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Credit Card Usage in Japan is Expanding

Credit cards have become one of the most popular methods of paying for purchases in Japan, where card transactions have more than doubled in the past 10 years, reaching approximately 49 trillion yen per year*1 in 2015, with about 2.5 cards owned by each Japanese citizen.*2

As the eyes of the world focus on Japan, where Tokyo is to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the number of foreign tourists has surpassed 10 million visitors per year, and the amount of money spent by foreign nationals has proportionately increased as well.

Now then, let us take a look at the credit card usage situation among tourists visiting Japan.

*1 *2 Source: Japan Consumer Credit Association (JCA), "Credit Statistics of Japan (2015)"

Credit Card Usage in Japan is Expanding

Credit Cards can be Used in a Variety of Situations

The number of places that accept credit cards in Japan has been increasing every year, and today cards can be used at a broad range of locations. For instance, credit cards are accepted at airport shops, department stores, shopping centers, home electronics mass retailers, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, long-distance trains and busses, city taxis, highway service area shops, gas stations, large hospitals, and even convenience stores. Card acceptance is especially high in the Tokyo metropolitan area and in large cities, however by contrast, credit card acceptance is still rather limited for local train transportation, small-scale retail shops or stores located in outlying regional towns. Likewise, a substantial number of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and sightseeing spots do not accept cards to pay for admission.

If you wish to make a purchase at a shop using your credit card, be sure to check the card brand logos shown at the storefront or near the cash register beforehand to see if your card is accepted or not. Some stores may not display the card logos even if credit cards are accepted, so it may be wise to check with the store staff as well.

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What to Look Out For with Using Credit Cards in Japan

Let us now describe some points you should look out for when using credit cards in Japan.

Even if you are using a smart card (IC chip-embedded credit card), you may be asked for your signature at the store. This is because in Japan many stores are still not equipped with IC card compatible terminals.

When signing for your purchase in Japan, as in any other country, it is necessary for your signature to match the one on the reverse side of the credit card. As you may know, transaction is not possible if the credit card does not have a signature, or if your signature does not match the signature on the card. Only the legitimate card holder may use the card.

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Infrastructure for Credit Card Usage is Being Updated

One of the things that many foreign tourists visiting Japan consider inconvenient is that "there aren't enough ATMs that allow yen withdrawals or cash on credit" using their cards. As a result, the Japan Post Bank, Seven Bank, Citibank and others have deployed ATMs that support cards issued outside of Japan, in order to enhance convenience for foreign tourists. Seven Bank ATMs are especially noteworthy in that they can be found not only in the 7-Eleven convenience stores located throughout Japan, but also at airports, train stations, various business facilities and other nearby locations, and are generally operated 24/7, making them a reliable solution for visiting tourists.

What's more, gearing up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, many other major banks, such as Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation will be installing compatible ATMs as well.

In Japan, we will continue revamping our credit card environment in order to assure a pleasant shopping and sightseeing experience for the many foreign tourists expected to visit our country.

Japan. Endless Discovery.

Related Information

Using credit cards in Japan
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Website
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