Japan Withdraw Money before or over There

Hey guys, travelling Japan in two weeks and wondering if it's a better idea to exchange a majority of my cash before i arrive and bring it there or rely on withdraws when i'm over there. I have an ING card and would be withdrawing from 7/11 atm's when over there.

Also I'm looking to buy a second hand luxury watch from either a department store or a used watch store. Do places there usually only take cash or do they take card and if so am I looking at paying some big fee by paying on the ING card?



  • +6

    There. Always.

  • +3

    You'll want to get a Suica card which is a contactless prepaid top-up card that's accepted quite widely from public transport to 7-11/Lawson convenience stores (but not absolutely everywhere). There's an electronic version you can add to Apply Pay Wallet too.


    I would take 20,000 Yen in cash from here (~$200) so you have some cash underhand to keep you going then get rest there as and when you need it.

    • This is the way. Was there two weeks back. There are ATMs at the airport but it’s handy to walk up and get a suica. When withdrawing at the ATM, always choose Yen. I withdrew 30,000 yen, the fee was 220 yen but offered conversion to AUD was about $20 more.

      • How much did the ¥30,000 cost you in your bank statement?

        • $318 via ING. 7/11 offered to withdraw $333 in AUD directly. So it was $15 more, not $20 like I mentioned.

          • @soan papdi: ING sounds good but they shafted me once before so never going back.

    • +1

      Suica cards are not being sold at the moment due to a shortage apparently. Pramso can still be purchased.

      • +2


        As Hybroid stated, you can get a Suica card in Apple Wallet if you have an iPhone. Unsure about Android. I got one before my latest business trip and loaded it up. No issues at all.

      • +1

        Factually incorrect. I was in Japan 2 weeks back. Welcome Suica cards are available but limited to one per person. We were able to get them at the ticket counter outside Narita T2.

        • Go to know. I still have my suica so i'll be good the person i am going with doesn't.

      • Digital Suica is the way to go. You can top up as you go. There has been issues with using Visa to top them up but Mastercards all seem to work.

        • +1

          Issue is I have an android phone. I'll be headed to Osaka first so hoping I can get one there.

          • @ClintonL: You have nothing to worry about then. Icoca is the main IC card in Osaka and not impacted by the shortage suspensions.

    • +3

      I wouldn't personally take any foreign currency at all from here - the airports are packed full of ATMs. If you're worried about arriving and none of your cards working, I'd recommend you take Aussie dollars with you as a backup. That way you can just bring it back with you in the 99% of times where your card will work fine and won't have paid unnecessary exchange fees buying Yen in advance.

      • Yeah with most advanced countries you don't need get any money changed beforehand. Just take maybe few hundred in AUD if something terrible happens and all coms go down and you have to convert a few dollars.

        The important thing is probably just to have more than one bank account from a different institution, like CBA card, even though you'd probably use a Ubank card. Was in Paris last year and had been using my 86400 card, then suddenly they deactivated the card as a part of their migration to Ubank, luckily I had my ING card, as it could have been a pain.

        • Yeah. Good advice in general as well.

          I can see why people get complacent because bank errors/system crashes are very rare, but everyone should ideally have more than one account they can use to access money.

    • +1

      There's also a few other cards depending on where you land too that are intercompatible too. In Osaka there's Icoca/Pitapa and also in Tokyo you have Pasmo which is the Non-JR tokyo railways card.

      Note there has been a physical card shortage to due a chip issue, but you can usually still get the card, its just you may have to select the named card option, rather than the anonymous one.

      7Bank's (7 Eleven) are fee free from 7am to 7pm daily, then 110yen out of those hours. Aeon Bank are Fee free (although not as many around). Japan post are 220yen. I think most Lawson and Family Marts now accept foreign cards, but can't see if they have fees.

      • Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I'm fairly sure I withdrew from a 7/11 ATM after 7pm a couple of times this year and wasn't charged a fee?

        • I was just looking at their fee guide. Probably individual 7/11s have differing pricing, so some might never charge a fee whilst other ones might outside the 7:00-19:00 hours

          • @Pcoder: The only fee guide I could see referred to 7-bank customers, not foreign cards, but there were also quite a few posts from other people saying this too (though I don't know if they're misinterpreting the fee page or it actually does apply to everyone).

            They also seem to charge different cards different amounts, and I would have been using a UK card while there, so that could explain it too.

        • +1

          Remember that ATM close at night and that if forced to take a Taxi they are cash only…..

    • +1

      There's an electronic version you can add to Apply Pay Wallet too.

      This should be the suggestion. The mobile version can be topped up with as little as ~$5 in 30 seconds with a few taps so it's very convenient, especially for a prepaid card that you wouldn't want to have a bunch of leftover cash on at the end of the trip.
      It also only takes about 30 seconds to add to the app, so it's easier than getting a card too.

    • can you withdraw cash from the Suica Card?

      • +1

        There are some ATMs that support withdrawing cash from the Suica card and you can of course get your balance refunded when handing it back in.

        • so the flow is get a suica when landed then load money from an aus card? then convert and withdraw?

  • +1

    Get it there.

