Japan, a country of avant-garde technologies that seem to come from the future: underground parking, robot hostess, virtual Idol…
However, despite the fact that we are surrounded by these technologies, I was been annoyed by a problem that I could not imagine. The payment by credit card!
When I came for the very first time in Japan, as a traveler, I came with just some few cash on me and, the rest of my budget on my bank account.
So, when I wanted to pay at the first stall with my card, a roadside Takoyaki stall, I was surprised! “Sorry Sir, we can’t accept credit card” and at this time I didn’t have cash anymore. Ladies and gentlemen, believe me, I still use to think about that poor Takoyaki that didn’t have the chance to get eaten by me, how sad isn’t it?
I decided to check around searching for a bigger place or a food chain restaurant but … Always the same result!
The Japanese are not heavy users of bank cards, preferring the eternal cash, but their use can be sometimes complicated: The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry said in September 2013, only 24% of ATMs in Japan allowed foreign bank cards to withdraw Yen.
That’s why I would like to share my tips and advice with you on this topic!
• My first advice is: simply, take enough money from your country before to come to Japan. Especially, when you enter in Japan, you will need to take the train from the airport, or a bus, a taxi … Then you will need to pay your first hostel, something to eat … You are here to travel and enjoy Japan, not to start your trip with easily avoidable problems.
• My second advice is how to withdraw cash in Japan:
konbini 7-Eleven issue cash at any time for Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, and Maestro
It’s sooo useful! Because you can withdraw money every time even in the middle of the night! Of course, there is a little transaction fee and, be sure to increase the possibility of withdrawal of your credit card in your country just in case if you need lots of cash.
• My third advice is, in fact, a good new: three giants of the Japanese bank announced in 2013 a news that delighted all tourists staying in Japan: their vending machines have accepted foreign bank cards since 2015. These are:
Mizuho, (https://www.mizuhobank.com/japan/branches/index.html) here is their Website in English!
Sumitomo Mitsui (SMBC).
Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ)
At present, only 48,000 of Japan’s 190,000 distributors accept foreign cards. By 2020, this figure should rise to 80,000!
Foreign exchange fees and other fees are inevitable and of several types. Their amounts vary according to the provider; for example, banks apply two commissions: banking and foreign exchange. Sometimes even, a minimum sum is imposed.
• Currency exchange in office at the airport, commission on the amount exchanged :
4-8% and fixed costs per transaction are until 18Euro/20 US dollar
• Exchange of currency in a bank or exchange office in Japan :
3-6% fixed costs per transaction are until 12 Euro/13 US dollar
• Withdrawing Yen from a distributor in Japan with his credit card :
3-6% and fixed costs per transaction are until 8 Euro/ 9 US dollar.
Here is the Miyazaki airport currency exchange link: http://www.miyazaki-airport.co.jp/news/information/83
Here is the Miyazaki bank information: http://www.miyagin.co.jp/kabunushi/ir/c_english_report/kakunin/
I would like to reassure you, even if it seems complicated to pay by credit card in Japan, if you follow my advice, there is absolutely no problem traveling this wonderful country. You will get used to it very quickly!