Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
The struggle with credit cards in Japan
Japan is known for its passion for technology. It is not rare to be greeted by robots, order food with touchscreens, or buy drinks from vending machines. Not to mention talking toilets.
However, Japan is also a country that likes to stick to traditions in many situations, which may leave some people wondering how such a technologically advanced nation can seem stuck in the past.
There are some cases where this may seem almost like a charming throwback to our childhood, such as with the prevalence of video rental stores over streaming services until very recently. Browsing disks in a store sure brings back memories. You can even rent CDs!
However, one case most people would agree is not as amusing is the country’s general apprehension towards credit cards.
To the surprise of many who visit the country, credit cards are not as wildly accepted here as they are in other developed areas of the world, where they reign supreme. While many countries are on their way to becoming cashless societies, Japan still can’t let go of cash.
The country has been making strides towards accepting our little plastic friends more as of late, but it is still never a good idea to leave home without some cash in hand. There are still many people who fear their credit cards being stolen and feel safer knowing that they only have a certain amount of cash, and most family owned business don’t accept cards.
Even when it comes to paying bills, you’re generally not allowed to do so by credit card, having to bring cash to a nearby convenience store. You better make sure you have a few “man” (10,000 yen bills) if you ever want to pay your health insurance or residence tax at once, or otherwise you’ll have to go back every month to pay in installments.
It is also not easy for foreign residents to get credit cards from the major banks. There are some easier alternatives like Rakuten (a Japanese online store) that will give you an easier time, or you can top up IC cards with cash, as these are accepted by many shops that won’t take credit cards.
In any case, the best way to make sure that you never have to struggle to buy even the most basic things, you should make sure to have some cash on you at all times.