how to get a credit card in japan

JET Daily Life: How to apply for a Rakuten Credit Card

Credit cards in Japan…

If you have recently moved to Japan, you have probably noticed that most banks do not offer debit cards,  so you must always carry cash. Some banks have started to offer visa debit cards so that their clients can start using their cards as debit cards in-store and online.  But for those who aren’t with a bank that offers these kinds of cards, you’re left with three options.

  1. Use your credit card from home and pay expensive currency exchange fees.
  2. Use a pre-paid credit card like au wallet or a pre-paid credit card bought from the convenience store.
  3. Apply for a credit card in Japan.

As a foreigner living in Japan, applying for a credit card can be a hassle.  However, there are some companies that will allow foreigners to apply and usually accept their applications.  I personally applied for the BIC Camera credit card, but was later declined.  I was told that BIC Camera doesn’t usually allow foreigners to get their credit card.  After doing some research, I found out that Rakuten was more open to foreigners having their credit card, so I decided to apply for one, and got accepted.  P.S. you do need to have a job if you want a credit card as they will be calling your workplace to confirm employment.

Applying for a credit card in Japanese

For Rakuten, you only need to apply on their website. (http://card.rakuten.co.jp/) If you don’t need help in Japanese then just follow the next four steps. If you DO need help in Japanese, just scroll down a bit.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.51.13 PM

Click me to see my full potential

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.51.17 PM

Click me to see my full potential

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.15.24 PM

Click me to see my full potential

The first step is to scroll down on their website and choose the type of card you wish to apply for. I applied for the 楽天カード .  If you click on the orange button, it will lead you to a page with more information about it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.20.06 PM

Click me to see my full potential

It will then ask you to choose the normal card with no annual fee, or the premium card with an annual fee of 10800¥.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.15.26 PM

Click me to see my full potential

You then need to create an account with Rakuten, which for some reason ended up in English.

Once you create the account, it will bring you to the application form.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 6.26.45 PM

Click me to see my full potential

That’s where you enter all of your information.  Once you’re done, you should hear back from them within 1-2 weeks.  You will receive a letter in the mail with the credit card.

Applying for a credit card in English

If you DO need help in Japanese, then I suggest you open this website (http://rakuten.japanese-credit-card.com/Rakuten_Card_Application.html). This is a guide that translates every single step that you need to take to apply into English. If you scroll down, it will tell you exactly what to do!

How to pay your credit card? The 5 Japanese payment systems

Once you’re approved and you received your credit card, there should be a automatic transfer slip in the envelope.  You need to write your bank account information on it and send it back to them by mail.  If you do not give them your bank account information, they will simply send you a slip every month for you to go pay at the convenience store.  Note that if you don’t give them your bank information, then you can’t do cash back on your card. Once they receive that information, they will set up the automatic transfer and will take the money every month on the 27th.

The statement is calculated at the end of each month, from the 1st of a month to the 28-31st of a month. They will issue the statement on the 10th of the following month, and your payment is due on the 27th.  If you signed up for automatic transfers, then they will take the money on that day.

For example:

  • June 1-30: You used 20000¥.
  • July 10th: Statement is issued.  You owe 20000¥.
  • July 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account.  Whatever payment method you chose.

The payment options are a bit different to the ones back home.  Rakuten has 5 payment methods.

1. Revolving Payments

1.1リボ払い (ribobarai, revolving payments)

Basically, you set the amount you want to pay every month before the 10th.  Every month can be different. The annual interest charge will be 15%.

If you owe 200,000¥ or less, then the minimum payment is 5000¥.  If you owe more than 200,000¥, then the minimum payment is 10000¥.

For example:

  • June 1-30: You used 50,000¥.
  • Before July 9th: You chose to set your revolving payment at 30,000¥.
  • July 10th: Statement is issued.  You will be paying 30,000¥+ [interest rate of (50,000¥ x (15% / 12 months = 1.25%) = 625¥] = 30,625¥.
  • July 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account.  You owe 20,000¥.
  • July 1-31: You used 200,000¥.
  • Before August 9th: You chose to set your revolving payment at 80,000¥.
  • August 10th: Statement is issued.  You will be paying 80,000¥ + [interest rate of (220,000¥ x (15% / 12 months = 1.25%) = 2,750¥] = 82,750¥.
  • August 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You owe 140,000¥.

