Japan is known as a “cash society,” but having a Japanese credit card in Japan can be very convenient.
A few months ago, I decided that I’d like a Japanese credit card of my own. I’ve been using my US CitiBank card, which is accepted at a lot of stores in Japan. My American CitiBank card is great in that regard, but charges an international usage fee that I could escape if I were to use a Japanese credit card.
For this reason, I applied for the Life Card. Much to my dismay, I was rejected. Talking to a coworker about it afterwards, he asked why I went for such a “high class” card. The fact is, I’m not familiar enough with credit cards in Japan to know which credit cards are easy to get for someone like me, a younger person with a lower income who hasn’t lived in Japan for a long time.
I decided to do a little research to find which credit cards are easy for foreigners in Japan to acquire.
Japanese Credit Card Resources
To compile this list of Japanese credit cards, I looked for credit cards aimed at lower-income workers (such as housemakers and part-timers) and younger demographics (such as students and 20-somethings). Additionally, I used the following resources, which identified “foreigner-friendly” Japanese credit cards:
Tokusuru Credit Card Guide (Dugon)
Tokusuru Credit Card Guide (J-selection)
Note About Japanese Credit Cards Types
Of course, there are types of credit cards that are easier to receive than others. A non-Japanese friend of mine was able to get a department store credit card the same day as the application was submitted.
I personally prefer to stick with bank credit cards, which may be a bit more difficult to get. This list is mostly of bank credit cards. This is my preference as a lay-person. So please keep in mind that I am not a professional and that I can’t take responsibility for the results of applying for or using any of these cards. Thank you for your understanding.
Notes About Additional Research
The table below is not by any means a thorough write-up of the credit cards. You can use it as a guideline. Once you’ve decided on a few cards that sound good, you should also research other aspects of the cards as well. Some items I’d suggest looking up would be:
- Interest rates
- Reputation of card
- Possibility of adding family credit cards
- Additional rewards, programs, and reward details
- Possibility of usage overseas
- Details of paying the premium (when to pay, how much to pay, how to pay)
- Buyer’s insurance/theft/loss
12 Japanese Credit Cards for Foreigners to Consider
I’ve compiled this list of twelve credit cards which in theory may be easier for foreigners in Japan to receive. I’ve listed the credit card name, the credit card brand, the yearly fee, and some of the rewards associate with the card. All of this information comes from the cards’ official websites. This information may change, so please just use this as a guideline and double check on the official website.
As a side note, students may have more trouble getting a credit card in Japan. According to the credit cards’ official websites and the above mentioned guides, the following cards are recommended to students: MUFG Card Initial American Express Card, Walmart Card Saison American Express Card, Saison Card International, Aeon Card. In this case “student” usually means a student at a four-year university, not high school students / language school students / trade school students / etc.
Credit Card Table
|Credit card name||Brands||Yearly fee||Rewards|
|Seven Card||Visa, JCB||500 yen/year (first year free; free for the following year if you buy 50000 yen or more a year)||Point System (exchange points for shopping, ANA miles, etc.)|
|Saison Card International||Mastercard, Visa, JCB||None (forever)||Point System (never expire, exchange points for JAL miles, or docomo or au points, etc.)|
|JMB Lawson Ponta Card Visa||Visa||None (forever)||Ponta Points (exchange points for shopping at Lawson’s, JAL miles, etc.)|
|Walmart Card Saison American Express Card||American Express||None (forever)||Point System (never expire, exchange points for au or docomo points, items, tickets, etc.)|
|MUFG Card Gold American Express Card||American Express||2000 yen/year (first year free)||Point Program (exchange points for JAL or United miles, au/softbank/docomo points, online shopping, etc.)|
|MUFG Card Initial American Express Card (only for those 29 years old and younger)||American Express||1312 yen/year (first year free, free while you are a student)||Point Program (exchange points for JAL or United miles, au/softbank/docomo points, online shopping, etc.)|
|MUFG Card Gold||JCB, Visa, Mastercard||2000 yen/year (first year free)||Point Program (exchange points for JAL or United miles, au/softbank/docomo points, online shopping, etc.)|
|Mitsui Sumitomo Debut Plus Card (only available to those between 18 and 25)||VISA||1312 yen/year (First year free; free after that if you use at least once a year)||Point system (points can be used to purchase items from World Point catalog)|
|Viaso Card||Visa||None (forever)||Cash Back (automatically receive 1 yen for 1 point)|
|Recruit Card||Visa, Mastercard||None (forever)||Point system (can use points at Hot Pepper, Eruca, etc.)|
|Aeon Card||Visa, Mastercard, JCB||None (forever)||Point system (WAON points; can use points at Aeon stores, McDonald’s, Family Mart, etc.)|
|ANA Visa Suica Card||Visa||2100 yen/year (first year free)||ANA Miles|
Do you have a Japanese credit card? What is your advice for getting one and what is the best credit card for foreigners in Japan?