Hang On A Minute...
Before you head off, don't forget to grab your free video tutorial on how to quickly & easily find your train route here in Japan.
Just enter your name and email below:
Now let’s look at how to get a Suica Card.
Essentially the processes to get a Pasmo and a Suica are exactly the same. Even the names of the buttons you have to touch in order to complete the process are nearly identical. What’s going to be different about this particular post is that I’m going to show you how to get a personalized Suica. If you looked at the previous post on how to get a Pasmo card, I showed you how to purchase a general user Pasmo.
Whether you decide to purchase a Suica or a Pasmo (they serve same functions) I HIGHLY recommend going with the Personal Pasmo or Personal Suica option. Why? There are three reasons: 1) it doesn’t cost anything extra to do it, 2) it looks cool having your name on your card, and more importantly 3) should you ever lose your card, easier to do than you might think, it can be reissued. The only reason I purchased the general Pasmo in the previous video was because I wanted to show you both methods; that way, you can choose which type is best for you.
When purchasing a new Suica card, start off by locating the correct machine. Find a machine that handles tickets and commuter passes and you should be okay. Once you’ve done that, follow these simple steps to buy your very own personal Suica:
Just remember, if you make any mistakes, this cancel button (located on the payment panel) will save you!
I hope these steps make sense, and I hope you’re able to get your Suica card with no problems. Should you happen to run into a snag somewhere, I’m just an email away, or you can come back to this very article, leave a post in the comments section, and we can figure out where you went wrong.
Enjoy your new Suica card along with easier and far more convenient traveling on the Japanese train system.
Hopefully you had no problems getting your SUICA card. Whether not you decided to get one, I made a video tutorial just for you. Since you'll mostly be using your SUICA on the trains, I made a short video to show you how to find your route here in Japan:
Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last eleven years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of thejapanguy.com blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
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Before you head off, don't forget to grab your free video tutorial on how to quickly & easily find your train route here in Japan.
Just enter your name and email below:
That’s pretty neat. Gotta love the Japanese for their amazing & simple service.
Thank you for the video! Definately getting one next time I visit Japan.
Do you know if the Suica card is available to use everywhere in Japan and on underground and bus too?
Why have I never seen this question! It’s a great one!! Yes you can use your Suica in the Metro, the rail, and buses. I hate to say all because there may be an exception out there somewhere, but I haven’t come across one yet. Thanks for asking that!
I will second that. You can also use it in places like Lawson, Mandarake, Book Off, Haneda Airport, and other locations throughout Tokyo and beyond. It is an amazing card. In my 2 weeks I put in approx. ¥35,000 to it and used nearly all of it in various places. I came back with about ¥160 left on the card and since it is good for 10 years if registered, it is very nice to have it reloaded when I return in 2020.
This helps a lot! Thank you for going step by step in the process.
Truly my pleasure, Antonio 🙂
Truly my pleasure, Antonio. So glad to hear that it helped!
Thanks for google, these instructions and correct questions to staff to locate right kind of machine. I have my suica now 🙂
よし！ I’m glad to hear that. Enjoy those super-convenient train rides. Now that you have it, I don’t think you’ll ever go back…mwuhahahaha.
Do I get back the deposit of 500 yen when I leave Japan ?
I do think you can get it back if you ask one of the clerks at the info booth for it, but I honestly haven’t ever tried. If anybody has, I’d love to hear about it!
lol no. at least I didn’t. pretty sure that’s what you pay for the card.
You can get it back when return the card
Anon, dont listen to Ann please, she has given misleading info at least 2 times on this thread alone. You can return the card. There is a ¥210 processing fee for the refund but anything else after that processing fee is given back to you.
Yes, but there’s a handling charge of 220 yen. In any case, who give a sh** about 500 yen? You’d rather waste precious time at the ticket machines, and counting tiny tin coins? The saved time and greater convenience is easily worth more than such a small deposit.
According to the JR East site, if you have a zero balance, they waive the 220 yen fee, so you get the full 500 yen back.
