Istanbul Kart, Istanbul City Card

Istanbul to accept credit cards to pay for public transport

The new Istanbul City Card allows tourists to travel comfortably on public transport around Istanbul, and even visit museums for free.

The Istanbul Metropolitan City Council (İBB) has signed an agreement with the financial multinational Mastercard to allow the use of credit and debit cards with contactless technology to pay for public transport, including buses and subways: a measure that will come into force in 2023, and that will allow, for example, that tourists who visit the city can also use their foreign cards to pay for the ticket.

Nihat Narin, director of BELBİM (the company in charge of electronic payment systems in Istanbul) explained this week that the measure is part of the attempts to find innovative solutions and turn Istanbul into a “smart city”, so that both residents and tourists of the Bosphorus metropolis have more facilities in their daily life.

Currently the IstanbulKart public transport pass has about 22 million active users, and in addition to paying for the ticket in all kinds of transport services in Istanbul, some businesses also accept it as a mean of payment. Last September, the İBB also presented new IstanbulKart with extra options for foreign tourists visiting the city.

The aim is to make this “IstanbulKart for tourists” – called the “Istanbul City Card” – easier for foreigners to use: it includes a “guide kit” and a list of the best routes to know Istanbul. The cards, which in some modalities even include unlimited daily use of public transport (minimum 1 day, and maximum 15 days), can be purchased at around thirty vending machines scattered around areas frequented by tourists.

The Istanbul Metropolitan City Council has announced that these public transport cards for tourists will include other options, such as the possibility of free entry to museums operated by the city council or to take tourist tours by boat on the Bosphorus.