Credit Card in Japan: The 3 Best for Foreigners!

best japan credit card

Are you planning to get a credit card in Japan? If you are new in Japan, you might be wondering how to start.

While many transactions in Japan are cash-based, credit cards are widely accepted in the country and are way more convenient.

A big city in Japan, like Tokyo, accepts a variety of ways to pay, such as credit cards. You can use credit cards to pay your cab fare, purchase merchandise at stores, or pay for food at food chains or restaurants. Also, you can use them for electronic transactions when booking hotels, online shopping, and other ePayments.

On the other hand, using the credit card issued in your home country while in Japan will incur international charges. And you don’t want that to happen. So getting a Japan-issued credit card can be a clever choice.

Although a credit card is difficult to obtain in Japan, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get one. Being aware of the right things to do and preparing beforehand could improve your chances of getting approved.

In this article, you will learn the following:

  • the list of must-haves when applying for a Japan credit card
  • three (3) credit card companies in Japan for best for foreigners
  • reasons of credit card application in Japan got rejected

Know The Must-Haves For A Credit Card Application

Knowing the must-have requirements is the first thing you should do before you begin your credit card application. It will help you understand if you are eligible to apply and receive a credit card in Japan. The following are the four must-haves:

Having a Japanese Bank account.

Owning a bank account in Japan is the most important requirement of your credit card application. Without it, it would be difficult for you to process.

So if you have no bank account yet and planning to have one, it is best to look for an English-speaking or bilingual bank, such as the Japan Post Bank. This bank does not require foreign applicants to be fluent in Japanese. Besides, this bank is the owner of Yucho (ゆうちょ) – is an interbank network in Japan.

Once you’ve opened with JP Bank, you will likely receive a limited type, which allows you to receive direct deposits in Japan transfers. But to transfer funds to other banks or other transfer services leave you not permitted for the first six (6) months.

After six (6) months, you can apply to the bank to switch your account to a regular one to obtain transfer services.

Having all the required documents.

These documents are needed when you apply for a credit card in Japan. And these will also be used to check your length of stay in Japan, your address, and more.  You must, therefore, have them ready before you begin your application.

    • Residence Card
    • Residence Certificate
    • Parent/Legal Guardian’s Consent Letter (Required only for applicants aged 18 to 20)
      *Students applicants are required to show a student identification (ID).

Having optional documents ready.

These documents are not required, but it would be better to have them ready during the application. And you can show them to the person processing your application if she/he will ask them.

    • Passport – Your passport contains information that a bank wants to check. It may also serve as your identification.
    • Insurance Card – Company insurance shows employment and income, which guarantees the credit card company that you can pay your debts.
    • Credit Card Fees – You can also show them your health insurance if you have one.
    • Phone Contract – A phone contract can also make an impact on your ability to obtain a credit card in Japan. It would be easier for them to contact you, and having a payment track record of your phone contract can boost your credit score.
    • Income Statement – Your income statement is a record to show your capability to pay your future debts.

Having the ability to read and write in Japanese.

Knowing how to read and write in the Japanese language is necessary during the entire credit card application. Most credit card companies in Japan used it as the basis of credit card approval. Apart from it, you will need to fill out a Japanese application form that requires you to write in Japanese.

3 Best Credit Cards in Japan You Should Try!

1. American Express

Out of so many credit card companies, you can find in Japan, we recommend the following for easier application. Foreign students will surely benefit from this list, too.

American Express is known all over the world. The head office is in the United States, but the application process and its system are not the same as Japanese card companies.

credit card

Reference: American Express Application Form

American Express is foreigner-friendly. You can tick the box in red if an applicant has a middle name. 

Maintaining a good credit record for the first 6 months will make your next credit card application a sure yes!

American Express Card Official Page

https://americanexpress.com/credit-cards

2. Mitsui Sumitomo

mitsui sumitomo

Mitsui Sumitomo is the first Visa card in Japan. 

SMBC credit card

On their web page, it is explained how foreigners can apply for a credit card.

 

Application process are exactly the same for Japanese and foreign applicants. Having stayed in Japan for quite some time already and has the capacity to pay, foreigners can definitely get a credit card.

This company offers different types of credit cards, even for students, and makes it easier to do.

Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Classic Card Official Page 

https://www.smbc-card.com/

3. Epos Card

epos credit card

As a member of the Marui Group, you can get an Epos Card at Marui stores in Japan. The application process is as fast as 30 minutes after you submitted the form at their counter. 

It also partnered with Global Trust Network (GTN), a guarantor company for foreigners in Japan. However, the GTN Epos card is only for GTN customers. This is well recommended for 18 years old and older.

The annual fee is free for life.

Why Your Credit Card Application Get Rejected?

