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Getting a credit card in Japan 2007/8/22 13:48
I recently opened a bank account with Mizuho. I wanted to get a credit card/ATM card with this account. However, I recently received notification that my credit card request was denied. (The ATM card works fine, and I'm able to make deposits/withdrawls.)

Is there any reason why I would be rejected? I have a job, though just started this month. I'd really not rather jump to the conclusion that it's because I am a foreigner (USA) in Tokyo.
by Bob  

Credit cards 2007/8/22 18:55

Yes, the reason could very well be because you are a foreigner in a possibly short-term job. I'm not so familiar with the current situation, but Saison Cards (Visa or Mastercard I think) issued via the Post Office have traditionally been the most welcoming of foreigners.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

... 2007/8/22 18:58
Getting a credit card in Japan is much more difficult than in the USA, especially gold cards. This is true for Japanese people and foreigners.

And yes, the conditions are often even stricter in case of foreigners, because the risks of a foreigner to leave Japan without paying their last bill is considerably higher than the risk of a Japanese person doing the same. And unfortunately, it seems to happen not infrequently that foreign residents do just that.

Try different companies. Some seem to be quite lax, while others are not.

Do you mind mentioning how long you have stayed in Japan so far, whether you have paid income taxes in Japan once before and which card company refused you? I am interested.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Credit cards 2007/8/22 19:58
I've only been in Japan since August 1st. I obtained a research position at the University of Tokyo a short time ago. So, I haven't been paid or paid any taxes. There really isn't anyone in charge of knowing all things about settling a foreigner in Japan.

I have a friend (Japanese) who is helping me out with everything.

I opened a bank account with Mizuho bank a little while ago. During the opening of the account process, I applied for an ATM/Mastercard. Two days ago, I received a letter saying my credit card application was rejected. I do have an ATM card, and it works fine.

I have a USA Citibank Mastercard, but there isn't really anywhere that accepts it.

I just figured that you get the credit card at the bank when you open the account. I can live without a credit card normally, but I have next to nothing in money right now, and I wanted to get the card in case of an emergency.
by Bob rate this post as useful

... 2007/8/22 21:35
I have a USA Citibank Mastercard, but there isn't really anywhere that accepts it.

In Japan, US issued Mastercards are accepted virtually anywhere where Japan issued Mastercards are accepted, except for cash withdrawl from ATMs, so you can use your ATM card for cash withdrawls:
by Uji rate this post as useful

Personal experience... 2007/8/22 21:58
I've once gotten denied a credit card in my 20s... me working as a freelance and had just moved into an apartment on my own. While to me having an income that was OK (though I was not a regular employee) AND finally having been able to move out of my parents' house and live on my own was a PLUS, to the credit card company, I was just some young person with unstable income (yet) who had lived in that apartment only for a few months, not much credit record to speak of :( ....Well, I extracted an explanation along this line from the credit screening manager ONLY upon calling up the company and insisting that I be given an explanation, because I was so frustrated.

And the card company who declined me back then is affiliated (now) to the one you got declined. They are a bank, so they may be more strict than others. (And they even know (directly!) that you do not have much money in Japan, in that account.) What you can try is to apply for a card separately at a non-bank entity, such as Credit Saison (affiliated with Seibu Department Store) or AEON Group (affiliated with the retailer Aeon), etc. I'm not saying that they are not strict enough (or not secure enough), but you might have a better chance of obtaining a credit card there.

- By the way, you should be able to use your Citibank Mastercard for *shopping.* Mastercard is accepted at many locations in Japan.

- In Japan, we don't pay credit card spending by personal checks later, but the shopping spending is directly debited from the bank account you register with the card company, a month or two later. So it works like a deferred debit. And because when applying for a credit card you specify the bank account to be debited from, it would be completely normal for someone to have a bank account with Mizuho, for example, but have a credit card from a completely different entity. Try a few others :)
by AK rate this post as useful

... 2007/8/22 21:59
PS to the above: I forgot to mention that I am Japanese :)
by AK (Japanese) rate this post as useful

cards 2007/8/22 22:19
I know many foreigners who have been turned down for credit cards in Japan- so many in fact that I haven't bothered applying for one myself after 10 years here.

With less than a month here and not having received a salary yet the bank quite understandably sees you as a poor credit risk. It may actually be several years before you would be accepted. I agree with the above that it might be a bit easier to get a card like Saison, but I advise at least waiting until you have been paid once to apply.

Incidentally I have never had any problems with my NZ-issued Mastercard and Visa being accepted at shops here and have been able to get cash advances from Shinsei and Citi ATMs.

The only hassle is that I have to send money back to NZ to pay off the cards, but I send money back for savings anyway (very low interest in Japan compared to NZ) , so it isn't really a problem
by Sira rate this post as useful

. 2007/8/23 01:10
In Japan wait a while, pay your taxes, stay at your job for a little longer then you might be able to apply (as mentioned) for an affiliated card eg at a department store.

However for emergency purposes as you mentioned, I don't see any reason why your US Issued Mastercard would not work. All my US issued cards worked fine without problems (Amex, Visa etc).
by John rate this post as useful

find a colleague 2007/8/23 03:33
I helped a foreign prof at the University of Tokyo for various issues when I was in Japan (I'm in the U.S. for grad school, right now).

I remember he has a bank account in Mizuho (near Hongo-Sanchome) and also has a credit card. I guess you can get a credit card after staying here for a while. If you have a position at the university, banks trust you more than other foreigner

I recommend you to find some other foreign colleagues who share the same problem or went through them.

