Navigate the subway like a pro

Like any big city with decent public transportation, the Tokyo metro has an easy-to-use commuter card you can purchase to quickly move through the stations. Without one, you have to rely on calculating and purchasing individual tickets whenever you use the metro.

If you don’t have a JR Pass, purchasing tickets daily becomes a huge chore. Every time you want to go somewhere you will have to figure out where you are on a map, find where you want to go, and then purchase the ticket for the correct amount and do the same for your return trip. Even in English, this can be difficult. Don’t be that person or group staring at maps for 20min trying to figure out how to get around.

Debit Card

Besides paying for your commute fares, your Pasmo or Suica card can also be a debit card. You can tap the card in convenience stores or shopping malls to pay for your purchase. This is a great alternative to carrying cash or applying for a credit card.

Getting a Subway Card Is Easy and Only Costs $5

If you ever wonderedー”Is it worth it to get a metro card while I’m in Tokyo?”ーthe answer is YES. You can easily purchase a metro card at a subway station machine, 24hrs a day. It requires a $5 deposit and if you decide to return the card, you can get your $5 back.

How do I get a card?

Every metro station will have ticket machines just outside the gates. Most machines will have an “English” option to help you navigate and purchase tickets. Some of these machines will also have an option for you to purchase a Pasmo or Suica card. Look for the Pasmo or Suica IC logos nearby.

If you’re in one of the newer or larger stations, you may find one of the newer machines that look like the above. All you need to do is tap your language of choice and then find the option to purchase a Pasmo card.

When purchasing the card, it should cost you 500 yen or about $5 USD. This is the deposit for the IC card that you can actually get back if you return the card to a machine. During the time of purchase, you’ll also have the option to purchase or “charge” the card with additional funds.

And that’s it!

Seriously, that is all you need to do. Now you don’t have to sweat looking for the correct fare and purchasing tickets every time you use the metro. Every time you tap your card through the gates, you should see your remaining balance.

When you run out of funds, just insert your Pasmo or Suica card into the machine and select the option to “Recharge” the card, and insert cash. Most machines do not accept credit cards so make sure to have cash on hand. If you happen to not have enough on your card when trying to exit, no sweat, there is always a machine near the gate for you to load the card.

We hope that helps you in your travels. If you’re looking to travel beyond the city and tour the country via bullet train, you may want to consider picking up a JR Pass as well, take a look at our guide here.

Enjoy your new card!