I will agree totally with Nimloth, if you are worried about ¥500 then you definitely screwed up somewhere in the process. ¥500 is barely $4.65US and that can be made with 2 hands tied behind your back.
Not sure that you do. If you go to one of the clerks it might be possible. Good question, though! Another one for me to check on!
Hi, just a question… if I do not have a japanese phone yet, can i get the suica card without it? like put some false number there, or just do not put it there at all?
Yep, you definitely can still get one. People without cell phones get them all the time. The unmarked ones don’t require a phone number at all. That’s mainly for getting a personalized Suica. Good question.
I don’t think you can get a personalized one without a phone number. If you really are aiming for getting the personalized one then maybe buy tickets individually until you can get a phone number. If it doesn’t really matter you can just get a regular card that you can charge money to but it won’t have your name on it.
Hi, does that mean without phonenumber I only can get an unpersonalisized card?
But i can still get a card?
Oh my gosh, sorry the late reply. I didn’t realize comments were still coming in for this one! Yes, you can absolutely still get a card. I’ll have to check if there’s a way to get a personalized one without phone number.
You do not need phone number to get personalized SUICA card. You can leave phone field empty. Tested it two days ago 😉
Hi, i was reading your post and curious.
Will there any repercussions on not filling the phone number field?
Can you still use your suica card today?
You can use a suica card and not have it personalized but I will say this Nicolas, if you lose the card and you didn’t personalize it/register it, you lose all funds in the card. I would say do that at your own risk.
As much as that was an option in 2016, I would not recommend that at all. You do not need a Japanese phone number to get it personalized but it will be a hell of a task to go to a service desk and ask for a replacement without a phone number. Keep in mind there are 140+ million people that live in Japan and there are a lot of situations that you have the same birthday as someone in country. Even if you have to put in your home number wherever you are from it is a lot easier than trying to get the employees to figure out something because you were too careless to just put in something.
Hi, have you checked? Also, does the machine accept 10000 yen ?
They do but unless you are going to spend A LOT on subways, vending machines, conveni or Book Off, I would stick to less than 10000 at a time.
Its totally fine to input your American phone number if that is all you had. I did that in June 2017 at Ueno
Thanks for jumping in, Ann! I’m gonna second that. I’m actually going to go and check today to see if you can get one without a phone number. You definitely can get a SUICA still, but I think Ann’s right on the personalized card thing.
I would never recommend getting it personalized without a phone number, even if it isn’t a Japanese number. Any number would be better than no number considering that nearly everyone uses the subway system at some point if your in Tokyo long enough.
You can definitely get a suica card personalized providing an American phone number. Unlike what Ann said, you can. I personally did it. I bought a Suica card and before I ended the trip in June 2017, I went to Ueno Station and had it personalized and inputed my American Phone Number and worked absolutely fine.
Great article! So well explained…One thing less to worry about before my move to Japan. Thanks!
Hope your move went well. I did that same thing in 2013 on 16 days notice and it was fun yet very fast-paced.
Hi – thanks for all this – I have two days in Japan and I’m keen to do all I can. One query, though: if I want to put 7000 on the card, how do I change the amount?
change the amount? well, after you buy the card you can just put the card into any of those machines and it will ask you how much you want to put on.
Hi! Can I pay by credit card to get the SUICA? Thank you!
I dont think so. Just cash.
I just renewed my suica card. Paid by MUFG JCB card.
I’m going to double check, but I think it’s cash only
So can you buy the card with visa MasterCard or not?
David, your can purchase your card with Visa/MC but only for the card itself, any fare amounts must be paid with cash. I have went to Japan in 2013 and 2017, that will never change policy wise. However if you do not know how much you really want to put in just over-estimate and you can if you want, get it refunded minus the ¥210-220 processing fee. No loss there.
J.L. is correct. Your timing is perfect. I just filmed another video about commuter passes and on the screen it said:
“Credit card can be used.”
You can get your initial card via credit card but any fare funds must be reloaded with cash.
Thanks for jumping in, J.L.! Yes, that’s absolutely right.
No problem at all Donald.
can I just reload my suica card using credit card at any suica office in any station? I need to have receipt for reimbursement purposes.
