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Why MobalPay is Your Expat Survival Payment Card in Japan

Discover MobalPay, the ultimate Japanese payment card for expats. No residency or credit checks. Easy application, quick setup and versatile usage.

By 5 min read

Moving to Japan is an adventure, but it has its fair share of challenges, especially when setting up essential services. One key tool that can make your transition smoother is MobalPay, a Japanese payment card powered by Mastercard designed exclusively for expats.

Let’s explore MobalPay and why it’s an indispensable asset for newly arrived foreign residents in Japan.

What is MobalPay?

MobalPay works just like a prepaid card, only better.

MobalPay is a Japanese payment card designed exclusively for expats, eliminating the need for a Japanese bank account or phone number. To apply, all you need is your Residence Card. Use your MobalPay card like any other prepaid card, but with the added advantage of being powered by Mastercard, boosting its versatility in Japan. You can use online bank transfers, cash at convenience stores or cash/card at ATMs across Japan to top-up your card balance.

Here’s why MobalPay is great for expats:

  • Versatility in Usage: Use it for both offline and online purchases. MobalPay is compatible with Japanese apps, making your digital transactions hassle-free.
  • Easy Top-Up Options: Conveniently top-up your MobalPay card with cash, ATMs or online banking. There is no need for a Japanese bank account.
  • Points, Points, Points: Earn points with every transaction through apps linked to your MobalPay card, maximizing your benefits as you spend.

Bank and Debit Cards in Japan

Use your MobalPay card anywhere in Japan.

Foreign residents in Japan often encounter challenges when attempting to open accounts with Japanese banks. Seven Bank, for example, only serves individuals who have been residents in Japan for six months or longer. Most Japanese banks have a six-month minimum residency requirement such as this, making securing anything beyond a JP Post Bank account nearly impossible. However, while JP Post provides cash cards for ATM withdrawals, they do not offer debit cards for online payments until the account holder has met that six-month requirement.

Thus, a MobalPay card is a convenient alternative to bank debit cards. With it, you can make in-store and online purchases and use all your favorite apps in Japan, like Mobile Suica, Mobile Pasmo, Amazon Japan and Rakuten Pay. You won’t need to meet Japan-centric stipulations such as Sony Bank’s mandatory business card and name in Japanese.

The application process for Mobal Pay involves a cash payment at a convenience store, with the card conveniently shipped to your address and easily activated online. Remember to note the provided PIN. It cannot be changed for security reasons.

Japanese Apps and Utilities


Let’s consider real-life scenarios of people who move to Japan. How can MobalPay make their transition smoother, and what are some valuable tips for your journey?

Utility Bills

Efficiently manage utility bills by seamlessly paying through MobalPay.

Amazon Japan & Amazon Prime

Armed with your MobalPay Card, you can use Amazon Japan, indispensable for online shopping in Japan, from groceries and health products to home goods and furniture. And don’t forget to register your MobalPay card on Amazon Japan for a complimentary 30-day Amazon Prime trial.

Nitori & Ikea Japan

Ready to move into your new place? Furnishing your apartment becomes a breeze with MobalPay. Signing up for online accounts or downloading mobile apps for Nitori and Ikea Japan enhances the experience. With MobalPay as the payment method, users can accumulate points on Nitori purchases or unlock special offers and discounts with an Ikea Japan account.

Cashless Payment Apps

Amidst the competition of Japanese cashless payment apps like PayPay and Rakuten Pay, MobalPay users benefit most from opting for Rakuten Pay. Creating a Rakuten ID online grants access to Japan’s Amazon equivalent, earning points for each purchase. This ID also serves as a login for the Rakuten Pay app, allowing barcode payments at convenience stores—all accessible and paid for with your MobalPay card.

Do I Need a Japanese Phone Number?

With a Mobal voice+data SIM, setup is a breeze.

Most app registrations for utilities, online shopping, bike-sharing and food deliveries require a phone number or an SMS for in-app verification. Even more frustrating is that you need a bank account and phone number in Japan to rent an apartment. And you need an address and phone number to open a bank account. But you need a bank account to get a phone number. It’s quite the headache. You can usually get around this by using your sharehouse or hotel address first and then starting from there.

However, suppose you do not have a phone yet. In that case, you can use the MobalPay card to acquire a Mobal voice+data SIM, a simple way to get a phone number necessary for various services like food deliveries, furniture orders, payment apps and bike-sharing apps in Japan.

Getting Started

Easy applications, easy shopping.

To receive your MobalPay card, start by applying here.

No need for minimum residency requirements or credit history checks. All it takes is a valid photo ID and a Japanese address. Upon ID approval, settle the ¥2,970 set-up fee by topping up your MobalPay account at any convenience store across Japan. Your MobalPay card will be promptly dispatched to your home, enabling you to commence spending.

Then, your MobalPay account incurs a monthly fee of ¥385, automatically deducted from your account balance each month, which MobalPay uses to support charitable endeavors in Malawi, Africa. This contribution aids in building jobs and schools and providing essential support to those in need.

  • A real payment card for use in Japan
  • Easy application, No Japanese required
  • No six-month wait
  • ¥2,970 set-up fee
  • ¥385 monthly fee

For more information about the MobalPay card, visit the official MobalPay website.

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