Why do you need to purchase one?
If you are traveling in Tokyo, you should definitely buy IC card as your travel experience in Tokyo will be totally different otherwise. IC card can be used for train rides, including JR lines and subways, bus rides, tax rides, and shopping in stores, cafes, and restaurants. Generally, you can get a slight discount on your train fares if you pay with your IC card, although there are some exceptions if you are traveling in rural areas. As part of the point reward program in Japan after consumption tax was raised from 8% to 10% in October 2019, consumers making cashless payments, including payments with IC card and credit cards, at retail stores will be rewarded with points up to 5% of the value of their purchases (Some large convenient stores offer 2% rebate at purchase). This program is expected to last until June 2020. Most importantly, you can save time as you don’t have to purchase train or bus tickets at the station each time you get on to the train/bus or check if you have enough cash to buy things at a store.
Which IC card to buy? Where to buy?
I would recommend buying either SUICA or PASMO if your itinerary includes a visit to large cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Although the issuing company of these IC cards are different, the function of both IC cards is almost the same. If you are foreign travelers who plan to stay in Japan for less than 28 days, you may want to purchase “PASMO Passports” or “Welcome SUICA” which are only sold to foreigners who are traveling in Japan. These cards are only available for 28 days but do not require deposits which normally costs 500 yen for regular SUICA and PASMO (Please remember that PASMO Passports come with issuing fees of 500 yen, while Welcome SUICA doesn’t have such fees). Also, these IC cards allow you to have special discount services at certain places. You can add money (Japanese yen) to your SUICA or PASMO at the ticket vending machines but please note that you can’t get a refund even if the cash value remains on your IC cards at the end of the trip. So please plan ahead how much you want to charge on your IC cards. These IC cards can be purchased at the airport or at the major stations in the Tokyo area. Please check out the websites below for more details! Hope you can make your travel experience even better with these convenient IC cards!