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In your experience, how easy or difficult is it for a foreign resident to obtain a credit card in Japan?

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Walked into Sumitomo bank Nagoya Eki Mae with my wife to help me with the process and forms. We both applied for new bank account and credit cards. It was hard enough just to get approval for a bank account. They said I need to work in Japan for 6 months before i could get one. After much escalation they finally allowed it. Had all the company contracts and signed letters proving my salary and employment. The credit card applications for both of us got sent off for approval. My wife had 0 income, I had a very healthy expat income to more than support us. A week later the letters arrived, my credit card application got rejected and my wife’s got approved. Amazing.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

11F

Understand. Took me many years to get a credit card and now have several. You should check your wife's credit card and having a family card in your name. The monthly bills go to your wife's account, otherwise, it functions as normal.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The card companies have a list of criteria to judge if applicants are "suitable". These vary from salary, length of service at employer, type of visa ...things you may expect. But also odd requirements like having a landline phone could be the difference between success and rejection. The companies are also linked so a rejection by one company will reduce your chances at the next one.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

At the place where I live, we have many highly skilled foreigners,PHD, decent salary, etc. but close to impossible for them to get a credit card in Japan. Fortunately, our company partnered with a credit card company to solve this.

I have several cards, and I was rejected only once in a weird setting. When Tsutaya DVD rental was still a thing, the staff convinced to apply for their credit card system, which could be used only for their products and low sums. I had been using their services for a long time, already had two Japanese credit cards at the time, and I applied. And I was rejected!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

With a decent job, it was very very easy with Citibank. I got one a few weeks after arriving in Japan. A shame that gaijin-friendly bank was forced out of Japan.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Why apply for a credit card when your phone does everything now?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

In my experience Rakuten is the easiest credit card to apply for as a foreigner. I have SMBC Visa, D-Card (Docomo) Mastercard and Rakuten Mastercard.

I know of many other foreigners who got rejected from the major Japanese banks, but ended up getting a credit card from Rakuten.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Three minus votes for pointing out facts about how card companies in Japan have illogical criteria. The land line phone or lack of, was one of the reasons quoted by the card company for not giving a friend a card. Showed he didn't have " long term " commitment. This was 5 years ago but even then, why have a land line? Also being rejected by other companies was mentioned.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Never had any problem getting a credit card in Japan.

Plenty of shops have asked me to apply for their card. I turn them down because I have more than I need, a purse full of the things.

Granted, my first credit card was a family card paid for from my husband’s account, but the the folk in the shops offering me cards are offering them to me, not him.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

To put it simply Japanese Banks are oddly prejudiced to not give you a card.

I am Japanese and my wife is American.

So she has gone into large banks like UFJ or Sumitomo and be literally told that “foreigners don’t get credit cards”. Now when I call back, there is a much different tone, especially when I remind them that we both know that no such rule exists.

Its often even more funny when I walk in later with my Japanese papers looking like a foreigner to help her get it done lol.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

With my friends rejection being non Japanese was never mentioned... Although that was a given.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In UK, if you wear casual dress, no staff in any Bank will give you good customer service, rather they will turn u away.

This situation happens to many Asians. Then next day you go there on suit, they treat you with many offers. I guess such discrimination doesn't happen to foreigner or halfu in Japan.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Mr Kipling:

I know a lot of people, including myself, who have no need of a landline. Hell, I no longer have a fax machine!!! Exceedingly old.

BackpackingNepal:

In UK, if you wear casual dress, no staff in any Bank will give you good customer service, rather they will turn u away.

I think the problem was you.

Judging by the downvotes I got, I think quite a few down and out folks got rejected by Citibank which was the most willing bank out of all the bunch.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If you have a internet connection at home then you can easily have an IP phone, which we have because international calls, which we sometimes need, are cheaper than mobile charges. We also have a fax because it’s part of the phone, but we rarely use.

Most young single people no longer use landlines.

