[2023 Update] Top Expat-Friendly Credit Card Companies in Japan

Let us be honest at the start: Foreigners encounter some challenges when trying to get a local credit card in Japan. The main reason is that credit card companies prefer customers with a stable income and a long-term visa because they are afraid of foreigners leaving the country without having paid back all credit card debts.

But many foreigners who work in Japan are on temporary contracts or have visas that expire within a year or two. This makes them less attractive to credit card companies who want to ensure that their customers can pay back their debts.

Another reason why it is hard for foreigners to get a credit card in Japan is the lack of credit history. You may have a solid credit history back home, but Japanese credit card companies use Japanese “credit information bureaus” to check your payment history.


2023 Top Credit Card Companies for Expats in Japan


Who issues credit cards?

All of the banks in Japan have an affiliation with one or more of the major credit card brands: Visa, Mastercard, or JCB (Japan Credit Bureau). But the banks are very conservative as a result of the banking crisis in Japan at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. Other issuers are credit card firms like Credit Saison and Rakuten Card and large holding companies such as Marui and Epos. Applications are all done in Japanese but many issuers have English-speaking staff.

Do not apply to several card companies at once. They will all contact their credit agencies that often issue a negative score for individuals for multiple applications. In Japan, you have to pay back your credit card debts already by the middle of the next month. If you miss a payment your card will be blocked until you make the payment plus interest on the amount. You cannot accumulate debts. But for a larger purchase you are often allowed to make the payment in installments. Of course, you have to pay interest on the outstanding amount.


What are the requirements?

The general requirements for an application are like this: Foreigners must a resident (residency card), proof of address (a utility bill rather than your residency card), have a Japanese bank account, and have a stable income.

Sometimes, a tax certificate issued by the town office showing income and tax paid may be needed. This is especially helpful when you are working as part-timer or freelancer and cannot present a work contract.

According to hear-say, some popular foreign-friendly credit cards in Japan are Rakuten Card, Epos Card, Amazon cards, and American Express Gold Card. The latter may not usable everywhere because of the high fees merchants have to pay to the card company.


Rakuten Card


This card is issued by the largest e-commerce group Rakuten and offers a variety of benefits, including no annual fee, 1% cash back on all purchases, and a variety of travel rewards. It has no foreign transaction fees and purchase protection. The annual limit is 1,000,000 yen.

Credit card owners will earn one point for every 100 yen spent (one point is equivalent to one yen). When you use your Rakuten Card to make purchases through Rakuten, you can earn up to three times as many points. If you use this card to pay for overseas travel and airport transportation, you will be guaranteed up to 20 million yen in travel insurance.

The application process is simple and can be done online. Rakuten Bank will decide within a few days. If your application is approved, you will receive your credit card in the mail within a few weeks.




This card is issued by the Marui department store chain. When you use it at Visa merchants, you’ll get 1 point for every 200 yen you spend. Four times a year, members will receive a 10% discount on purchases at Marui stores nationwide. Also, there are no foreign transaction fees, there is purchase protection, extended warranty, and rental car insurance.

It is one of the most popular credit cards in Japan and is known for its easy application process, no annual fee, and generous points rewards program. The application process is simple and can be done online or in person at any EPOS Card branch. A decision about the approval is sometimes taken immediately if you apply in a store.


Orico Card THE POINT.


This card is issued by Orico Bank and offers a variety of benefits, including no annual fee, 1% cash back on all purchases, and a variety of rewards, such as travel, merchandise, and cash back.

Also, no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, extended warranty, and rental car insurance are included. The usual requirements for foreigners apply. The application process can be done online or in person at any Orix Credit Card branch.


JCB Card W


This card is issued by JCB and offers a variety of benefits, including no annual fee, 0.5% cash back on all purchases, and a variety of rewards, such as travel, merchandise, and cash back.)

No annual fee for the first year (only for online enrollment), then 1,375 yen (tax included) annually. With annual total purchases of 500,000 yen (including tax) or more, the fee is waived. JCB credit card is the only international brand in Japan. JCB card can be used at about 30 million stores in Japan and all over the world.


Amazon Mastercard


The Amazon Credit Card is a co-branded credit card issued by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) in Japan and offers a variety of benefits, including no annual fee, 2% cash back on Amazon purchases, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.


Lumine Card


This card comes from the company that owns the Lumine shopping complexes at some major train stations. Cardholders get a 10% discount for all Lumine products during time-limited promotion events. This card can also be used as a Suica IC card or as your commuter pass. At JR East affiliated stores, you can earn one JRE point for every 100 yen you spend. In exchange, you get Lumine gift cards and other rewards. Domestic travel insurance of up to 10 million yen and international travel insurance of up to 5 million yen is also included with this card. The first year of membership is free; starting the second year, you will have to pay a 1,048 yen (including tax) annual fee.




Credit Saison and the department store chain Muji partner to issue the Muji Card. New cardholders get 1,000 yen in Muji points. You can earn up to 2,500 points in your first year and 1,500 points in your second year. There is no annual fee. You earn 1 point for every 1,000 yen you spend on everyday shopping and 3 points for every 1,000 yen you spend at Muji. You get 500 points in the month after your birthday. Muji Cardholders get a 10% discount during Muji Week, which is held several times a year.


JAL Card


This credit card comes from Japan Airlines. The first year of use is free. After that, there is a 2,200 yen (including tax) annual fee. For every 200 yen spent on shopping with this card, you will earn one mile. Miles can be redeemed for airline tickets and other benefits. For example, you can redeem 6,000 miles or more for a one-way ticket within Japan, or 12,000 miles or more for a round-trip ticket. The number of miles required depends on the distance of the flight. Cardholders will receive 1,000 miles on their first flight with JAL, and 1,000 miles on their first flight every year thereafter.


If your applications are not being approved – what can you do? Here are the alternatives:

Apply for a debit card instead. A debit card is linked to your bank account and allows you to make purchases online or in stores without using cash. However, unlike a credit card, a debit card does not allow you to borrow money or pay in installments. Some popular debit cards in Japan are Visa Debit, J-Debit, and Rakuten Debit.

Apply for a prepaid card instead. A prepaid card is similar to a debit card, but you have to load money onto it before you can use it. You can buy prepaid cards at convenience stores or online, and use them for shopping or travel. However, unlike a credit card, a prepaid card does not help you build your credit history or offer any rewards or benefits. Some popular prepaid cards in Japan are Suica, Pasmo, and Line Pay.

Apply for a secured credit card instead. A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires you to deposit a certain amount of money as collateral before you can use it. The deposit acts as a guarantee that you will pay back your debts and also determines your credit limit. A secured credit card can help you establish your credit history in Japan and eventually qualify for a regular credit card. However, unlike a regular credit card, a secured credit card may charge higher fees and interest rates. Some popular secured credit cards in Japan are Orico Secured Card, SMBC Trust Bank Secured Card, and JCB Secured Card.