How to Get an Istanbul Card, and Where to Use It?

Istanbul is a magnificent city. In Istanbul, you can enjoy spectacular sights. Each year, lots of visitors travel to Istanbul to see these places and historical structures. If you decide to have a tour, you should be aware that transportation in the city is an important issue.

During your tour to Istanbul, you should have an idea on how to manage your transportation in the city. If you don’t plan to walk or get a private car, you may need some information about public transportation. Istanbul Card can be a lifesaver in this point from many aspects.

Istanbul Card (istanbulkart) is an online ticket system to be used in the city. After getting your card, you can load online money into the card and use it. Istanbul Card can be used in many vehicles such as buses, subway, ferries, even for public toilets. There are 23 application centers, some of which are Eminönü, Kadıköy, Taksim, Sultanahmet or Topkapı. You can get a card by paying $1.05, and how much Turkish liras to load is up to you after this. If you are in a short visit and do not want to buy a card, you can get one of the limited cards that can be used once or twice. If your card is harmed, and that is not a user mistake, you can replace it for free.

What Is Istanbul Card?

Istanbul card (istanbulkart) is a credit card sized online ticket system. This card can be used as a ticket in public transportation. You can load as much as Turkish liras you want. You can load money to your magnetic card in lots of spots in the city, and can easily use it during your journey.

How to Get an Istanbul Card?

To make an application, there are 23 centers all over the city. These centers are open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. There are also private centers or ticket offices to make an application. In other words, finding a place for application won’t be a problem for you. In central places such as Kadıköy, Eminönü, Kartal or Karaköy, etc., you can find the machines called “jetonmatik” or “biletmatik” to get a card.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Istanbul Card?

Istanbul Card is approximately $1.05. After getting your card, you can load as much as Turkish liras you want to. There are vending machines called “biletmatik” to load money. There are biletmatik machines in the bus stations, subway stations or ferry stations.

You can use your credit card machines but in centers at subway, there are cash-desks that accept credit cards for reloading your card. Also, you can use your credit card while loading money online.

How Much Money You Should Load

Actually, how much money you will load is up to you. It changes according to how much you are going to use this electronic card. When you get your card, there will be no credit in it. So you need to load money.

One pass for a ride cost 45-cent. So you will decide on how much money to put in your Istanbul Card. Some machines just accept banknotes. You can load money up to $129.

Where Can You Use Your Istanbul Card?

Except for private companies’ vehicles, you can use your electronic card nearly in all of the public transportations. In rail systems, you can benefit from your Istanbul Card. Subway is a commonly used transportation option. Even, in transfer stations, you do not need to pay for an extra ticket. You can go most of the states just by using the subway.

You can use your card for the tramway, too. Some of the tramway stations are intersecting with subway stations.

Buses are another transportation option you can choose to travel with your Istanbul Card. Rather than the subway, you can go more specific rotations. Trains’ rotations are generally more central places. The hours of the buses are also very frequent. Nearly all of the buses’ first stations are in Kadiköy so it won’t be a problem to find your bus.

Istanbul Card can be used for sea transportation, too. Istanbul is a city that has two sides of continents as the European Side and the Asian Side. To go from one side to another one, you can take a ferry. Again, you can find a ferry in central states like Eminönü, Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, etc. Every 15 minutes, you can find a ferry to take.

Additionally, rather than transportation, you can use your Istanbul Card for public toilets. For personal needs, there are public toilets in central points. You can use your card or coins. It costs $0.17. Another possibility to use your card is that parking charges. If you have a car, you can use your card to pay a parking fee.

Istanbul Card Can Be Used Even in Markets

Migros is one of the markets in which the Istanbul Card is working under an agreement. You can use your card for shopping and discounts. Lately, people can acquire a card from these supermarkets. Also, you can reload your card in the stores.

5 Advantages of Istanbul Card

You will have some privileges in while on your trip by having Istanbul Card. But what are these advantages of having the Istanbul Card?

Discounts That You Will Have

Thanks to your card, you will pay less for a ride. Normally, one pass costs $0.85 but not for you if you have an Istanbul Card. Also, if you use two different vehicles to arrive at your destination, there will be a discount on your second ride. However, there is a time limit between your two rides. In two hours, you need to transfer another vehicle or else your discount will not be valid.

You Can Use Your Card for Your Friends

If you are a group visiting Istanbul, you all may not need to buy the card. You can use your card up to 5 people at once. Your second ride discount will not work on this case. For each pass, you will pay 45-cent.