Citibank retail is no longer in Japan? Retail was sold to SMBC?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@cleo

You write that "Plenty of shops have asked me to apply for their card" but you did not apply because you already have enough cards. Good for you.

But I'm not sure why you wrote this - it does not mean much, if anything.

People working in a store are told to approach customers and ask them to apply. They probably have a quota.

It does not mean that your application will always be approved. As @timeon states above, sometimes the staff can actually suggest the card to you and then you can be rejected when you apply. The staff in the shop are not the one's making the approval decision.

So if you are always being asked "please apply for our card" but not actually following through on the offer, you are not really in a position to comment on what would have happened to you applications - you have no idea really.

I know this because this exact same thing happened to me. So I hope readers will listen to me and not you.

I already had a card, did not need another one, was invited to apply in a store, got talked into applying, filed my application, and then had it rejected. At the time, I was earning a least twice the average salary of a Japanese guy my age.

And like 11F, I have had the experience of applying for a card together with a Japanese partner only to see her card accepted and mine rejected. At the time too, I was earning significantly more than she was.

So, from personal experience, I would say there is absolutely racism in the processing of these applications. What is more frustrating is that people will (as usual) make excuses for racism in Japan, claiming it is not racist for whatever reason.

Yes, some foreigners have credit cards. As I said, I have one myself. So, no, not all foreigners always rejected. Now, Japan is not a "racist country" where foreigners are treated like dirt by everyone all the time. It is not like that. But that does not mean there is no issue at all.

Non-Japanese applicants are absolutely having card applications rejected for spurious reasons on a regular basis. Absolutely it is far harder to get a card if you are not Japanese.

It is happening, it is discriminatory and it is wrong.

So @Cleo, It's sad to see someone posting "nothing to see here" particularly on the basis of cards you did not even apply for that you just assumed you would get.

A foreigner with a good income can be accepted by one company and rejected by another when applying at similar times. There is little rhyme or reason to it.

Of course, if you query a rejection, no rational explanation will be forthcoming - no card company will come out and admit "yes, you are right, we are racist!".

I wonder if the Japanese government collects statistics on how Japanese and non-Japanese in similar financial positions are treated by credit card companies to see if there is any inconsistency?

I doubt they do, since racist treatment of non-Japanese nationals is something they don't care about at all.

If you are reading this and thinking of coming to live here when COVID is over, please bear this in mind in your decision making. As I said, all foreigners are not discriminated against all the time. Most people are kind. Most of the time you may be treated well.

But if someone refuses you a phone, a bank account, a credit card, an apartment, or in fact any other service because you are not a local, not one of the Japanese authorities is going to stand up and help you out because discrimination here is not illegal. Note that if you mention these struggles to your Japanese friends, they will look awkward and change the subject because they have been taught throughout their lives that discrimination and racism is something that happens to Asians in "white" countries not the other way around. They will have no idea this goes on in their own backyard and they will not want to talk about it.

Most people - and more than a few foreign residents, bizarrely (is it Stockholm syndrome?) - shut there eyes to any discrimination in Japan and are absolutely determined not to see it, recognize it or admit it ever exists.

You will also have to deal with people blaming you for your own hardship, telling you that "you don't understand Japan" and that someone the discrimination you are experiencing is in fact your own fault.

When you are not applying for a credit card or and apartment or a bank loan, Japan is a great country in many ways. So by all means come and see what it is like.

But my decades here tell me this - you will need to bring a thick skin.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

You write that "Plenty of shops have asked me to apply for their card" but you did not apply because you already have enough cards.

I meant I turn them down now because I have more than enough. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

I have never been refused for a card I did apply for, and as I noted, I have a purseful of them.

I was even given a pre-paid card I didn't apply for; it came as an 'extra' with my phone account.

I'm not saying other folk have not experienced discrimination, or prejudice, or racism, or sheer ignorance. I'm just saying that I personally have not experienced it in Japan.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I found once I did have a credit card after more than 15 years, getting another was easier. I have no job.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

With a decent job, it was very very easy with Citibank. I got one a few weeks after arriving in Japan. A shame that gaijin-friendly bank was forced out of Japan.

