Do you have a credit card in your country? How hard is it for you to get one there? Generally speaking, it is not so difficult to get one here in Japan. Even minors can have their own credit cards if they can show their financial ability. But how about for non-Japanese? Let’s look at how credit card application works for foreign people in Japan.

How Long You Are Planning On Staying In Japan Matters

Many of you might have wondered this: Is it difficult for foreigners to get a credit card? Frankly speaking, the answer is no. One of the basic rules when it comes to applying for a Japanese credit card is that you are residing in Japan when you apply for one. In other words, if you are living in Japan for reasons such as school or work, you have a chance to apply for a credit card. You do not need to be a Japanese citizen or have a permanent residency status to apply. 

However, you need to be staying in Japan for more than 90 days to be eligible to apply. Think about this situation: when a credit card holder leaves Japan before paying the credit card balance, a card company cannot pursue them in their home country or other foreign location to get the money back. This means the company loses money, which every company wants to avoid at all cost. Therefore, credit card companies want to make sure that foreign applicants are going to be in Japan for at least a few months. So if you are staying in Japan for less than three months, it is better for you to bring your own credit card from your country.

What to submit

When it comes to the application process for getting a credit card, there is no difference between Japanese and non-Japanese people. Companies will ask applicants to provide their personal information such as their birthday, address, bank account, your job or school, and how much money you earn every year, and so on. However, as it is mentioned above, credit card companies want to know if the applicant  is staying in Japan for more than three months, foreign people are required to submit a copy of their residency cards or special permanent resident certificates in addition to their other personal information. Let me clarify here: You do not need to be a permanent resident to apply for a credit card. However, you need to show credit companies that you are going to be staying in Japan for at least 90 days, and that is why you are required to submit a copy of your residency card or special permanent resident certificate.

Ways to apply for a credit card

There are a few ways to apply for a credit card. One way is to go to your bank. Often times, banks issue their own credit cards and you can apply for a credit card at a bank where you have an account. Another way is to apply on credit card companies’ websites. Usually, there are only a couple of steps to apply. 

First of all, you need to agree with the Terms and Conditions. It is highly recommended to read them even though they tend to be very long. If you don’t understand Japanese, you should ask a friend who does to translate or call the credit card company to translate for you. 

Second, you enter your personal information in an online form. In addition to information like your address, bank account, phone number, and email address, you will be asked questions to see your financial status, including what kind of job you have, how much you get paid, if you live with your family, if you have any children, how long you have lived in the place you are residing, and if you own your home or pay a mortgage.

When you are done filling out the form, read through it to make sure the information you have entered is correct. Soon after you click the submission button, you will get an email with your application number, and if you have any questions, you can call or email them and tell them your application number. In a week or so, you will get notified whether you get the credit card or not via email. And if you get approved, you will get the card via mail in about a week.

Mail in the application if you can

Another way to apply for a credit card is to mail in the application. Depending on which card you are applying for, there is an option to apply via mail. Here is a tip that might help you get approved by credit companies: apply in this way if you can do so. When you apply via mail, you can send some extra documents with the requested information to help support your financial ability. You can submit bills of your mobile phone to show that you have been paying your monthly phone bill responsibly. Submitting your paychecks can be helpful too. If you don’t have a paycheck, you could go to a city office to request  income certificates. Also, you can send utility bills with your name on it, which show that you legally have a place to stay in Japan. By submitting these papers, you may be able to gain more trust from credit card companies, which can increase your chance to get approved. 

Credit cards are not popular in Japan?

Even though many people have credit cards in Japan, it seems like not many of them use them so often. Why is that? One reason is that not many shops and restaurants accept credit cards yet. The number is increasing, but there are still places, including McDonald’s, that do not accept credit cards. 

Another reason is that prepaid electronic money cards are more common and prevalent here. The e-cards allow you to pay for trains (link to the train article here?), buses, and even food and drinks at convenience stores and restaurants. Compared to credit cards with a lot of rules, the e-money cards are more simple and easier to use. For these reasons, credit cards are not something desperately needed for life in Japan.

Do your best to get your credit

As mentioned above, Japan is not much of a credit card country, so you will probably be able to enjoy shopping without having a credit card here. However, it is also true that there are many different credit cards available, and it will be helpful if you have one. So try applying and don’t worry if you get rejected once or twice. In fact, if you keep getting rejected by credit card companies, you could get a Debit Card as a last resort option. But if you get one, enjoy and yet don’t get too excited. Use it wisely and pay responsively.