Foreign Exchange Guide to Turkey
In this guide we review :
- Turkish lira info - general info about the Turkish lira
- Turkish lira in the markets - recent TRY moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in Turkey - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Turkish lira cash online - travel money for Turkey
- Sending money to Turkey - save on Turkish lira bank transfers to Turkey
- Turkish lira exchange rates - latest info & charts.
Turkish lira (TRY) general currency information
The lira is subdivided into 100 kuruş.
Global interest in the lira has picked up considerably since the turn of the millennium. By 2016, the lira was the 16th most traded currency in the world. It had been 30th most traded in 2001.
Precious metals remain an important cog in Turkey’s economy. “Turkey is home to the entire gold value chain from mining and refining, to jewellery design and investment,” says the World Gold Council, and this therefore links short and medium-term changes in the lira’s value to the broader commodities cycle.
Short-term changes in the lira are also driven by risk sentiment. As a riskier, emerging market currency, the lira will fall in value against the major currencies of the world (especially JPY, USD, CHF, GBP and EUR) during periods of economic uncertainty or when geopolitical risk is elevated.
It is fair to say about the lira’s long-term value that it is stuck in perpetual decline.
Ravaged by above-100% inflation, the lira lost 97% of its value against the dollar between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. In 2003, with a single dollar buying 1.5 million lira, the Turkish government decided to redenominate, and this took place in January 2005, striking six zeros from the lira.
Post-redenomination, the historic downtrend in the lira persists, barring some stability between 2005 and 2008.
Between January 2008 and January 2017, the lira lost 71% of its updated value as TRY/USD fell from its post-redenomination high of 0.8772 (USD/TRY 1.14) to its post-redenomination low of 0.2538 (USD/TRY 3.94).
Turkish lira (TRY) in the markets
In the first nine months of 2017, the Turkish lira vastly underperformed other emerging market currencies.
This was the year in which those in Turkey would have hoped their national currency might buck its long-term downtrend and make gains against the dollar. The dollar had, after all, declined 10% to September 24th (per the US Dollar Index). Instead, the lira remained more or less flat on the year (strengthened 0.8%). By comparison, the Mexican peso, Thai baht and Russian ruble had strengthened 16.8%, 8.3% and 6.6% respectively.
In 2017, potential buyers of lira were once again being frightened away by inflation, which ticked back up into double figures in August (+10.7%). Annualized inflation came in at levels above 10% in six of the seven months between February and August.
In September, the team at TradingEconomics.com were bravely predicting a stronger lira by the end of September 2018. They saw USD/TRY falling to 3.13 (TRY/USD 0.319), from rates of 3.5 (TRY/USD 0.286) at the time of their prediction.
Turkey currency and money saving tips
In Turkey cash machines that dispense Lira are everywhere, usually with around a 2% conversion, and probably a $5 transaction fee from your bank per transaction. The Euro is accepted in some places, and the American dollar almost nowhere. Turkey businesses have a bit of a 'get a little more if you can' attitude so check your bills and if you would prefer not using your credit card perhaps purchase a Prepaid Travel Card before leaving. The Turkish haggle so if you are a stern haggler you can get items up %40 of the price initially quoted.
In the touristy areas and you look like a tourist you will be flocked by people trying to sell you all manner of things. If you do not want anything they offer it is fine to ignore them, they will eventually move onto the next tourist. Drink bottled water, it's cold and cheap and since it can be hot all the time in Turkey have some on you at all times to avoid dehydration.
Public buses are a good and economical way to travel between cities in Turkey, but they are not as comfortable as intercity trains in Europe. The buses are generally 20-30 passengers and serve both as regional transportation and city buses which means people get on and off, paying for driver for the distance they travel. You can purchased a guaranteed seat, but when you board you may find it full. Just get the driver to ensure you get a seat.
Turkey Trip Checklist
Travel money for Turkey
Save money and time by Ordering your Turkish lira online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the TRY cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Turkish lira otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Sending money to Turkey
When sending money to Turkey it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 3 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Turkish lira amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted TRY amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Turkey.
By comparing the rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Turkish lira deposited into the recipient bank account in Turkey and less margins and fees kept by the banks!