I have, in the past week and a half, acquired both an IC cash card from my bank, and an actual honest-to-goodness Japanese credit card. The former so that I could get the latter more easily, the latter so I can stop using my ANA card and having to shuffle money back to the U.S. — at horrendous exchange rates — to pay for it. I feel accomplished!
I can now transfer things like my cable bill, Nico Nico premium membership and Amazon.co.jp account over to this card. And, most importantly (perhaps not in the grand scheme of things, but personally), I can now add it to my Yahoo Japan account for auctions, and to my Pia and eplus account for concert tickets. A definite score on both counts.
The IC card I managed on my own, after having a friend read it over to make sure there were no gotchas, like needing a bank seal (they accepted my signature). And aside from a spelling mistake in my address, and a poorly written 7, I had no issues going in and handing over the form and about $10 to get the card. I can now get larger sums out at the ATM without having to go inside to bother a teller. I’m sure that’s why they handed me the form the last time I did that.
The credit card … I might have been able to manage on my own, but having Nancy with me made things much easier, as she could clarify the questions I wasn’t entirely sure of. The process is mostly automated — done on a touch-screen device — and only took half an hour. I had heard conflicting stories about getting a credit card here — that it was next to impossible for a foreigner, especially if you had been here less than a year, and that Marui department store tends to give out their Epos card to anyone who applies. So I went with Marui and all is copacetic! Nice shiny silver card, a good limit, an okay payment date and a 2,000 yen coupon (which I proceeded to use at the Show by Rock popup store in the Shinjuku Marui Annex).
I was amused that at the end of the process, as I was thanking the staffer and standing up, she asked me if there even was a Marui in Fukuoka. Not until next year, I told her. Heh.
I don’t plan on using the card often. I really prefer to pay for everything with cash. But plane tickets I haven’t yet tried to pay for at the combini (credit card is much simpler) and some Pia ticket lotteries are credit card or electronic cash only. So I will use it in moderation, as needed.