How to get a credit card in Japan as a foreigner

Yumiko Kijima

If you’re new to Japan - or looking to settle and build a credit history as a foreign resident here - you might be wondering how to get a credit card in Japan.

This guide walks through some options for a Japanese credit card for foreigners, as well as giving an overview of how to get one. We’ll take a look at some of the best credit cards in Japan for expats - and also highlight a smart alternative, the Transferwise multi-currency account and debit card.

📝 Table of contents

What do you need to get a credit card in Japan as a foreigner?

Before you apply for a credit card, you’ll need to check you fulfil the eligibility requirements put in place by the bank or card provider. These can usually be found online - often alongside a list of the documents needed to complete your application.

You’ll usually find that the credit cards issued by banks are subject to the strictest eligibility criteria.However, there are other options available, such as getting a credit card through a non-bank financial institution - which we’ll cover below.

You’ll always need a photo ID card, such as your passport, and may also need to verify your address, visa and residency status.

If you apply online you’ll find you’re asked a broad range of questions about your life, including your family situation, school or employment, whether you’re a homeowner, and how you expect to use the card once issued.[1]

Travelling or moving to Japan? Meet the Wise multi-currency account & debit card


If you’re moving or travelling to Japan, you could save money with the Transferwise multi-currency account and debit card.

You’ll be able to open your account online, and get a linked debit card to make spending simple. You can hold and convert 55+ currencies in 1 account - and make international payments - with the mid-market exchange rate (the real exchange rate) every time. There are no markups to worry about. Instead you’ll just pay a low, transparent charge which can be up to 14x cheaper than using your regular bank in Japan.

It’s also easy - and free - to receive USD, GBP, EUR, SGD, AUD, NZD and more into your Wise multi-currency account. Just use the bank details provided, to get paid like a local from these regions.

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What is the best credit card for foreigners in Japan?

The best credit card for you will depend a lot on your personal preferences, and how you expect to use the card. Do some research of your own before you choose your credit card - here are some foreigner friendly options to get you started:

1. Rakuten card

Rakuten is a giant among corporations - often known as the Amazon of Japan. As well as offering ecommerce services, Rakuten businesses in Japan and globally cover communication services including Viber and a range of online banking and fintech interests.

Rakuten credit cards come with a range of different perks and partnerships[2]. You might choose a card which offers free airport lounge access or airmiles, for example, or opt for one which offers student benefits if you’re eligible.

Cards also come with extra benefits when you spend within the Rakuten group, and the option to get an ETC card. This is a must if you’re driving or hiring a car, to pay road tolls. If you use the Rakuten credit card to purchase a tour organised by a travel agency, you also get up to JPY20 million coverage for overseas accidents.

Here’s how the Rakuten card measures up:

Rakuten credit card[3]
Annual feeFree
Point rate1 point for every JPY100 spent with extra bonus rewards when spending within the Rakuten group, or in line with special promotions
Card brandsMastercard, Visa, JCB, American Express
ATM fee[4]
  • Withdrawals up to JPY10,000 - JPY110 fee
  • Withdrawals over JPY10,000 - JPY220 fee
Foreign transaction fee[5]The foreign transaction fee depends on the card issuer:
  • Mastercard fee - 1.63%
  • Visa fee - 1.63%
  • JCB fee - 1.6%
  • American Express fee - 2%
InsuranceOverseas travel insurance and card theft insurance - subject to conditions and maximum limits

2. Orico card

Orico offers credit cards alongside a range of other financial services such as loans and guarantee products. Nearly 11 million Orico credit cards have been issued so far.[6] There are a number of different cards on offer, but one of the most popular is the Orico Card THE POINT, which offers good rewards to customers with no annual fee.

Orico Card THE POINT is available to applicants aged over 18. You’ll be able to get a 1% point return rate, with extra special offers such as increased point earning when you first open your account or when you shop with Orico Mall. There’s also the option to get extras like an ETC card if you choose to drive in Japan. If this card isn’t the right one for you, check out the others on offer from Orico, which can be compared easily online.

Let’s take a look in more detail.

