Istanbul Travel Card Price, Top Up, Refund

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Istanbul Metro and Tram Card

Where to Buy Istanbulkart? Istanbul Card Price, Top Up, Refund

Akbil was the first electronic ticket Istanbulites used for public transport. This ticket saved the residents from the trouble of buying tickets or tokens at ticket counters and it turned out to be highly efficient.

Akbil evolved as the technology developed and it became small enough to fit in a wallet. Today, Istanbul Kart is used instead of Akbil and the card looks no different from a credit card

Using Istanbulkart is so common for Istanbulites and there is no need to explain why. However, I believe it is a good idea to explain what Istanbul Kart (Istanbul Metro Card) is and how you can use it if you get one.

What is Istanbulkart?

Istanbul Kart is simply a contactless smart card for fare payment of public transport means such as Metro, Tram, Funicular, and Ferry.

You can get an Istanbulkart at official counters nearby tram and metro stations or ferry piers or you can buy one at a newsstand. Don’t worry about finding a place to get an Istanbulkart, as there are plenty of them nearby important public transport hubs like Besiktas, Eminonu, Kabatas, or Kadikoy. If you happen to be at a touristic spot like Sultanahmet, you can get one at a stall nearby a tram or metro station.

Where to Buy Istanbulkart in Sultanahmet?

where to buy istanbulkart in sultanahmet

Buy Istanbulkart in Sultanahmet

This newsstand is located just a few minutes walk from Sultanahmet Tram Station. You need to walk up the hill in the direction of Grand Bazaar (by leaving the Hagia Sophia behind) then you’ll find it on your left-hand side.

Istanbul Public Transport Map to Use Istanbul Card

Istanbulkart Public Transport Pass Price 2020

Cost of an Istanbulkart is 7 Turkish Liras in the official machines. If you buy the card from any newsstand in Sultanahmet or Taksim areas, the cost of the card would be around 10 Turkish Lira. This is slightly more expensive than yellow machines. However, large-size recharge machines selling Istanbul Card are only available in central metro stations.

However, it’s the deposit payment for the card. You need to top up in order to use the card. How much you need to top up is entirely up to passengers. However, for a visitor who wants to spend around 2 days in Istanbul, at least 20 Turkish Liras will be needed.

Apart from exceptions that I will mention later, Istanbulkart charges the same amount every time.  Any time you use the card, it charges 3,50 Turkish Liras. However, if the card is used frequently in a short period of time, a high amount of discount is applied.

In fact, this is the biggest advantage of using Istanbulkart as a discount is applied the second or the third time you use it respectively. Let’s have a look at how the discount is applied when you use Istanbulkart.

Istanbul Card can be used for Ferry, Metro, Tram

Istanbul Nostalgic Ferry


Istanbul Card Travel Fares and Transfer Discounts 2020

  • Regular Fare – 3,50 TL
  • 1st Transfer – 2,50 TL
  • 2nd Transfer – 1,90 TL
  • 3rd Transfer –  1,20 TL

As you can see clearly, following the first use of the card, a discount is applied three times in a row and the price difference while transferring in a big city like Istanbul is too important to ignore.

Discount is applied if the card is used multiple times within 2 hours window.

Exceptions for Istanbul Card Public Transport Pass Charges

As I mentioned above, there are some exceptions to the transfer charge fares listed. The most noteworthy of these happens when passengers cross from one side of the city to the other side by Metrobus. This is because Metrobus saves passengers time thanks to the rapid transit route it operates on. Therefore, the price is 5,20 TL for a Metrobus ride.

A similar situation is notable for Private Public Buses (Ozel Halk Otobusu) that operate between the two sides of the city or Express Buses which take passengers to the airport. As these buses cover long distances and take toll roads or they take a bridge to cross the other side, passengers are required to pay a double-ticket price or another high amount.

A Single Istanbulkart is Enough for Public Transport in Istanbul

What makes Istanbulkart so useful is that it can be topped up easily and it is simple to use. Moreover, you can use it to pay for others (friends, family etc…). Therefore, if there are others who accompany you, you don’t have to buy two separate cards. As long as you have enough credits in your card, there is no limit to how many people can use it.

How to Get Refund on Istanbulkart

The Istanbul card you bought for 7 liras could be returned in the past. However, since 2019, dealers selling Istanbulkart do not refund money. The reason I did not delete the refund title about Istanbulkart is that even though it is not possible to return the plastic card, you can get electronic money refund in some routes.

Marmaray and Metrobus refund money based on the length of the travel distance. Since they both serve on a very long line, they charge the entire fee as if you were going to the last stop. However, if you get off after a few stops, you can get a refund by touching your card to the electronic devices at the stations.

