Suica Card: How to Use the Smart Travel Card in Tokyo

Japan Suica Card Guide

Suica card is a smart travel card that can give you to ride the JR trains, metros, buses and even taxis in Tokyo conveniently. Sometimes, it is also called an all-in-one transport card. Whatever name it is, you certainly need to have this card for a smoother and easier transportation around the capital.

So, here’s everything you need to know about Suica card.


Train Station
Train Station

Suica card is very popular in Tokyo. It’s a rechargeable smart card that is often used by tourists and locals when travelling around the capital.

You can use it to pay your train fare fast and easy. Therefore, there’s no need to queue up for buying individual train tickets at ticket vending machine before taking a train.

Tap the Card on Reader of Ticket Gate
Tap the Suica card on reader of ticket gate

The great thing about the Suica card is it’s very easy and efficient to use. You simply just tap it at the ticket gate and you can hop aboard the train. Your fare would be calculated once you take off from the station.

However, do take note that this card can only be used one traveller. Hence, it cannot be shared with your family members and friends when using the public transport. Each person should have their own card.

Tokyo Convenience Stores
Convenience stores in Tokyo

Aside from paying your train fare, you can also use the Suica card when buying from Tokyo convenience stores. Amazing, right? So, if you need to purchase some important stuff and you don’t have enough cash, you can use this card.

To make the most out of this Suica card, here’s a detailed list of its advantages.

  • Time-efficient

The main use of the Suica card is for you to save time when commuting Tokyo via train. This means you don’t have to line up for buying your train ticket. Just one tap and you’re off to your next destination!

Plus, there’s no need to manually keep track of your train fare. This is automatically calculated at the train station where you would get off.

  • Money-saver

Another great feature when using the Suica card is that it’s actually very economical to use. This card is designed for most transportation modes in Japan. And, you get to enjoy a minimal discount on most trips! Even if these are just small discounts, these build up every time you use the card for train payments.

Another thing to note is that you will not lose money in case you buy the wrong tickets! It’s because you only need to pay after completion of your ride. So, if you want to save both money and time, this one is truly an essential item.

  • Efficient and flexible

When it comes to convenience, this Suica card is definitely reliable. It’s not just for the JR train line but also for monorails, metros, subways, buses, and even taxis. With such wide-ranging reach, you can use this efficiently when travelling around Tokyo.

During my visit to Tokyo, I utilized this card to reach the major areas of Tokyo. These include Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ginza, Asakusa, Odaiba, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Sanrio Puroland, and other attractions accessible using train.

  • Convenient Stores

More so, you can use the Suica card when buying from top convenience stores in Tokyo. These include 7-eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart. Consequently, if you need to buy snacks or other items, you can maximize your card to purchase these items.

  • Shopping and Restaurants

Some shopping malls and restaurants also accept Suica card for payment. And, it’s easy to know if these shopping stalls and dining spots allow this card.

If they feature the Suica card logo, then it means that you can use your card to pay your bills.

  • Long-term validity

And to top it all, Suica card isn’t just a one-time card. Hence, it’s very practical for those staying in Tokyo for a longer period or those planning to revisit the city. You can take advantage of this long-term card for a couple of years.

Where to Buy Suica Card


Where to buy Suica Card
4 Suica cards

You can buy Suica card from one of the ticket machines and ticket counters at JR Train Stations. So, if you pass by these train stations, you can purchase this card conveniently.

Or, if you want extra convenience, just book your card online and redeem it at Haneda Airport or Narita Airport. This is more favourable for those who don’t want to spend time lining up at the ticket counters.

I personally recommend booking it online so you can easily pick it up once you get to the airport. The collection point is very easy to find. Simply follow the instructions noted on the online booking website.

Because of its convenience, many foreign travellers prefer to book their card online. You can check out the reviews right here to see the feedback of previous visitors.

If you book your Suica card online, there’s no need for you to find a ticket counter or ticket machine.

The Suica card already comes with a pre-loaded 1, 500 yen. But you may need to spend more than 1,500 yen when travelling around Tokyo. And, the total cost of the card is 2,000 yen because you need to pay the 500 yen security deposit. But don’t worry because the 500 yen will be refunded once you return the card at the JR Train Station.

