Here’s why you should get a Suica (or Pasmo) card in Japan

There are two train companies in Tokyo, the Metro Subway and Japan Rail East. If you have a JR pass, you don’t have to worry about buying a train ticket when you ride any JR trains since your JR pass will allow you to have unlimited rides to any of their trains (including shinkansen or bullet trains) for a definite amount of time. All you have to do is show your JR pass to the train guards. Easy peasy!

At times when you have to use a train or any other type of public transportation by a different company you won’t be able to use your JR pass and this is when your Suica card can come in handy.

You can get a Suica card right when you land at Narita International airport and load it up with money at the JR East Travel Service Centre located in the basement of the airport.

Your Suica card is not exclusive to public transportation as you can also use it to purchase items from vending machines or convenience stores. It is super easy to use as it’s basically tap and go. Check out the tutorial I made below ­čÖé

If you have heard of a Pasmo card, it does the same thing as a Suica card. They are just two different brands (think Visa or Mastercard!). Take note, though, that only Suica cards can be reloaded at any JR East offices but both cards can be reloaded in any train station or convenience store including Family Mart and 7/11. I personally chose Suica card because it has a cute penguin on it.

Two reasons why you should get a Suica or Pasmo card:

  1. Saves time – As long as you have enough money on your card, you can ride trains without the hassle of figuring out how much you need to pay to get from point A to point B. Trust me, it can be a bit tricky trying to understand those ticket dispensing machines. You also won’t have to buy tickets every single time you ride the trains.
  2. No need to carry cash or loose change around – It is super convenient having a card that you can just tap when purchasing items through vending machines or train ticket dispensers.

Any leftover money in your Suica card can be refunded to you at the airport when you leave Japan.

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    • Ania
    • April 25, 2017

    Really great tip! A friend of mine recently moved to Japan and I would love to visit the country. I will keep this in mind when I go. I would also pick a card with a cute penguin over anything else.

  1. Great tips. Only my list for my next trip to Japan!


    • Maxime
    • April 26, 2017

    I didn’t know the Suica card could be used in vendor machine!
    So using it will also allow to avoid to have thousands of coins ­čśÇ

    • jusztravel
    • April 26, 2017

    hehehe yeah! penguins are soooo cute <3

    • jusztravel
    • April 26, 2017

    hahaha oh yeah! I definitely agree with you on that.

  2. This reminds me of the Hong Kong octopus card! They have the tap-and-go system too, and you can use it at convenient stores, sometimes to pay for cabs. So efficient!

  3. This seems relatively easy to figure out. The Eurrail pass was complicated to figure out. I just want to get from point a to point b in as easy a way as possible. Thank you for figuring this our and sharing.

  4. Looks like one intense metro…and here I thought navigating some European ones were strange (even coming from NYC). definitely helpful for future travelers to Tokyo!

  5. I love that they refund your balance! So often anything left over on those cards is lost to the ether ­čśŤ
    Melissa @ The Family Voyage recently posted…Trip Report: How to Visit Puerto Rico with KidsMy Profile

  6. Haha, I like how you say you chose SUICA because of the penguin on it! ­čśÇ I personally also used SUICA in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka and it was extremely convenient. The only thing I was disappointed about was that when they refunded the balance, they deducted a certain amount as ‘cancellation fee’ or something which was not expected.
    Medha Verma recently posted…Top 15 things to see in KyotoMy Profile

    • Kate
    • June 21, 2017

    This is a good idea, but I also feel like some of the fun of travelling on the metro in Japan is looking at the maps and trying to figure out how much money you need to put towards the next trip. I enjoyed that part of it, anyway.
    Kate recently posted…How to travel with borderline personality disorder (BPD)My Profile

  7. Navigating Japan’s rail system can be tricky for sure. Great write up and tips! This will definetly save your readers some time and frustration!
    Shaun recently posted…I Spent Just $5,500 on a YearÔÇÖs Worth of Flights. This is How I did it.My Profile

  8. I always struggle with having to pull out my wallet when I’m traveling to take out cash or find loose change. I can appreciate the Suica or Pasmo card since it’s all conveniently in one card! This post will come in handy when I finally make my way to Japan!

  9. Pingback: Japan Rail Pass, is it worth it. - Travelling with Kids - Family Travel Blog – our3kidsvtheworld

  10. Pingback: Things to Do in Tokyo in 4 Days | Our Must See List - Travel Devoted

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