Istanbulkart is a credit card sized travel card that provides great convenience for tourists visiting Istanbul. Istanbulkart users can access the most important public transportation vehicles in the city such as metro, tram, ferry and funicular with a single card.
Istanbulkart may also be referred to as “Akbil” in some old travel guides. This old pass, which looks like a small clock battery, has been replaced by Istanbulkart over time. With Istanbulkart, it is possible to access not only transportation vehicles, but also public toilets in parks and touristic places.
In this article, you can find everything you need to know about the Istanbul travel card, simply named Istanbulkart. I will also try to answer the questions of the current Istanbulkart price, where to buy it and how to top up.
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How to Buy Istanbul Travel Card?
You can buy Istanbulkart from yellow-black top up machines at metro, tram and ferry stations in Istanbul. You can select Istanbulkart on the main screen and collect the card from the section below for 70 Turkish Lira.
You do not have to pay exactly 70 Lira to buy Istanbulkart from Biletmatik machines. For example, when you give 100 TL to the machine, it delivers the card to you and adds 30 TL change into the card as credit.
Where to Buy Istanbulkart in Sultanahmet
In order to buy Istanbulkart from Sultanahmet, you can use the yellow-black ticket machines located next to Sultanahmet Tram Station. To find the station, you can follow the tramway in the direction of the Grand Bazaar, taking Hagia Sophia behind you.
It will be enough to walk for five minutes from the road called Divanyolu Street where the tram tracks are located. After finding the Sultanahmet Tram Station, you will see the machines I mentioned on your left.
Where to Buy Istanbulkart in Taksim
In order to buy Istanbulkart from Taksim, you can use the yellow-black ticket machines at Tunel station with code F2, Nostalgic Tram stations with code T2 or the underground metro in Taksim Square with code M2.
F2 Tunel Station is the southwestern beginning of Istiklal Street and is closer to the Galata Tower. M2 Metro station is the northeastern end of Istiklal Street and is in Taksim Square. The T2 Nostalgic tram carries passengers between these two points.
Price of Istanbul Travel Card for 2024
Istanbulkart price is 70 Turkish Lira as of 2024. However, this is the fee for the blank card and when filling out the card, remember that each ride costs 15 Turkish Liras per person. For example, if you feed 200 TL into the machine, you will also get 130 TL travel credit in addition to the card deposit.
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.
Another feature of Istanbulkart is that it offers discounts for transfers after the first use. The card, which charges the full price in the first time, allows you to get on the other 3 vehicles used within the 2-hour time window, cheaper each time.
Transfer Discounts for Istanbulkart 2024
Istanbulkart transfer discounts allow you to travel for a little less each time you use the card for the second, third and fourth time. For example, while you charge 15,00 TL the first time you use the card, you pay 10,74 TL for the second time, 8,15 TL for the third time and 5,15 TL for the fourth time. Prices were last updated in November 2023.
These prices are valid for the metro, tram and ferry, which are the most used public transportation vehicles by tourists. However, it should not be forgotten that some transportation vehicles have different tariffs.
For example, vehicles that provide transportation between the European side and the Asian side, such as Metrobus and Marmaray, will charge more. Buses crossing from one side to the other in Istanbul also charge extra.
How to Get Refund on Istanbulkart?
In order to get refunds on Istanbulkart, you need to be using vehicles such as Marmaray or Metrobus, which have a long route. These vehicles travel a very long distance from the suburbs on the European side of the city to other suburbs on the Asian side.
When you use Marmaray or Metrobus, a price much higher than the normal fare is charged to your travel card the first time. The system assumes that you will go to the last stop and charges the full fare. However, when you get off at the previous stops, the fee is refunded.
To get a refund, you need to find the refund machines at the station exits. There are many of these machines at the central stations to avoid queues. You can get a refund by touching your card to these devices, which you can see from the picture above.
Istanbulkart could be returned to kiosks after being used in the past. The money you paid for the card itself was a kind of deposit and was refunded. So the reclaimed card was sold to someone else. However, in recent years it is not possible to return the card itself. Since there are millions of Istanbulkarts in the market, it has no monetary value anymore.
How to Top Up Istanbulkart?
In order to top up Istanbulkart, you can use the yellow machines at metro, tram and ferry stations. For example, at the tram station you see in the picture above, the yellow-black machine with “Biletmatik” written on it is an Istanbulkart top up machine. These machines enable passengers to top up only in 30 seconds.
To the left of this Istanbulkart machine, you see a second machine with “Jetonmatik” written on it. Those who need a one-time ticket can buy a one-way tram ticket from this token machine. However, one-time tickets are more expensive than the Istanbulkart tariff.
In summary, Istanbulkart is a very useful public transport card for both Istanbulites and tourists visiting the city. Since it is very difficult to use public transportation in the city without an Istanbulkart, I recommend you to get this card while you are at the airport.
On this site, there is more detailed information about the means of transportation you can use Istanbul Card. For example, you can take a look at the article called Istanbul Metro Map about the metro system in Istanbul.
In addition, if you want to learn about the tram, which is by far the most used means of transportation in Istanbul, I recommend the article called Istanbul Tram T1. In this article, you can see how to use public transportation between the most popular tourist destinations such as Sultanahmet and Taksim.
Written by Serhat Engul