So, you are coming here on holiday or to live, and you want to know how to buy a SIM Card in Turkey. Tapping into calls, text messages and that all-important vital internet connection on a Turkish SIM card can save you a lot of money, especially when comparing overseas operators and their roaming charges. The process has changed in recent years. Gone are the days, when we could walk into a phone shop, buy a SIM anonymously, and use it.
Procedures are tighter these days, and you need your passport to buy one. But as the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed, so in this article, we give you the lowdown in buying a SIM Card in Turkey and what it will cost you. Before we start, though, know that in Turkey, authorities lock foreign phones automatically after 120 days. To get them unlocked, you will need to register them, and this fee isn’t cheap. Hence why many part-time expats in Turkey, have both foreign and Turkish phones and alternate their use depending on where they are.
How to Buy a SIM Card in Turkey
1: Choose Your Mobile Operator
Turkcell: By far, the most popular and widely used GSM operator, Turkcell offers affordable, local prepaid and Pay-As-You-Go plans. They also have their tourist welcome pack which nets you 20GB internet, 200 minutes of calls and unlimited messaging via What’s App. The package costing 149 lira is valid for 30 days, although other packages and Tops ups are available. (www. turkcell.com.tr.)
Vodaphone: As Turkey’s second most popular GSM provider, many foreigners will already be familiar with Vodaphone that bought out the old Telsim network. They offer Vodaphone’s Holiday Line, which gets you 300 minute of calls in all directions, 30 min international calls and 10GB data for 90 days at 200TL. If you run out of data, you can top up 6 GB for 50 Turkish lira, or 12 GB for 80 Turkish lira. Likewise, other prepaid packages are available. (www.vodafone.com.tr.)
Turk Telekom: Originally only operating for home internet, in 2016, Turk Telekom branched into the mobile network by buying out Avea. Unfortunately, they don’t offer a tourist version. Their standard Pay-As-You-Go packages are 750 minutes, 1000 SMS and 4GB of internet for 23 Turkish lira, or 20 GB for 45 lira. Additionally, the calls and SMS are to Turkish numbers only. Overall, foreign travellers might want to look at the first two options for the best value for money. (www.turktelekom.com.tr)
Mobile Hotspot: Given that most people use Skype, What’s App, or Messenger to make calls and send messages, if you are a heavy internet user, the other option to consider is renting a mobile hotspot. These are cost effective if you are travelling as a family or group because you can also connect up to ten devices to one hotspot. The most popular one in Turkey is Rent and Connect, who offer 4G and drop the device off to your hotel. (www. rentnconnect.com.)
Turistcell for Istanbul: If you plan to visit Istanbul only, this prepaid card is another option. Currently selling for 28 euros, it offers 15 GB and 1000 minutes International calls, free unlimited local calls and 4G coverage. The problem is that it is only valid for seven days. It is sold under the umbrella of the Istanbul Welcome card.
2: Where to Buy a Turkish Sim Card
Vodaphone and Turkcell have a desk in most international arrival halls of airports or research the town, or city you plan to visit to find out where your local shops are. Don’t forget when buying a SIM card, you will need your passport.
Also of Interest
Digital Nomad in Turkey: If you live the free-roaming lifestyle by making your income off the internet, and plan to visit this country, this article will be of use. Looking at internet connections, where to live, visas and cost of living, it is a great starter guide.
Living in Turkey: Alternatively, if it is your wish to live in Turkey all year round and make it your permanent home, look at this resource guide which will help you plan, move, and settle in. It is full of useful information including legalities, managing finances, learning the language, navigating the cultural differences and much more.
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