Sterling, Euros, and Dollars can be easily changed into Turkish Lira at all banks, post offices (PTT) and change offices. In many towns you can also get a good exchange rate at jewellery shops. Many shops exchange money at a favourable rate and most will accept sterling. If buying furniture, curtains, and white goods etc. it is often possible to pay in Euros or Sterling and get a very favourable price.
At the airport and some tourist towns (like Antalya), shops price goods in Euros and accept Euros as payment. When paying in Turkish Lira in shops that price in Euros, ensure that the exchange rate is fair. Some shops in the airport on arrival use very unfavourable exchange rates. Note that shops that price in Euros usually have relatively high prices as they build in their own cost of exchanging back to Lira plus they are clearly aimed at tourists.
If changing travelers chequessome exchange offices charge as much as 9%. A good place to change money is at the PTT (post office) you get a lower rate on cheques but no commission. The best option is to take cash and your bank card to withdraw money from cashpoint machines in a resort (use machines at banks if possible). You generaly get a better rate on your statement when you return home, (you could gain 10% – that’s £10 for every £100 withdrawn).
The Turkish currency is the Turkish Lira.There are banknotes in 5 , 10 , 20 , 50, 100 and 200 Lira denominations in general circulation. There are also 1 Lira coins. The Lira consists of 100 Kurus.
When shopping in Turkey you will still find people referring to “millions”, instead of Lira, when discussing prices. The currency changed on 1st January 2005 and any old banknotes and coins ceased to be legal tender from 1st January 2006. If you are offered any banknotes with 6 zeros on them (e.g. 1,000,000 million lira) in your change, refuse them as they are old and no longer valid.
Many people also say “dollar” for “lira”. So if you are told something costs “10 dollars” clarify they mean “10 lira”.
There is often a shortage of small coins available in shops so don’t be surprised to be given a sweet or two as change.
The majority of the banks have ATMs and there are a huge number of free-standing ones at strategic points. They operate in the same way as those throughout the USA and Europe. There is an option on most to choose the language and in some cases to choose Turkish Lira, Dollars, or Euros. Be careful in the free standing air conditioned booths – sometimes groups of men tamper with these – they can hide each other in the booth. It’s often safer to use those in bank buildings – those in Bodrum often have a security guard nearby as well.
If you use a ATM in Turkey, use one that is located outside of a national bank and also during regular business hours. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. This way if you experience any problems with your card you can directly report it at the bank. Also do make sure that you advise your bank of your planned travel to Turkey. If not the bank may freeze your card after one or two transactions.
**Note, there is no where to change money at the airport in Bodrum. So if you fly into Istanbul then straight to Bodrum, make sure you get money in Istanbul first. If in a pinch, Hertz will change cash into Lira.
Tipping — A 10% of the total bill or simply rounding up to the next lira for smaller purchases is welcome, though this is not a custom to be strictly followed. Tipping ceremony is performed like this, especially in the restaurants and cafes: first you ask for the bill, the waiter/ress brings the bill inside a folder, and puts it on the table and goes away. You put the money into the folder (with the bill), and after a few minutes later waiter comes back to collect the folder. A few minutes more later, waiter comes again with the same folder in his/her hands and leaves it once more on the table. This time there is change in it. You leave the amount of change you think waiter deserves and close the folder. The waiter comes again last time a few minutes later to take it. If you think they don’t deserve any tip, walking out into the street without leaving anything is totally okay, and there is no need to feel ashamed. Some establishments charge an additional 10% on your bill that you have to pay, that is the “service charge”, and sometimes it is not declared to the customer until the bill shows up. There is obviously not a reason to leave any more tip in that kind of places. It’s also a bit odd to tip in self-service restaurants and cheap&dirty bars.
Taxi drivers usually tend to round up what the meter says to the next lira and give your change accordingly. So tipping is not necessary. If you insist on taking your exact change back, ask for para üstü? (pronounced something like “pah-rah oos-too”, which means “change”). Driver will be reluctant to give it at first, but you will succeed eventually.
Supermarket cashiers usually round up the total sum to the next 5 kuruş if you pay in cash (the exact sum is extracted when paid by a credit card though). This is not a kind of involuntary tip, as the 2-3-4 kuruşes don’t go into their pockets. It is simply because they are not adequately supplied with enough 1 kuruş coins as it is very rare in circulation. So don’t be surprised if the change given to you is short of a few kuruşes from what should be given to you according to what the electronic board of the till says. It is totally okay to pay the exact sum if you have enough number of 1 kuruş coins.