5 Cards That You Should Never Be Without in Japan

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  • Point cards offer benefits and discounts to customers who are loyal to one business and frequently buy things at their stores. Nowadays, more and more companies and shops are utilizing their own point cards to encourage people to revisit their business and reap the benefits. Other times, cards can be used as shortcuts to pay for things. They can save you money and be used in the long term to get freebies and discounts. Here are five cards that you should get the moment you land in Japan, especially if you are planning to stay long term.

    1. A prepaid IC card

    Although this isn’t a point card, it’s nevertheless an essential accessory for when you’re in Japan, especially if you’re staying in a large city such as Tokyo. The special card used for trains and subways varies depending on the area; for example, the Suica or PASMO in Kanto, the Kitaca in Hokkaido, the ICOCA in Osaka, the nimoca (Japanese only) in Kyushu, and so on.

    There are many benefits to having a prepaid IC card. It saves you from having to buy an individual train ticket each time (subway and local trains only), and you can also use it to quickly pay for things in convenience stores, certain shops, the city bus, and even vending machines. For the city traveler, this card is a must.


    The T-POINT CARD is a must-have for shoppers. You can get one from TSUTAYA, the CD and movie rental store, or any other T-POINT alliance partner. The T-POINT CARD can be used as a membership card at TSUTAYA, and also as a point card for FamilyMart convenience stores, some cafes, any store with the T mark (the yellow T on a blue background), drugstores, and even Airbnb.

    The T-POINT CARD is really handy and you can use accumulated points to buy many kinds of products. It’s a great card to have because you can use it in so many places and in the long term, it could save you some money.

    T-SITE Website *Japanese only

    3. Convenience store cards

    The T-POINT CARD can be used in FamilyMart, but if your local convenience store is something else, then it might be wise to invest in a point card that is more appropriate.

    7-Eleven uses the nanaco (Japanese only), Lawson uses the Ponta (Japanese only), and Circle K, also called Sunkus, uses the Rakuten Point (Japanese only). See which one is best for you and get the card. Many trips to the convenience store for snacks, household items, and alcohol can accumulate a lot of points!

    4. A card for your local supermarket

    Some supermarkets accept the T-POINT CARD, but it is common for some shops to have their own. AEON supermarkets have their own card, and many stores use the TOKYU POINT CARD (Japanese only).

    If you are living in Japan, be sure to check if your local supermarket has a point card that you can take advantage of. The TOKYU POINT CARD has some added benefits like extra points on certain days.

    5. A card for your favorite cafe

    If you’re a fan of cafes, you can’t miss out on collecting points and stamps for your favorite cafe!

    Since point cards are so popular in Japan, many cafes have joined the trend. If there is a cafe you frequent, whether it be a chain store like Starbucks (Japanese only) or Doutor (Japanese only) or an independent coffee shop, keep an eye out for their card. It’s worth it to get a free cup of coffee every now and then!

    With these five point cards, you can collect points with every purchase and when you have enough, you can use the points to get freebies and discounts. If you are going to be in Japan for a while, be sure to pick them up and start collecting!

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/

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