Orico Card THE POINT[7]
Annual feeFree
Point rate1 point for every JPY100 spent, increased for the first 6 months to 2 points. There are also additional rewards when using Orico Mall
Card brandsMastercard, JCB
ATM fee
  • Withdrawals up to JPY10,000 - JPY110 fee
  • Withdrawals over JPY10,000 - JPY220 fee
Foreign transaction fee[8]The foreign transaction fee depends on the card issuer:
  • Mastercard - 2.2%
  • JCB - 1.6%
InsuranceTheft/loss protection, travel support

3. JCB card

JCB is a Japanese payment brand operating within Japan and internationally. You can get JCB cards through other banks and card providers, or choose to take one of the credit cards JCB promote themselves. There are several types of cards, including one aimed at women, and one specifically for those under the age of 39. You can also choose JCB premium cards which come with an annual fee.[10]

For this comparison, we’ll look at the JCB General card which is available to anyone over the age of 18, subject to fulfilling application requirements.

This card gives rewards for spending, including extra benefits based on special promotions or when using the card in partner stores like Seven-11, or At the time of research there are offers including cash back if you refer a friend, enrol in a family card, or use your smartphone with your card. There’s also fraud detection 24 hours a day, to offer added security when you spend in person or online with your card.

Here’s what you need to know about the JCB General Card:

JCB General card [11]
Annual feeJPY1,375 which is waived for the first year if you apply online, and can be avoided for future years if you meet certain spending requirements
Point rateOki Doki points offered
Card brandsJCB
ATM fee[12]
  • Withdrawals up to JPY10,000 - JPY110 fee
  • Withdrawals over JPY10,000 - JPY220 fee
Foreign transaction fee[13]1.6%
InsuranceTravel accident insurance, shopping guard insurance

4. EPOS card

EPOS Cards are issued by the firm behind Marui department stores. You can either apply online or in a store, and may even find your application is approved the same day. Getting a card in store may also mean you get bonus points or a discount as a thank you.

EPOS cards are available with a variety of features and designs. There are different cashback structures for the different cards, so it’s worth checking which one will fit your spending patterns best. You can also opt for a broad range of quirky and beautiful card designs. You may have to pay an extra charge to customise the design of your card, depending on the one you choose.[14]

For this comparison we will look at the basic EPOS Visa card, which comes with no annual fee and extra protections like travel accident insurance.

EPOS Visa card[15]
Annual feeFree
Point rate1 point for JPY200 spent, plus bonus discounts and extra points based on special promotions throughout the year
Card brandsVisa
ATM fee[16]Free within Japan. If you use abroad;
  • Withdrawals up to JPY10,000 - JPY110 fee
  • Withdrawals over JPY10,000 - JPY220 fee
Foreign transaction fee1.63%
InsuranceOverseas travel accident insurance

What if you get rejected?

Banks and credit card issuers will have their own processes and requirements for issuing cards - and it’s possible that your application may be rejected. This may be because you don’t meet the eligibility criteria, or because you’ve not completed all the paperwork correctly. It’s fairly common for foreign applicants to find their credit card applications are turned down, so don’t be alarmed.

If your application for a credit card is refused you can try an alternative card issuer to get a different credit card, get yourself a prepaid card - or go for a different option like a Transferwise multi-currency account and debit card.

If you’re not worried about building up credit history in Japan, a debit card from Wise - or from a regular bank - may actually give you all the convenience you need. And with the Wise account you can also manage your money more easily across borders, and avoid high bank fees for currency conversion.

See if you can save💡

Wise for sending money

1] Rakuten Card - Apply

2] Rakuten Card - List

3]Rakuten card - About

4]Rakuten card - ATM

5]Rakuten card - Foreign transaction fee

6]Orico in figures

7]Orico Card THE POINT

8]Orico - FAQ

9]Orico - ATM

10]JCB card

11]JCB card - Details

12]JCB card - ATM

13]JCB card - Foreign transaction fee

14]Epos card

15]Epos card - Points

16]Epos card - ATM

17]Epos card FAQ - Foreign transaction fee

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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