Actually as a long time Citibank customer, they are now Prestia. Prestia's service is about the same as I recall from Citibank and I am satisfied.

Back in the early 00's my credit cards got greater scrutiny when I used them in Osaka as a foreigner. In particular I remember JR had an English signage about fraudulent cards. I tried to buy my train pass with a US credit card and the lady for whatever reason asked my permission to call the number on the back which was Citibank in the US. Inconvenience for 10 minutes, the charge was denied and my card was locked as they apparently had no idea what the hell she was saying. So after they I am inclined to use cash in this country.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have four credit cards issued by Japanese banks and three from American banks. Two of those Navy Federal Credit Union. All cards work here in machines etc., but in the past, the American cards were often rejected but now they work.

I know many of you here work for Private schools. If you belong to the Kumiai System called ShigakuKyosai for health and pension and lots of other benefits apply for their Gold Credit card. They used to make you open a Resona Bank account to get the card, but hassle-free. After you get the card, call them up and tell them you want them to change the billing to the normal bank you use. The card has great benefits for traveling all over Japan.

Maybe Cleo and I have been lucky but you can get a card especially if you put a lot of money into their savings accounts.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I have never had any problems (admittedly I only have 2 CCs), I got mt first CC when I wasn't even a PR and I was doing the typical gaikokujin McJob at one of the big eikaiwas. I guess it depends on who reviews your application and your luck.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I guess it depends on who reviews your application and your luck.

I think that is exactly true. The issue is that arbitrary refusals are often made but no adequate system is in place to review these decision, ask why they were made and see if the refusal is fair. While, as we see above, many people do have cards, there are far too many anecdotal tales of refusals affecting people on a decent salary for this to simply be dismissed as a non-issue. The lack of transparency is part of the problem.

When a husband and wife, whose finances are obviously intertwined, apply together, and the credit card is only awarded to the Japanese party despite the foreign half of the couple earning more / having more stable employment / or even in some cases employing the Japanese spouse who got accepted while the foreign party got rejected; well in such cases something strange and opaque is obviously going on.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

My first card was NTT, applied through the internet after living here around 2 years. No hassle.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

BackpackingNepalOct. 10  03:38 pm JST

In UK, if you wear casual dress, no staff in any Bank will give you good customer service, rather they will turn u away.

Utter nonsense. They turn you away if you cannot provide the numerous paper proofs of ID and address you require to open an account. I have never heard of anyone refused service at a bank due to their clothing. It’s laughable.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I must have about eight Japanese credit cards. I apply for them to get the points at all the different places I regularly shop. I have never encountered any problems in getting a card, even when I didn't have PR.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Never had a problem getting a credit card, so I am very surprised when reading some comments here. I had problems getting my first mobile phone, they wanted a guarantor and my stay permit to be more than 12 months, I think it was Vodafone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never had a problem getting a card - applied for my first one 6 months arriving here back in 1992 at the age of 20. That with with Citibank Japan at the time (now SMBC Trust). Amex a couple of years later for the Air Miles/Points and have had a few different Visa Cards after that for the same reasons.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never had a problem with opening a bank account, getting my cellphone and even getting my first credit card. My bank account was opened for me by my language school. My cellphone came in handy just a couple months after I arrived in Japan. I got my first credit card during my first year at the uni, as recommended by the university coop. All went well despite me coming from a "third world country"...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

rainman1 - with respect, a comment on the situation back in 1992 is not too relevant. That was thirty years ago. I am interested in when @xamurai got a bank account, phone and card. Was this recently? Even as the world becomes more international, some companies are making it more difficult as time progresses, not more easy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probably took me like five-six years to get one, I tried all the ones that are normally popular for foreigners but got rejected across the board.

Eventually I got an Amazon card, which is unfortunate, but at least I have one now. That one was at least pretty easy to get, in case anyone is having trouble.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

next to impossible in my experience

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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