The Ultimate Guide to Debit and Credit Cards in Japan – today’s topic.
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The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.
Many foreigners have a hard time making credit and debit card transactions in Japan. My experience as an expat, despite being married to Japanese, has permanent residence, have a stable income, and staying more than 15 years in Japan, I was rejected from a basic card, and that seems unbelievable to me.
The good news is that nowadays, there are some alternatives options to the major banks in Japan. But as we discovered, the best credit and debit card in Japan is the one that will accept you. If you hail from a Western country or just somewhere with a less idiosyncratic financial system, you’re probably used to credit card companies. As a foreigner in Japan, the most important thing is to choose the best.
Now, why do you think it’s hard for a foreigner to get a credit/debit card in Japan? Well, if you’re new to Japan or looking to settle and build a credit or debit history as a foreign resident, this platform is always the best for you. In fact, we’ll take a look at some of the best credit/debit cards in Japan for expats.
At a glance, you’ll always need a photo ID card, such as your passport, and may also need to verify your address, visa application, and residency status. Surprisingly, if you apply online, you’ll find that you’re asked a broad range of questions about your life, including your family situation, employment, and more.
However, we have compiled this article to meet your requirements and provide answers to what you’ve been looking for. We will walk you through the concept of debit and credit cards options in Japan. In addition, we’ve also explained some of the pros and cons of living in Japan. Read further to know more!
Best Credit Cards for Foreigners in Japan
As research made it known, the best credit card for expat depends on your personal preferences and how you expect to use the card. Of course, it is pretty essential to do some research but worry less, as we’ve got you covered in this article. Without further ado, below are the best credit cards in Japan.
The Rakuten card is among the giant corporations often known as the Amazon of Japan. They offer eCommerce services and also a global service covering a range of online banking and fintech interests. Also, Rakuten credit cards come with a range of different perks and partnerships. While you might choose a card that offers free airport lounge access or Airmiles, Rakuten extends its benefit to students.
While you’re using a Rakuten card, always know that it’s a must when you drive or hire a car. More so, if you use the card to purchase a tour organized by a travel agency, you might get up to JPY20 million coverage for overseas accidents. Below is a detailed description of how the Rakuten card measures.
|Section of Rakuten card||Detailed Description|
|Annual Rakuten fee||Always free|
|Rakuten Point rate||1 point for every JPY100 spent with a bonus|
|Rakuten Card Brands||American Express, Visa, and Mastercard|
|A foreign transaction fee in Japan||Foreign transaction depends on the card issuer|
|Insurance section||Overseas travel insurance and card theft insurance|
Orico offers credit cards alongside a range of other financial services, including loans and guarantee products. However, nearly 11 million Orico credit cards have been issued in recent years. Moreover, there are a number of different cards it offers, but one of the most popular is the Orico Card THE POINT. And this offers good rewards to potential customers with no annual fee. Let’s quickly glance through it.
|Section of Orico card||Detailed Description|
|Annual Rakuten fee||Always free|
|Orico card point rate||1 point for every JPY100 spent|
|Orico card brands||Mastercard and JCB|
|Orico ATM fee||Withdrawals up to JPY10,000 – JPY110|
|Orico foreign transaction fee||Foreign fee depends on the card issuer|
JCB is a Japanese payment brand operating within Japan and beyond. Expats can get JCB cards through other banks and card providers or choose to take one of the credit cards JCB promotes themselves. Moreover, there are several types of cards, including one aimed at women, especially for those under the age of 39. With this in mind, you can also choose JCB premium cards that come with an annual fee.
For this comparison, we will walk you through the JCB general card, which is available to anyone over the age of 18, subject to fulfilling application requirements. At the time of our research, there are new offers available for expats using this type of card. Below is what you need to know about the JCB general card.
|Section of JCB Card||Detailed Description|
|Annual JCB General card||JPY1,375 is waived for the first year|
|JCB point rate||They offered Oki Doki points offered|
|JCB card brands||Only JCB brand is accepted|
|JCB ATM fee||Withdrawals up to JPY10,000 – JPY110 fee|
|JCB Foreign transaction fee||JCB Foreign transaction fees are about 1.6%|
|JCB Insurance terms||Travel accident insurance, and shopping guard|
The EPOS cards are issued by the firm behind Marui department stores in Japan. Here, you can either apply online or apply in a sore, and many even find the application is approved the same day. Not only that, but getting a card in-store may also mean you get bonus points or a discount as a thank you.