  • Check with your bank as to whether they charge fees at an ATM. It is easy to withdraw from an ATM once there with something like a Macquarie debit card. 7-eleven bank doesn't charge fees at the ATM side.

    Cash is always handy once there. Some cheaper food places might be cash only. Most places will take card payment and certainly all larger stores.

  • +4

    I am in Japan right now and just use my wise card at the seven eleven. The wise card gives good exchange rates already and it's 220 yen to withdraw so just super easy to get just enough cash when I need it.

    • 220 yen! Fee has doubled there. I used a Family Mart ATM last week and was charged 110 yen still

      • +1

        It should be 110 yen for under 10,000 and 220 yen for over. Unless they've decided to make it 220 for all withdrawals.

    • A Wise choice.

  • We exchanged $200 before we left and then used our Wise card and withdrew over there and used card as much as possible.

  • +1

    Almost always over there.

    7/11 ATMs are low fee and good rates and all over the place (including the airport).

    In general, you will get better rates in the country than trading it while back home (there's more currency in the destination country + more demand so it's more competitive typically).

  • +1

    Over there

    • Why is that?

  • +2

    Over there, with one catch: some ATMs randomly don't accept foreign cards. One 7/11 ATM will work while another doesn't. Fortunately the ATMs just past customs and immigration in Tokyo do work.

    If your card stops working for some reason (like one of mine did) I recommend bringing some Australian dollars with you. Many larger hotels will exchange it for you. It's always nice to have a backup.

    All medium to large stores take credit cards without problems. A small merchant stall might not however.

  • +2

    Some of us never travel with foreign currency purchased in Australia because we know it's quite expensive. But many travellers I know of all ages don't care about the exchange rate, they just want to arrive with cash. So it just comes down to how you prefer to allocate your holiday spending. Also beware that customs isn't totally oblivious to luxury watch imports.

    • Whats quite expensive?
      Converting $ to ¥ here?
      Its the best way, and Japan is pretty safe so changing a whole heap of $ over is really the best way to get around over there.

      • Maybe not the best grammatical usage on my part. I meant to say it costs more to purchase foreign currency in Australia compared with doing an ATM withdrawal on arrival. But indeed some people happily pay more for their cash.

        • Depends where you purchase it.
          Did you shop around the CBD?

  • +1

    I went to Japan in April of this year and we also had an ING card. We exchanged $150-200 AUD to yen in Australia so we can get our airport bus tickets to our hotel as they only took cash. Then just used our credit cards wherever possible and ING card for withdrawal at 7/11, just remember to meet the perquisite for the ING card before you go, for the international transaction fee to be waived.

    Edit* as of 20th August 2023 ING has scrapped their popular -no international ATM fees scheme.

    • -1

      Wow that's not much, I could not fathom only having $200 in ¥ in Japan.

      • +1

        We withdrew money throughout the trip as we needed. We figured it is better conversion rate while in Japan then in Australia.

        • I have never found that.

  • +1

    I took $1000 AUD converted into Yen from here, got a fix rate of 1aud = 88 yen. Earlier in Sep the conversion rate in Tokyo was 82-83 yen, so better rate in my case when converting in Aus. Buy Suica card on your iPhone wallet, Apple is smart and prompt will come up automatically on your phone, much more convenient this way. In taxis in Tokyo you can pay by card but mostly they still use inserting the card in the eftpos terminal and then signing afterwards.

    • can you withdraw cash from the Suica Card?

  • Is anyone using wise and withdrawing over the free $350 limit?
    Can someone explain the variable rate to me - I'm so dumb

  • -1

    Every time I go I exchange as much as I can here.
    The rate is pretty good at the moment, better than the last 10 visits (¥80 to $1).
    So a stack of ¥10,000 notes.
    You will not be mugged.
    Load up the ICOCA card and any SUICA.
    I would use cash for most things but the Depato you mention would take card and you will get a good rate.
    High tech stores and toy stores will take card and they have good rates, and maybe multiple deduction options.
    Withdrawing ¥ at the post office does not get the best rate.
    Everyone that I know that travels/returns to Japan says the same thing, the closer you get to Japan the worse rate you'll get.
    This Saturday I'm going to check the rates at the Chinese exchange places in the Melbourne CBD, should be over ¥90.

  • +1

    I don't believe there is a single shop in Japan that won't accept cash.
    Cash is by far the more common payment method over there, but many places now are modernising to tap-payments, though many places still mainly use insert, if they do accept card (most places do)

    Recommend load up a wise account, withdraw the maximum from an ATM (most have the same fee, 220JPY standard) and then use the card as preferred method, and cash only where necessary.

  • Something I noticed on my last trip was that 7-11 don't want to handle cash anymore, you have to insert it into a machine and it will give you the right change.

  • +1

    Just got back from Japan. Barely used cash after my first 30,000yen that I withdrew from a 711 ATM in the Arrivals hall at Haneda

    All cabs took my Citi card. 99% of restaurants we went to took card too

    Didn't take any cash with me till I withdrew above

    • How much did that ¥30,000 cost you?

      • The MasterCard rate, no fees
        On 27/9/23 it came to AU$317.71
        So 94.43

    • +2

      This is the way, just came back and used up Mastercard rate for purchases in stores as well. Even temples took card.

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