ATMs, or Automatic Teller Machines, are common sights throughout the world. The devices offer a convenient way to withdraw money stored in your bank account, acquiring cash directly from the machine. ATMs can be especially useful for international travelers, as they dispense cash money in the local currency at competitive exchange rates.
When traveling to Japan, ATMs can be a valuable tool. Cash is the most common method of payment in Japan, and many restaurants and shops lack the equipment to accept credit or debit card payment. You may wonder, however, where are ATMs located in Japan? What cards do they accept? Are there any tricks to using Japanese ATMs? Consider the following tips to make your cash withdraw and currency exchange a simple and hassle-free process.
Where to find ATMs in Japan
First of all, you must know that not all of Japan’s ATMs accept cards issued overseas. In other words, if your card was issued in your home country, you may not be able to use it at the first ATM you see. There are, however, more than 30,000 ATM locations across the country designed to serve international travelers. The following are among the best places to withdraw money in Japan.
ATMs at more than 10,000 Seven-Eleven convenience stores across the country will allow you to use foreign-issued cards such as Visa, Plus, American Express, Cirrus, and others, including chip cards. A menu screen is available in English, and the ATMs are available any time of day or night. Maestro cards and Mastercard may not be accepted. For further info, please check http://www.sevenbank.co.jp/oos/adv/intlcard02/en/.
Japanese Post Offices
Japan has over 20,000 post office facilities, all of which are equipped with ATMs that service internationally issued credit and debit cards; however, Mastercard and Maestro cards may not be accepted.
In major cities such as Tokyo, post office ATMs are available twenty-four hours a day, with the exceptions of Sundays and public holidays. Smaller post offices are generally closed on weekends and may have hours restricted from 9 AM to 4 PM (or 7 AM to 6 PM). Post office ATMs may not be able to process chip cards. The Post Office International ATM Service places a withdrawal limit of ¥20,000 per day.
International airports, large shopping malls, Citibank locations in large cities, and Family Mart convenience stores also provide international ATMs. It is a good idea to use the convenience airport ATM upon arrival in the country to acquire the cash you may need for the next few days of your trip.
Keep in mind that most Japanese ATMs at the mentioned locations do not yet accept chip cards. The Aeon Bank ATMs located at Aeon shopping malls do generally accept these cards.
How to use an ATM in Japan
When traveling in Japan, look for ATMs labeled with the word “International”. Even without this label, if the ATM offers an English language option, you can be confident that it accepts international cards.
When using an ATM for cash withdrawal or to exchange currency, you will need your credit or debit card and your four digit PIN number. Follow the on-screen instructions, selecting the English language option and using the keypad to input your information. You will likely find that international ATMs operate in a manner congruent to those you use in your home country.
Before traveling, you should notify your bank as to where you will be using your card and the dates of your travel. Otherwise, the bank’s fraud security features may suspend the card when the first international transaction is registered – leaving you with no easy way to pay for your travel expenses. Also, inquire as to any fees and limitations that may be associated with international use. Some banks limit how much money can be withdrawn each week from international locations.
Keep in mind that many of Japan’s international ATMs are not yet accepting cards that use an IC chip. Mastercard and Maestro cards are difficult to use in Japan, and will be denied at post offices and Seven-Eleven stores. Finally, some ATMs marked with the Visa logo may not accept your Visa card – they may accept Japanese Visa cards only. Be sure to check with your bank before you leave if your current card will be accepted abroad.
When traveling to remote regions – islands, rural countryside, or mountain spas, for instance – remember that there may be no ATMs available. Plan ahead and withdraw ample cash before traveling to these areas.
Equipped with the above information, the economics of your next Japanese vacation are sure to run smoothly.
Cover picture: Yoshiaki Miura for Japan Times.