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Japan Travel Tips

Perfect Trip Guide

Japan Travel Tips

Perfect trip Guide

Overseas travellers have a chance to use the "Mobile Suica"

Travel Information

Wed, 22 Nov 2023

To enjoy Japan's railway system, using IC prepaid cards such as the "Welcome Suica" is essential. However, the "Welcome Suica" requires purchasing a physical card and it is not so easy for tourists from overseas. For those of you, we recommend the "Mobile Suica."

In this article, we explain how to install "Mobile Suica" and some limitations for overseas travellers. As for the physical IC card the "Welcome Suica", please see the article below:

[card id=japan-train]

Mobile Suica: You do not need to buy a physical card

The "Mobile Suica" is a mobile prepaid payment service in Japan. You can use your smartphone as a prepaid IC card. The advantage of "Mobile Suica" is that you can top up it with a credit card and you do not need to purchase a paper ticket or the physical IC prepaid card "Welcome Suica" at the station.

There are some things to keep in mind. These services are tailored for residents in Japan and they do not officially support credit cards issued from outside Japan. Also, most non-Japanese android phones cannot set up the "Mobile Suica."

However, if you have an iPhone and MasterCard or AMEX, you may be able to use the "Mobile Suica." Many tourists have successfully topped up their "Mobile Suica" with a MasterCard or AMEX.

How to set up the "Mobile Suica" on your smartphone

Here, we will explain how to install the "Mobile Suica" on your iPhone.

Open iPhone Wallet

First, please open the "Wallet" app on your iPhone. This is the pre-installed app and you do not need to install any other app.

Add "Suica" from the Wallet

Tap the '+' icon located at the top right to add a new payment. Choose 'Travel Card' from the available cards and tap 'Suica' in the search bar. The card coloured in green represents the "Mobile Suica."

Top up via Apple Pay

To use the "Mobile Suica", you need to top up through Apple Pay in advance. Please note that the minimum amount starts from ¥1,000 which is equal to $7.

Potential problems for tourists when using the "Mobile Suica"

As the "Mobile Suica" is designed for residents in Japan, overseas travellers should keep the following things in mind.

The "Mobile Suica" does not support android phones purchased outside Japan.

Android smartphones purchased outside Japan generally cannot use the "Mobile Suica" because they do not have a payment unit based on Japanese standards. But the iPhone is an exception. The "Mobile Suica" can be installed on iPhones even if they are sold outside Japan.

Refunds restricted to Japanese bank accounts

The "Mobile Suica" requires users to top up with a certain amount before use. If you cannot use up the topped-up amount, you will not be able to get a refund because these are only allowed through transfers to Japanese bank accounts. Therefore, overseas travellers cannot get refunds.