Do American Credit Cards Work In Japan? Payment Options

Are you planning a trip to Japan and wondering if your American credit cards will work?

It’s a common concern, and the good news is that many major credit card brands are widely accepted in Japan.

However, it’s essential to understand the payment options and potential fees that may arise to avoid any unexpected surprises during your travels.

In this article, we’ll explore the use of American credit and debit cards in Japan, including where they are accepted and alternative payment options.

We’ll also provide tips for using credit cards in Japan so that you can have a stress-free travel experience.

Whether planning to visit Tokyo or explore the countryside, understanding payment options is crucial to your travel preparations.

So, let’s dive in and discover what payment options are available in Japan.

Do American Credit Cards Work in Japan?

American credit cards generally work in Japan, but some limitations might exist. Major credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are widely accepted in large cities and tourist areas. However, Japan is still predominantly a cash-based society, and many smaller establishments, especially in rural areas, may not accept credit cards.

Overview of Credit Card Acceptance in Japan

Overview of Credit Card Acceptance in Japan

If you plan to use your credit card while traveling in Japan, you’ll want to know that Japan is still a firmly rooted cash-based society. (It is changing in Major Cities after Covid-19)

While larger hotels and department stores do accept credit cards, there are many instances where credit cards can’t be used depending on the location.


Individual-owned stores in suburbs and countryside and places with entrance fees are typically cash only. It’s essential to have some money on hand in the case of cash-only establishments.

Regarding train travel, standard ticket machines at JR train stations are cash only.

  • Shinkansen tickets can be paid for with credit cards.
  • Express buses from major cities to other cities and towns typically accept credit cards.
  • Transit buses usually require payment by cash or IC card.

Department stores usually accept credit cards for food purchases and other merchandise. Still, privately-run restaurants in metropolitan areas may only get cash.

It’s also important to note that credit card processing can be slower in Japan, so be prepared for a longer wait time.

Major Credit Card Brands Accepted in Japan

Major Credit Card Brands Accepted in Japan

Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, and DinersClub have widely accepted credit card brands in Japan, making it easy for travelers to transact at significant stores and tourist areas.

However, it is essential to note that there may be limitations when using non-Japanese cards in rural areas.

In these cases, it may be more convenient to have travel money on hand or to use alternative payment options like the Fairswap app or mobile payments.

Suppose you plan on using credit cards during your trip to Japan. In that case, it’s recommended that you notify your card issuer beforehand and check for any restrictions or security measures that may be in place.

Informing Your Card Issuer and Travel Preparations

Before embarking on your trip to Japan, you must inform your card issuer about your travel plans and make necessary travel preparations to ensure a stress-free experience while using your credit cards.


This is because some credit card companies may have restrictions or security measures that could prevent your card from working in Japan. By informing your card issuer, you can avoid potential issues and ensure your card will operate smoothly during your trip.

In addition to informing your card issuer, making necessary travel preparations, such as having cash on hand and researching alternative payment options in case your credit card doesn’t work in specific locations, is essential.

To help you prepare, here is a table outlining some crucial tips for using credit cards in Japan:

Inform your card issuerLook into alternative payment options such as prepaid or debit cards in case your credit card doesn’t work in specific locations.
Have cash on handBe aware of any foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees that may apply.
Research alternative payment optionsJapan is still a cash-based society, so having some money on hand for certain purchases is essential.
Check for feesPlan for your cash needs and research which locations accept credit cards to avoid surprises.
Plan aheadPlan for your cash needs and research which locations accept credit cards to avoid any surprises.

Alternative Payment Options

Alternative Payment Options

While credit cards are widely accepted in Japan, there may be instances where they can’t be used, and carrying cash around comes with risks such as theft, loss, or overspending.

To avoid these inconveniences, consider the following alternative payment options:

  1. Prepaid cards: These require money to be paid upfront or come with a preloaded amount, making them a convenient and safe way to manage your expenses without the risk of overspending.
  2. Debit cards: These cards immediately deduct the purchase amount from the bank account, often with benefits like points and mobile wallet integration. Central banks in Japan offer debit cards, but SBI Shinsei Bank requires using their Gaica cards.
  3. Wise options: Wise offers international debit card and currency management options, allowing easy access to funds and exchange rate locking.
  4. IC travel cards: Reloadable cards like Suica or Pasmo can also be used to shop in Japan. They have a maximum balance of 20,000 yen and can be topped up easily at train stations and convenience stores.

Tips for Using Credit Cards in Japan

  • Be aware of foreign transaction fees charged by your home bank, and check with your bank and credit company for any card restrictions.
  • It’s essential to consider safety precautions and cultural differences when using cards in Japan.
  • Notify your credit card company of your travels and keep a close eye on your card for any unauthorized charges.
  • While some places may not require a PIN for credit card transactions, others may require a signature.

Awareness of language barriers and cultural differences when using cards is also critical.

For example, in Japan, it is customary to hand over cash or cards with both hands and to bow as a sign of respect.


So, do American credit cards work in Japan? Yes, they do. But it’s essential to plan.

While major credit cards brands such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, it’s always a good idea to inform your card issuer of your travel plans and be prepared for potential fees.

However, alternative payment options, such as travel money cards and IC travel cards, are also to consider.

Ultimately, understanding payment options can help make your travels in Japan smoother and stress-free.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip and enjoy all that Japan has to offer!

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