Travel Money Guide: Japan

Japan is still very much a cash society, despite the rising popularity of credit and debit cards across the globe.

No other country in the world combines the traditional and the contemporary like Japan. The natural beauty of the Ryukyu Islands to the dizzying lights of Tokyo’s Akihabara district attract hundreds of thousands every year. Whether you’re visiting the islands of Japan for business or pleasure, you can save money by using travel-friendly plastic while you’re there. Here we'll look at the travel cards, credit cards and debit cards most suited to use in Japan.

Which option is right for your next trip?

Qantas Cash

Qantas Cash

  • Earn up to 1.5 Qantas Points per eligible $1 spent
  • 11 currencies on one card
  • Lock in exchange rates

Qantas Cash

The Qantas Cash allows you to earn Qantas Points on all transactions including local and foreign transactions.

  • Choose from 11 currencies on the one card: USD, GBP, EUR, THB, NZD, SGD, HKD, CAD, JPY, AED and AUD
  • Load AU$2,000 - $5,999 in foreign currency to earn 1,500 bonus Qantas Points. Load AU$6,000 or more and get 6,000 bonus points. Ends 20 Feb 2018.
  • Locked-in exchange rates for multiple currencies and low and transparent fees.
  • Accepted electronically – at over 35 million locations in over 210 countries worldwide.

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Compare travel cards for Japan

Rates last updated February 19th, 2018
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
Load AU$2,000-$5,999 in foreign currency to get 1,500 bonus Qantas Points. Load AU$6,000 or more for 6,000 bonus points. Ends 20 Feb '18.
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

Hold up to 10 currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No transaction fees on purchases with a backup card in case one is lost or stolen.
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260

Lock in exchange rates for up to 10 currencies, pay no overseas ATM fees and get exclusive merchant offers.

Overseas: $0. Although, some ATM operators may charge their own fees or set their own limits

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AUD 15.00

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated February 19th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and access to a 24/7 concierge service.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 24 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points, 2 yearly Virgin Australia lounge passes, plus enjoy $0 overseas purchase transaction fees.

Westpac Lite Card
0% of transaction value
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000, a 9.9% p.a. purchase interest rate and no foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$160 p.a.
Earn 2 More Rewards Points per $1 spent, 75,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement and save with 0% foreign transaction fees.

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Rates last updated February 19th, 2018
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
Westpac Choice
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
St.George Complete Freedom Account
Part of the Westpac Global Alliance, save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.

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How much ¥en do I need to bring?

Budget (Cheap)MidrangeLuxury (High-end)
to-sleepDorm bed
¥2800 = 33.28AUD
Double room at a business hotel
¥12,000 = 142.63AUD
Double room in a top hotel
¥23,000 = 273.38AUD
foodSet meal at casual restaurant
¥800 = 9.51AUD
Dinner at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub)
¥4000 = 47.54AUD
Meal at a good sushi restaurant
from ¥10,000 = 118.86AUD
cameraOne temple or museum entry
¥500 = 5.94AUD
Temple and museum entries
¥1000 = 11.89AUD
Temple and museum entries
¥1000 = 11.89AUD

*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Japanese Yen (JPY)

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 3 September 2017

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What is the best travel money card to take to Japan?

Best is a subjective term — it means something different for everyone. At the very least, a travel product should have one of these features:

  • No currency conversion fee
  • Either no international or local ATM operator fee
  • Travel extras: insurance, airport lounges, worldwide concierge service, etc

Next, you need to have an idea about how you plan on transacting in Japan. While Japan is very much a cash society, there are times when you’ll need to use your card. Hotel and travel bookings as well as big ticket items should be purchased on your credit card if possible to make the most of your card’s interest-free days feature.

But, if you plan on indulging in Japanese culture — think tea ceremonies, guided tours in Sakura season, entry the Emperor's Palace and small cafeterias and eateries — you’ll need cash. The cost of withdrawing from an ATM should be a factor in your comparison of travel money products.

A product which doesn’t charge for currency conversion or to use the ATM is ideal. Some ATMs in Japan (mainly in 7/11 stores and post offices) don’t charge a local ATM operator fee. Pick the right product and it could be cheaper to withdraw your money in Japan than it is at home.

