Concerns with using U.S. $ in Istanbul?

Sep 10th, 2011, 08:15 PM
  #21  
 
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StCirq on Sep 10, 11 at 10:52pm
Sure, US dollars are probably widely accepted in Istanbul, and why not? The merchants are making fabulous profits by accepting them. That doesn't mean a savvy traveler should pay in dollars.

Even when paying in dollars you can negotiate, especially at the Grand Bazaar. Never pay the first asking price.
spaarne is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 08:27 PM
  #22  
 
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Of course you can negotiate (I love haggling and am good at it), but I'm pretty sure haggling in dollars and getting the price down is still going to mean you're paying more than you should be. As long as the merchant knows you've got dollars and would prefer to pay in them, he/she's got the advantage.
StCirq is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 08:42 PM
  #23  
 
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>>Of course you can negotiate (I love haggling and am good at it), but I'm pretty sure haggling in dollars and getting the price down is still going to mean you're paying more than you should be. As long as the merchant knows you've got dollars and would prefer to pay in them, he/she's got the advantage<<

Not how it works. I don't tell anyone the currency I'm paying in to start the negotiation. Negotiate using the currency that is listed, say 300 Lira, get it down to 200 Lira or whatever, then say you will pay in USD. Other than rounding to the nearest dollar, how is anyone paying more?
aimeekm is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 11:36 PM
  #24  
 
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I went to Istanbul last month. The short answer is that you can pay with USD in many places. However, for day-to-day things, using Lira is probably easier.

One thing to note is that there are things that are quoted in either euro or USD. The tour guide we booked, for example, quoted prices in USD. Many of the carpet shops quoted (and charged) in euro as well.

I have to say I think it's offensive for people to use currencies other than the one of the country they're visiting, even in countries where the residents actively seek out dollars.

This is absolutely silly. If someone wants to be paid in USD, then it is not offensive to pay with USD.

Why on earth would anyone use currency not issued by the country they are visiting?

Because the currency of that country is too volatile and residents prefer to hold onto a currency with a more concrete value?

Seriously, have folks never been to Cambodia? Dollarization exists.
travelgourmet is online now  
Sep 11th, 2011, 06:14 AM
  #25  
ira
 
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Hi aime,

>...USD is widely accepted.<

We recognize that. It is the premium that one has to pay for the convenience.
ira is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 06:40 AM
  #26  
 
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ira...

Not all recognize that. There were many posts to the contrary.

I have to disagree though that one has to pay for the convenience, other than rounding. Or maybe it is the rounding you're refering to? Say something is 60 Lira, which converts to $33.60, then I might lose $0.40 on that transaction. Maybe that is troublesome for some?

I'm also not advocating using only USD. Lira is the most convenient currency to use in Istanbul, obviously. But USD can very easily be used, at no great additional expense, in my experience.

My issue is so many of the posts just gave plain wrong information:

Ask her if she would take Turkish Lira in change at her local CVS or Walgreen's

have to say I think it's offensive for people to use currencies other than the one of the country they're visiting, even in countries where the residents actively seek out dollars. And unless your family is a math genius or wants to use a calculator for every transaction, he/she probably isn't going to have any idea how many dollars to pay for anything and will likely get taken to the cleaners.

When will people start to learn that it's a ridiculous question? Sigh!
aimeekm is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 07:02 AM
  #27  
 
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Euros also were widely accepted in Istanbul due to the tremendous amounts of tourists.

Yes, places accepted American dollars but not every where.

The best way to take money from ATM's is to use a bank that has branches in that country.

We got the Capital One card to use abroad and their rate of exchange was not very favorable.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 08:13 AM
  #28  
 
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"I have to disagree though that one has to pay for the convenience, other than rounding."

There's the official exchange rate, but any bank has a Buy and Sell rate which differs from it. So do the merchants who take foreign currencies. You can bet that the exchange rate for the dollars isn't unfavourable for the merchants.
Hans is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 08:21 AM
  #29  
 
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I live in istanbul (although currently and for another five days in Chicago). I also still work in the financial sector.

If you stay in the tourist areas and live among the tourists and buy from tourist shops and go on tours and eat at tourist restaurants, you can use any hard currency but the exchange rate will be at the mercy of the establishment which will round it to the closest ball park figure in his favor for ease of calculation.

The Turkish Lira is very stable, however there are minor fluctuations during the day together with the Dollar-Euro parities and the FX offices follow them every minute.
.
The FX offices do not charge fees or commissions. Their margin are very low. Especially the ones just below the silversmiths at the Grand bazaar have possibly one percent or so margin between buying and selling rates.

You can exchange any TL you have left at the airport banks before you depart although the price will not be as good as an FX office.

It truly makes a great deal of sense to either get TL at ATMs or change USD cash to TL at FX offices and use TL.

Regular shops and cafes and restaurants on the upscale Nisantasi district and Bosphorus villages and any and all non-touristy areas of Istanbul may accept foreign currency but will give you an exchange rate that leaves them a safety margin since the cashiers have to account to the
owners and managers, and since these venues are not in the habit of dealing in FX. They also have to account in TL for tax purposes. Those places which accept FX will be either avoiding tax or taking an FX risk.

