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Bringing Money to Japan

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Bringing Money to Japan

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Tue 04.29.2008 5:32 pm

This question is for all those who live/have lived/have visited Japan ^_^:

I'm going on a 5 week trip to Japan this summer with my Japanese class and I'm unsure of how to bring my spending money. My teacher recommended bringing around $1,000, but I would feel very uncomfortable carrying that much in cash.

My dad's friend who works at a bank says people don't really use traveler's checks anymore. And I heard credit cards aren't as common in Japan, and they may not be accepted in a lot of places.

How should I bring my money? I'd like to use traveler's checks, but if stores won't accept them, I'd like a good alternative!

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby OitaFish » Tue 04.29.2008 6:57 pm

You can bring travelers checks but you will need to exchange them for yen at whatever airport you arrive at. If you don't do it at the airport, you will need to find a bank that will exchange them and that could be difficult. I don't think stores or restaurants will take a travelers check -- especially if it is in US dollars.

A lot of places will take Visa but in Japan, most people use cash. I was told last year that Mastercard will not work in Japan but I don't know if that is still true. I also have not found an ATM machine here that will take my US debit card.

In my opinion, cash is really the best option. Just be careful with it.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby clay » Tue 04.29.2008 7:49 pm

I was told last year that Mastercard will not work in Japan but I don't know if that is still true.


I'm not sure. I used my MasterCard while in Japan two years ago. It is hard to find stores that accept credit cards, but I hear more and more are.

I'm worrying about how I should carry money for a trip too. We will probably wire the money to our Japanese bank, but that probably won't help you unless you have an account there. Like you, I don't really want to carry all my cash as cash. :cry:
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby jimbreen » Tue 04.29.2008 8:53 pm

clay wrote:I'm worrying about how I should carry money for a trip too. We will probably wire the money to our Japanese bank, but that probably won't help you unless you have an account there. Like you, I don't really want to carry all my cash as cash. :cry:


The bigger post offices have ATMs that give cash advances on Visa cards, which has made life a lot easier for visitors. I generally don't have a problem with using a credit card these days, but for small purchases cash is still king.

Like Clay, I have an account in Japan, but I always have an anxious moment finding out if the card still works.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby chikara » Tue 04.29.2008 9:20 pm

I have used both MasterCard and Visa to get cash "advances" from ATM's at post offices in Japan. I also made purchases on my credit cards at bigger stores but generally cash is required.

On my last trip to Japan I carried a Travelex Cash Passport which I also used to draw down funds at post office ATM's.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Tue 04.29.2008 9:36 pm

But if I bring travelers checks that are in yen, will I be okay?
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 04.29.2008 11:30 pm

You should put your money into traveler's checks (US or Yen) and excahnge them at the airport or banks for cash. The reason for this is that TCs get you a better exchange rate (about a percent or two) than cash, and are safer to carry around. If you are staying at a hotel, usually the front desk can also change out the money for you for a rate pretty much similar to that of a bank.

Credit cards (MC, Visa, JCB) are very common in Japan at most large chain stores.
Smaller stores or most restraunts (other than large chain stores) will not accept credit cards. You will not be able to use them at McDonalds or any fast food places, however for most large purchases (electronics, books, etc) you will be able to use them.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby bowenson » Wed 04.30.2008 12:26 am

Every 7-11 store in Japan has a Seven Bank ATM, which accepts most foreign cards on the Cirrus or Star networks (I don't recall which...maybe both). There's a 7-11 on nearly every street corner, all over Japan.

International banks also will accept foreign cards - Citibank comes to mind. But I haven't been able to use my card to open the security doors after hours, so get there before they close.

Japanese posts offices also have ATMs that accept foreign cards. As for the banks, get there early.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 04.30.2008 12:35 am

bowenson wrote: There's a 7-11 on nearly every street corner, all over Japan.


While you bring up some good points, the thing about 7-11 being all over Japan is not true. My prefecture JUST got 7-11s late last year, and I think there are a total of 10 in the entire prefecture. There are many towns around here that don't have conbinis at all, and most are few and far between. Osaka and Tokyo are not the entirety of Japan.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby spin13 » Wed 04.30.2008 2:08 am

Harisenbon wrote:Osaka and Tokyo are not the entirety of Japan.


30%, 100%, what's the difference? The main point is, we're better than you! Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyahhh!

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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby chikara » Wed 04.30.2008 2:33 am

Harisenbon wrote:Credit cards (MC, Visa, JCB) are very common in Japan ...... You will not be able to use them at McDonalds ......

Personally I think that is a very good thing :wink:
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 04.30.2008 3:13 am

bowenson wrote:Japanese posts offices also have ATMs that accept foreign cards. As for the banks, get there early.


Generally only the main post office in town though, and if you go out into the countryside, not even then. I'd say don't expect to be able to use your card outside of big cities.

To the OP: Where exactly do you intend to go?
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby OitaFish » Wed 04.30.2008 5:48 am

bowenson wrote:Every 7-11 store in Japan has a Seven Bank ATM, which accepts most foreign cards on the Cirrus or Star networks (I don't recall which...maybe both). There's a 7-11 on nearly every street corner, all over Japan.

International banks also will accept foreign cards - Citibank comes to mind. But I haven't been able to use my card to open the security doors after hours, so get there before they close.

Japanese posts offices also have ATMs that accept foreign cards. As for the banks, get there early.


My cards on Star and Cirrus networks do not work with ATM's in Japan with the Star or Cirrus logos. I don't know why they don't but I've tried many times. I have no problem using them in Malaysia or Hong Kong but in Japan, they have always been rejected.

Regarding Mastercard, my US bank told me early last year that Mastercard was blocking transactions in several counties due to increased fraud. Japan was on the list of countries being blocked. However, since I don't have a Mastercard, I can't say from first hand experience.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 04.30.2008 9:33 am

spin13 wrote:
Harisenbon wrote:Osaka and Tokyo are not the entirety of Japan.


30%, 100%, what's the difference? The main point is, we're better than you! Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyahhh!

Sincerely,
Eric

p.s.- I wish I lived in Hokkaido.


still trying to figure out what the hell this added to bringing money to Japan.

(edit) after some thinking. I would say bring some cash, and some travellars cheques. that way, you won't have any issues. Depending on how far out in the middle of INAKA you end up, you might not even see an ATM. And if you do, there are many ATM's that don't take Non-Japanese credit cards etc. I found plenty of those atm's even near US Army bases and found that extremely odd.
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Re: Bringing Money to Japan

Postby hamsterfreak4evr » Wed 04.30.2008 9:40 pm

thank you guys so much!! someone asked where i am going, and we are traveling to Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Tokyo. So basically we are hitting major cities only and won't really be in the countryside. But i think I'll just skip the credit card anyway.
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