Accordingly, the price is still the same, whether you book online or purchase from the ticket machine or ticket counter. The total cost is 2,000 yen whatever option you choose. But when it comes to convenience, booking online is definitely advantageous.

How to Top Up a Suica Card


Ticket and Top up Vending Machines
Top up Suica card at train station

The Suica card can be top up at ticket vending machines in JR and Tokyo Metro Train Stations.

In this section, you will learn how to top-up this card at these 2 stations. I will provide detailed pictures so you’ll have a clearer understanding of the instructions.

You can easily find the top-up machines near the entry and exit gates of the train stations. So, there’s nothing to worry about because these are almost everywhere in various Metro and JR Train Stations.

Plus, these top-up machines have English support, which means international travellers can efficiently follow the instructions.

Method 1: Top-up Suica Card at JR Train Station

Select English and Charge Add Value from Ticket Machine in JR Train Station
Select “English” on the screen of ticket machine

1. If you’re at JR train station, the first step is to select English and click the Charge (Add Value).

Insert Suica Card into Ticket Machine in JR Train Station
Insert Suica card into ticket machine

2. Then, insert your card into the ticket machine.

Select Desired Top up Amount from Ticket Machine in JR Train Station
Choose your desired top-up amount displayed on the ticket machine

3. The next step is to choose your desired top-up displayed on the ticket machine. The value ranges from 500 yen to 10, 000 yen.

Insert Desired Top up Cash into Ticket Machine in JR Train Station
Insert cash into ticket machine

4. Once you’ve chosen your desired amount, insert the top-up cash in the machine.

Collect your Suica Card from Ticket Machine in JR Train Station
Collect your Suica card

5. Subsequently, you will see the total top-up amount as well as the updated balance on the screen. Right after, collect your card from the ticket machine and start commuting conveniently!

Method 2: Top-up Suica Card at Metro Station

hoose International Languages on Ticket Machine in Metro Station
Choose “International Languages” on the screen of ticket machine

1. If you’re at Metro Station, the initial step is to select the International Languages button.

Choose English on Ticket Machine in Metro Station
Choose “English” on the screen of ticket machine

2. Then, choose English on the ticket machine.

Choose Charge on Ticket Machine in Metro Station
Choose “Charge” on the screen of ticket machine

3. The next step is to select Charge on the screen.

Insert the Suica Card into Ticket Machine in Metro Station
Insert Suica card into ticket machine

4. Right after, insert your card into the ticket machine.

Choose Desired Top up Amount on Ticket Machine in Metro Station
Choose your preferred top-up amount

5. Now, click your preferred top-up amount. You can choose from 10 yen to 10, 000 yen. If you want to top-up your card with less than 1, 000 yen, you can also do so. Just select the Charge in 10-yen units and choose your preferred amount like 10 yen, 200 yen, and 500 yen.

Insert Your Cash into Ticket Machine in Metro Station
Insert cash into ticket machine

6. Once you’ve chosen your desired amount, simply insert your cash into the machine.

Collect Your Suica Card from Ticket Machine in Metro Station
The latest balance display on the screen of ticket machine and collect Suica card

7. Accordingly, you will see the top-up amount, together with the latest balance on the screen. Then, collect your card from the ticket machine and enjoy your trip!

How to Check the Balance of a Suica Card


Check Suica Card Balance when pass Ticket Gate
Latest credit balance display on ticket gate

Suica card’s latest credit balance can be checked via several ways. You can verify it whenever you pass a ticket gate or when you make a payment at a store.

Check Suica Card Balance and Usage History from Ticket Machine in Train Station
Updated balance display on the ticket machine

You can also check your updated balance from the ticket machines.

Aside from knowing the card balance, you can also keep track of your usage history. Just click the Display Balance History and you will see your past transactions using the card.

Where to Return a Suica Card


JR Ticket Office
JR Ticket Office – Photo by Hideyuki KAMON/ CC BY-SA 2.0

If you purchased your Suica card online or from JR East station, you can return it at any JR East Stations. These include JR Shinjuku Train Station, JR Shibuya Train Station, JR Tokyo Train Station, and JR Ueno Train Station.

The above-mentioned JR East Stations have ticket offices that also process a refund of the remaining amount in your Suica card together with deposit.