In any case, if you are going to deal in FX or silver or gold while in Turkey, check the current prices before any deal on websites such as www.doviz.com on your i-phone, i-pad or blackberry.
otherchelebi is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 08:59 AM
  #30  
 
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I'm concerned about the OP's problems with ATMs. We have used our credit union debit cards all over Europe and in China. I can't remember a single problem. (Our friend did have a problem at an ATM at Heathrow, but he just moved to another machine and it worked fine.)

Did you call ahead of time to warn them you would be making withdrawals from abroad? Did you have more than 1 card?
Mimar is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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Based on that advice your family member needs to do a lot of checking on any arrangements made by that travel planner - who appears to be a blithering idiot.

Using currencies other than the local one always lays you open to losing significant funds in the rate of exchange that you are given by the merchant (understandably - since they will lose when they deposit this in their bank account - never mind being a major PIA for them.

The sensible thing is to pay for whatever larger bills you can with credit cards and use you debit card (attached to your checking account) with money pulled from the ATM in any bank.

ATMs should not be a problem as long as the icons of the major ATM networks appear on the card and you have notified your bank you will be abroad. If your account is with a small local bank or credit union and not part of these networks - yes, you may have trouble - and should get one more widely accepted. Always carry a small amount of cash - $200 or $300 in case the ATMs are empty on a holiday or weekend.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 01:25 PM
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nytraveler on Sep 11, 11 at 3:03pm
Using currencies other than the local one always lays you open to losing significant funds in the rate of exchange that you are given by the merchant (understandably - since they will lose when they deposit this in their bank account - never mind being a major PIA for them.
The sensible thing is to pay for whatever larger bills you can with credit cards and use you debit card (attached to your checking account) with money pulled from the ATM in any bank.


If the merchant accepts dollars or euros you can get a better deal if you know the exchange rate. Everything is negotiable, especially in Turkey. The merchant won't be putting the foreign money in his bank anyway. He will be selling it on the black market.

About once a year I get a bumb charge on one of my credit cards, usually from overseas. Amex blocks them but Visa lets them through. Them I have to go through the protest process. It takes months to clean up the mess. Using credit cards in Europe is a risk.
spaarne is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 01:36 PM
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Why do people think there is a currency black market in Turkey? The lira is fully convertible, therefore no black market.

Black markets for currency exist in countries where the currency is not convertible.
kerouac is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 01:37 PM
  #34  
 
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spaarne, there is no black market for currency in Turkey.

The TL is full and openly convertible and anyone can have a bank account in any currency.

NYTraveler is 100% right.

USA has more problems with credit cards than Europe because Europe has chips.
otherchelebi is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 01:44 PM
  #35  
 
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USA has more problems with credit cards than Europe because Europe has chips.

Really? Do you have evidence to support this assertion? Were credit card security such an issue in the US (where they have much greater market penetration than in Europe and where the banks are liable for fraud) wouldn't there be more pressure to introduce chips as an anti-fraud measure? Frankly, the market suggests that the US system works just fine.

Everything is negotiable, especially in Turkey.

Bingo...
travelgourmet is online now  
Sep 11th, 2011, 02:01 PM
  #36  
 
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Using credit cards anywhere is a small risk. I have had bogus charges on cards from the US - and never had it happen in Europe. One of the reasons I prefer AmEx is that they never give you any trouble in removing these charges - where Visa makes a big magilla about it.

And if you try to negotiate currency rates withlocals you will most probablyfind yourself losing your shirt.

And what black market? This isn't 1965! The lira is convertible anyplace.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 02:10 PM
  #37  
 
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"If the merchant accepts dollars or euros you can get a better deal if you know the exchange rate. Everything is negotiable, especially in Turkey. The merchant won't be putting the foreign money in his bank anyway. He will be selling it on the black market."

This isn't Bulgaria in the 1960's. If a Turkish merchant wants dollars, he just goes to the bank and changes some of his Lira. He isn't waiting for a tourist to bring hard currency.

Of course one can negotiate exchange rates as one can negotiate prices. But hey, the merchant is the professional haggler while the tourist isn't. So there might be some people on this board who are savvy like heck and come out on top, but most tourists (including me) won't.
Hans is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 04:31 PM
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Using credit cards in Europe is a risk.

My credit union's credit card security company blocks twelve locations in the States unless cleared ahead of time. CC transactions appear to be as risky in the States as in Europe.
Michael is online now  
Sep 11th, 2011, 04:46 PM
  #39  
 
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I have never been to Cambodia.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Sep 11th, 2011, 04:57 PM
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Even if the Turkish lira is fully convertible that doesn't mean that any quantity is allowed. I really don't know the present situation but at one time the government limited the amount that a citizen could exchange in a year. That is what set up the black market. I'll bring greenback Franklins to Turkey on my next trip.
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