How to open a bank account and get a credit card as a foreigner in turkey

Young couple gets advice from a pretty customer service representative at the bank (Photo: BulentBARIS/iStock / Getty Images)

Opening a bank account as a foreigner in turkey used to be a long and tedious process. And after all the waiting and asking around, you were shocked to learn that to open an account you need at least a certain amount of money or a major investment, as well as a residence permit. But fortunately, those days are long gone, and only a few districts still have hurdles.

Thanks to a growing number of investments, tax breaks and new business arrangements, the turkish government and banks have made it easier for foreigners to engage in financial activities.

Some of the most well-known and largest banks in turkey are isbank, garanti bank, HSBC, yapı kredi, akbank, QNB finansbank, TEB, halkbank, vakıfbank, ING bank, kuveyt turk and ziraat bank, and all serve foreign nationals.

To be on the safe side, check out the details online or make an appointment with the bank to speak with english-speaking employees.

The documents you need to open a bank account in turkey

Photocopy of your passport

A residential address in turkey (or a foreign address that some banks can accept)*

Residence permit (if applicable)

*your address is required for identification. If this is not the case, you must present a bill from a service that requires a subscription/utility bill that is not older than 3 months and issued by a public entity (in turkey or abroad).

Regardless of which bank you choose, you will need a potential tax number. You can get this number when you go to the tax office with your passport. For more information on obtaining a turkish tax number, see this article.

If you already have a residence permit, you can also use your foreign identification number (which usually starts with 99) as a tax number.

You must provide a permanent address/correspondence address so the bank can contact you and send your bank cards or letters. Utility bills, property deeds or rental agreements are accepted.

Some banks also require you to provide a turkish cell phone number. (if you have applied for a tax identification number online, the system has already asked for a turkish number to proceed.).

What to do if you are constantly on the move?

Whether you're a freelancer, digital nomad, or looking for a foreigner-friendly bank, money transfer sites might be a better option for you, as bank fees in turkey are high and vary, whether it's for routine transactions or transfers abroad.

Traditional banks or your local bank may charge extortionate rates for sending, exchanging or withdrawing money abroad, which is why many expats turn to virtual, borderless multi-currency accounts or international accounts from their own bank. One disadvantage of foreign accounts is that you have to deposit large amounts up front, and some even require you to spend or deposit a certain amount each month.

There are services like transferwise that offer borderless accounts to get around these challenges and take advantage of the real exchange rate on international transfers, as they have accounts in multiple currencies. Unlike traditional banks, this virtual service has no fees associated with traditional banking, and cash withdrawal fees are up to 12 times lower.

Overdraft accounts

You can open overdraft accounts for utility bills that are set for automatic payment. This way you don't have to pay interest on overdue bills and you can pay off the debt when you deposit money into the account.

As a foreigner, you can also take advantage of such accounts if you do not have enough money in your demand deposit account to meet your daily cash needs. Interest rates and required documents vary from bank to bank, and you will need to visit the branch to discuss the details.

Credit cards

To apply for a credit card in turkey as a foreigner, you first need a credit history or proof of your monthly income via your pay stub. Adopted. In this case, you will employ a turkish company that can provide you with a salary statement, and the banks will give you the appropriate credit. Expect your credit line to be about double your salary in the first year and increase from there on out.

However, if you are not working in turkey, you can apply for a credit card in turkey as a foreigner only if you deposit the credit line in your bank account as a deposit.

The only bank that offers credit cards and overdraft accounts without a deposit is HSBC premier.

A fast* way to get a credit card that you can use to pay utilities, shop online, send and receive money. Paycell reloadable credit card is available at all turkcell locations for ₺10.

Enter referral code 5333116018 and you and ikamet will receive 1000 paycell points!

*no identification is required, just a valid turkish cell phone number. A "kimlik" ID is required for IBAN payments.

Consumer loan

If you are thinking of applying for a loan, whether for furniture, a home renovation, a marriage, a vacation or for professional purposes, you should know a few things.

Before you apply for a loan, turkish banks require certain information from you:

Your passport/national ID card/driver's license and its photocopy

Proof of address/residence in turkey

Proof of your monthly income

The residence or work permit must be valid for the entire duration of the loan.

A turkish guarantor or cash collateral (in some cases)

*the last two requirements may change from bank to bank. So it's best to inquire in advance so you don't get any unpleasant surprises.

That brings us to the kbb (kredi kayıt burosu)

KBB is turkey's first and only credit reporting agency and collects information about your payment and borrowing history to provide an accurate picture of your credit status. You need a credit score to apply for loans or credit cards or to enter into business relationships.

You need the services of KBB to get your credit report. "Risk report". Namely, evaluating your credit risk and credit score. The report will help you know your credit and credit card limits with all banks.

To use this report you must be registered with your bank or in the KBB system with your cell phone number. After making an inquiry, you will receive a text message asking for your consent to complete the report, to which you must reply "yes". Each request costs a few turkish lira.

The report creates an assessment of your accounts, utilization and payment history – similar to experian, transunion or equifax, timely paid statements are created over a period of time.

Findek's credit rating is calculated based on these 5 categories:

Repayments of credit products (35%),

Current accounts and debts (35%),

Intensity of loan use (10%),

New loans taken out (11%),

In the end, a credit score between 1 and 1900 is calculated.

KBB also provides a similar report for checks.