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Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/14 11:20
I originally posted this in an old thread, but it hasn't surfaced yet, so I figure I'll just post a new thread.

I have heard mixed thoughts on whether credits cards in Japan are generally accepted or not. Some say I'll only have problems at Mom-and-Pop stores, while others say only major chains will accept them. Some say it just depends on the part of the country one is in.

I will be staying in the 23 wards of Tokyo - will most convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores take a card? My credit card doesn't have international transaction fees, unlike my ATM card, so it'll be cheaper to put the majority of my groceries/spending on my card.

Is Japan like Europe, where I'll need a PIN for my card to work?

How much cash should I keep on me? I don't plan on being a large spender, but will 2500 yen or so be able to cover a day at school should I need it?
by RaikouNeko  

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/14 12:07
Thankfully, credit cards are not used to pay for small amounts in Japan (it is such a slow way of making payments). I don't think they are even accepted at convenience stores. Instead, cash and IC cards (e.g. Suica) are in common use for small amounts. Payment by IC card has become very common in large cities, especially in and around large stations, but is not yet a common payment method in the countryside.

Restaurants, hotels and shops, however, commonly accept credit cards, for larger amounts.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/14 12:18
Is it possible for me to use my credit card to pay for my Suica?

I never have any cash in my wallet in the States - I just pay for everything with my credit card to help build my non existent credit (such is the way of most students).

I also don't pay any international fees with my card, but my bank charges a 1% fee and that's really good for a bank.
by RaikouNeko rate this post as useful

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/14 13:32
If you buy your Suica card at the manned ticket office (as opposed to the ticket machine), then you should be able to use your credit card.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/14 23:49
We just returned Saturday from our two weeks in Japan and my answer is: expect to pay cash for everything. (We were in Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Tokyo)

We had pre-paid most of our hotels, but the Business Ryokan in Hiroshima and the shubuko in Koyasan had to be paid in cash.

Nankai only took cash for the Koyasan Heritage Pass.

Although Yodashi Camera does take credit cards, they were unable to process my debit card or the credit card I gave them, so we ended up paying cash for my new camera.

For restaurants, don't even think about credit cards--carry cash. There are a few exceptions, but don't expect to be able to use credit cards for meals.

At one convenience store that did take credit cards, there was a sign that there was a minimum sale for using a foreign credit card. I don't remember what it was, but I remember thinking it would be a large amount to spend at a convenience store.

We didn't have any trouble using our US debit cards to get cash at 7-11 convenience stores or the post office.

The only place I used my credit card was at a clothing store near Shibuya, where my daughters found more clothes than we had cash for, and fortunately they did take cards.

We had a great time, btw--details later--I'm working on getting my pictures organized.

by bethohio3 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/15 09:58
Personally, I've been using credit cards almost exclusively for the last 6 months (after relying on cash for several years), and have found it to be very convenient. Of course there are places that don't accept them (that's what the emergency cash is for), but usually they work.

Thankfully, credit cards are not used to pay for small amounts in Japan (it is such a slow way of making payments).

I disagree on the speed comment. While suica (when available) may indeed be the fastest way to pay, credit card rivals cash in speed, especially since more and more vendors don't require signatures for small purchases (less than 3000 or 5000 yen).

I don't think they are even accepted at convenience stores.

Credit cards are accepted at most if not all major convenience stores. 711 for some reason is never able to accept my foreign cards, but I've had no trouble using them at other chains.

I never have any cash in my wallet in the States - I just pay for everything with my credit card to help build my non existent credit (such is the way of most students).

That how I am in the US as well, however in Japan you should always have cash on you just in case. I think 2500 yen is too little and would recommend trying to carry around more (5000-10000 yen). Don't worry, its pretty safe to carry cash (unless you are someone who frequently loses their wallet or purse).

I also don't pay any international fees with my card, but my bank charges a 1% fee and that's really good for a bank.

What card will you be using? I would recommend getting a visa venture card by capital one. It has no foreign transaction fee and earns between 1-2% in points. Plus it works practically everywhere (with 711 being the one glaring exception). I also have a discover card that, despite being listed as accepted almost everywhere, practically never works.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/15 10:17
I disagree on the speed comment. While suica (when available) may indeed be the fastest way to pay, credit card rivals cash in speed, especially since more and more vendors don't require signatures for small purchases (less than 3000 or 5000 yen).

I agree wholeheartedly, at least for here in the States. Swipe, hit credit button and get the receipt. Most gas stations in my area don't even accept cash outside anymore - you have to go inside to pay.

Credit cards are accepted at most if not all major convenience stores. 711 for some reason is never able to accept my foreign cards, but I've had no trouble using them at other chains.

My bank has an agreement with 7-11 and doesn't charge ATM fees, but I'm not sure if this counts for international stores.

That how I am in the US as well, however in Japan you should always have cash on you just in case. I think 2500 yen is too little and would recommend trying to carry around more (5000-10000 yen). Don't worry, its pretty safe to carry cash (unless you are someone who frequently loses their wallet or purse).

I've never lost my bag or my wallet - I very rarely lose things in general (knock on wood).

What card will you be using? I would recommend getting a visa venture card by capital one. It has no foreign transaction fee and earns between 1-2% in points. Plus it works practically everywhere (with 711 being the one glaring exception). I also have a discover card, that despite being listed as accepted almost everywhere, practically never works.

Actually, I was just denied their student card because I applied when I was near my limit on another card I have with them. I can attempt to get it, as I have fair credit for a student without a job (670), but they seem to have locked me in where I can't get another card or raise my limit (which hasn't budged from $750 in a year and a half).

Btw, none of their cards have a foreign transaction fee. My ATM card through my bank (NASA FCU) does.

Do I need a PIN for my card, like I would in Europe?
by RaikouNeko rate this post as useful

Re: Credit Cards and Cash 2012/8/15 11:45
Btw, none of their cards have a foreign transaction fee.

Good to know. I Didn't realize that.

Do I need a PIN for my card, like I would in Europe?

I've never needed it, but it would be a good idea to set one up though just in case. I believe it would have to be a 4 digit pin. Call your cc company's customer service to inquire.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

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