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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Traveler's Box - Istanbul Airport

While at the gate waiting for our homeward bound flight at the Istanbul airport, I noticed what looked like an old video game or perhaps an ATM that was labelled "Traveler's Box". Having plenty of time and already tired of duty free shopping, I went to investigate.

The video screen explained that it was a way to change your remaining Turkish Lira into another currency and receive the proceeds via a gift card (Amazon was an option), a deposit to your PayPal account or to make a donation.

I couldn't find any information on the exchange rate, which was off-putting. However, being somewhat distrustful, but nonetheless curious, I decided to sacrifice a 20 TL bill to the cause. I started the process and while I needed to provide an e-mail address, I did not have to provide the one associated with my PayPal account. The machine had a little problem digesting my 20 TL bill: I put it in once - reject, I rotated it 180 degrees - reject and then I flipped it over - munched.

Shortly thereafter I checked my e-mail account on my cell phone (thank you T-Mobile for free data roaming) and I had an email with a link to finish processing my deposit to my PayPal account. I decided to wait until I was home with my secure network before proceeding further.

Once we got home, after a bonus night stay in Houston (weather), I clicked my way through and routed my $8.77 to my PayPal account. It arrived promptly. It's been a week and a half since then and nothing untoward has occurred (and I have been rather vigilant during this time).

The pure exchange rate would have had 20 TL equal to $9.34, so $8.77 isn't great but better than using the 20 TL bill as a bookmark. I do sort of wish that I had done a second transaction with a 10 TL bill to see if the conversion rate was flat or had a fixed component. Oh well, maybe on another trip.

Interesting side note - until Mt. Gox went bust, the Traveler's Box actually allowed conversion into bitcoin. That would have been very tempting.

Other interesting side note - a day later I got an e-mail from Lisa at Traveler's Box inquiring about further details regarding the rejected bills. They couldn't tell if I tried to put three separate bills in and only one was accepted or if it was the same bill tried multiple times, so they seem to be on top of improving service. However she didn't respond back to my inquiry as to how the exchange was calculated.

Well, just thought I'd share my experience for others who may have time (and lira) to spend at the Istanbul airport.

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