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Get it on Credit: Shopping Hard with your Charge Card

Here are some details about the information on your Japanese bank card to help you have a better online shopping experience.

By 3 min read

Slowly but surely, Japan is getting used to the idea of using credit cards. While the more remote parts of Japan are still not well-equipped to handle anything but hard currency; the big cities are becoming increasingly accepting of cards even in the smaller shops. Therefore, for learners of Japanese, whether you want to use your own bank card issued here or buy things online using your plastic from back home, it’s worth learning some of the words associated with these cards.

Not all cards are created equal

First of all, it’s worth getting to know the type of card that you have. Generally, kind that most foreign residents get when they open their account is known as a キャッシュカード. This contains a lot of information that you will probably need to send to your employer before they can deposit salary into your account. If, on the other hand, you have a credit card that you can use to make purchases, then it is pronounced クレジットカード in Japanese.

These simple categories are further subdivided based on the company that issued the card. For example, ビザカード (Visa) and ダイナースクラブ (Diners Club) are examples of cards named after the 発行会社はっこうかいしゃ (issuing company) that provide them. If you work for a big company in Japan, you may also hear the term ハウスカード. This is a company card that is released by a specific business to its workers only.

If your card is connected to a particular bank, the name of your bank will usually be written at the top of the card. These include 三菱東京UFJ銀行 (Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ Bank), 住友銀行 (Sumitomo Bank) and others.

Using your credit card online

One of the advantages of having a credit card issued here in Japan is that you can use it to make online purchases that you wouldn’t normally be able to do with one from your home country. Or, if you are able to do that with an international credit card, some of the fees can be horrendous (at TSB, I was recently charged a currency exchange fee that was almost 1/10 of the cost of purchase!).

… to better shop online, you should get acquainted with some of the information written on your card.

However, in order to better shop online, you should get acquainted with some of the information written on your card. This can include your 店番みせばん (branch number) and your 口座番号こうざばんごう (account number). You will also want to pay attention to both the 発行年月はっこうねんげつ (issue date in Japanese style with the year followed by the month) and the 有効期限ゆうこうきげん, or expiry date. These details are often needed for the forms when making online purchases.

I’ve got bills to pay

After you’ve put in your details, you only have the hard part left: parting with your money!

Often forms request a 請求先住所せいきゅうさきじゅうしょ (billing address) for this purpose. Most banks are happy to set up a system to pay off your credit card automatically, called a マンスリークリア. Be careful, however — if you get a little carried away, you may receive a 限度額げんどがく (credit limit) warning stating that you’ve have gone over the maximum you can spend for the card that you have.

While it can be troublesome at first to learn how to use your credit card in Japan with all these difficult kanji, it’s well-worth persevering. Often, online stores are the only places to buy the latest fashion and entertainment products.

So, the next time you find your finger hovering over the buy button for that latest piece of Harajuku fashion that you’re sure is about to be the next big thing — remember these terms so you can hastily input your information into the online form and get that gear before someone else does!

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