A quick summary of travel money options for Japan

Travel money optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Comes with a secure PIN & chip protection
  • Emergency cash facilities
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
  • Fees. Currency conversion and international ATM fees
  • Can't be used over the counter
  • No backup cards
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Pre-load and secure your exchange rate in multiple foreign currencies
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Ideal for managing your travel budget
  • Local ATM fee
  • Reloading time
  • No fee - Assuming cardholder is spending on a currency loaded onto the card
Credit cards for travel
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Access to funds up to your credit limit
  • Accepted worldwide
  • No currency conversion/ transaction fees
  • Benefits including rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
Traveller's cheques
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Photo I.D. needed to cash cheques
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Not all merchants accept traveller's cheques
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft
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How the different travel money products work in Japan

Japan is a cash society; however, credit and debit cards are accepted in most places in Japanese cities. Establishments such local restaurants, markets and rural inns (ryokans) are cash only. In the places where you can use your card, you may have issues if you’re using a travel card at the point of sale. Some merchants may reject this card because it doesn’t have your name on the front.

Using a prepaid travel card

A travel card lets you load Australian Dollars and convert the funds to Yen (along with a number of other currencies). The main advantage to these cards are they allow you to spend without paying extra for currency conversion. Other benefits for travellers include:

  • A dual card account. You get a backup in case your first card is lost or stolen.
  • Security. Travel cards are CHIP and PIN protected.
  • Prepaid accounts. Stick to your budget and top up your travel card when you need more money.

These products require a little more management than debit and credit cards, as you’re responsible for ensuring you top up the card before you run out of money. Remember it can take up to 3 business days for funds clear, and even longer if there’s a public holiday or weekend in Australia.

  • Travel card considerations

Travel cards do have benefits from international travellers; however, all that glitters is not gold. Be wary of travel card fees (initial load, reload fees and ATM fees), and if you’re a rate hunter, you may want to compare the exchange rate on offer from your travel card issuer. Travel card foreign exchange rates are different to the rate your bank gives you when you send money online or when you buy foreign cash.

Using a credit card

All credit cards allow you to spend in a foreign currency. Some cards are cheaper to use than others. You can compare credit cards which do not charge a fee for currency conversion in the above table. This is an additional charge of roughly 3% when you use your card outside of Australia.

  • International ATM fees. The majority of credit card issuers on the market will charge a fee to use an international ATM. Some credit card issuers, such as Bankwest, waive the international ATM fee.
  • Cash advance fees. Withdrawing cash on credit is one of the most expensive ways to get money. Cash advance fees and interest charges apply to this type of transaction, and you’re not eligible for interest free days either. Some issuers waive the cash advance fee and rate of interest if you’ve preloaded a credit card with your own money. The rules are different for each credit card issuer; you can see which issuers let you do this in the FAQs section of our travel money page.

Using an Australian debit card

The majority of debit card issuers will charge you a fee when you make a purchase in a foreign currency. However, in the table above you can compare available transaction accounts that waive this fee when you meet certain requirements.

Taking a traveller's cheques to Japan

Although traveller's cheques are becoming an antiquated form of travel money, they are still used by people who are looking to take money to Japan. The safest way to carry your bulk of money to Japan is to use a traveller's cheque. The traveller's cheques widely accepted in Japan are Visa, American Express and Thomas Cook.

To buy American Express traveller's cheques in Australia, visit participating banks, selected Australia Post outlets, credit unions, American Express travel services and American Express foreign exchange offices. Fees charged to purchase traveller's cheques vary from one establishment to another. Some establishments will charge a nominal fee while others will offer traveller's cheques free of a charge as a service to customers.

After taking your traveller's cheques to Japan, you can redeem them at banks announcing 'authorised foreign exchange bank' outside the front door. You can also redeem your cheques at Japan's main post offices. In Japan, the traveller's cheques attract a relatively better exchange rate than bank notes. To get the best rates, redeem your cheques in banks and post offices. Redeeming the cheque at stores or hotels will attract fees and commissions.

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Luke's Tokyo Trip

manWhere did you visit in Japan?

Luke spent 2 weeks in Tokyo.

What cards did you take with you?

Why did you take these cards with you?

  • Citibank Plus Transaction Account. Luke says he made a withdrawal at a Citibank ATM as soon as he arrived at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. He then used Citibank ATMs throughout Tokyo so he could save on ATM withdrawal fee. The times he withdrew from a Citibank ATM it cost him nothing extra.
    • No currency conversion fee
    • No international ATM fee
    • No account keeping fee
  • Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard. Luke took his Bankwest credit card as a backup. He purchased his airfare on this card, so he was covered by complimentary insurance for the duration of his trip. He also used this card when he shopped. Because there is no currency conversion fee, earning Qantas Points was a bonus.
    • Earn Qantas Points for eligible purchases
    • No currency conversion fee on international purchases
    • Complimentary international travel insurance

How did you find withdrawing from ATMs?
Luke definitely advises that anyone visiting Japan should familiarise themselves with Post Bank and Seven Bank (inside 7/11) ATMs in the area. His cards wouldn’t work at other ATMs attached to Japanese banks. Luke withdrew up to the ATM limit each time: 60,000 - 80,000 Yen.