Besides, these cards are available with a variety of features and designs. There are different cashback structures for the different cards; therefore, it’s worth checking which one will fit your spending patterns best. Meanwhile, you may have to pay an extra charge to customize the design of your cards. For this comparison, below is a detailed description of what EPOS cards seem like.
|Section of EPOS Visa Card||Detailed Description|
|EPOS Annual fee||Always free|
|EPOS Point rate||1 point for JPY200 spent, plus bonus discounts|
|EPOS Card brands||Visa card brand|
|EPOS ATM fee||Free within Japan|
|EPOS foreign transaction||1.63%|
Saison Card International
Saison is one of Japan’s leading card companies and has a decent point system with an online platform. To access this kind of credit/debit card, you must have a valid identity card. Aside from this fact, Saison Card has multiple ATMs in Japan, and you can pay the balance regardless of the date. So, it’s a very convenient card if you need a little budget or want to pay as soon as possible.
Your Local Bank
If you’ve been in Japan for several years and are in good standing at your bank, it’s not a bad idea to ask your local bank for their affiliated credit card. This is because; they’re much easier to get than other cards since it’s a smaller pool of applicants. Moreover, different banks offer different perks to their credit card. Mizuho, for example, offers a card with an auto-refill Suica option, so expats will never be caught with too little money on the subway.
Pros and Cons of Living in Japan (Expat Guide)
As explained in our previous blog post, moving to Japan expat guide that many expats are attracted to Japan because of the high whooping salaries. Undoubtedly, that’s the fact, but there are more to explore in Japan. This way, we’ve compiled the pros and cons that’d help your relocation better. Check it out!
In any Japanese lover’s life, there comes a time when we find ourselves considering the inevitable; should I settle in Japan? How much is Japan’s cost of living compared to other countries? Well, you don’t have to worry anymore because Japan really has a great factor to consider. Now, below are the pros.
1. Quality and Sound Education
Japan is no doubt the country that has one of the best quality and sound education. It is renowned for providing all students with a world-class education, whether they attend free public school or private international school. In Japan, when students complete their education, they’re kept to high-performance levels, and the US News and World Report has recently rated the country’s school system among the best in the world.
2. Excellent Healthcare System
Japan is very affordable with its public healthcare system. In this country, everyone is protected, and out-of-pocket expenses are capped to keep the cost of healthcare manageable. Nonetheless, this great nation is making a concerted effort to keep healthcare costs under check, and they rarely create any problems for people living there.
3. Exclusive Shopping Experience
Supermarkets in Japan are world-famous for being, well, convenient. Aside from this fact, you can buy almost anything, and they are always clean, safe, and well-staffed. Meanwhile, many visitors from other countries would not even recognize a convenience store in Japan when compared to their own. Likewise, Japan’s cities are known to be the home to major shopping centers where expats can find about everything they want at any time.
4. Delicious Cuisine
Tokyo’s restaurants were given more Michelin stars than those in Paris, but Japanese foods or cuisines have more to say than sushi. Besides, these foods are healthy and scrumptious. Not only that but there’s an array of fresh seafood and world-class dishes, including melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef, teppanyaki. This cuisine is cooked on an iron grid and tonkatsu, which is a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet.
5. Job Opportunities for Expat
In Japan, there’s a constant demand for people to teach the English language to students. So, if you’re a fluent English-speaking westerner, you can easily get a job as a teacher in Japan. However, the pay for teachers is steady, and they are provided with living quarters in many cases to facilitate the transition to living in a new culture. With that being said, it could be an easy way to make Japan your new home if you enjoy working with children.
6. Public Transportation Network
In most of the articles you’ll see online, public transportation network has mostly come under the cons, but in the case of Japan. This is due to the fact that it has excellent, comfortable, clean, fast, and reliable subways, trains, and buses. In fact, the public transportation system makes it very easy to get where you wish to go, even between cities. Meanwhile, the use of public transport in Japanese life is so ingrained that you could comfortably live in Japan without owning a car.
7. Clean Communities/Environments
As aforementioned, Japan is clean, and nobody would dispute that fact. It may be an Asian country, but there is plenty to find in Western conveniences, including modern toilets, stores, free waters, and many others. Also, with its lovely garden and environment, the houses in this country are also well kept.
8. Application for Work Visa
Application for a work visa is fairly easy for an expat that wants to relocate. Japan provides many different forms of work visas, including a temporary visa that one can get if you’re doing paper signing research or other work that isn’t paid for. While this process can be complicated and time-consuming to apply, Japan is usually fairly open to encouraging foreign talent to work within its borders.
Cons of Living in Japan
Usually, you’ll definitely see a country with a disadvantage. It’s not that the country isn’t okay for an expat, but you should understand it. Japan, for example,e has a lot of benefits that could make foreigners want to live in the country. However, there are certain disadvantages you need to be wary about. Without further ado, below are the few cons of living in Japan in today’s digital age.
1. High Cost of Living
The high cost of living is one of the factors to put into consideration. For a country that has an excellent healthcare system, good social amenities, delicious cuisine, and an excellent shopping experience, you should at least expect a whopping high cost of living.
