Translated by Hilary Keyes
Suica IC Card - How To Purchase Your Own
Suica is a prepaid IC travel card issued by JR East. In this article, we explain how to buy a Suica card from a ticket machine at the station.
Written by Yusuke Yamamura
What Is a Suica Card?
Suica is a prepaid IC card issued by JR East Railways. This IC card allows you to travel freely all across Japan. It can also be used to make purchases at station kiosks, convenience stores, and vending machines.
The Suica card can be charged at any train station and even at convenience stores. With a Suica card, there is no need to buy tickets for each ride on subways and trains. You can enter and exit the train stations by simply touching the card reader with your Suica card.
You can also use your IC card to pay at convenience stores, at most vending machines and shops inside train stations and even some restaurants.
Suica cards are only sold in and around Tokyo, in Sendai and in Niigata. However, you can get and use IC cards outside of Tokyo but they will be named differently. For example, in the region of the JR West rail network, which includes the Osaka and Kyoto, they are called ICOCA.
Whatever their name might be, they work all the same and can be purchased the same way as a Suica card. If you are mainly planning to travel around in Japan by subways, trains or buses, IC cards are the easiest way to go.
How to Purchase a Suica Card
Purchasing a Suica card, or any IC card, is very simple. Let us show you how.
1. Find a Ticket Machine
Suica cards can be purchased through ticket machines available at any JR station. To purchase a new Suica card, please find the black ticket vending machines, like one shown in the photo above.
First, we recommend changing the language to English. This will make the following steps easier.
2. Purchase a New Suica
After you changed the language setting, you need to press the "Purchase a New Suica" button. In this picture, it is the blue button.
3. Select the Type of Suica
You can choose many different charging levels of Suica. Anything from 1,000 yen to 10,000 yen is possible. Select the button of the Suica card you wish to purchase. In this case, we chose a Suica card worth 2,000 yen.
4. Insert the Money
If you choose the card worth 2,000 yen, the card itself will have a 1,500 yen charge, while the cost of the card itself is 500 yen. The 500 yen are just a deposit. If you go to the JR East Green Service Counter, also known as "Midori no Madoguchi", you can get your deposit back when you return your Suica.
5. The Suica is Ready to Use
The Suica card is ready to use right away. Now you do not have to worry about buying tickets each time you ride on trains, subways, or buses. If the Suica is empty you simply charge it at one of the tickets machines.
Buy a Mobile Suica
Recently Suica made things even more simple with an app for your smartphone. You can simply download the app and connect it to your credit card to be recharged wherever and whenever you want.
You can either purchase a new Suica card via this app or transfer your old one by scanning it with your mobile camera. Once you have created your mobile Suica, you simply touch your phone on the card reader whenever you enter or exit the gates at the train stations.
Get Around with Ease
An IC card is the easiest way to get around and even pay in Japan. You don't have to try to figure out how much the distance you want to travel will cost. Just enter and exit and the card will do the rest.
Many people even like to keep the card as a souvenir from their trip! So why not try using a purchasing and using an IC card next time you are in Japan?