First off, never has happened and never will happen, too risky. Also, you can print a receipt of ALL transactions at any refill location ANYWHERE in any station in Tokyo at no cost. That should answer your questions fully and firm.
https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/16c1bde0d63bcc877b939fed621cfa52ecf587d4e2fda17206af71e88d5eaf9c.jpg I never had the chance to respond to this comment, and I’m just getting back on the blog horse. Really sorry, Pau. But for anyone else that comes by. I just saw this when I getting Suica commuter pass renewed:
I never had the chance to respond to this comment, and I’m just getting back on the blog horse. Really sorry, Pau. But for anyone else that comes by. I just saw this when I getting Suica commuter pass renewed. If the picture doesn’t come up for you, card machine says “Credit card can be used.” Hope that helps if anybody runs into that issue in the future. Great question, btw, Pau!
I want to visit in August Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Can I use the Suica or Pasmo everywhere in Japan or are they only valid in Tokyo?
You can use Suica almost everywhere on JR lines (not for Shinkansen), most private railways outside the greater Tokyo region, on many bus services. Most shops who take one of the prepaid cards seem to take everyone too. There’s no limit on how many cards you can buy anyway, so worst case, you’ll just buy another IC card. 🙂
Good answer!!! 😀
Nimloth is right! You can use that SUICA on just about any Japanese train or public transport you can think of. I just went to the Kansai area last month (from Tokyo) and was able to my SUICA with no probs. Hope that helps.
Thanx for the info, just wanted to know, what’s the age limit for getting a child Suica card?
Sorry for the late reply, Ragni! Great question! I had someone ask that recently. I’m gonna go and check today. Get back to you shortly.
Thanks for this amazingly detailed explanations. That helps a lot!
Only one thing is puzzling me… When you have to select your gender, the machine explicitly order you to touch your sex. 😀
I hope people won’t be watching!
Hahahah! I think they just do it to to have data on who has Suica cards.
Seriously Jo……Seriously, that is a bush league question.
HI~ I am coming to Tokyo this September for a yearlong exchange program at a Japanese university. For the first month I am there I will be unable to get a student commuter pass because I will not have a student ID yet but I have found a website that is telling me (with picture evidence) that I can purchase a commuter pass with Suica on a JR machine. Is that legit? If so, continuing to my next question.
I will be arriving at Haneda Airport and I know that I can buy PASMO and Suica there. My home station will be on the Tobu Tojo Line. Can I do this commuter Suica to a rail station that is not operated by JR? I’d just really like to know because travelling for a month without a commuter pass is going to be so expensive otherwise!
Thanks in advance 🙂
TOTALLY LEGIT!! I can’t believe I missed this question. I’m sorry. I didn’t know this post was getting questions. I know now. But yes, I fully plan on making a teikiken tutorial because you can get those directly from the JR machines and they can save buttloads of money in the right situations.
I have 2 kids aged 9 and 6 traveling together to Japan, does the Suica card cost the same for children? Is the train fares cost the same for children?
GREEEAAAT question! I don’t have kids, but I’ll check to find out train fares for kids along with Suica prices (I don’ know if there’s a difference). I’ll get back to you ASAP!!! Thanks for an awesome question.
Hi.. Any news on the Suica card n prices for children? Thx
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html#category04 same price
Child fare is half rate for Elementary age children, under Elementary is free. To get a card for Elementary age child you will need to bring their passport or birth certificate (proof of age) to the train station customer service box. Fares for the child card will be deducted at half the fare of an adult.
Cheah, the price would be the same, but I would strongly recommend having the card(s) registered to be safe. Kids would have a greater chance IMHO to lose the card as an adult and if you are going to be loading the card, this would be highly recommended. Also, I would download an app to your phone to track purchases since it can be used away from the subways/transportation methods.
Thanks for this! we are going to tokyo next week and will follow these instructions.
Hi Thanks for the informative article. My question is. What’s the difference between the japanese Rail Pass and this card? Which one is better?
