IstanbulKart – Istanbul’s Public Transportation Card (How to Obtain? Tips)

Last Updated on February 12, 2021

Here you can find useful information about Istanbulkart, Istanbul’s Public Transportation Card for full access to Istanbul’s Underground, Bus Network, Ferries and Trams, including where to obtaini how to use, HES code activation and advice.

What is IstanbulKart?

Istanbulkart is the public transportation card of Istanbul, the cheapest and the most efficient way to get around Istanbul. You can access the whole public transportation system of Istanbul via this single transportation card. It is owned and served by the Municipality of Istanbul.

IstanbulKart - Istanbul's Public Transportation Card (How to Obtain? Tips)

Where can I obtain Istanbulkart?

You can purchase the Istanbulkart from over 2,000 points such as subway, tram, ferry, metrobus and funicular stations via the yellow/blue vending machines or ticket-matics, and via kiosks located by the majority of the public buses’ stops.

There is also mobile app for the Istanbulkart, where you can use and load credits online, but as buying the card physically and using it very easy, we don not recommend the mobile app. It is a new app of the Municipality. If you are interested with mobile app, than you can find and read it by searching “istanbulkart” on AppStore or Google Play.

How to obtain Istanbulkart from the New Istanbul Airport?

You can purchase the Istanbulkart upon your arrival to the New Istanbul Airport (IST), from the 24 yellow/blue machines located at the -2 arrivals floor, or from the Havaist (airport shuttle) counters located along the exits, or the authorized exchange offices.

We recommend to obtain your Istanbulkart upon your arrival to the airport, because you’ll need to use it on the airport shuttles and public buses for getting to the city center. You can not pay cash to the shuttles or public buses.

IstanbulKart Online with Free Hotel Delivery/Airport Pick-Up

Istanbul Welcome Card offers online purchase of the IstanbulKart with free hotel delivery or airport pick-up. It is a great option for the ones who want to skip the hassle of waiting and buying along the machines, kiosks at the airports, tram/metro stations.

Your Istanbulkart will be delivered to your hotel (in the areas of Taksim, Sultanahmet, and Besiktas, AirBnb hotels are not included) or you can pick it up at the Airport (only between 8:00 AM and 11:00 PM).

Buy Your IstanbulKart Online

What is the card price?

Istanbulkart’s price is 6 TRY (No credits). This is the Anonymous Istanbulkart, recommended to travelers. There are also variety of Istanbulkart versions, designed for locals, and you don’t need them.

How much does it cost per ride?

The cost of 1-ride public transportation is 3,50 TRY as of 2020.

How to load credit to the card?

Istanbulkart does not come with credits. You need to load credits (which is cash) to the card to use it. And it is very easy. You just need to place the card into the yellow/blue vending machines, wait for the machine scan your card and than deposit cash to load credits to the card.

You can also load credits from the Istanbulkart’s website from

Make sure you calculate your approximate use of card during your Istanbul stay and load that amount of cash (no coins) to the card. Because the yellow machines (most common) won’t give you any change in return. Only blue machines give you change in return and it is only 20 TRY banknotes, and up 3x 20 TRY cash back.

You can only put 5-10-20-50-100 TRY banknotes to the yellow machines, and 5-10-20-50-100-200 TRY banknotes to the blue machines.

IstanbulKart - Istanbul's Public Transportation Card (How to Obtain? Tips)

It may seem complicated so it is better you should put credit as low as what you need for public transport trips in the city. If you think you will make at least about 20 rides, than you should load 70 TRY to the card.

How to use the card?

After you load your card, you can use it within all public transports of Istanbul such as metro, subway, trams, funiculars, ferries, public buses with discounts. You will see card readers on the stations or inside the buses and you just need to put your card closer to the reader to use the card.

As the card is not a personal one, if you are a group, you can purchase only one card and can use the same card for each passenger. And also you don’t need a card for children that are under the age of 6.

Using Istanbulkart with HES Code

Due to latest Covid-19 precautions, you’ll need to activate a HES code when using using public transportation.

To activate the HES code, you should synchronize your HES code with your Istanbulkart. Otherwise you’ll not be able to use the public transportation.

Steps to activate your HES code with Istanbulkart

  • You should send SMS to 2023 and type HES (space) Nationality (space) Passport Serial Number (space) Year of birth (space) Surname
  • Upon getting your HES code, you should visit the Istanbulkart website on (English language available)
  • And than you should select “I am a foreigner, I want to continue by my passport
    number.’’ box. Also note that your card number is your Istanbulkart serial number.


  1. I’ve used my card approximately after one month it had 60 lira but it was not working when i used it in bus later I recharged it again with 50 tl but it is still not working anyone help?

  2. Hello
    I purchased Istanbul card 12 years ago, continue used it till 2 months ago. The old version I own didn’t carry a number on it. I changed it with 70 TL. A new regulation of combining a HES cod with Istanbul card needs a number on card that I don’t have in my old card. I changed it with money but not working now. Is there a way to extract money from card or transfer the money to a new card to purchase, or, is there a way to pull back my money from card?

  3. Here it also says we need the Istanbul card for the havaist bus. But when we wanted to go from Taksim to new ist airport they didn’t want to let us pay with the card and now we have 60 lira on the card and left the country.
    So you give wrong informations.

    • Hi Svenja. Sorry for the inconvenience you had. Well HAVAIST is frequently changing their bus numbers, stops, timetables, etc. due to this pandemic year’s situation. It seems like they did change the payment options as well. While we mention this as a notice on the HAVAIST pages saying that “please double check it on their website” and giving the links, it is our fault that we should have updated HAVAIST page as well. There was no info on this page saying that you can pay HAVAIST by IstanbulKart. Our apologies. On your next trips please double check the pages selling tickets, airports, buses etc. on their official websites as well. And while you did find the ticket price correct (60 TL for 2 person), left the correct amount on your IstanbulKart, but didn’t check the HAVAIST page for payment options.


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