Hi, I’m Houbou(ホウボウ).
I’m a Japanese blogger who likes to offer information for tourist.
This article is an introduction to a convenient IC card called “Welcome Suica” offered by JR EAST.
This is the latest card offered to foreign visitors to Japan since September 1, 2019.
As in the photo at the top of this article, “Welcome Suica” is very beutiful and a good souvenir with the cherry blossom which is a typical flower of Japan.
Let’s start now, where and how to get it and how it can help you!
What is Welcome Suica?
Welcome Suica is a very useful IC card that can be used in various places and various situations.
If you are planning to travel to Japan, this is a card you should have.
Why? Because Welcome Suica can be used all over Japan as shown in the fourth of the above list.
You can use the card for *all railway lines, buses, etc. in Japan that have the mark bellow. And you can pay at most convenience stores or vending machines in the city center. Besides, it can also be used to leave your luggage in a locker at the station.
*Be careful because you can not get on the express train, such as Shinkansen! You need purchase a ticket separately.
If you charge this card, you don’t have to take out cash every time, and you can make your travel more faster and smarter! How wonduful!!
Only 28 days of validity period
I’ll introduce you to some points to be aware of even with such an all-round card.
At first, Welcome Suica can be used for only 28 days.
Some readers would be wondering, “What’s the problem about it?”
Of course, I know there are not many people who stay in Japan for more than 28 days.
It doesn’t matter to people who come to Japan for the first time or who never come to Japan again.
What I want to tell you is that when you come back to Japan again, you can’t use the card anymore.
After the validity period, you cannot refund any remaining balance on your card. And also you cannot charge and use it anymore.
However, you don’t have to return it after you’ve finished using it, so you can take it home as a souvenir.
How to check the validity period
The Welcome Suica card is valid for 28 days from the date of purchese.
How do we know a specific date?
There are two ways to check it.
One is to check the reference paper you recieve when you purchase Welcome Suica.
The expiration date is listed in the red square in the picture above.
The other one is easier and very useful.
You can check the expiration date when you tap your Welcome Suica card on the automatic ticket gate.
You can check the expiration date at any time by looking at the display of the automatic ticket gate.
It is very convenient because you can check also the deducted amount and balance together.
Prices of Welcome Suica
No deposit is required to purchase the Welcome Suica card.
(If you buy the original card(Suica), you will need a deposit of 500 yen.)
So, the price of Welcome Suica is equal to the purchse price.
You can select from amounts of the list below.
- 1000 yen (=$9.09)
- 2000 yen (=$18.18)
- 3000 yen (=$27.27)
- 4000 yen (=$36.36)
- 5000 yen (=$45.45)
- 10000 yen (=$90.91)
These are calculated as $1 to 110 yen. (Exchange rate as of December 1, 2019)
Welcome Suica has a 28-day validity period and you can’t get a refund of the balance, so it’s a good choice to use it up during your trip.
If the balance decreases, you can charge it later. Be careful not to charge too much.
By the way, you can charge up to 20,000 yen as the maximum balance.
Where to get the Welcome Suica card
You can buy the Welcome Suica card in the following places:
How to get the Welcome Suica
So, let’s actually get the Welcome Suica.
As an example, I will explain how to purchase it at Haneda Airport International Terminal.
Since Japanese cannot buy at JR EAST Travel Service Senter, I will try to purchase it at an ticket vending machine.
When you get to Haneda Airport International Terminal, you should head to the Arrival Lobby on the second floor.
As shown in the figure above, there is an information counter in the center of the arrivals area. First of all, let’s find it as a landmark.
When you find the information counter, you can see the monorail station at the back. (Red circle in the picture above)
Among the ticket vending machines lined up, there is a red ticket vending machine only on the left.
That’s the ticket machine for the Welcome Suica card. (pointed to by a red arrow in the picture above)
We finally found it!
This is a dedicated ticket vending machine for Welcome Suica and is available in English, Chinese and Korean.
There is a pamphlet next to the ticket vending machine that is easy to understand and has a lot of information, so let’s take it with you.
How to operate the screen at a ticket vending machine
Basically, it’s very easy because you just follow the screen guidance.
Children (6-11 years old) are cheap at fares, so if you have children, choose a child card for them. Under 6 years old is free of charge.
Choose the amount you want to charge. Of course, to the extent that it can be used up!
Choose to buy another ticket or skip. If you just buy the Welcome Suica card, you should choose skip.
And pay the selected charge amount. Be careful because you can only use cash! You can’t use a credit card, so let’s change into Japanese yen in advance.
If you can purchase it with no problem, the Welcome Suica card will come out and get it.
You can purchase the Welcome Suica card at Narita Airport as well. Let’s get it at the airport you plan to use.
How did you like it?
In this article, I introduced the Welcome Suica card.
Japan is one of the largest cash-intensive countries in the world, but due to government policy, it has recently become cashless.
There are more and more places and situations where you can use not only the Welcome Suica card but credit card or debit card, so there are many opportunities to help you with them.
Get the Welcome Suica card and make your trip to Japan smarter!!
Thank you for reading to the end! Bye!
↓JR EAST homepage about information of “Welcome Suica”(more details here)