Ultimate Suica Card Guide: Perfect Travel Card in Japan

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by Sophie

Suica Card
The Suica Card is an essential tool for anyone travelling to Japan. This rechargeable, contactless smart card, issued by the East Japan Railway Company, is designed to make your travel experience more convenient and efficient. It's not just a travel card, but a passport to a seamless and cashless journey through Japan. ✨This article explores the comparison between Suica Card and Welcome Suica Card, Tips to use Welcome Suica Card, and how to add a Suica card to Apple wallet.

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What is Suica Card?

What is Suica Card?

Source: JR East official website

Suica Card is a prepaid smart card that allows you to use most public transport, including JR East lines, subways, buses, and even some taxis. The card can also be used for shopping at convenience stores, vending machines, and other retail outlets.

The Suica Card is applicable in the Greater Tokyo Area, the Tohoku region, and the Hokuriku region. It can also be used in other regions of Japan where the ICOCA, Kitaca, PASMO, TOICA, manaca, PiTaPa, SUGOCA, nimoca, or Hayakaken systems are accepted.

Suica Card Payment

Source: JR East official website

Two Types of Suica Cards: Welcome Suica Card&Suica Card

Two Types of Suica Cards: Welcome Suica Card&Suica Card

Source: JR East official website

There are two types of Suica Cards: Welcome Suica Card and Suica Card. Both cards are prepaid smart cards for transportation and shopping, and issued by JR East. Here's a comparison between the two:
Featues Welcome Suica Card Suica Card
Usage Can be used for travel on trains, subways, and buses throughout Japan, as well as for purchases at a wide range of stores, vending machines, and coin lockers.
Applicable Systems Suica, ICOCA, Kitaca, PASMO, TOICA, manaca, PiTaPa, SUGOCA, nimoca, and Hayakaken.
Target Users Designed for tourists visiting Japan, for short-term use. Intended for residents and long-term visitors, suitable for frequent use.
Validity Valid for a limited period (typically 28 days from the date of purchase) and cannot be reissued once expired. Does not expire (if not used for 10 years, the card will be invalid, but the balance can be transferred to a new card).
Refund Policy Not refundable. There is no deposit, and any remaining balance on the card cannot be refunded after it expires. Refundable. However, a 220 yen handling fee is deducted from the remaining balance upon refund, and the 500 yen deposit is returned.
Recharge Policy Can be recharged during its validity period (Maximum 20,000 yen). Can be recharged with additional funds as needed.
Registration Cannot be registered, so if the card is lost, the balance cannot be protected. Can be registered to protect the balance in case the card is lost or stolen.
Personalization Not personalized and are issued as anonymous cards. Can be personalized with the owner's name, and there are also anonymous versions available.
Mobile Integration No mobile integration for Welcome Suica cards. Can be added to mobile wallets like Apple Pay for use.

Welcome Suica Card Tokyo

Welcome Suica Card Tokyo

Source: JR East official website

Suica Card Tokyo offers the following benefits:

  • Enjoy unlimited rides on JR local trains and rapid train non-reserved seats for one day in the 23 wards of Tokyo and the Tokyo Monorail Line Seats
  • One-day unlimited rides on the Tokyo Monorail line between Haneda Airport and Hamaka-cho.

Suica Card Tokyo Applicable Areas

Valid on JR East lines in the Tokyo metropolitan area as well as for subways, buses and the Tokyo Monorail that connects Haneda Airport with Tokyo.

In addition to the Tokyo area, the Welcome Suica can be used for certain transportation systems in the Sendai and Niigata, Hokkaido, Tokai, West Japan and Kyushu areas.

Suica Card Tokyo Applicable Areas

Source: JR East official website

Please note the Welcome Suica cannot be used for continuous travel between areas. The use of transportation begun in one area must be ended in that area. When crossing from one area to another, first leave the ticket gate and then re-enter.

Where to buy a Welcome Suica Card Tokyo?

Haneda Airport Ninjia WiFi Counter
Location 3rd floor, departure hall, Haneda Airport Terminal 3
How to get there Go to the 3rd floor from the arrival hall opposite the Tokyo Monorail ticket gate
Counter service hours 07:00 - 23:00
How to Charge My Suica Card?

How to Use a Welcome Suica Card?

How to Use a Welcome Suica Card?

