Ahead of a trip to Tokyo, one member seeks some practical advice on the best place to exchange money and acquire Japanese Yen.

Japan is a little bit different to many other countries in the sense that many businesses there will not accept overseas credit cards. Further, many ATMs do not allow holders of non-Japanese bank cards to withdraw cash. So, a little bit of preparation and forward thinking could go a long way.

There are several methods that Australians can use to acquire Japanese Yen prior to travel, or from within Japan. Exchanging money before leaving Australia is often the easiest method, but depending on the bank this method does not always offer the best value. Australian banks often add a sizable margin on top of the exchange rate, and other fees when exchanging money. Nonetheless, it could be worthwhile acquiring a small amount of Japanese Yen to have on arrival.

Alternatively, cash can be withdrawn from selected ATMs in most major Japanese cities. Many will not accept Australian cards, but ATMS in Japan Post and 7/11 stores are exceptions. Citibank ATMs should also do the trick.

Very few ATMs in Japan will take non Japanese cards. Only ATMs at Japan Post and 7/11 (both of which run their own banks) will take them as well as selected other ATMs at the major airports. Both the JapanPost Bank and 7andi Holdings ATMs have an english mode option.

Perhaps the cheapest method of obtaining any foreign currency (not just Japanese Yen) is to open a Citibank Plus Transaction account. This account attracts no fees and money can be withdrawn overseas at no cost from any Citibank ATM. You’ll pay only a margin on the exchange rate of the day, but even this rate is quite competitive. The popular 28 Degrees MasterCard is also a worthwhile option as it attracts no fees on international purchases. However, there will be fees for ATM withdrawals with the 28 Degrees credit card.

As for withdrawing cash in Japan, the best method IMO is have a Citibank Debit card which has no overseas transaction fee and more importantly gives a very favourable exchange rate not far off the market price seen on xe.com etc. A 28 degrees credit card as suggested above will give no foreign transaction fees and a likewise decent exchange rate for purchases like hotel rooms and some bigger restaurants or tourist attractions but does charge a fee for ATM withdrawals so use the Citibank Debit card for when you need cash, which you will in Japan.

As well as everything you’ll need to know about travel money in Japan, discussion turns to other Tokyo travel tips. For example, our members offer advice on the best way to purchase subway tickets and how to get around in a country where English is not widely spoken.

Share your tips and follow the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]