fees may apply, depending on the card you pick
Some cards won’t support TRY for holding and exchange, and may charge a fee if you spend in an unsupported currency
Travel debit cards to use in Turkey
Ideal for: secure cards for international spending which aren’t linked to your main CAD account
Having a specific travel debit card which is separate to your regular bank account can offer peace of mind when you travel. You’ll always know that you can freeze or cancel your travel card without impacting your main bank account, and even if you were unlucky and had your travel card stolen, you’ll know the thieves can’t get to your primary account. Because you’re choosing a debit card rather than a credit card, there’s no interest to pay and often no ongoing charges either. That means you can just use your travel debit card as and when you need to.
Many travel debit cards let you hold a balance in several different currencies. However, not all cards will support TRY for holding. If you pick a card that doesn’t let you hold a balance in lira you may pay a foreign transaction fee when you’re spending and making withdrawals in Turkey.
We’ll go into more detail about our top pick for a travel debit card - the Canada Post Cash Passport - next. You can also learn more about the best travel debit cards in Canada here.
Canada Post Cash Passport - our pick for travel debit card
With this card:
Get your Canada Post Cash Passport card conveniently online or in a Canada Post location
Load any of up to 7 major foreign currencies - TRY is not supported for holding a balance
No fee to spend a currency you hold in your account
Lock in exchange rates in advance of travel
Free secondary card in case your first is lost or stolen
It’s not all good news though:
Fees apply to get your card in the first place
ATM charges apply, which vary based on the country you’re in
3.25% charge when you spend in Turkish lira
|Canada Post Cash Passport card pros||Canada Post Cash Passport card cons|
✅Hold 7 major currencies in your account
✅No extra fee to spend a currency you hold
✅Issued on the Mastercard network for global acceptance
✅Contactless payments or Chip and PIN options
✅24/7 global assistance if you lose your card
❌15 CAD fee to get your first card
❌3.25% fee if you spend in TRY or another currency you don’t hold in your account
❌Top up and cash out fees may also apply
Pros and cons of taking money to Turkey with a travel debit card
Not linked to your main bank account which can offer greater peace of mind when travelling
Some cards can be picked up instantly in person with no need to wait for delivery
Cards from specialist services are often linked to multi-currency accounts you can use on future trips too
No restrictive eligibility rules, interest or penalty fees
TRY may not be supported for holding a balance, which means you may pay fees when you spend in Turkey
You may pay a fee when converting from one currency to another, which can be rolled up in the exchange rate you get
Some cards have card order or closure costs associated
Taking cash in Turkey
Ideal for: day to day use - cash is still used a lot in Turkey so you’ll need to have some on you at all times
Cash is still one of the most popular ways to pay for things in Turkey. While major hotels, stores and restaurants may accept a card payment, there will certainly be times when you need to pay in cash. This is particularly the case when making smaller purchases or shopping at independent retailers.
To get your cash in lira you’ll have a few key options: buy your TRY in advance, carry cash in CAD, USD or EUR to exchange on arrival in Turkey, or make ATM withdrawals once you’re there. It’s not easy to find TRY cash in Canada, as major banks and services like Canada Post don’t typically stock it. You may find a local exchange bureau does hold TRY on hand - but picking a different option may end up being simpler. You could choose to take cash with you to exchange on arrival - but this isn’t the safest option. Instead, consider using an ATM on arrival.
Using ATMs in Turkey can mean you save time and avoid having to wait around in currency exchange stores. Plus you’ll only need to carry smaller amounts of cash at any given time - and if you use a Wise prepaid travel card you might also find you get some fee free withdrawals and a great exchange rate.
Do I need cash in Turkey?
Yes. Cash is very widely used in Turkey so you’ll need to have some lira with you when you’re there.
TRY is not commonly stocked by banks and exchange services in Canada, which means that the easiest option to get your travel cash is to make ATM withdrawals on arrival. Choose a prepaid card or travel debit card and you may also find you benefit from low or no fees and a strong exchange rate.
How to buy Turkish lira on arrival in Turkey?
To buy lira on arrival you’ll need to carry Canadian dollars or another major currency like EUR or USD, to exchange when you land. Not all currency exchange stores in Turkey will accept CAD for exchange.
It’s also worth remembering that exchange options will be limited outside of busy areas - and as you’ll need to shop around to get a good deal you’ll have to take precious time out of your trip.
How to buy Turkish lira in Canada?
Turkish lira can be pretty tricky to buy in Canada, as most major banks and exchange services don’t routinely stock TRY. You’ll need to shop around in independent exchange stores, or ask your own bank if they can help you buy TRY. Generally, picking an alternative way to arrange your travel money will be easier.
Best place to get Turkish lira from
There’s no single best place to get your travel cash. If you find an exchange service in Canada which will sell you TRY in cash, remember to look at both any upfront cost and the exchange rate being offered. You might well find that there’s an extra charge tucked away in the rate a provider uses for retail customers.
Pros and cons of taking cash to Turkey
Cash is often the only way you’ll be able to pay, so having some is essential
Carrying some cash at all times is a good back up in case your card can’t be used
Make ATM withdrawals when you need to and you won’t have to carry large amounts of cash at any one time
Finding places to buy TRY cash in Canada can be tricky
You’ll usually waste time during your break if you’re having to compare costs to get a good deal
Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee
Travel credit cards to use in Turkey
Ideal for: earning benefits and rewards as you spend, and spreading your costs out over a few months
Travel credit cards do vary a lot, but they’ll usually mean you can get good international features like low or no foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurance or extra rewards when you spend in foreign currencies. Having a credit card with you when you travel can also be useful for times you need a payment guarantee, such as when hiring a car or checking into a hotel.