Anyway, welcome to the college.

I can't get a credit card in the U.S. at least for a year.
by anoir rate this post as useful

Credit cards 2007/8/23 06:51
I wish I knew this information ahead of time, but there's not much to do about it than deal.

I just found it ironic that I have impeccable credit in the US, and that I was denied the credit card here.

The only time I tried to use my USA credit card was at the Olympic mall/supermarket/store where I was buying major items, like a futon, sheets, and towels, etc. They wouldn't accept my credit card, so I had to basically use the rest of my savings.

In general, I use my card to buy stuff and just pay it off at the end of the month, just because I don't like to carry a lot of cash on my person.

Also, I wanted the Japanese card so I wouldn't have to deal with transferring money to my USA account to pay off the USA credit card.

Like I said, it's not that big of a deal to have a credit card because I don't really have any major purchases to make. I just didn't want to jump to the conclusion that it was because I was a foreigner.
by Bob rate this post as useful

money in Japan 2007/8/23 16:20
Interesting your card didn't work at Olympic. Usually you should be okay with a foreign issued card.

Most people after being in Japan for a while get used to carrying around cash- after payday I might have 200,000 yen in my wallet for various things I need to pay for, and I don't think anything of it.

The chances of being mugged for your wallet are pretty minute here- I have even dropped my wallet a couple of times and had it returned with all contents intact.
by Sira rate this post as useful

Just to add 2007/8/23 20:21
I was surprised that Olympic did not accept your card... but whoops, I looked at their website, and they say that currently they accept only several types of credit cards, all domestic issued, including their house card :( I guess because they are a discount shop type of place, they want to keep transactions mostly cash-based. I believe other supermarket chains do accept a far, far wider range of credit cards, including overseas-issued ones.
by AK (Japanese) rate this post as useful

try to... 2007/8/26 14:57
open your account at Shinsei bank and apply for their visa card. i know a person who applied for it and got accepted. also there is a rumor that Cosco is friendly to foreigners. why don't you try to apply?
by starbuck rate this post as useful

Shinsei Bank 2007/11/25 10:35
I moved here in Japan in late September and after having settled my bank account (as Shinsei), having my first month salary paid, I applied for 2 credit cards here.
The first one was the JAL Suica card: after less than 3 weeks, I received a denial from the Company.
Then I tried to Shinsesi's Visa, but after 3 weeks, another denial.

Honestly I'm wondering which could be the reason why both requests were rejected.
Because am I a foreigner?
Because I don't have a credit history?
Because I don't have huge money in the bank account?

Another question which arose, was if the fact I applied for 2 cards (both rejected) can affect any prospective other application...
by MagnumPI rate this post as useful

Probably 2007/11/25 11:00
MagnumPI. Unfortunately, I think the answers to all 3 of your questions is yes. It's a pain to pay cash for everything. I'm used to charging everything and paying it at the end of the month. Also, I wanted one for emergencies.

Other Japanese colleagues have said that it is mainly because you don't have enough money in the bank. I don't know how much you would need. And just about everyone I talked to said foreigners get rejected on the first try.

As pointed out in this thread there are other credit cards you can get.

I haven't applied for one since I got denied the first one because, frankly, I kind of bitter about it.

I'm still buying stuff for my apartment and paying in cash.
by Bob rate this post as useful

cards 2007/11/25 16:26
I agree- it's likely to be all 3 of the above reasons.

It is very easy to live without a credit card and/ or make most of your purchases in cash, but it seems for north Americans in particular it takes some getting used to.

As I said above a while ago, your home country-issued credit cards should work in 90% of situations, and where they don't, pay cash. Save yourself the hassle and stress of applying for a card only to have it declined, which can still be happening several years after you arrive in Japan.

Two friends of mine I was discussing this recently said they were rejected every time until they got permanent residence and married a Japanese person respectively.

The Japanese banking system is known to be archaic and inefficient- there's no point fighting it.
by Sira rate this post as useful

Credit cards 2007/11/25 17:04

You've already had your immediate questions answered, but if you are still interested in getting a card, have you tried Saison?
My experience goes back over 15 years, so it may be out of date now, but I was told at the time that it was just about the only company to issue cards to non-Japanese. I had no problems getting one within 6 months of arriving in Japan as a lowly eikaiwa teacher. All I can say is: give them a try and don't waste your time worrying about all the other narrow-minded card companies out there.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

pretty much screwed either way 2007/11/25 17:06
I'm still not used to it, paying with everything in cash.

The problem with using the USA credit card is that I'll get nailed with some fees for an international use, then I need to transfer money from my Japan account to the USA account to pay the credit card bill anyway, so there's more fees there. It's kind of not worth it. I've just been dealing with it.

The silver lining is that you won't be tempted to make purchases you can't afford. Lots of people I know in the USA buy a lot of stuff with the credit card and carry a balance. That's really not that good either.

by Bob rate this post as useful

moi 2007/11/25 20:58
Have you consider VISA debit card from e-bank? You can use it just like a credit card with out any fees.

e-bank is online bank and there arn't any branches(i guess) so you need to apply thru their webpage. I have a hard time getting credit card too (except Marui card which is kids credit card :D ),so I made VISA debit card. As long as I have money in my account I can use it.

However,with this VISA debit card,you can not use instalment.


when you apply you need to fax copy of your Aelien Registration Card and Passport. After you send application they send you bank card with VISA debit on it.
by hodad rate this post as useful

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