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Travel Money Guide: Japan

Credit, debit or cash? Avoid unnecessary fees and find the best way to use your money in Japan.

Compare your travel money options, read our guide on Japanese yen and figure out how much you'll need to budget for those ramen lunches and karaoke nights.

Our top tip? Most ATMs in Japan don't accept international cards so you'll need to keep an eye out for ATMs inside Japanese Post Bank and Seven Bank.

Compare your travel money options for Japan

Cash is still king in Japan, especially due to the difficulty of ATM access for visitors form overseas. You've also got the choice of prepaid travel cards and debit or credit cards for larger purchases.

1 - 2 of 2
Name Product Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Initial Load Fee Reload fee
Wise Travel Money Card

2 free ATM withdrawals per month up to AUD$350, then AUD$1.50 and 1.75% per withdrawal

Hold and spend funds in more than 40 currencies, with competitive exchange rates and $0 fees for the first 2 ATM withdrawals (up to AUD$350) per month.
Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard
USD $2.50, EUR €2.50, GBP £2.00, NZD $3.50, THB ฿80.00, CAD $3.50, HKD $18.00, JPY ¥260.00, SGD $3.50, AUD $3.50, AED 10.00
$0 (via online) or $0 (via branch)
1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Card access Own network ATM fee Monthly Account Fee Internatonal ATM Fee Foreign transaction 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.
HSBC Everyday Global Account
Earn 2% cashback on tap and pay purchases.

ING Orange Everyday Account
Receive a rebate on any international transaction fees and international ATM fees when you deposit at least $1,000 a month and make at least 5 card purchases.

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 like Wise 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.

It's important to know that 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.

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.

Japanese Yen: Exchange rate history

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

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 1 January on each year listed above.

Today's exchange rate AUD to JPY

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.

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.

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18 Responses

    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)

      SallyOctober 11, 2016Finder

      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.



    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.

      SallySeptember 5, 2016Finder

      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.



    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?


      SallyFebruary 26, 2016Finder

      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.



    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?

      SallyAugust 27, 2015Finder

      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.



    Default Gravatar
    TeonJanuary 4, 2015

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

      ShirleyJanuary 6, 2015Finder

      Hi Teon,

      Thanks for your question.

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


      ElizabethJanuary 6, 2015Finder

      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.



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