Moreover, you can expect to shell out big bucks for rent if you want to live anywhere near a Japanese city center. Also, the living costs in Japan have long been one of the highest in the world, and while in recent years the country has become more affordable, but it’s still not a cheap place to call home.
2. Stressful Work-Life Balance
Japan has an incredibly hard-working lifestyle and culture. In this country, individuals are only supposed to turn up early to work and stay late, no matter what position they are in. this could be more stressful if you’re not from a country that practice the same work ethics. In fact, if you’re sick, you’re expected to use vacation time rather than sick leave.
But using vacation time is also frowned on, and your ability to get a job in the future could be negatively impacted. Again, Japan has an insanely hard-working culture, which means a lot of stress and time, which is even hard to get a break.
3. Japan’s Natural Disasters
Natural disasters could be a great reason not to live in Japan. This is because; they experience earthquakes within their boundaries on a relatively regular basis. And those factors can cause tsunamis which can later devastate the island country. However, you cannot do anything to avoid them because natural disasters in Japan are just a part of their life.
4. Opening a Bank Account is Hard
Opening a bank account is quite a complicated issue as an expat moving to Japan for the first time. This is because; you’ll have to be a citizen and nearly have proof of your residence, as well as your passport and Japanese visa, to open a bank account in the country. You would also need to have a hand-carved Hanko seal, which is considered a stamp used on official documents instead of a signature.
On the other hand, it’s unnecessary to open a Japanese bank account overseas due to the complicated visa processes and requirements. This means you’ll have to jump through some hoops when you first arrive in Japan to get all your documentation in order before you can open a bank account.
5. Always a Foreigner
Unfortunately, this could be one of the main reasons why a lot of people avoid traveling to Japan. Additionally, no matter how hard you seek to blend in and integrate into the culture, you’re never going to be accepted as a local individual. Do you see that living in Japan could sometimes be hectic!
Moreover, you’ll always feel isolated and called ‘gaijin,’ meaning an outsider. So, being an emigrant does have its advantages but comes with some obstacles. As an expat, you should beware of that because you might even get questioned about when you’re returning to your home country.
6. Male Chauvinism in Japan
Gender inequality in Japan is a huge problem, as its till strongly embedded in Japanese minds, education, politics, and economics at all levels. Again, this could be a major drawback in this community, and sadly this comes from ancient samurai times and their bushido code, both historically and culturally.
Furthermore, the gender disparity in Japan is usually so high to the extent that you can compare it to Muslim countries. Meanwhile, you’ll get incredibly depressed at some point as an independent female expat living in Japan, and inevitably you’ll start losing gender equality in society.
Money Tips before Traveling to Japan
Whether you want to live in Japan, or you’re trying to go for a visit. Should you take cash or debit cards? What about an automated teller machine? Avoid being caught out with no cash or access to money on your trip to Japan before you go. With these tips from our team of experts, you’ll surely get what you’re looking for.
Cash is Essential
Well, as mentioned above, Japan is very much a cash-driven economy, with a lot of places still only accepting cash. The national currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen. And it’s best to get some cash converted before you leave home, so you have the change to catch the train to your destination. Otherwise, you can access cash exchange places at the airport.
Besides, keep in mind that while some larger companies in Japan accept credit, debit, and travel money cards, many places (including hostels and small restaurants) will still only accept cash. Therefore, make sure you plan ahead so that you will have enough money on you for the rest of the day.
Using Card is Easy
Using a card in Japan would definitely make your trip easy. There are three main options when it comes to cards in Japan. Some of these cards include; debit cards, credit cards, or travel money cards. So, having at least one on you is essential for ease of access to your money. Also, it’s an alternative to carrying wads of cash, which could easily be stolen, lost, or just spent too quickly.
Take International Run Flight
If you’re traveling to Japan for the first time, it’s quite essential to take a run flight. On the way to Japan, we took a United Airlines flight, which was exactly like any domestic flight except that it was nearly 13 hours long. So, we advise you to take an internationally run flight while moving to Japan for the first time.
Book Your Accommodation
Booking your accommodation is another essential thing to talk about. More so, it’s always better to research well about your accommodation before traveling to the country. Meanwhile, make sure you book 2-3 months ahead to get the best deal. You can refer to this platform for more information.
Always take a pocket WiFi
Pocket WiFi is quite beneficial when you’re traveling to a new country. This is because; it’s a wireless modem that connects up to 5 Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Moreover, they are so convenient, and it’s a necessity for expat in Japan. Besides, you can also rent a pocket Wi-Fi as the country is getting better about providing more free Wi-Fi locations in the country.
If you’re traveling to Japan for the first time, kindly refer to our previous article for more information. On the flip side, we have compiled the best debit and credit cards in the country. So, understand the right one that meets your requirements, and follow the due process to own a card as an expat in Japan.