Note: You pay the interest charge EVERY month in Japan, so your remaining balance never increases unless you buy more stuff.

1.2後リボ (ato ribo, revolve payment after) The ONLY most confusing one, I promise

Basically when you buy too much stuff, you can decide online which item you would like to pay back a later date BEFORE THE 20TH of the next month, while the other items will be paid in full if you chose to.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.47.49 PM

For example:

  • June 1-30: You buy a camera for 50,000¥ and clothes for 25,000¥.
  • July 10th: Statement is issued.  You owe 75,000¥.
  • July 20th: You decide to pay the clothes in full, but the camera in revolving payments. New statement is issued.  You owe 25,000¥ for the clothes + the minimum payment you set for the revolving payment (general min. is 5,000¥/month)+ [interest rate of (50,000¥ x (15% / 12 months = 1.25%) = 625¥]= 30,625¥.
  • July 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You paid 30,625¥. You owe 45,000¥ for the camera.
  • August 10th: Statement is issued.  You owe 45,000¥, but your revolving payment amount is set at 5,000¥/month + [interest rate of (50,000¥ x (15% / 12 months = 1.25%) = 625¥] = 5625¥
  • August 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You pay 5,625¥.  You owe 40,000¥.

1.3 自動リボ (jido ribo, automatic revolving payments)

This only means that when you set the amount to something, it will stay that way forever and will charge you the same amount of money every month until everything is paid back. This means that all the purchases you buy with one swipe 一回払い will automatically become revolving payments.

2.分割払い (bunkatsubarai, payments by installments)

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 7.35.34 PM

The interest rate differs from the amount of monthly payments you chose. The 4th row states the interest rate by #¥ per 100¥

Payments by installments in Japan means exactly paying by installments. You can choose the amount of times you wish to pay (3-36 times) a certain amount you used.  For example, if you want to buy a camera for 70,000¥, then you can choose the amounts of times you want that camera price to be divided into.  The interest charge differs for the number of payments you choose.

  • June 1-30: You buy a 70,000¥ camera. You choose to pay it back in 6 payments (1 payment per month) AT the store, or online.
  • Before July 9th: This is the last day you can change the amount of payments you wish to do.
  • July 10th: Statement is issued.  You owe 70,000¥ + interest (4.08¥/100¥=2,856¥) 2,856¥ = 72,856¥/6 payments = 12,142.66¥ every month for 6 months.
  • July 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You owe 60,713.34¥ to be paid in the next 5 months.

3.一回払い (ikkaibarai, one time payment)

This means that whatever amount you used in a month will be paid in full on the 27th of the next month.  There is no interest charge for this payment method. For example:

  • June 1-30: You buy a 70,000¥ camera.
  • Before July 9th: This is the last day you can change the type of payment you wish to do. You choose ‘one time payment’.
  • July 10th: Statement is issued.  You owe 70,000¥.
  • July 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You don’t owe anything.

4.二回払い (nikaibarai, two time payment)

This means that whatever amount you used in a month will be paid in half the 27th of the next month, and the other half will be paid the following month.  There isn’t an interest charge for this payment method.  For example:

  • June 1-30: You buy a 70,000¥ camera.
  • Before July 9th: This is the last day you can change the type of payment you wish to do. You choose ‘two time payment’.
  • July 10th: Statement is issued.  You owe 35,000¥ (half of the original amount [70,000¥])
  • July 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You owe 35,000¥.
  • August 10th: Statement is issued. You owe 35,000¥.
  • August 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You don’t owe anything.

5. Bonus

5.1 ボーナス1回払い (bo-nasu ikkai barai, bonus 1 time payment)

The bonus payment system is really popular in Japan.  If you buy something in summer between the “summer season” –>February 1st – June 30, then you need to pay it back in full either the 27th of June, July, or August, with no interest charge.

If you buy something during the “winter season” –> September 1st – November 30th, then you need to pay it back in full either the 27th of December or 27th of January, with no interest charge.