Source: JR East official website

Welcome Suica card is a popular contactless smart card used for electronic payment in Japan, primarily for public transportation. If you want to learn how to use it, here is a general procedure you might follow:

  • 1. Purchase the Welcome Suica card: You can purchase the card in JR EAST Travel Service Centers, which located in Narita Airport and Haneda Airport.
  • 2. Activate the Welcome Suica card: Once you obtained the card, top up your Welcome Suica card to start your journey.
  • 3. Use your Welcome Suica card: Keep the card in your card holder, then tap it onto the automatic ticket gate for a second to pay automatically.
  • 4. Check your card balance: When you passes through the gate, your remaining balance and validality will be showed after you tap your Welcome Suica card.
  • 5. Shopping&Dining: Apart from public transportation, Welcome Suica card can also be used at a wide range of stores, vending machines, and coin lockers.
  • 6. Recharge your Welcome Suica card: The Welcome Suica can be recharged and used as many times as desired during its validity period, which can charged up to a maximum of 20,000 yen at Automatic Ticket Vending Machines.
Welcome Suica Card Vending Machines

Source: JR East official website

Tips for Using Welcome Suica Card

Tips for Using Welcome Suica Card

Source: JR East official website

  • 1. No refunds can be made, regardless of the validity period status or balance loaded on the card.
  • 2. When recharging your card, only yen may be used to recharge. A credit card cannot be used to top up a Welcome Suica card.
  • 3. The Welcome Suica can be topped up to a maximum of 20,000 yen at Automatic Ticket Vending Machines.
  • 4. The Welcome Suica is valid for 28 days, including the date of purchase.

Where to Buy Suica Card?

JR East has made an official announcement that from December 11, 2023, customers can purchase one Suica card at JR East Travel Service Centers of Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Ueno stations.

How to Charge My Suica Card?

The Suica card can be charged in major JR EAST stations at Multifunction Ticket Vending Machines, JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi). Here's the photo guide to show you how to charge your Suica Card.

How to Charge My Suica Card?

Source: Photo by Lily Crossley-Baxter

Tips for Charging the Suica Card

  • You can only use Japanese yen to charge your Suica Card, credit card is not allowed. However, you could use a credit card to purchase a commuter pass and top up your Suica card at the same time.
  • Apart from Ticket Vending Machines, you can also charge your Suica card at a convenience store, the ATM in the store, or the cash register.
  • The minimum charging amount would be 500 yen, and the maximum amount would be 20,000 yen.

How to Add a Suica Card to Apple wallet?

How to Add a Suica Card to Apple wallet?

Source: JR East official website

Requirements

  • An Apple ID that you used to sign in on your device, with two-factor authentication enabled.
  • An iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus or later, or an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, with the latest version of iOS or watchOS.
  • Apple Pay payment card already in Wallet for adding money to Suica card.
  • Stable network Connectivity.

How to Add a New Suica Card on Your iPhone or Apple Watch?

Step 1: Open iPhone or Apple Watch Wallet App and tap Add button "+"(iPhone Wallet) or "Add Card"(Apple Watch Wallet). Then click on "Transit Card" to enter the detail page.
Step 2: Select the Suica card you need to add.
Select the Suica card you need to add.
Step 3: Tap "Continue" to top up the card.
Step 4: Choose an amount you need to put on the card and tap Add.
 Tap "Continue" to top up the card.

How to Transfer a Physical Suica Card to Your iPhone or Apple Watch?

You can transfer your physical Suica card and its current balance to Apple Wallet. After the transfer, your physical card won't work and your deposit will be added to your Suica balance in Apple Wallet.

Step 1: Open iPhone or Apple Watch Wallet App and tap the Add button “+” (iPhone Wallet) or “Add Card” (Apple Watch Wallet), tap Continue, tap Transit, Tap Suica, tap Continue, tap Transfer Existing Card. Then enter the last 4 digits of the Suica ID number and your date of birth, and click on "Next".
Step 2: Tap "Agree" to transfer your physical Suica Card to your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Tap "Agree" to transfer your physical Suica Card to your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Step 3: Transfer the card by resting the top of your iPhone on the middle of the card and leave without moving it, this may take a few minutes to complete.
Step 4: The picture shows that the procedure is completed. And the ¥500 card deposit is automatically added to the balance when the transfer is successfully completed.
 Transfer a Physical Suica Card to Your iPhone or Apple Watch

How to Recharge Your Suica Card with Apple Pay?

Step 1: Click on Suica card in Apple Wallet, and then tap "Add Money" to recharge your Suica card.
Step 2: Choose the amount you need to top up and tap "Add".
Step 3: Select the card you want to pay from and use Face ID/Touch ID to pay with Apple Pay.
How to Recharge Your Suica Card with Apple Pay

FAQs about Suica Card

  • What is the difference between Suica and Welcome Suica?

    The Suica and Welcome Suica are essentially the same same. And the main difference lies in the target users and refund policy.
  • Is it worth buying a Suica card?

    Yes, Suica card allows you to use most public transport, including JR East lines, subways, buses, and even some taxis. The card can also be used for shopping at convenience stores, vending machines, and other retail outlets.
  • How can I recharge my Welcome Suica Card?

    You can recharge at Seven Bank ATMs in convenience stores and 7-Eleven convenience stores.
  • How to check my Suica card balance?

    Once you tap your Suica card on the gate, your remaining balance will appear on the card reader.
  • Can I use the Welcome Suica Card on multiple transports in Japan?

    Yes, Suica Card is a prepaid smart card that allows you to use most public transport, including JR East lines, subways, buses, and even some taxis.
  • Can two people share the same Suica card?

    Typically, people should have their own Suica card, excexpt for children under 6.
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