Were there any places where you had trouble using your card?
Luke says it should be pretty obvious whether a place takes plastic or not. Most places he could tell by the look of the establishment, but he always made sure to ask. Luke points out in Tokyo there are a lot of good "hole-in-the-wall" places to eat, and these establishments were mostly cash only.

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A guide to the Japanese Yen

Since the introduction of the Yen, the denominations have ranged from 10 Yen to 10,000 yen. The following is a brief description of the ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000, and ¥10,000.

  • 1,000 Yen note. This note has been in use since 1945 and it is currently the lowest value Yen banknote. The front side of the note bears the image of the legendary regent and politician under Empress Suiko, Prince Shōtoku. The reverse side bears a drawing of Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms.
  • 2,000 Yen note. This banknote was issued in July 19, 2000. The front side of the note bears a serial number and portrays Shureimon, a 16th-century gate at Shuri Castle in Naha, in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. The reverse side portrays a scene from "The Tale of Genji'" and a portrait of Murasaki Shikibu, the noblewoman to whom this work of literature has been attributed.
  • 5,000 Yen note. The front side of the 5,000 note has a portrait of Ichiyo Higuchi, a Meiji era writer and poet. The reverse side depicts "Kakitsubata Flowers", from a folding screen by Korin Ogata.
  • 10,000 Yen note. The front side of this note has a portrait of Yukichi Fukuzawa, a Meiji era philosopher and founder of Keio University. The reverse side has a drawing of the hoo (Chinese phoenix) in the Hall of the Phoenix, Byodoin temple.


Most ATMs in Japan do not accept international cards. Look for ATMs inside Japanese Post Bank and Seven Bank. Citibank have a presence in major cities and airports. Visa and Mastercard have ATM location tools on their website you can find the closest ATM. The post offices opening hours will vary with size. Some open from 7:00 to 23:00, others 8:00 to 20:00 and others from 9:00 to 16:00.

This may change in the future. Tokyo is host the 2020 Olympic Games. The government is pushing Japan’s national banks to connect to the international ATM network. As The Games approach, expect more and more Japanese banks begin to accept international credit, debit and travel cards.

Get travel insurance quotes for your holiday in Japan

Travel insurance protects you against financial loss while you are away. There are many types of travel insurance out there, ranging from basic to comprehensive and additional cover options such as winter sports insurance, which if you're planning on taking on the powder in Japan is a must.

Japan travel insurance cover situations such as:

  • Cancellations
  • Repatriation
  • Emergency medical and dental
  • Personal liability
  • Lost or damaged luggage
  • Lost or stolen travel documents

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You might also be interested in:

Japan offers so much for tourists to do and see. From the world-famous Cherry Blossom festival to the Ski fields of nagano, Japan is fast becoming favourite destination for Aussie travellers. Compare your travel money options and make your dollar go further in The Land of the Rising Sun.

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18 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JenOctober 10, 2016


    I have Australian citibank card. I realised that there are no citibank in japan anymore. When I withdraw cash from Smbc ATM, do I get charged?(withdrawal and conversion)

    • Staff
      SallyOctober 11, 2016Staff

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks for your question.

      The exact fees you’ll be charged will depend on the specific card you’re using. However, Citibank credit cards generally charge a currency conversion fee of 3.4% of transaction amount. If you’re using the credit card for ATM withdrawal fees, you’ll be charged a $5 cash advance fee and will accrue cash advance interest rates immediately. Local ATM fees may also apply.

      For any more questions on what you’ll be charged for the specific card you’re using, you might want to contact Citibank on 13 24 84.



  2. Default Gravatar
    LianneSeptember 4, 2016

    We are considering either the NAB or Travelex pre-paid travel money cards. My concern is around the delay in loading extra funds – 2-3 business days. Is there a way to avoid this delay in funds transfer?

    Thank you.

    • Staff
      SallySeptember 5, 2016Staff

      Hi Lianne,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately, the only way you can avoid the funds transfer delay is loading funds on the card in-branch or in-store. This means that you can’t really avoid the funds transfer delay when you’re in Japan. Instead, you’ll just need to be wary of how much you’re spending and make sure you load funds on your card well before you run out of money on your card.