Card’s Features

Istanbul Card is a credit card sized property so you can carry it on your wallet. It is not a heavy card also. You can pay for your ride by just waving to the reader machine while you are traveling. So it is easy to use and carry with you all day.

Reloaded Easily

It is quite easy to reload your card. You can find a vending machine on central spots. Kiosques, small stores, and some supermarkets are also points to load money on your card. You can consult on the places which have the signboard “akbil”. These unmanned machines are not complicated. There are two slots that are for cards and for money. You will put your card on the card place which also has the image of the Istanbul card, and after that, the cash part will open and you will put your money into that. Now, you can have your card back.


Istanbul card is a card that has lots of places to use. You can use it while your traveling in the city or in a supermarket to shop. For transportation, there are lots of options such as bus, tram, subway, seabus, etc. And you can use your card for all of them. Istanbul is a big city and there are lots of spots to see while you have a chance but what about your personal needs? You can use your card for public toilets, too.

5 Types of Cards

There are different kinds of Istanbul Card. According to their needs and positions, people choose the best card for them.

Anonymous/Non-Customized Card

All the information given so far is about this type of card. Everybody can get this type of card. There is no requirement before having this card. You can easily go to one of the application centers and acquire your Istanbul card.

Blue Card

This card can be used for every place where you can use an anonymous card except for seabuses. The difference in these types of cards is that you have to load a standard amount of money for each month. So if you are planning a trip shorter than a month, Blue Card is not the perfect choice for you.

Cards with Discount

There are three types of these cards: for students, teachers, and people who are over 60. The cards for students are for students, and to get one of these cards, it is required a license which indicates you are a student. It is the same for teachers’ card, which means there has to be approved document. The last type is for people who are over 60 years old. This type of card can’t be taken by tourists.

People can get these cards from the same places with the ones in which you can get an anonymous card if they have the necessary documents. What makes these cards different from others is that they are cheaper than the anonymous card.

Free Cards

These cards are given to people who are over 65, have disabilities, are war veterans, and the family members of martyries. With documents which indicate your condition, you can obtain these cards which are free of charge.

Limited Cards

These cards are actually tickets with limits. You can buy these according to how much rides you are going to take. These cards are 1 pass or 2-3-5-10 passes. One-ride card costs 5 Turkish liras but if you buy cards with more rides they have discounts. For example, while the 2-rides card costs $1.36, the 5-rides card costs $2.89. So you will benefit more if you buy 2-rides card rather than 2 separate 1-ride cards.

What to Do in Case of ..?

You may have problems with your card about your fund or you may lose it or your card may get stolen. Or you may harm or break your card. These may occur so what should you do in case of these situations? Will you be charged for a new card? Or what about your fund in your previous card?

In Case of Impairment

In case of such a situation, you can apply application centers with your new card to transfer your fund. In 10 weekdays, your transfer will be done. Unfortunately, you need to pay for a new card.

However, if there is a problem with your card’s magnetic and this is not a user mistake, without any payment you can have your card. If the problems’ of the card is the user’s mistake, payments are necessary.

If Your Card Is Stolen

If your anonymous card is stolen, there is no way back. Unfortunately, anonymous cards are not trackable so the fund on the card is not reachable.

If your customized card is lost or stolen, you should immediately make it blocked. You can transfer your money from your old Istanbul Card to the new one.

What Should You Do When You Are Done with Your Card?

You can’t sell your card back because these cards are non-returnable. So the best thing you can do with your card is to keep it as a souvenir.

If there is money in your card which you will not use, you can consult application centers with a petition. Your money will be transferred to your bank account in 5 weekdays but there will be a processing charge for this.

Mobile Application of Istanbul Card

There is an application for smartphones named “İstanbulkart Mobil”. Through this application, you can check your fund or load money on to your card. You can also see your actions from the last three months. If you can’t find a vending machine or a place to load money, you can check on places with this application.

After you download the application, you will register. In one application, you add 5 different cards. To use the application, you need to match your card with your account. You need to write your card number to match.

To make money transfer, you need to add your bank account’s information. After these steps, you are ready to use your Istanbulkart account.

And here the links for the application:

Enjoy your ride to Istanbul. In case of another problem or if you have a question that you can’t find your answer here, you can call
0212 468 00 99 or 153 “Beyaz Masa”.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I love Istanbul. I have been to 10 different countries. Istanbul is in the top 3 cities. I like to play soccer too :)

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