Credit Card Usage in Japan

Understanding Credit Card Usage in Japan: Exploring Quirks and Practices for Financial Transactions

Credit Card Usage in Japan

Learn about the unique quirks and practices of credit card usage in Japan. Discover why cash is still heavily relied upon for everyday purchases and why its important to carry cash, especially in rural areas and local markets. Explore the ins and outs of using credit cards in Japan and understand the financial transactions in this technologically advanced country.

Japan is a fascinating country known for its advanced technology and unique cultural customs. When it comes to financial transactions, credit card usage in Japan has its own quirks and practices. In this article, well explore the ins and outs of using credit cards in Japan.

The Prevalence of Cash Culture

Although Japan is a highly developed country, it still heavily relies on cash transactions for everyday purchases. Many small businesses, especially local shops and traditional establishments, prefer cash over credit cards. So, its always a good idea to carry some cash with you, especially in rural areas or when visiting local markets.

Acceptance of Credit Cards

While credit cards are not widely accepted everywhere, they are more commonly accepted in larger cities and popular tourist areas. Youll find that major international card networks like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, department stores, and major chains.

However, its essential to note that some establishments, particularly smaller businesses, may only accept credit cards issued in Japan. If you plan on using your credit card frequently, its a good idea to carry a card from one of the major Japanese card issuers such as JCB or UnionPay.

IC Cards and Contactless Payments

Japan is known for its efficient and convenient public transport system, which extensively uses IC cards for fare payments. These cards, such as Suica or Pasmo, can also be used for making purchases at various stores, vending machines, and even some restaurants. They work on a touch-and-go system, making transactions quick and hassle-free.

Additionally, contactless payments using mobile phones or smartwatches have gained significant popularity in Japan. By linking your credit card to a mobile payment service like Apple Pay or Google Pay, you can make quick and secure payments at supported establishments.

Foreign Transaction Fees and Currency Exchange

Before using your credit card in Japan, its crucial to check the foreign transaction fees and currency exchange rates. Some credit card companies may charge extra fees for international purchases, which can add up significantly. Its advisable to compare and choose a card that offers favorable terms for overseas transactions.

When withdrawing cash from ATMs, its recommended to use ATMs at post offices, convenience stores, or major banks. These ATMs often support international cards and provide instructions in multiple languages for ease of use.


Credit card usage in Japan has its own nuances, with a mixture of acceptance and reliance on cash. While its always handy to have some yen on hand, credit cards can still be a convenient payment option, especially in larger cities. By understanding the local practices, carrying an appropriate credit card, and exploring other payment options like IC cards and mobile payments, you can make the most of your financial transactions during your visit to Japan.

Unlocking the World of Credit Card Usage in Japan


Minoru Shiina