Last Updated on December 11, 2021
If you are moving or traveling to Istanbul for a long period of time, you need a Turkey sim card and phone number. If you want to buy a Turkey sim card on your visit to Istanbul, you can read our guide.
Do I need a Turkey card?
If you will need to make and receive calls and have internet access while in Istanbul, we recommend this. If you think you won’t make a lot of calls, you can read our guide on how to get internet in Istanbul.
Depending on how long you stay and how much data you use, the cost of a sim card is usually not too much. They have good coverage.
If you exceed data, you will need to spend a lot of time and effort to find the best deal, high charges, and possible troubles with the companies.
We recommend that you make sure that your phone is unlocked and that it will work with Sim cards from any carriers. You can check it out with your provider. After 120 days, all foreign phones will stop working. You have to pay a registration fee before you can use.
Pay-as-you-go or pre-paid Turkish sim cards are two good options for travelers when buying a Turkey sim card. We will guide you on the two options below, but first we need to discuss the Turkish operators.
Turkey’s GSM Operators
There are only three providers in Turkey that can give you a sim card. And these include all of them. The operators have a good coverage for Istanbul.
They all have different plans international data sim, but they are a little bit more expensive than those in Europe. The number of customers and infrastructure make Turk Telekom a smaller company.
According to Turkish law, only a valid passport can be used for the purchase of a sim card. Different amounts of data use are offered.
Which is better value: Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) or Prepaid?
Non-contract service plans are referred to as pay-as-you-go plans, instead. Purchase minutes and top them up. 180 days is the amount of time you need to top up your plan.
PAYG Good For
- You only need it for a short time when traveling to other countries.
- Looking for the cheapest option
- If you only use your phone for emergencies.
- Heavy phone users are not suited for the pay-as-you-go model.
- It will be more expensive if you use your phone a lot.
- You will not have internet or data usage.
- You’ll need to keep track of your minutes.
You have to pay a set amount of money a month for a certain amount of talk, text, and internet. You only pay for what you get in advance and they don’t require a contract. If you don’t finish your quota, the phone won’t work.
Prepaid Good For
- You only need it for a short period of time when traveling to other countries.
- If you use a lot of phone calls.
- Looking for an option including internet/data usage
- The model is not designed for a lot of people.
- When used too much, you can get higher costs.
- You need to keep track of your data.
1. Pay-as-you-go SIM Cards in Istanbul
It is the most practical option. You will just ask for a passport. Pay-as-you-go cards can be purchased from any of the operators. It would take a few days to be activated.
You can make and receive calls for 180 days with this option. If you don’t add money to your account within 90 days, it will start. You can receive calls, but not make them. You need to increase your line every 180 days.
1.1. What you will get?
You can check turkcell.com.tr and vodafone.com.tr.
You will need to buy internet packages to use data. If that’s the case, we recommend you go further with a prepayment card.
How long can my minutes last?
The minutes can be used until the end of the period.
1.3. Where you can top?
You can top up your card from the official stores or online. If your credit card supports 3D secure application, you can use a foreign bank credit card.
Top Up Online
Visit vodafone.com.tr for “Cep Lira Ykleme”.
You can visit turkcell.com.tr if you want to find out more about the company.
How can I know when I need to make a top up?
You can see your remaining credit from your mobile phone.
If you want to see your usage periods, you can dial *166*5#.
2. Prepaid SIM Card Deals for Tourists
How much will it cost?
The Tourist Welcome Pack from Turkcell will give you 20 gigabytes of internet, 200 minutes of calls and unlimited messaging. The price lasts for 30 days. You have to register with your passport/ID.
You can call Turkcell Customer Services.
Due to competition, the prices and details from turkcell.com.tr/en/ can change frequently.
40 TRY is valid for 28 days. You have to register with your passport/ID.
You can reach them by calling +90 542 0000.
Due to competition, the prices and details from vodafone.com.tr can change frequently.
Where can I buy both Turkey SIM Cards?
You can purchase both Pay-as-you-go and Prepaid Turkey SIM cards from the official stores located at the Istanbul Airports on arrival floors, major transport stations, major streets and neighborhoods of Istanbul.
If you want to negotiate with the store sellers that speak good English, you can find lots of information in big letters/posters. So that you won’t have to spend a lot of time looking for the right shop, since most city shops are dedicated for locals.
The tourist packages at the airports may be more expensive than the local rates. If you have a local friend or have enough power to negotiate with the store sellers, you can try to get a better package for your needs.
Before you leave for Istanbul, please check the tariffs from the websites of the Turkish operators, and if you see a big difference with the prices offered at the airport, please contact us.
Summary of All
If you will stay in Istanbul for at least 1 week, 10 days or more, and need to make and receive local calls, then you can buy a Turkey sim card.
Pay-as-you-go is the cheapest option if you want to use your phone only for calls.
You can try the rental services. If you only need internet and phone calls, then you won’t need to buy a gis line.
Before you go to Turkey, we recommend you to check the websites of Turkey’s operators for the latest short term offers for tourists, write them down, and compare the prices and offers at their stands at the New Istanbul Airport ( ) or the Sabiha Gokcen Airport ( If you feel like you can’t afford to go to the airport, we recommend you to go to the city center where you can buy a Turkey sim card.
You can get the same quality of service from all of the 3 operators. The best deal is recommended by us. If you will stay longer and also travel around Turkey, we can recommend either of the two companies.