|The Garanti bank logo.|
If you ask around, most folks will say that Garanti is a good bank and the fact is, Garanti is the bank of choice for many Turks. I haven't had to deal with them very much except for the occasional phone call and the initial set up of my account. For nearly a year I just had a checking account with a MasterCard debit card. Garanti offers excellent online banking in English and if you call Garanti on the phone, most services are offered in English.
|A typical Garanti ATM.|
I decided that I wanted to get a Turkish credit card. A lot of Turks I know pay for just about everything with their credit card and every year or two, they rack up enough miles to fly to Europe, for example. I wanted to take advantage of those benefits, too. I consulted with a former Garanti branch manager about getting a credit card from the bank. She said it was pretty straight forward. I needed to visit my bank branch with my passport and residence permit, sign a few documents and I would be on my way. As it turns out, it wasn't quite that easy.
A few months ago, I left work a bit early to visit the bank with all the required documents. Since it was during working hours, I was forced to go by myself without the help of a Turkish speaker. I figured that I would easily be able to request a credit card by myself with my little Turkish and I would be in and out in a short amount of time.
So, I go into the branch, take my number and have a seat. I was ready to scrap the idea after waiting 30 minutes, but then my number was called. I sat down with the banker--who apparently was having a bad day--and expressed my interest in obtaining a credit card. I could tell she didn't really know what to with me as I am a foreigner and the rules for foreigners are different. She left her desk to consult with someone else for about 5 minutes, then she returned. She told me that since I am a foreigner, I am ineligible to have a credit card in my own name and that I would have to find a guarantor. I knew this information mustn't be correct, but since I couldn't explain that in Turkish, I left the bank--defeated.
About 4 weeks ago, I went back to the same branch, this time armed with my Turkish wife. We took a number, sat down, and was called to the rep about 30 minutes later. This time, the gal helping us was a different person who recently returned to work from maternity leave. Duygu explained that I wanted a credit card and that I had been in once before, but was told I needed to come back with a guarantor. The nice Garanti rep wasn't exactly sure of the process. At first, before calling anyone to find out, she said that since I was a foreigner, I was only eligible for a secured credit card. Then, she suggested Duygu get the card in her name and order a spare card for me. At that point, she decided to call someone to find out the exact process. It turns out that even though I am a foreigner, I am eligible for a credit card because my salary is deposited to Garanti!
After all the misinformation and all the waiting, I could get a credit card! The customer service rep went to the printer and picked up a stack of paper that I assumed was the card agreement. The stack was quite large--114 pages to be exact. She then instructed me to sign every single page of the card agreement! I was shocked...I thought she was joking because even as she instructed me to sign every page, she was laughing! She said Turks just need to sign a page or two, but foreigners have to sign everything.
|This is the first 114 pages.|
After signing 114 pages, she brought over 25 more pages for signing. Once finished, she said that everything would be submitted and I should get the card in a few weeks. Fast forward 3 weeks, and I've got my Miles and Smiles card.
So in the end, if you are a foreigner living in Turkey and your salary is being deposited to the bank, you can get a credit card. Just be ready for dealing with wrong information, long waits and in some cases, poorly trained staff.
|My card finally arrives!|