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Ziraat Bank or YapiKredi: Which one would you recommend for foreigners?

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Howdy: between Ziraat Bank or YapiKredi: Which one would you recommend for foreigners, specifically US citizens with bank accounts in the US and needing to transfer money to Turkey?

Many thanks.

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I don't know about Ziraat Bank because I've never used them, but I'm happy with Yapıkredi.

One important note here. On the first page of the Yapıkredi website, and I'm sure on every Turkish bank website) they have the rate they pay to buy US dollars. Note that before you make any transfers.

If you transfer US dollars, to a US dollar account, Yapıkredi charges a fee (my bank in the USA also charges a fee, for me it's $30 USD regardless of the amount).

If you transfer US dollars and have it changed to Turkish lira using the international exchange rate, there is no fee from Yapıkredi.

However, The last two times I transferred money, the loss of value I would have had because of the exchange rate my US bank was going to use to have the money converted to Turkish Lira was far beyond the fee Yapıkredi was charging to receive US dollars.

So everyone should be sure to check the difference in the exchange rate their home country bank will use and the exchange rate their Turkish bank will use, and compare the difference to the fee their Turkish bank will charge for receiving the money in foreign currency.

For example, on 1 July 2021 I transferred $3,000 from my US bank to my Yapıkredi US dollar account. Yapıkredi charged me a fee of $31.80. to receive the US dollars. But if I had send the $3,000 and had it automatically converted to Turkish Lira and deposited it into my Turkish Lira account, I Yapıkredi would have charged no fee, but I would have lost hundreds of dollars because of my US bank using the international exchange rate. I don't recall the rate at the time but it was substantially different.

So before you transfer anything, check the exchange rate your home country bank will use against the rate your Turkish bank displays on it's home page.

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Many Thanks @Ken Grubb for bringing this to my attention.  if I understood correctly, when you say "they charge a fee" , and "my bank" above, you are referring to your US bank, is that correct? 

I also understood that one can have 2 accounts at the same bank: one in USD and one in Turkish Lira. The USD account is the recipient of international money transfers (this case from the US), and the TL account is used for intra-bank conversion at the then-day rate. Is my understanding correct?

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I re-read my post and saw that it is confusing. I have re-written it to make it clear which bank is which. Instead of explaining the changes, would you please have a look at it again?

In the Turkish banks, you can have multiple accounts in various currencies. In this case, in Turkish Lira and in US dollars.

Any of these accounts can receive international money transfers.

So as in this case, let's say you open a Turkish Lira account and a US dollar account. And you want to transfer US dollars from the USA. You can transfer the US dollars to either account.

If you transfer the US dollars to your Turkish Lira account in Turkey, the money must be converted to Turkish Lira during the transaction. So the US bank would withdraw the US dollars, then convert it to Turkish Lira, during the transfer, then Turkish Lira would be deposited into your Turkish Lira bank account in Turkey. Yapıkredi charges no fee for this.

You can also transfer the US dollars to your US dollar account in Turkey. In this case there is no conversion. It is sent in US dollars and it arrives in US dollars. For this, Yapıkredi charges a fee. Then, using the bank's website, you can sell your US dollars here in Turkey, and have the Turkish Lira deposited into your Turkish lira account.

What I found is that if I did it the second way, USD account to USD account, then sell the USD and get the Turkish Lira here, the exchange rate was so much better it was more than worth paying the bank fee for receiving the US dollars.

On the Yapıkredi website, once you sign in, there's a section for buying and selling foreign currency. So after I check to make sure the US dollars have arrived, I "sell" them in the foreign currency exchange section. Then the proceeds of the exchange, in Turkish Lira, is automatically deposited into my Turkish Lira account.

I hope that makes sense... let me know if anything is unclear.

I might have mentioned this before, but check out a site called Transferwise.com. They specialize in international money transfers and charge lower fees than typical banks. The only reason I don't use them is because I am a member of a not-for-profit credit union which charges the same low fee for all transfer amounts, and for the amounts I transfer it's about the same as Transferwise.

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Thank you @Ken Grubb for the clarifications. Much appreciated. 

I checked the fee structure of Wise.com (formerly transferwise.com) and will benchmark it against what my US bank (Chase) + the 2 candidate Turkish banks will charge in total, including the currency exchange mark-up ... got some work to do in order not to leave unnecessary fees on the table: these can add up quickly and significantly! 

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We have used (transfer) Wise several times over the last year. I am pleased with the clarity, they tell you what you will get, and what you will pay in commission. The  money arrives as they say it will, and you can track it every step of the way. (I am transferring from a UK bank, not US). It is a bit of a fiddle to set up, but bear with it, after the initial proof of who you are, it is so simple, and relatively secure. My UK bank would want at least £25 per transaction, I pay a fraction of that with Wise, and get a good rate. The only issue though, as it has to arrive in TL, is to transfer only what you will spend in the upcoming month.

