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Cashless Payments in Japan

Many stores and restaurants now accept cashless payments

Cashless transactions are becoming more common in Japan. Also, Electronic transactions have become widespread for shopping and public transportation payments.

Advancing towards a cashless society

In Japan, there are still many places where cash is required, however, in recent years, cashless shopping has become increasingly common. Cards and electronic money that can be used are indicated at the entrance of establishments and payment counters. However, please make sure beforehand whether credit cards can be used at the specific stores and restaurants you plan to visit. Also please be aware that many places, especially in rural areas, may still only accept cash, even hotels. When visiting the countryside, remote or off the beaten track areas to enjoy nature, please check with accommodations and facilities prior to traveling and prepare some cash.

Credit cards and contactless payments

As dealing with unfamiliar local currency while traveling overseas can be challenging, credit cards are the most convenient method of payment. Credit cards issued overseas can be used at affiliated stores, with the most widely accepted credit cards in Japan being Visa, JCB and Mastercard. Usually, these cards are accepted at major hotels, department stores, large-scale shopping centers and restaurants in urban areas.

Contactless payments are also being implemented more. Using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, they are secure payment methods using debit or credit cards, IC cards, or other payment devices. Stores that accept such payments have the appropriate logos displayed. Despite being in development stages, contactless payments can already be used at most major convenience stores, stores and other establishments. To be on the safe side, however, always have some cash on hand.

Payments using smartphones

Smartphone payment methods used overseas, such as ApplePay, GooglePay and AliPay sometimes cannot be used in Japan. The most commonly accepted contactless payment smartphone apps or QR code payment methods are PayPay, LinePay, Rpay (Rakuten Pay) and MerPay. Most stores also support credit cards such as Visa, JCB or Mastercard. Downloading these credit card attached apps beforehand will help you avoid tediousness and save time when needing to make payments. However, there may be locations where payment errors occur, so it's recommended for one to be prepared to pay with cash as an alternative to credit cards.

*Some mobile payment systems are not compatible to non-Japanese models of mobile phones or smartphones, so the mobile payment may not be accepted depending on mobile phone models.

IC travel cards

If one uses public transportation frequently, there are also IC travel cards available for tourists that do not require a deposit. The locations at which the IC travel cards can be purchased is limited, they have a limited period of use and any money charged onto the card is non-refundable, but using prepaid IC travel cards saves time as it eliminates the need to purchase tickets each time.

Any IC travel card compatible with the National Interoperable Transport System, such as the popular Suica and Pasmo cards, can be used on trains, buses and at stores nationwide displaying this logo.

There are also smartphone applications such as Mobile Suica and Mobile Pasmo that work in the same way as IC travel cards. These apps can be linked to credit cards too, making them even more convenient.

IC travel cards and smartphone apps can be used to make payments at many convenience stores, shops and vending machines.

Physical IC travel cards can be purchased at station ticket counters or at automatic ticket vending machines at most railway stations. Children's IC travel cards, however, are only sold at ticket counters and require a passport or other form of identification that shows their age. Please note, only cash can be used when purchasing from a ticket vending machine. A deposit is also required to buy an IC travel card. Though the fee may vary, most deposits are set at 500 yen. The deposit will be refunded once the card is returned.

NOTICE: Welcome Suica IC cards are sold only at Haneda Airport Terminal 3 Station as of December 2023 due to the global chip shortage.

  • PASMO PASSPORT IC cards for short-term visitors to Japan will continue to be available at Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, and major stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
  • Smartphone applications such as Mobile Suica and Mobile PASMO can continue to be used as usual through Apple Pay with iPhone 8 or later models, or Google Pay with some Android smartphones.
  • Other IC cards being sold outside the Tokyo area such as ICOCA and TOICA will continue to be available in each region.
  • Please refer to the official website for more information. https://www.jreast.co.jp/multi/en/welcomesuica/welcomesuica.html

Depending on the area and railroad company, the IC travel cards that can be used may vary. Be sure to purchase the appropriate card according to one's travel plans. When the card's balance runs low, it can be topped up at one of the many multi-function ticket vending machines at all train stations. Please note that credit cards are not accepted, and one must pay with cash.

For more information for purchasing and charging IC travel cards, please click on the links below.

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