The JR pass is an unlimited-use pass for a set number of days. It can ONLY be used on JR-owned lines (including certain Shinkansen trains), so you cannot use it on the Tokyo Metro. You also cannot purchase the JR pass once you are in Japan – you have to reserve it from outside the country and pick it up when you arrive.
Suica, on the other hand, is a rechargable cash card. You load money into it and the train system will automatically deduct the fare from the balance. This makes it so that you don’t have to interpret the fare charts and buy paper tickets, which saves you time. Using Suica is basically the same as using cash – it is not unlimited like the JR pass. You can use it on almost every Kanto-area method of public transit EXCEPT the Shinkansen.
So really they are totally different things. The JR pass is really only a good investment for people who will be hopping between multiple cities using the Shinkansen or visiting a place where they plan to use JR local trains extensively (which will not get you around Tokyo very well). If you are not leaving Tokyo, Suica will be much more useful and probably less expensive. Some people may want to buy both! For example, if you are going to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya to Kyoto to Hiroshima and back again, spending 2-3 days in each city, it’s probably smart to get both – JR pass will save you money on Shinkansen tickets, while the Suica will be convenient for local transportation.
Dang! Great answer. Thanks jondean!!! <3
No problem! I’m shocked anyone ever saw my answer! ?
Dear Mr Japan Guy,
My name is Mohamad Affan from Malaysia and in three weeks I will be travelling to Tokyo for 12 days of holiday. We will be residing in Honcho, Kawasaki-shi Kanagawa-ken (Close to Keikyu Kawasaki Station). We have several questions that we would like to know the answers, if you dont mind answering:
1) Since we will only be in Tokyo, we decided that we would not want to buy the tourist JR pass from Malaysia. To visit Fujio F. Fujiko Museum (Noborito station) from our place (Kawasaki station), will require us to take JR Nanbu Line from Kawasaki station to Noborito Station. So to go to the mentioned place, can we just buy individual/single ticket just from Kawasaki to Noborito at the station?
2) To visit places in Northern Tokyo, West Tokyo, East Tokyo and Central Tokyo, as well as outlying places like Tokyo Disneyland, did all of those places have subway stations, or also have JR lines like the Fujiko Museum?
3) How do we visit or can view Mount Fuji from our place (Kawasaki)?
Mohamad Affan Mohamoud
So, if I understand correctly neither PASMO nor Suica can be purchased with a credit card, only with Yen? Can a MySuica card be purchased using a US phone number?
First time going to Tokyo and I plan on using the Suica card. When you board you scan your card, what do you do when you get off? On their website it says you will be charged for the fare of the distance you traveled. How is this tracked? Do you need to scan your card somewhere when you get off or pass a certain gate (similar to how marathon runners have smart chips that trigger past the finish line)? Thanks.
Hi! If we’re visiting Japan on a family trip (family of 4) do each of us have to get a suica card or do we just use one to pay for all four of us?
can I use my Master card, visa or Amex card to get my SUICA ? what if I still have money on it when I go back home ? This will be my first time in Japan, and ill be traveling alone. a bit nervous
This will be my first time in Japan, and ill be traveling alone
Do you know if you can transfer the funds from a general Suica card to a personalized one?
Hi I’m going to tokyo mid of october with 5 Kids!! (age 12, 9,8, 4+, 2+) I’m staying nearby Ryogoku station in Sumida.. Do you know where can I get the Suica Card for kids – as I understand i have to go to a counter and present the kids passport in order to purchase their kids suica card… I have google but not much information.. I have arranged transportation from Haneda to Sumida as i will be arriving around 10.30pm.. the counter is closed (in Haneda) by the time I arrive.. any advise?
Past October now (only just found this site) so I hope you found the simple answer that you have to go to a ticket office to get one issued. The two young kids are free (under 6), 6-11 1/2 price and 12 is adult.
I am probably too late to give you the answer to this, but hopefully you got it in Haneda Airport, or since you were at Ryogoku in Sumida somewhere close by like Ueno Station or the Tokyo Skytree Rail Station. That area is totally beautiful especially in the Tokyo Skytree area, Sumida Park, and Sakurabashi Bridge that connects Sumida to Taito (where I was from).