A reminder! not all ATM machines in Japan in general and tokyo in particular, accept ATM cards from International Consortiums like Cirrus, Maestro, Discover, Plus, etc. Only the ATM Machines in select 7-11 convenience stores and in airports and major subway and train stations accept the international atm cards with a 400 yen surcharge per withdrawal, whatever is the amount. So you must have extra cash with you if you are in tokyo, don't be a tighwad as it is hard to look for these internationally recognized atm machines! also be sure that your credit card is not almost at the spending limit as the prices of goods here in tokyo are sky high!
Please carry enough japanese yen with you, as it is very difficult and near to impossible to change money there. The few moneychangers only accept selected currencies. AND the exchange rate is very poor. While I could change 67yen to 1 Singapore dollar in my own country, while there in Japan, the rate was 62 to 1. You need to fill up a form and state your address etc too.
You can also withdraw money from selected atms. Doesn't matter if the machine says it accepts cirrus or plus, only one bank's atms accept international credit cards. That will be the Japan Bank. Look for the green JP logo atms at the post offices or most Seven Eleven convenient stores.
If you have to change there, do it at the Narita airport the moment you touch down.
Shinjuku JR station - from the west exit, cross the road to Odayku Halc. Beside it is a Mac, and beside the MacDonalds is the foreign exchange store. (updated May 2010)
Ueno - Money Exchange counter at the Keisei Ueno station. There's also an JP atm that accepts international credit card for cash withdrawal. (updated Dec 2010)
citibank - If you have a cirrus/plus card (credit card), you can also withdraw money from the citibank atms. However, citibanks are not as easy to find as in other countries. Shinjuku has it though, at the east exit, walk towards isetan, it's along the way. (updated May 2010)
Forget hotels. Big hotels change only for their guests and only US dollars and Euros. Nothing else.
All other areas: look for post offices or seven eleven convenient stores with JP atms (the green logo bank). See picture for reference. You can use your international credit card to withdraw cash here.
Credit cards use:
Big stores have credit card swiping, as do most stores in areas like shinjuku or shibuya. Only Visa or Mastercard. No AMex or Diners. Increasing number of stores accept Unionpay. (updated Dec 2010)
There is a money changer called "Money Exchange WORLD CURRENCY SHOP"at Ropponggi Hills, west wing on the 6th Floor. it is at no. 32. they accept most international currency, not just USD. the rates are not the best but it's great if you need some JPY urgently.
opening hours: 11:00am-7:00pm / Sat., Sun. & public holidays 12:00pm-5:00pm
Given the difficulty some have had getting cash from ATMs in Japan, I thought I would pass along something that has never failed for me: a Visa debit card at a 7-11 convenience store. When I say 7-11, I mean 7-11, not just any convenience store. I don't know about the exchange rate, but if you need cash, you might give it a try. Good luck.
Please be kindly noted that Money Exchange is NOT a common spot in Tokyo!!!
As far as I know, there is 1 TravelTex in Shinjuku west gate. It locates right opposite to UNIQLO shop. To reach there, please walk across road and it hides behind a building. Since the demands might be A LOT larger than supply, the rate is VERY bad.
So to avoid loss from exchange rate, you could either get enough money before you enter Japan or get enough money before you step out of Narita.
The basic unit of currency in Japan is the YEN. When in Tokyo, you have to be very careful as things are very expensive. It's possible to buy cheaper things by being careful. But if make the mistake of going to an upscale restaurant or bar, you could easily get a $200 bill awaiting you at the end.
Credit cards are accepted in hotels and major stores, but their use is still not very popular, believe or not. ATM cash dispensers accept Visa, Mastercard, Diners club and American Express. It's important for you to know that many ATM cash dispensers' schedule are the same as their bank.
The easiest way to pay is in cash. Don't worry for your change, Japanese people are extremely honorable, specially with tourists.
I still get annoyed by this... In Japan, you can only get money out from ATM at Citi bank and post offices so when you see them don't miss out! I don't know what's the deal but they have a diffrent system that not corporating with the rest of world.
Despite what your banks says, if you don't have a Japanese ATM card, you may have a hard time withdrawling money in Japan. Nearly all Japanese banks' ATMs do not accept standard foreign ATM cards with logos such as Maestro, Cirrus, and PLUS. There are two places that I am aware of that will accept them: Citibank ATMs, and some post office ATMs (look for signs in English saying they accept foreign cards). The Citibank ATMs are usually only found in major districts around Tokyo. The post office is scattered throughout Japan and has reasonable opening hours (9am to 8pm or so). Be sure to take out plenty when you have the opportunity. Most likely, you will spend more than you planned to, and the ATMs may not be available on weekends or holidays.
Strangely enough, I never had so many problems in paying with a credit card as in Japan. In many places they don't accept such paying method, only cash. And it's not easy to retrieve cash, either. So be well prepared!!!
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