You can easily spot the green ticket offices in JR East Station, which are also called as Midori-No-Madoguchi.

Just look for the green signboard with a label “Ticket Office”, return the card, and process refund, if any.

And if you want to avail of the refund of the remaining money in your card, simply inform the staff. The process itself is fast and there’s nothing to fret because the staff here can speak simple English.

So, if you have any clarifications, you can verify it with them easily. And to give you an idea of how the refundable amount is calculated, here’s how.

Refundable Amount = [Remaining balance in your card – Handling Fee (220 yen)] + Deposit (500 yen)

Yes, there is a handling fee up to 220 yen. But this can be lesser or even insignificant since this amount will be deducted from the remaining card balance. This means that your security deposit will remain complete whatever the total computation of your refundable amount.

For you to understand the computation clearly, I have created some examples for easier reference.

Example 1:
Refundable Amount = (Remaining balance in your card – Handling Fee) + Deposit
= (1,000 yen – 220 yen) + 500 yen = 1,280 yen

So, you’ll get 1,280 yen after returning your card.

Example 2:
Refundable Amount = (Remaining balance in your card – Handling Fee) + Deposit
= (100 yen – 220 yen) + 500 yen
= 0 + 500 yen = 500 yen

*The handling fee will only be subtracted from the remaining balance on your card and not from your deposit.

So, you’ll get 500 yen after returning your card.

Example 3:
Refundable Amount = (Remaining balance in your card – Handling Fee) + Deposit
= (0 yen – 220 yen) + 500 yen
= 0 + 500 yen = 500 yen

*The handling fee will only be subtracted from the remaining balance on your card and not from your deposit.

So, you’ll get 500 yen after returning your card.

A very easy computation, right?

So, if you want to efficiently utilize your money, it’s highly recommended not to have any balance on your card. This will help you skip the handling fees and spend it on more important stuff.

In case you have remaining money on your card at the end of your trip, you can spend it practically. Buy some stuff in the convenience store or dine in a restaurant that accepts the card as payment.

In my personal experience, I always clear the remaining balance by buying foods and other items in the convenience store.

This surely helped me maximize my remaining money instead of paying the handling fees. And since I no longer have a remaining balance for refund, I just keep my Suica card as a souvenir! But of course, I could no longer get the security deposit of 500 yen.

Still, this card is such a great souvenir item for your trip to Tokyo. So, better choose wisely, either to return the card or bring it back home!

Aside from these important tips, you should also need to consider the place where you bought your card. If you purchased the card from Tokyo Monorail, then it can only be returned to them. This means you cannot return it to JR East Station or any other place.

Can Suica Card be used in Osaka and Kyoto


Where can use the Suica Card

Yes, you can use the Suica card in other parts of Japan. However, you need to take note that there are some limitations when using your card.

For instance, you cannot use the card if you are travelling from Tokyo to Osaka. But you can use it once you reach and commute around Osaka.

Validity of Suica Card


Suica Card Validity

Did you know that you can use Suica card for up to 10 years?

Yes! So, if you’re planning to visit Japan more than once or you’re on a long-term stay, this one’s for you!

Take advantage of this card that you can re-use when you visit the country in the near future.

My Final Thought

Suica card is surely one of the best items every traveller should have when visiting Tokyo. I highly recommend this very useful card to help you save money, time, and effort.

With your card, you can skip the crazy queues and visit your next attraction with ease. It’s because you have easy access to Tokyo train lines and even more!

To sum it up, this card is an ultimate traveller essential when travelling and exploring around the bustling capital. So, get your Suica card online for a much convenient trip to Tokyo and other places! And, simply pick it up at Haneda or Narita Airport.

I hope this guide will help you get a clearer understanding of how to use this amazing card. And hopefully, you can maximize the card when travelling around Tokyo to save time on transportation.

And of course, you can simply bookmark this page for future reference.

If you want to assist your travel buddies who are planning to visit Tokyo, let them know about this blog. You can easily share this guide to different social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WhatsApp, and Gmail.

Thank you so much and I wish you a wonderful and convenient holiday in Tokyo!

Discover Other Famous Attractions in Tokyo

Leave a Comment