Turkey makes it harder to buy iPhones on credit cards

Turkey reduced the period in which consumers can repay the cost of purchasing iPhones and other luxury handsets on credit cards in a latest effort to control consumer demand and debt.

The repayment terms for the purchases have been cut to three months from six months, according to a decision by the banking watchdog published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday. The ruling applies to all mobile phones costing more than 3,500 liras ($595), it said.

Turkey’s economy is recovering from a currency crisis that swept through financial markets in the summer of 2018, slashing consumer demand for imports. Recent economic data shows imports climbing and a revival in retail sales, raising the specter of a widening in Turkey’s trade deficit that could destabilise the lira again.

The Turkish authorities had made it easier for consumers to buy items such as mobile phones, computers and holidays in the aftermath of the currency crisis.

But on Wednesday, the banking watchdog also tightened credit card repayment terms for buying holidays, flights and hotel stays to three months from six months. Turks tend to borrow over several months on their credit cards rather than applying for consumer loans.

The central bank has also introduced measures encouraging banks to lend to businesses rather than to consumers.