The best way to avoid credit card application rejection is by knowing the reasons why others failed. You should never underestimate the importance of recognizing or being fully aware of them ahead before you start to apply for a credit card in Japan. These are the possible reasons the credit card application declined in Japan.

    • A short length of stay
    • Bad credit history with other company
    • Multiple credit card application
    • Choosing Cash (Borrowing Cash)
    • Choosing Shopping (Borrowing Cash for Shopping)
    • Language Difficulty

Short Length of Stay

If you are living in Japan for a few months to a year, it is very unlikely for your credit card application to be accepted, except if you are employed in a prestigious company in Japan, with a high salary.

For example, in U.S. or Canada, payment due date of your credit card must be within 20 days, otherwise, you will be charged with an interest rate. However, in Japan you can choose different payment method or schedule. You can choose to pay it once, twice, in full but once you have your bonus or through “revolving payment”, that is by splitting up the total amount for several months and you will pay the credit card company with interest.

Example, if a foreign resident purchased a total amount of 300,000 Yen using his card and choose revolving payment. He may choose how much he will pay for it each month. Let’s say 25,000 Yen per month for 1 year, plus interest rate.

The problem is if, few months after his purchase, he will go back to his home country and he will stop paying, the credit card company will surely have a loss.

Therefore, foreigners are who are yet in Japan for a short period will most likely be rejected.

Bad Credit History with Other Company

Banks and credit card companies share information with each other, including delinquent creditors. If the company you applied for will check for your history and will find a bad report, even if it was from your home country, your application will be rejected. Remember, the credit card company will only declare you delinquent after missing two (2) payments or several delayed payments.

Multiple Card Application

Approval of your application may take days due to the numerous applications they receive and sometimes, waiting frustrates the applicant. However, it isn’t wise to apply with several credit card companies at a time. As mentioned above, banks and credit card companies share information with each other. 

Applying for multiple credit cards in Japan will affect your credit score and give them the impression that you are a high-risk applicant.

If you get rejected, take your time, be patient, and wait. Do something else before applying again. You may save up money to your bank account or pay your other monthly dues, to prove that you are worthy of their trust.

Choosing Cash

Though cash is necessary for urgent situations, choosing cash in your application will make it more impossible to get approval. Better if you put “0” Yen to the option. Otherwise, the company may think that “the applicant doesn’t have money”.

Applying for credit card and choosing cash will give the same problem as the person who goes back to his country before completing his payment. Both may stop paying and cause loss to the credit card company.

Choosing Shopping

In your application form, remember to put lower than 30,000 Yen for “shopping”. The intention of getting a credit card might be questionable and suspicious if a credit option for shopping is too big.

Japanese Language Difficulty

If your Japanese language is limited, work on it. You will have to fill up an application form in Japanese, and the processor will explain the terms and conditions in Japanese, too. The more you can’t understand the explanation, the higher the risk of a rejected application.

If NOT qualified to get a credit card in Japan, get a Debit Card!

Debit cards offer the convenience of a credit card but work in a different way. Using a debit card, it draws money directly from your bank account once you make a purchase. The debit card draws money directly from your bank account when you make the purchase. The amount of your purchase is placed on hold in your account and is then transferred to the store’s account after a transaction is confirmed.

credit card in japan

How credit and debit cards work.

Benefits:

A debit card is convenient as having a credit card except that you owe nothing from anyone, and you pay your purchases directly from your funds. Thus, there are no interest charges. It is more convenient than carrying cash, too.

We recommend Japan Net Bank.

Japan Net Bank Debit Card

The card’s issuance and its yearly service fees are free. On top of it, foreigners are qualified to apply. The following are some benefits of having a Japan-issued Japan Net Bank debit card.

    • Account summary can be seen online
    • JNB Visa Debit Card has the best deal for points.
      For every 500 Yen = 1 JNB Star
      1 JNB Star = 1 Yen 

Conclusion

Although getting a credit card in Japan as a foreigner is not an easy process, there are still ways to get one. The most important thing to do is to complete all the must-have requirements. And knowing ahead the reasons why credit card applications got declined will help you become more aware and equipped when you plan to get one.

And above all, applying to one of these three credit cards in Japan will increase your chances of getting approved.

However, if you failed to obtain a credit card in Japan, getting a debit card would be the best option.

If you need assistance, our Credit Card Support Service would be glad to help you. For further questions or concerns, you can contact us using the form below.

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      • Jacee

      I tried to apply for credit card in different company but none of them are working as it’s because of name which we have to write in kanji where I am a foreigner, so I don’t know how to write my name in kanji. Please help me to solve this problem. Thank you.

      • Shunya Kagawa

      Thank you for the comment!
      Credit companies should accept name in katakana and Hiragana.
      Did you try it? If not, you should try it.
      I hope it could solve problem.
      Thank you.

      • Ramesh

      I don’t how write kanji and katakana and hiragana