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I just opened an account at Garanti bank because it was eaisier than doing it at Yapi Kredi. I opened up a US $ and TL account, with zero funds in them. It costs me nothing to keep them open and nothing to deposit funds into them. Just transferred some funds from Wise and I will see if they charge me to withdraw the money.

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Ibrahim, would you please compare your experience of those three banks’ mobile application? Ziraat Bank mobile is really basic and badly designed. I wouldn’t rate it more than 3 out of 5.

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I did, but only to look at what I had in my account and what I have left. Didn’t see an English version. Just entered my password and I didn’t have to do much more. If you have more complex operations to perform and you don’t speak English, not so easy.

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On 26/07/2021 at 20:14, Yami said:

Ibrahim, would you please compare your experience of those three banks’ mobile application? Ziraat Bank mobile is really basic and badly designed. I wouldn’t rate it more than 3 out of 5.

Sorry I cannot compare, I use internet banking, but not mobile, as I hate these HUGE smartphones. My wife has one, but generally, we prefer internet banking. We are more than happy with Garanti, their internet banking is more than we need, we have used it for paying bills, paying traffic fines, money transfers to pay bills, or send money to our other accounts, to receive money from, and send money to our banks in the UK. The English provision is also good.

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I just wanted to provide a feed-back on this topic (and the response will cover other things, so a re-classification may be needed).

I picked up my TC card from the PTT (Wasn't home when the postman came), and immediately went to a Vergi Diaresi to get a Vergi Number. The kiosk has a placard indicating to get the Number from a website, which I tried on the spot but the system couldn't process the request using my passport. Then I found a helpful gentleman (others were busy having breakfast at 10 am) who made an attempt, but failed. Then it dawned on me to hand him my newly printed TC card, and as soon as he entered my ID #, told me that I already had a Vergi Number! Not sure if this is new, but it seems (to be confirmed) that Vergi numbers are assigned automatically now (assumption), as this is my experience.

Then I went to YapiKredi to open an account, and after standing under the sun for a good 20 minutes, was finally admitted inside the empty bank (...), walked to the assigned kiosk, said (using Google Translate) that I wanted to open an account, and showed my TC card. The young lady said that it was not possible since the card "doesn't count" - as translated by the app. I tried to understand why, but she said the system won't allow her to open the account, and advised that I go to Ziraat Bank down the street (first time a bank doesn't want to take my money)  ...  which I did!

After waiting another 20 minutes under the sun, I was finally admitted to the (busier) inside where I was able to open 2 accounts, one is USD and one in TL. I was also able to access my internet account the same day, and using the Google Translate extension in Chrome, navigated the website, paid my rent and other dues. Then I had an issue with the password: I called the hotline praying to have someone who speaks English ... but the hotline has an English option (hurray). Got the password issue fixed, and it all up and running now.

Then today I ran an benchmark using Wise: I transferred 1000USD (one thousand) from my US bank account to my Ziraat Bank account: Wise charged $11.4 fee when my US bank would charge $40; Wise provided an exchange rate of 8.36790 when Ziraat was buying at 8.34 (same clock time) ==> Winner = Wise. But my surprise was more on the time it took for the money to reflect in my Ziraat bank account: less than an hour! (which I would classify as "almost-real-time"). Don't know if I was lucky on this attempt or if this is the standard... My next benchmark will be with a higher amount to check the transfer time and also the amount over which the Wise fee is over the bank fee and if their exchange rate keeps them competitive on the overal transaction. 

Back to Ziraat bank: I noticed they charged fees left and right for money transfers to other people, if anyone has an idea how to get rid of those fees, I will highly appreciate, since fees have a tendency to irritate me (I am sure I am not the only one).

Hope this helps.

Cheers.

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Just clarifying a few things. Did you pay your residence permit fees online?

Any idea why your foreigner identification number wouldn't work with Yapıkredi?

As I recall, if you transfer money from a Turkish bank to another branch of the same bank, or to another bank, there is a fee of a few lira.

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I paid the residence permit fees cash at the immigration office when I went for my appointment. I will have to do the same route anyways with my wife since she wasn't able to come with me Monday, so I'll see if that is the case for her as well and inquire with the tax office employee to understand.

YapiKredi: No idea: It took the lady few seconds to let me know that it "wouldn't work" and it seemed to me like it was more of a "standard procedure" type of reaction. By that I mean she didn't enter my information or check with someone else in the bank, etc.

 

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Wise is an excellent system, you know how much it will cost you upfront, and you know exactly how much you will get in TL. In my experience your money will be in your account within 2 hours. Some banks simply don't want foreign customers. In some cases they will not open accounts for specific nationalities, eg Iranians.

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