  3. Default Gravatar
    chellFebruary 25, 2016


    Since Citibank Japan is now SMBC Trust Bank, will I get ATM charge if I use my Citibank Plus debt card to withdraw money from a SMBC Trust Bank ATM machine?


    • Staff
      SallyFebruary 26, 2016Staff

      Hi Chell,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, you should still be able to withdraw funds from SMBC Trust Bank ATMs with your Citibank card in Japan.

      I hope this has helped.



  4. Default Gravatar
    JohnAugust 26, 2015

    Another site suggests that cards with chips are not accepted at post office ATMs in Japan and that few other ATMs accept foreign issued cards to withdraw cash, especially outside major cities. Most cards now have chips of course.
    Is that advice accurate? If so it sounds much more difficult to get money out than you suggest. Do you think it would be sensible to take traveller’s cheques just in case?

    • Staff
      SallyAugust 27, 2015Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      From our experience, Australian chip-protected prepaid travel cards are generally accepted in most 7/11 convenient stores and post offices in Japan. However, you may have some difficulty withdrawing cash from ATMs in some smaller towns in Japan.

      To prepare for such situations, we would recommend that you organise more than one source of funds at all times during your trip. For example, if you have a prepaid travel money card, you may also want to carry cash and a credit card to ensure that you’re prepared for any potential drawbacks.

      I hope this has helped.



  5. Default Gravatar
    TeonJanuary 4, 2015

    Do they require a pin or signature on purchases made with the Credit Card in Japan?

    • Staff
      ShirleyJanuary 6, 2015Staff

      Hi Teon,

      Thanks for your question.

      Swipe and sign is generally accepted in Japan, though some retailers still accept chip and PIN.


    • Staff
      ElizabethJanuary 6, 2015Staff

      Hi Teon,

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, a signature or PIN will be required to make credit card purchases in Japan.

      I hope this has helped.



  6. Default Gravatar
    LikatravelOctober 25, 2014

    Can an ATM card, issued by a US bank be used in Japan to exchange US dollars for yen?

    What US credit cards are accepted in ATM’s in Japan?

    • Staff
      ShirleyOctober 27, 2014Staff

      Hi Liketravel,

      Thanks for your question.

      Generally your ATM card can be used to exchange USD to JPY; given that the merchant or ATM accepts your card type. This can be done by looking at whether it’s a Visa/MasterCard/AMEX etc and if the logo is displayed at the location.

      The following card types are generally accepted in Japan: Visa, Plus, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, Amex, JCB.


  7. Default Gravatar
    BobdobSeptember 4, 2014

    My 13 yr old daughter is travelling to Japan as part of an organised school sporting team for 7 days. Accommodation and most meals are covered, but I am wanting her to be able to purchase snacks and have a small amt of spending money. All up approx. $300. Would I be best just giving her Japanese money (no mucking around using and finding ATMs etc) prior to departure or arranging a multi currency cash passport? Can I get leftover cash converted back to AUD if she brings any home?

    • Staff
      ShirleySeptember 5, 2014Staff

      Hi Bobdob,

      Thanks for your question.

      This is entirely up to you; as mentioned in the article Japan is still very much a cash society. You may even want to consider both options, in case her cash or card gets stolen abroad.

      You can ask for your funds to be cashed out (a fee applies) from the Multi Currency Cash Passport when she returns.

      All the best,

  8. Default Gravatar
    AliceMay 24, 2014

    Hi. Your article is pretty good but I still do need to ask a question. It is my first trip to Japan; going to Kyoto first and then to Osaka. I intend to load up my ANZ Travel Card with Japanese Yen.

    Do you foresee any problem with me withdrawing cash from the Post Office ATMs or 711 atms in both Kyoto & Osaka?

    Do restaurants accept ANZ Travel Card, keep in mind this card will not bear my name.

    Appreciate your assistance / advice with this.

    Thanks very much.


    • Staff
      ElizabethMay 27, 2014Staff

      Hi Alice S,

      Thanks for the question.

      No immediate problems come to mind with using this card, although keep the following points in mind when using the ANZ Travel card (or with any other travel card)

      1) Check the ATM accepts Visa before you use it – the majority of ATMs in post offices and 7-Eleven stores will accept Visa, but its better to be safe.

      2) Be conscious of the closing times of these locations to ensure you can withdraw your money. 7-Eleven stores are generally open 24-hours, but post offices may be a different story.

      3) It’s up to the restaurant or store merchant whether or not to accept your card, so to be on the safe side, ask whether they will take the card before you sit down for a meal.

      I hope this has helped, and enjoy your trip to Japan.



    • Default Gravatar
      AliceMay 27, 2014

      Thanks Elizabeth

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