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

29 Comments

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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 )

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 )

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 )

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 )

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 )

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.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

next to impossible in my experience

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have 6 or 7. Got rejected once by a JCB card put out by Citi. Called them up and said, Why? They then approved me.

AMEX sent me a packet last year to apply for their platinum card---with a 100,000JPY annual fee.

No thankie. Got one from the US with the same benefits for $650 a year.

What is the thinking behind that extra $350 or so charge? Can't be shipping costs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"How easy" is not the right question. "How hard" is the right question. In my case, I have been living here for nearly ten years, my bank account is as old, meaning my bank has nearly a decade of transactions history to verify what I do with my money. I have a debit card and I decided to get a credit card to purchase items online. I went to my bank, fill the proper form, just to get rejected. Needless to say the letter I received told me that they do not provide any explanations as to how and why they decided to not accept my application. Hopefully, I applied at the same time for a credit card with a western company. It took 24 hours to get the approval and about three weeks to get it home by email. That is how things are. There are several explanations. Obviously, a xenophobia by default : you're a foreigner, you're not reliable and prove troublesome somehow. "Why bother ?" is the unwritten rule. Then, there is the very japanese idea of what is a Credit Card. It's some kind of priviledge that requires the applicant "to beg" hard enough to get by meeting "criterias", all of them being a big mystery box. In the West it's just something one uses to pay stuff. In my country, I get a credit card with a single signature, regardless of my situation. In Japan, banks are absolutely convinced you will steal their money with that credit card eventhough you can't spend the money you obviously do not have on your bank account. When you tell them you can only spend the money you put on your bank account and can't use that credit card to spend the bank's money, they look at you with astonishment. They do not deny it, they simply can not process the fact that you can't use a credit card to rob a bank. No need to judge it overall, it's cultural and it won't change. It's hardwired and flexibily won't suddenly happen to accommodate foreigners, tourists or residents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Absolutely impossible. Even speaking fluent Japanese, stable income, and living here for years. They might as well have a sign saying "No foreigners."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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