3 Best Credit Cards in Japan for Foreigners

best japan credit card

Carrying a credit card in Japan while traveling is typically convenient for anyone, although the country preferred cash.

If you are in the city, like Tokyo, taxis accept credit card payment. You could also use it to purchase merchandise at stores or to pay food at food chains or restaurants, which has a logo at storefronts indicating credit card payment is accepted. 

Besides…

When applying for a phone contract, it is useful to own a Japenese credit card to get ease in approval.

However, using your credit card from your home country when in Japan is not always a good idea because it will incur international bank charges.

Have you ever think of getting a credit card in Japan? You would certainly benefit from it, for it put ends to foreign transaction fees.

Although you hear negative stories from those who have unsuccessful applications, this doesn’t mean you can’t get one. Being aware of the right things to do and to prepare beforehand would greatly help you.

In this article, you will learn useful information on how to apply credit card in Japan as a foreigner.

Must-Do and Have When Applying for a Credit Card

Japanese Bank Account

You must open a bank account in Japan. You will learn that with Yucho Bank, you can switch your account to general account 6 months after you opened it. This means that you can be qualified for a credit card if you have at least 6 months old bank account. Having your own Japanese bank account may increase the chance to get approved.

Required Documents

  • Residence Card
  • Residence Certificate
  • Parents/Guardian’s Letter of Agreement:For applicants aged 18 to 20, they are required to have parents or a guardian’s letter of agreement.

These documents are required as proof of your length of stay in Japan. 

A student is required to show a student identification.

Optional Documents

These documents are not required but it is better to have it with you when you apply for a credit card and show it to the person processing your application.

  • Passport
  • Insurance card
  • Phone contract
  • Income statement
  1. Passport -- Your passport contains all the basic information that the bank needs. It may also serve as your identification.
  2. Insurance Card -- Company insurance shows employment and income, which guarantees the credit card company that you can pay your credit card fees. You can also show your health insurance if you have one.
  3. Phone Contract -- Credit card companies require a phone contract. This will make it easier for them to contact you for any necessary situations. Also, regularly paying your phone’s monthly fee can increase the credit card company’s trust. 
  4. Income statement -- Any credit card company will ask about your income and having your income statement readily will have a higher chance to get approval.

Understands the Japanese Language

Applicants who can speak and write, not just basic but, the business level of the Japanese language find it easier to get approved for a credit card application in Japan. Application forms, on paper or online, are written in Japanese.

6 Reasons for Rejection

The best way to avoid 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.

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.

3 Best Credit Card Companies

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

american express

 

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 with 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. 

The initial year has no annual fee. 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

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/

Epos Card

https://www.eposcard.co.jp/index.html

epos credit card

 

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.

Unqualified to Get a Credit Card?

What is the option for those who cannot get a credit card or who repeatedly get rejected? Again, don’t lose hope. Get a “Debit Card”.

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.

Generally, in Canada, a debit card is commonly used over a credit card.

Recommendation

Japan Net Bank

Japan Net Bank Debit Card

If registering for a Debit Card, Japan Net Bank Visa Debit Card is our recommendation.

The card’s issuance and its yearly service fees are free!!
Foreigners are qualified to apply.

Benefits:

  • 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

Even with a number of horror stories about failed credit card applications, foreigners like you need not be frustrated or discouraged to get one. There are a lot of options.

『American Express Card』

『Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Classic Card』

『Epos Card』

And if you will still fail, get a debit card. We are hoping this article helps you.

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We would like to extend our help through our Credit Card Support Service. Please feel free to contact us for further questions or concerns 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.

  1. April 14th, 2020