Crazy as it may seem, high tech Japan is a cash economy so heading to the country with only credit cards in your pocket is an imprudent idea.
Here are some tips we discovered in our research:
Make sure your credit cards have low or better yet, NO transaction fees. Right now, my chase Amazon card offers 0% fees but check your cards rates before you leave. Also, check on your ability to withdraw yen from atms. You’ll need a 4 digit pin (check again on transaction fees) and will need to use an international credit card friendly atm. Japan post has a ton and they even have an atm finder (search in play store under Japan post atm finder app). Another good option for atms and free internet is their version of a seven 11 (http://www.sej.co.jp/in/en.html)
If you can, it’s wise to exchange some) dollars for yen before hitting the country. Banks in Albuquerque mostly don’t offer this service. Wells Fargo does (as of right now) but only for their bank account customers. Charles Schwab has a good travel credit card as of today–these things change overnight. Dallas Fort Worth airport has an exchange service but 1) we have a super short turnaround there and 2) exchange services tend to have less advantageous exchange rates. Still, we’ll have to either find an international card friendly atm at the N. arita airport or exchange a small amount at the airport currency exchange. Some bigger hotels will do exchange but at a not-so-great rate. So most of our exchanges will be at post offices, or 7-11s, many times through the ATMs there.
We are going to the Japanese alps where we will be visiting rural areas, onsen, and farms. We will get plenty of cash before venturing there!
In Tokyo and Kyoto, we’ll be more likely to be able to use our credit cards some of the time. Surprisingly, stores that support credit cards often also support android pay and apple pay. Go figure.
If I find any cool tips and trips during our trip, I’ll update this blog.
I ran across this excellent video which is worth clicking on. It was designed for the vlogger’s Canadian friends but the information applies to anyone.