Lesson 4: Using Credit Cards in Japan

Credit cards. You know, for an advanced country like Japan, you’d think credit cards would be everywhere, and work everywhere. 

Guess what — they aren’t, and unfortunately, they don’t.

While it has gotten better (especially with the Olympics coming), it seems Japan has been slow to adopt credit cards. 

Sure, every major department store, restaurant chain, etc… will accept them — but many mom ‘n pops still do not — bring yen with you.

Then, when you do use your credit card, they start to ask you a question.

It’s interesting actually. 

In Japan, they can break up your bill, and charge you monthly — except there is a problem: they can’t do this with most American credit cards (I have heard reports of some banks working, but cannot confirm this).

Even worse, the staff at most places don’t know that, so they will ask you.

Here’s what they say:

ikkatsu barai to bunkatsu barai dochirani nasaimasu ka?

That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? 

When you hear something like that, while trying to pay with a credit card, just hold up one finger — they’ll set it to charge once and everything should work fine.

However, be prepared for random failures, or your bank blocking transactions because the charges are overseas. 

It isn’t frequent, but you might experience this while out and about in Japan. 

It would help to notify your bank when traveling to Japan to prevent fraud protections from mistakenly blocking your transactions.