Banking in Turkey – A piece of cake!

I think (hope???) I’ve got Turkish banking mastered.

As you may recall, I posted a while ago about trying to find a local bank with English speaking staff.  A few days later, I happened upon a bank located near the harbour in Fethiye that met my requirements.  On my first visit, I got my questions answered and left the branch confident in my knowledge of the requirements for setting up a bank account in Turkey. Passport and tax number – easy as pie!

Mastering the Turkish banking system is as easy as pie!

Opening accounts

I returned to the branch a few days later, presented my passport and tax number, and the friendly young woman at the special services desk typed, and typed, and typed on the computer and presented me with two passbooks – one for Canadian funds, one for Turkish funds. I requested an ATM card and was advised to return to the branch the following week to collect it.

Transferring funds from Canada

Rather than pester the Turkish teller for information on how to transfer funds from Canada, I returned home and e-mailed my Canadian bank with the query. The next morning, there was a message in my inbox with information about wire transfers. Piece of cake!

Turkish banking is a piece of cake.

I wired money to myself from my Canadian account, feeling positively giddy with the simplicity of the banking system. How come people continually relate their horror stories to me?

Collecting my cash card

One week after setting up my accounts, I returned to the local branch to collect my ATM card. Ready as promised. The teller collected some additional information, and typed, and typed, and typed on the computer. She handed me my shiny new ATM card and bank statement (required for my residence application), and I headed home, cool as a cucumber!

I was cool as a cucumber.

Not getting my money

Unfortunately, after that visit, I had NO success accessing my money, even after multiple calls to the customer service centre. I could see my balance (including the sizeable deposit from my Canadian transfer) via the Internet and at the ATM but couldn’t actually withdraw money from either of my accounts. Hmmm, things weren’t going as smoothly as I had envisioned…

Customer service rep to the rescue

Last night, a customer service agent from the local branch phoned me because she noticed that I have a relatively large balance in a zero-interest account. (I need enough funds in my account to show I can support myself for at least 2 years in order to apply for residency.) She invited me to visit the branch to set-up an “investment account”. Keen as mustard, I accepted her kind offer, hoping she’d be able to unravel the mysteries of accessing my money.

Keen as mustard for some assistance with Turkish banking.

It took nearly an hour today, but the banking angel converted some of my Canadian dollars to Turkish Lira so I can withdraw funds from the ATM. She increased my daily limit from zero to a more reasonable amount, and explained that the system defaults to zero unless a higher amount is requested. (Perhaps someone should have mentioned that. Weird default!)

She also set up an interest-bearing savings account (8% interest!!!). I’ll be rolling in dough!

I'll be rolling in dough!

Naturally, each of these steps required her to type, and type, and type into the computer, so it took quite a while. Once she was done, she accompanied me to the ATM to make sure that I could withdraw money and printed new bank statements to accompany my residence permit application. In other words, I got my cake and ate it too!

I had my cake, and got to eat it too!

I think (hope???) I’ve got Turkish banking mastered.

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