Saturday, January 17, 2015

Money Exchange ATM Credit Card issues in Tokyo Japan

Cash is still the preferred travel expense payment method in Tokyo and most parts of Japan even though major hotels and department stores and some fancy restaurants do accept big bank international credit cards for payments. There are many ways to get your home country's currency exchanged into Japanese yen after arriving in Japan. I have listed some of the most convenient methods in this blog post. Very few stores will accept foreign cash money, therefore, carrying Japanese yen on you is critical when vacationing in Japan.
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- To read about my recommendations of affordable, Reasonable, Convenient hotels in Tokyo, visit: Affordable Cheap Reasonable Hotels in Tokyo
- To read about my recommendations of affordable and reasonable hotels in Osaka, visit: Osaka Reasonable Affordable Hotels
- To read about my recommendations of reasonable, affordable, and convenient hotels in Kyoto, visit: Kyoto reasonable, affordable, and convenient Hotels
- To read about how to save money when you are planning to visit more than two cities in Japan, visit: Japan Rail Pass







ATM (Automated Teller Machine or cash machine) in Tokyo, Japan
ATM cash machines, bank counters, Haneda airport. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
ATM machines and bank counters located inside of Haneda airport.
ATM is the best option for obtaining Japanese yen in Japan in my experience/opinion. ATM often offers the best exchange rate when compared to paper cash and traveler's check. Some of the best ATM options are Seven-Bank (usually located inside of Seven-Eleven convenience stores, there are everywhere in Japan) and Japan Post Bank (found inside of Japan postal offices, also found everywhere in Japan) These ATMs never charged me additional process fees in the past. There are also other major international banks in Japan but they are much more difficult to locate.

I recommend checking with your home bank for fees involving foreign ATM usage before visiting Japan. Each time when you use ATM in Japan, try to take out a reasonable amount of Japanese yen in order to minimize the processing fee your bank charges for frequent oversea usage.





Foreign CASH (paper money) or Traveler's Check exchange in Tokyo, Japan
Major currencies such as US dollar and Euro are widely accepted for exchange in Japan. If you are not traveling from the US or European Union, I would recommend exchanging your foreign currency into US dollar or Euro before visiting Japan (if you can get a decent exchange rate). Foreign exchange rates are better in Japan when you carry world's major currency.

Traveler's check may offer slightly better exchange rate than foreign paper cash. However, I find the slightly better exchange rate not worth the trouble to drive to my local bank and pay extra fees to obtain traveler's checks.

Bank foreign exchange counters
-Japanese banks are everywhere in Tokyo, and they are often located near major train and subway stations. Most of the banks in Japan offer foreign exchange services at a special counter inside of the bank. Hours of operations are usually limited to 9am to 3pm. They often require you to fill out a form in English requesting your passport information (please bring your passport to the bank). They will accept major currencies of the world, but the exchange rate is decent only for major currencies such as US dollars and Euro.

Travelex Foreign Exchange Store
-Travelex is a currency exchange company, their stores are typically located at convenient locations such as in airports, bustling streets, and major department stores. They usually offer competitive exchange rate similar to Japanese banks.

Hotel money exchange counter
-High end hotels and international chain hotels often offer foreign currency exchange service at its hotel counter. The counters are usually staffed with English speaking staff. Some hotel exchange counter services are limited to operation hours from 9am to 3pm, similar to local banks. I find the hotel counter service offering least desirable exchange rate when compared to other options.

Automated Currency Exchange machine in Tokyo Hotels.
Automated Currency Cash Exchange machine,Tokyo Hotel Lobby. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Automated Currency Cash Exchange machine in Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo Lobby.
-Some of the newer hotels are equipped with automatic currency exchange machine in its hotel lobbies, such as Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo Hotel (formerly Best Western Tokyo), located inside of Shinjuku Kabukicho area. The machines might be limited to US dollars to Japanese Yen only.





Using Credit or Debit Card in Japan
Because credit/debit cards are not as widely accepted as cash, I would only recommend paying with credit cards for hotels, fancy meals and shopping at major department stores. I recommend preserving your cash for other expenses such as casual meals, train/subway tickets and drinks at bars. 

Check the back of your ATM/credit cards to make sure they contain symbols for international use. Widely accepted ATM and credits cards in Japan are VISA, Master, Plus, Cirrus, American Express, JCB, Union Pay, Discover, and Diner Club.

I would suggest travelers to contact their ATM/Credit card company to inform them your travel dates. By informing your bank prior to your trip, this will prevent your credit/ATM card company from placing a hold on your card due to falsely presumed oversea fraud activities.





Getting Japanese Yen Currency Money BEFORE arriving in Japan

Many international travelers would feel secure only if they obtain Japanese Yen currency prior to their arrival in Japan. Certain travelers do this because of their fear of the possibility of their ATM cash cards malfunctioning or not being accepted by the cash machine while traveling in Japan. I recommend travelers to look into Travelex or major banks in major cities for options of getting Japanese Yen prior to their visit to Tokyo Japan.




What is your preferred way of obtaining foreign currency when you travel?
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