Japan travel

Travelling in Japan: buying a Suica card

It took us 3 visits to Japan to finally buy Suica cards. To be honest, for some reason I thought the process of buying the card will be more complicated. Ha! I couldn’t be more wrong. 

What is Suica?

It’s a prepaid, rechargeable card (IC card) that can be used to pay fares on public transportation (bus/train/metro – like Myki, GoCard or Opal in Australia) or to pay for goods at a large number of shops, restaurants and vending machines. There are many operators issuing IC cards across Japan – Suica is issued by JR East but can be used country-wide.

Why should you buy one?

For convenience! It takes less than 30 seconds to purchase a new card and saves you time later on – you don’t have to buy a paper ticket every time you use metro, train or bus. And also, you don’t have to worry which ticket you need to buy as the fare is automatically deducted from your Suica.

Buying a Suica card is very easy

Look for machines marked “Suica | Buy a new Suica/Charge“. You don’t need to know Japanese, all the instructions are available in English.

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  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Aga.
    Can you get the 500deposit back?

  • Reply
    Japan for first timers – 25 useful tips – a matter of taste – travel with attention to food
    January 31, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    […] make your travels around cities easier purchase a Suica or other IC card. It saves you time – you don’t have to stand next to a machine and […]

  • Reply
    April 14, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Hi Aga,

    How much money do you recommend putting on the Suica card? I am spending 5 days in Tokyo, 4 days in Kyoto, and 1 day in Osaka. I heard that you cannot get your unused money back at the end. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      April 14, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Hi Anna, it all depends on how much you plan to use public transport vs walk. I personally usually put around 10 000 for 10 days. If you want to do the maths you can check fares on http://www.hyperdia.com/. If you have any money left on your Suica card you can get it refunded but only at JR East station offices (there will be a 220 charge for this). The other option would be using the leftover money in shops – pay for snacks, drinks or lunch to use whatever you have left.
      Hope this helps 🙂

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