Bear in mind that all credit cards have eligibility requirements, and you’ll generally have to pay some charges, including an annual fee. Credit cards are also not great for making cash withdrawals as you’ll normally pay a high cash advance charge - and as cash will be pretty essential during your trip to Turkey, this can push up your overall costs.
Learn about our top pick - the HSBC World Elite Mastercard - next.
HSBC World Elite Mastercard - our pick for travel credit card
With this card:
Spend internationally with no foreign transaction fee
Variable interest rate based on purchase type and personal circumstances
Add extra cardholders to your account for free
Lots of extras and travel benefits offered
24/7 support of you’re a victim of theft or fraud
It’s not all good news though:
149 CAD annual fee for the first card
5 CAD ATM withdrawal fee, as well as any applicable interest
Variable interest which can be higher for cash advances compared to purchases
|HSBC World Elite Mastercard pros||HSBC World Elite Mastercard cons|
✅ No foreign transaction fee
✅ Up to 4 supplementary users on each account with no extra annual charge
✅ 24 hour worldwide assistance to get cash to you if your card is stolen
✅ Some complimentary insurance offered
✅ Options to earn rewards, including enhanced benefits for travel spending
❌ Interest and penalty fees may apply depending on how you use your card
❌ Annual fee of 149 CAD
❌ ATM withdrawals come with fees and a higher rate of interest compared to purchases
Pros and cons of travel credit cards to Turkey
Get travel rewards, discounts and perks when you spend overseas
You can spread the costs of your trip out over a few months
Some cards have low or no foreign transaction fees
Use as a payment guarantee in hotels and when renting a car
Interest and fees usually apply if you don’t pay back your bill immediately
Cash advance and interest costs apply when using an ATM
Eligibility rules apply
Travel requirements from Canada to Turkey
To travel from Canada to Turkey you’ll need a visa. In some cases you can get a tourist visa on arrival, but this service isn’t available at all points of entry, so you’ll have to check out your options based on where you’ll fly to. As an alternative you can get a visa in advance online, through the official Turkish government website. The Canadian government warns against using agencies for this service, and recommends travellers stick with the official government site to organise a visa.
Check the Canadian government’s travel advisory page to learn more and to get detailed information for your specific destination.
Does Turkey accept Canadian dollars?
No. You won’t be able to spend CAD anywhere in Turkey. If you’re carrying Canadian dollars with you you'll need to exchange them for Turkish lira when you arrive.
Best currency to take to Turkey
You’ll only be able to spend in Turkish lira in Turkey. As it can be pretty tricky to get TRY in Canada, you might find that using a specialised travel card for cash withdrawals in Turkey as and when you need them is the easiest solution.
Top travel money tips to Turkey
Here are a few final tips to help your money go further while you’re away:
Have several different payment methods in case one isn't accepted wherever you are
Get a travel money card before you leave to make it easier and cheaper to spend and withdraw in Turkey
Use the handy Exiap guides to learn more about currency exchange, travel cards, and more
How much money do I need per day in Turkey?
Turkey has fairly low costs of living overall. While the prices you pay in large cities and in the tourist areas will creep up, it’s still possible to get a lot for your money.
Do some research to see how much day to day life will cost based on your specific plans while you’re in Turkey. As an example, in Turkey on average you’ll find a 3 course lunch for 2 will set you back in the region of 36 CAD, but bear in mind that around popular tourist destinations you may pay more. A local travel ticket for the bus will cost under a dollar on average - or taxi prices are pretty reasonable too if you’d prefer.
Do some detailed research to see how much things are likely to cost based on your plans and where you’re headed, so you can plan your budget. Get more detailed cost information by country and city, from Numbeo.com.
How much does it cost to fly from Canada to Turkey?
At the time of writing (November 2023), the cheapest flights from Canada to Turkey start from around 1,100 CAD per person return. These cheaper options are likely to include one or more stops and layovers which increase journey time. Direct flights are available but come with a higher price tag - at the time of research, you’ll pay at least 1,300 CAD for a direct flight.
Conclusion - Best ways to take money to Turkey
You’ll need Turkish lira to pay for things during your trip. Having several different ways to pay is usually a good bet, just in case one option isn’t accepted by a merchant or hotel. Bear in mind that getting Turkish lira in Canada isn’t the easiest - so you’ll need to shop around if you want to have TRY cash in your pocket before you travel.
A good solution for many people could be to get a travel card - such as a prepaid travel card from Wise or a Canada Post Cash Passport - and to carry that as well as your regular debit or credit card as a back up. You can then use your travel card to make ATM withdrawals on arrival to get lira in cash.
Use this guide to decide which option to take money to Turkey will work best for you, based on your own preferences and needs.
FAQ - Best ways to take money to Turkey:
Should I exchange money before I travel to Turkey?
It’s not always easy to switch Canadian dollars for TRY before you travel. Instead you may want to consider making a cash withdrawal at an ATM on arrival in Turkey. This can be cheap and convenient, and may get you a better exchange rate compared to exchanging in advance, particularly if you have a travel card from a provider like Wise.
Can I withdraw Turkish lira from a local ATM?
You can’t withdraw Turkish lira at a normal ATM in Canada. However, you can get a travel card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in Turkey, which will often mean you pay less compared to using your bank card.
Are prepaid travel cards a good way to take money to Turkey?
Travel prepaid cards from services like Wise are a safe way to spend when abroad. With Wise you’ll also get mid-market exchange rates and low, transparent fees which can bring down the costs of your trip.
Can I use cash in Turkey?
Yes. In many cases, cash will be the only option for making payments in Turkey. In general, making sure you always have some cash in Turkish lira, and a travel card for spending or getting cash from an ATM, is a good choice so you have a back up plan if you ever need it.