Using credit cards in Japan – a convenient and essential tool for your trip -

Shopping & Transportation

Ginza

I left the hotel and headed for Ginza, the popular shopping district.

Tokyo MK Taxi
Paid taxi fares by credit card

I used taxis for traveling around and I paid the fares using my credit card. Apparently all taxis in Tokyo accept credit cards.

Ginza Mitsukoshi

“Ginza Mitsukoshi”- a famous department store in the heart of Ginza have an attendant service for foreign customers. Not only do they answer your questions at the counter, they also accompany you to the floor you want to shop on and even help you complete the duty-free form.

Furoshiki wrapping cloth
Colorful furoshiki wrapping cloth

The department staff directed me to the floor where a variety of Japanese artifacts were on display. There are so many modern Japanese souvenirs that I wonder which one to choose.

Pay by credit card

Mitsukoshi’s staff told me that “Although there are no stickers at the entrance of the department store indicating that credit cards are accepted, we take credit cards at every shop in our store, so enjoy your shopping”.

subway

Headed by subway for Asakusa, a popular tourist destination. It appears that they do not accept credit cards for purchasing short distance tickets.

Ginza Mitsukoshi

Address: 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

TEL: 03-3562-1111

Access: Directly connected to Ginza Station on Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line and Hibiya Line.

Sightseeing in Asakusa

Asakusa

Shops called “nakamise” line a passageway in the precincts of Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, selling a large variety of products including traditional Japanese souvenirs, fashion items and takeout sweets. It’s fun to stroll around browsing these shops.

Japanese sword Koyama Japanese Art Sword Shop

There are many Japanese souvenir shops that sell traditional Japanese clothes like yukata, hand-towels, swords and “shuriken” throwing stars. There are so many cute items that it’s hard to choose.

Ningyoyaki Kimuraya Main Store Ningyoyaki

There were many Japanese snack stores that do takeout. I bought and tried “ningyoyaki” which are small and delicately sweet cakes. It was fun to be able to actually see them baking these cakes, too. This ningyoyaki shop accepted cash only, no credit cards.

Offertory box

When I reached the end of the nakamise shops, the impressive red Senso-ji Temple appeared before me. They say that when you put your money in an offertory box called “saisenbako” and pray, your wishes will come true. Since I wouldn’t throw my credit card in the box, I put in small change, joined my hands in prayer and bowed like everyone else. I prayed for a nice encounter during my trip.

Omikuji good luck
I got “good luck”

They sell good luck charms and fortune telling slips called “omikuji” in the precincts of Senso-ji Temple. I tried English omikuji and drew “good luck”. (There are a range of fortunes from “unlucky” to “excellent luck”.)

Most of the kimono shops and souvenir shops at Senso-Ji Temple and nakamise accepted credit cards. As long as shops have stickers indicating they accept credit cards posted on store fronts and at the cashier, you can shop easily.

On the other hand many of the sweets shops and takeout food stores offering items in the range of several hundred yen usually accepted cash only.

*If you are not sure if you can use a credit card or what cards are accepted, ask the store staff.

When to carry cash

Tokyo Station Hotel

I came back to the Tokyo Station Hotel after a day of shopping and sightseeing in Asakusa. It was great that most of the shops and restaurants I visited accepted credit cards.

hotel concierge

However, there are times when it’s more convenient to carry cash, such as for taking trains, visiting temples etc. I asked a hotel concierge if there was any place I could withdraw cash nearby.

Japan Post (Yucho) Bank ATM
Japan Post (Yucho) Bank ATM

If the credit card has “Cirrus”, “PLUS”, “American Express”, “Diners Club”, “JCB”, “MasterCard”, “Maestro” or “Visa” markings on it, I can withdraw cash from Seven Bank and Japan Post Bank ATMs*. I was also told that there was an around-the-clock ATM service near the hotel.

*Cash advance service is not available for some credit cards. Please confirm with your credit card company, Japan Post Bank or Seven Bank for details.

*Japan Post Bank has about 26,700 ATMs nationwide. Most of them are located within the Post Offices but some of them are located at train stations and super markets. The service is available in English. (As of July, 2014)

*Seven Bank has about 19,500 ATMs at 7-Eleven Convenience stores nationwide and other places. The service is available in English, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Portuguese. (As of July, 2014)

Tokyo Station Hotel

Address: 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

TEL: 03-5220-1111

Access: Directly connected to the Marunouchi South Exit of Tokyo Station on JR Line

After a day of sightseeing in Tokyo, I didn’t feel at all inconvenienced as most places including restaurants and taxis accepted cards for purchases over a certain amount.

It’s better to have some cash ready for traveling short distance by train, shopping at stores selling low cost items and other places (like fast food stores and kiosks). Since money exchange is not found around every corner, I recommend that you prepare cash by utilizing ATMs at Seven Eleven and Yucho Bank.

When you plan a trip, include a credit card in your list for your peace of mind.

Using credit cards in Japan – Tips for using credit cards -

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(1)Using a credit card

Although shops display the logos of credit card brands they accept, there are shops that take credit cards without such signs. Feel free to ask store staff if they take your credit card.

(2) Using a credit card with an IC chip

Instead of entering you PIN, you may be asked to sign even when your credit card has an IC chip in it. This happens when the store does not have an IC chip reader terminal. If you are asked to sign, give the same signature as the one on the back of your credit card.

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We will continue to improve the environment for credit card users so that many foreign tourists visiting Japan can fully enjoy shopping and sightseeing using a credit card.