Cash, Credit and IC cards

Coming to Japan? Bring cash….

It’s amazing that a country that can have high speed 4g reception in remote mountains, can invent a remote controlled commode that washes your nether regions in ways previously thought unimaginable hasn’t yet caught on to the tap and pay band wagon like the rest of the world.

So far the only places I’ve used my credit card has been to pay for hotels, buying a kitchen knife and a book. All food, entires and all other incidentals have been cash. The other annoying thing about using a credit card is that you are asked to sign every time you use it.

I’ve seen so many “cash only signs here”, even in places I would have naturally thought credit cards would be accepted.

When coming here I’d recommend bringing a few thousand yen in cash to have on hand (¥35,000 would be a good start).

Where to withdraw cash if you run out ? The best place seems to be 7-11 stores that have international ATMs. 7-11 stores are everywhere. They will only dispense multiples of ¥10,000 and charge about ¥140

There is one exception to the cash rule and it’s a little shining light. The IC card you use on trains (like Sydney’s Opal and London’s Oyster card) can be used at some vending machines and some shops near stations).

The main one you will see available in Tokyo is SUICA and the other in Tokyo is PASMO. It doesn’t matter which one you get as they are interchangeable. The other great thing about IC cards here is they work nationally. The SUICA card I bought in Tokyo works in Kyoto and Hiroshima.

I was also able to transfer my SUICA card onto my IPhone wallet so I can just tap my phone and replenish it from my Apple Pay linked HSBC global debit card. At the moment it seems on SUICA card can do this.

Here is what my SUICA card looks like in my Apple Wallet. I can see it balance at anytime and a history of trips. It will be great when Sydney’s Opal card has this.

(Unlike standard Apple Pay, you don’t need to face or finger authenticate on the phone, you just tap your phone like you would a card)