Istanbul Public Transport Card for Tourists

Where to Buy Istanbul Card? Istanbulkart Prices

Istanbulkart

How to Top Up Istanbulkart?

In order to top up Istanbulkart, you can use the yellow machines at Metro and Tram stations or Ferry Piers. These machines enable passengers to top up only in 30 seconds.

  • What is Biletmatik?

Biletmatik is a yellow and black colored machines that look like an ATM machine, which you can see at some stations. If you place your Istanbulkart on the white space on the right side of the machine, you can top up automatically.

  • What is Jetonmatik?

Jetonmatik is a ticket barrier system where a token can also be used if you don’t have an Istanbulkart. This system is used at tram stations and ferry piers. For example, if you wish to go to Kadikoy from Karakoy or Eminonu and you don’t have an Istanbulkart, you can buy a single-use token instead.

Istanbulkart Worth the Money? Should I Really Get One?

If you won’t use public transport more than once or twice, buying and returning an Istanbulkart may be useless. Therefore, buying single-use tokens sounds more reasonable.

However, if you plan to stay in Istanbul for a few days, you are highly recommended to get an Istanbulkart to take advantage of discounts and save yourself from buying a token every time.

Biletmatik to Top Up Istanbul Travel Card

Istanbul Card Top Up or Recharge

Istanbulkart Top Up Machine

Istanbul Public Transport Tips

In addition to all of these information above, instructions regarding how to go places from specific locations and travel routes can be found in more detailed posts such as How to Go from Sultanahmet and How to Go from Taksim.

Where to buy Istanbul Card Blog by Serhat Engul

39 Comments
  • Bilqees

    Reply

    Do kids under 12 pay require a travel card as well?

    • Serhat Engül

      Public transportation is free for the kids under the age of 6. So the answer is yes! On the other hand, Istanbul Museums are free for the kids under the age of 12. That means they do not need Istanbul Museum Pass.

  • Barbara

    Reply

    Hi, I thought that an Istanbulkart can only be used for five passengers maximum at one go. There is no limit now? Because i plan to use mine for my group of eight, and I thought I needed an additional Istanbulkart for the remaining three people. Thanks for your response!

    • Serhat Engül

      Hello Barbara, I have never heard about your argument. There is no limitation as far as I know. I checked from official site of IstanbulKart and there is nothing mentioned about maximum number of usage for multiple people. I also googled “8 people Istanbulkart limitation” in every logical keyword combination (in Turkish) and there has never been a limitation like that. It must be a misunderstanding.

  • Nitish

    Reply

    Hi Serhat, you say that the deposit on the card is refundable (7L). However, what about any unused balance on the card itself? Is this refunded, too?
    Also, any idea if there are public transport options from the new Istanbul Airport yet? I will be travelling there with my family in early June 2019… less than two months from now.
    Thanks, in advance!

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Nitish, you can refund the price of the card but not the unused balance. You need to empty it, before you return it. The New Istanbul Airport’s metro line is still under construction. You can use “Havaist” shuttle buses in order to get to the airport. You can pay the fare via Istanbulkart.

  • Zanna Unni

    Reply

    Can you buy Istanbul card in Yenikapi ferry terminal?

    • Serhat Engül

      Sorry, I am not sure about it!

  • alexandrescu cezar

    Reply

    multumesc pentru sfaturi !

    • Serhat Engül

      Cu plăcere. I think it means: you are welcome. 🙂

  • alexandrescu cezar

    Reply

    cat costa HAVAIST dela aeroport pana in piata Taxim ?

  • Tajinder Dhillon

    Reply

    Hello
    Please let me know the fare of bus 16s or E-10 for Sabiha Gokcen Airport.
    Regards

    • Serhat Engül

      Hello. It should be 2,60 Turkish Lira. It operates between the Sabiha Gokcen Airport and Metrobus Station (Uzuncayir).

  • Mehak Noor

    Reply

    Hello serhat. I am planning to come to istanbul soon and guide is just Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing really informative and helpful stuff…
    Kindly guide me that how can i get cheap wifi or internet while traveling? As in i will be needed to see tracks and nearby things.

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Mehak, thank you for the feedback. However I don’t know the answer of this question. I do not have up to date information about this issue.

  • Alan Drill

    Reply

    Hello
    First of all, i would like to thank you so much for this extra website.
    I have one question : I heard that you can get some credits back on your card if you use the metro (you can get it by checking the card when leaving the station in a yellow machine). Is it true ?

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Alan! Yes, but it’s only for Marmaray. Marmaray runs between Gebze and Halkali. Gebze is out of Istanbul on the Asian Side, Halkali is also far end in the European Side. Marmaray charges much more than other vehicles. On the other hand, you can get some refund if you use it for a shorter ride. For example if you get on the Marmaray from Sirkeci (nearest stop to Sultanahmet Old City), it charges 5.20 Turkish Lira. Next stop is Uskudar on the Asian Side, if you leave the Marmaray there, you get 2.60 TL back through those refund machines. It’s not the same yellow machine where you top up your Istanbulkart. It’s a smaller device which can be found in Marmaray Stations.

