Planning on moving to Japan or need to stay much longer than expected? We know one of your top dilemmas is purchasing goods or services without dealing with the dreadful foreign transaction fees. And we also know that getting one of the best credit cards in Japan isn’t easy.
It’s harder to obtain a credit card here compared to many other countries because of stricter regulations. This is especially true for expats who have been in Japan for only two years or less.
Of course, cash is always an option but wouldn’t you want something more hassle-free? To help you out with just that, we’ve compiled the most foreigner-friendly credit cards in the country.
EPOS credit cards: EPOS Card Japan
If you’re residing in an area where Marui shops are common, then the EPOS credit card may be just for you. Attached to the brand department store, you can also use EPOS anywhere just like a normal credit card. EPOS makes it to our list of best credit cards in Japan because you can easily apply for one at any Marui department store.
Anyone who has tried to rent an apartment in Japan will know that most places require a guarantor. If your guarantor is GTN (Global Trust Network), then you’re in luck! Those under GTM are eligible to apply for their special GTN EPOS card, which has the same benefits as the Marui EPOS card. They also have a special hotline to call for service in English.
Rakuten’s most popular card: Rakuten Card Japan
Known as the “Japanese Amazon”, Rakuten is a shopping website. Their credit card has a great points system that you can use to purchase from the site as well as other affiliated stores, like Domino’s Pizza. Not only do they offer big rewards but there’s also no annual fee for the regular card.
The online application may not be in English but you can always rely on Google Translate. You could try to apply as soon as you arrive in the country since you won’t need to file tedious mounds of paperwork. Overall, Rakuten has a convenient application process, making it the easiest credit card to get in Japan.
Saison Card International: Saison Card Japan
Saison is one of Japan’s leading card companies with a decent point system. Although the reward percentage is a bit lower than Rakuten, you can still enjoy the points to redeem expensive gifts and some of Japan’s top airline miles. You’ll also love the fact that this credit card has no annual membership fee!
Applying for a Saison Card International requires an ID and hanko (personal carved stamp), but you’ll still find it trouble-free as you can do it directly at a lot of department stores in Tokyo.
Orico Japan: THE POINT
You know Orico is among the best credit cards in Japan because it’s been issued about 11 million times. People are particularly fond of Orico Card THE POINT, which has no annual fee and offers good rewards.
This could be a great option for you if you choose to drive in Japan as you can get extras like an ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) card.
JCB credit cards: JCB Global
JCB is a Japanese payment brand that operates both in Japan and internationally. You can get exciting rewards from special promotions or when using the card in affiliated stores, such as Seven-11 or Amazon.co.jp. What’s more, there’s fraud detection 24 hours a day, so you don’t have to worry about security.
JCB credit cards are available in other banks and card providers, in addition to the ones the brand promotes itself.
Amazon Mastercard and Amazon Prime Mastercard – issued in partnership with Mitsui Sumitomo Bank.
Issued in partnership with Mitsui Sumitomo Bank, this is the best card for frequent Amazon shoppers. There are two options – The Amazon Mastercard and The Amazon Prime Mastercard. If you are a Prime member at the time of application, you will receive the Prime Mastercard; if you are not, you will receive the Classic.
The Prime card offers a great points program with 2.0% Amazon points for purchases made on Amazon, 1.5% for purchases made at a conbini, and 1.0% for any other shopping. For the Classic, you’ll just get 1.5% on purchases made with Amazon, so go for the Prime if you want to maximize your point returns. Both cards have no annual fees and you can apply directly from your Amazon account (application in Japanese).
Not ready for a credit card, yet?
Multi-currency card: Wise
Wise is known for its hassle-free money transfers. And if you’re someone who receives or sends money in multiple currencies, they might have just the perfect solution for you: the multi-currency card.
You can hold, receive, send and spend money using a Wise multi-currency account—with more than 50 currencies available! A multi-currency debit card allows you to spend your money wherever you are with low conversion fees and zero transaction fees.
Security? Wise is regulated by the Kanto Local Finance Bureau in Japan and a number of authorities around the world so you know your money is protected at all times.
Keep in mind that the best credit card depends a lot on your personal preferences and how you expect to use the card. If all else fails, you can always count on Paypay—the best alternative to getting a Japanese credit card.