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The İstanbulkart

The İstanbulkart is a prepaid "smart card" that you can swipe to pay for buses, trams, the funiculars and metro, and most ferries. The 6-TL nonrefundable fee for the card may not be worth paying if you’re only in town briefly, but it can save you money if you plan to take public transportation a fair bit (especially if you’re in a group, as up to five people can use the same card). With an İstanbulkart, fares are 1.95 TL—versus 3 TL for a single-ride token—and there is a discount on transfers within a two-hour period; you’ll also save yourself the hassle of buying tokens for each ride. The İstanbulkart can be purchased at major transit stops such as Taksim and Eminönü and theoretically reloaded at most stops. In practice, however, the machines are not always working, but most newsstands are able to upload credit as well. The municipality eventually plans for cardholders to pay for taxi rides and museum entrance fees with the card but so far, aside from transport, it can only be used to pay for some public toilets.