  • Tanya

    Reply

    Hello SERHAT ENGÜL.

    Please may I confirm with you the maximum amount of passengers allowed to use 1 IstanbulKart ?

    Many thanks
    Tanya

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Tanya, I don’t think there is any limitation. You can use it as many times as needed, provided that there is enough money in it.

  • Lisa

    Reply

    Thank you for this! Very thorough. One question… Can you top up with credit card?
    Thank you!

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Lisa, you can not top up with credit card. Only banknotes (5, 10, 20, 50 TL) are accepted.

  • Devanshu

    Reply

    Hi Serhat

    I am coming from Sahiba Gocken Airport and going to Sirkeci.

    My plan is to take MR60 to Pendik and then Marmaray to Sirkeci.

    Is this correct and how much will this cost?

    Thank you

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Devanshu, Yes you can take the MR60 bus in order to get to Pendik area. Then you can get the Marmaray all the way to Sirkeci. However, sometimes Marmaray trains do not go directly to Sirkeci. They empty the whole train in Sogutlucesme transportation center (to send the empty train back to busy stations) and you may have to wait for the next one.

      MR60 will cost you only one ticket price which means 2.60 Turkish Lira. Marmaray will charge probably 5.20 TL. Once you get off the train at Sirkeci, make sure you get your refund from the small machines in the courtyard of the station. Have a good journey!

  • Devanshu

    Reply

    Thanks Serhat, very useful.

    Just to confirm, i will get a 2.6TL refund in Sirkeci?

    My other questions is – suppose i have 5 TL in my Istanbulkart, will it allow me to board marmaray and let the balance go negative?

    • Serhat Engül

      You are welcome. I do not know how much does it charge from Pendik to Sirkeci. It refunds different amounts depending on the length of your journey. It does not work unless you have enough money in it. There is no negative balance.

  • Knight

    Reply

    It doesn’t seem possible to get the card or the money on it refunded anywhere. Apart from that it’s a great card.

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Joshua, newsstands selling Istanbul cards must also receive a refund. Some follow the rules, some do not.

  • Mona

    Reply

    Hi Serhat

    I am coming from Sahiba Gocken Airport and going to elite world hotel
    My plan is to take a taxi to there
    how much will this cost?
    Thank you

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Mona, I am not quite sure about it. The taxi fares have changed recently. I assume it would cost around 60-70 Turkish Lira.

  • Mona

    Reply

    Thanks Serhat🙏🏻

  • Ghaith

    Reply

    Hello SERHAT,

    Thank you for a very detailed article. I have a question though. I’m planning to stay in Istanbul for around a month. Is there a month pass or something similar to that where you can pay for the entire month and have unlimited transportation?

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Ghaith, yes there is something called Mavi Kart which means Blue Card. However it’s only for locals. It needs an application and you need to be a Turkish Citizen to get it. I tried to find its advertisment page in English but there was none. Here is the link to the product page (though it’s in Turkish).

  • Bilal Khan

    Reply

    Hi,

    I asked a metro staff where to refund the Istanbulkart and he said it’s not refundable. FYI.

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Bilal, thanks for your contribution. I will check and update.

  • Aksham Thawfeek

    Reply

    Salaam Serhat,

    insha’Allah, we intend to visit Istanbul in April. We are staying in Atasehir Area. If you can give me some information to explore around Atasehir and rest of main attraction in Istanbul. How much will be your price for the half day tour and are the attraction tickets inclusive with your tour. Please advise me. We are family of 2 Adult 2 kids.

    Thank you

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Aksham, Atasehir is the modern area of the Asian Side of Istanbul. You can visit the Shopping Malls around (Palladium, Brandium etc). You can pay a visit to Bagdat Street. It’s a 10 kilometres long avenue with nice restaurants and shopping areas. If you are looking for a tour organization, you can contact to BarefootPlus Travel.

  • Roy Ugaz

    Reply

    I just checked instanbulkart website and google translated something about the Mavi Biletmatik being capable to be used to purchase a instanbulkart with a credit or debit card? Do you know if its posible to do this? I always just try to use my debit or credit card, I try not to use cash, thanks in advance

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Roy, the name of what you are talking about is Mavi Kart, meaning “Blue Card”. However, this product is a monthly transportation card that can only be purchased by Turkish citizens. It is true that it is paid by credit card, but the price is 275 Turkish liras. This card would not be useful for someone who comes to Istanbul for touristic purposes anyway. You have to pay cash to top up your regular Istanbulkart.

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