For example:

  • February 1-28: You buy a camera for 120,000¥. You ask the store owner to do the bonus 1 time payment, or you set it up online.
  • June 10th/July 10th/August 10th: You owe 120,000¥.  No interest charge.
  • June 27th/July 27th/August 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account.  You don’t owe anything.

5.2 ボーナス2回払い (bo-nasu nikai barai, bonus 2 time payment)

If you buy something in summer between the “summer season” –>February 1st – June 30, then you need to pay back HALF in summer on the 27th of June, July, or August, and the other HALF in winter on the 27th of December, or 27th of January, PLUS interest charge.

If you buy something during the “winter season” –> September 1st – November 30th, then you need to pay back HALF in winter on the 27th of December or 27th of January, and the other HALF in summer on the 27th of June, July, or August, PLUS interest charge.

The interest charge is 13.89%, meaning 3.5¥ for each 100¥ you spend.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.13.45 PM

For example:

  • September 1-30: You buy a camera for 200,000¥.
  • December 10th/January 10th: You owe 200,000¥ + interest {200,000¥ x (3.5¥/100¥=0.035¥)= 7,000¥} / 2 times payment = 103,500¥
  • December 27th/January 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account. You owe 103,500¥ due on either the 27th of June/July/August.
  • June 10th/July 10th/August 10th: You owe 103,500¥.
  • June 27th/July 27th/August 27th: Payment is processed and taken out of your bank account.  You don’t owe anything.

Hope this helped everyone who is thinking of getting a credit card in Japan! I know I was super confused when I was reading all the ways you could pay a credit card back.

Author Bio
Mira Richard-Fioramore

Mira Richard-Fioramore

Mira is a self-trained home cook from the land of maple syrup in Quebec, Canada, who currently lives in Saitama. In her spare time, she studies Japanese, travels, and practices photography.

Social

Latest Posts

Liked this post? Get more.

Join thousands of followers making the most of life in Japan.
We'll also send you a FREE copy of our e-book "Travelling Japan".
It's chock full of actionable advice to save you money and have more fun.

We will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

  • Maya88

    Amazon Card is easy to get, too. The company behind it is Sumitomo Mitsui. They have two types, Gold and regular. If you are a regular Amazon user it will benefit you because you recieve points wherever you are shopping at!

    I was always declined(even with Rakuten), my first card ever was the Amazon – and they gave me 4 times the limit I had been asking for.

    The only pain in the ass is that they mingle your cashing with the shopping limit, not seperate as most other cards.

    A month after the Amazon card I tried to apply for Saison and Rakuten, just to test the rumor that it’s getting easier after having your first.
    Saison: declined within 10 minutes
    Rakuten: approved within 12 hours

    • disqus_tq2m2DtpsB

      Is the Amazon Card or the Rakuten Card only for those who stay in Japan to apply?? I am from oversea but would occasionally shop and buy on Rakuten or Amazon, so wondering could I apply for the card, and I can’t really find the answer on Google.

      • Maya88

        Yes, as with every card you will need to provide your Japanese address through driver’s licence or jyuminho

  • Dandelion Dandelion Dandelion

    How do you connect it with your bank account? Do you need japanese bank account ?
    I have yuucho account and can i use it?

  • Key

    can we even apply from overseas? I haven’t seen anything about it..

  • The Jet Coaster

    Cookingwithmira: I also had a name problem as my name was too long for the application page. I called them, they sent me a special paper that I had to fill out including ID pictures and with my bank account info and name. They fixed all the problems so I can pay from my bank account no problem. I did call the rakuten english service line and they were really helpful.

    (comment from previous forum thread)

    • lisa

      How many days you receive the card after resending?

  • The Jet Coaster

    Scott: Rakuten is a big stickler about adding your bank account and won’t unlock many things (paying whenever you want, asking for credit limit raises, etc.) unless you link your bank account with it.

    The big problem here is that the Rakuten card will have your first and last names in English.

    If you use, for example, Mizuho, your name will be Last, First Middle in katakana and will be unable to add your bank account online because the names don’t match. I’ve tried online and also by sending the registration paperwork, wrangled both companies’ customer service people on the phone simultaneously, and I just can’t get it done.

    (comment from previous forum thread)