Traveler’s checks can be cashed at most major banks, larger hotels, and some duty-free stores. You can avoid fees by using traveler’s checks denominated in yen.
Please note that when exchanging money in Japan you will get a significantly higher rate if you exchange foreign currency traveler’s checks instead of foreign currency cash. For example, at Kansai airport on March 22, 2009, sterling traveler’s checks could be redeemed for £ 1 = 136 yen, while the cash fee was only 126 yen.
Credit, debit and ATM cards
Credit and debit cards from the main issuers (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, JCB, Diners) are increasingly accepted in the main cities. However, they are not used as much as in western countries. There will be some supermarkets where you can pay by card but commonly you cannot pay a credit card. Avoid ATMs in banks as banks do not normally accept cards issued abroad. Instead, use the Post Office ATMs at the Seven Eleven convenience store branches where you can withdraw money using Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus or Maestro cards. You will need a 4-digit PIN number to do this.
24-hour credit card emergency numbers:
American Express: 0120 020 120
Mastercard: 03 3256 6271
Visa: 0120 133 1363
Be sure to bring the phone number of your card issuer to Japan; If you have a problem with your card, you will most likely fix it with a quick call to your card issuer.
There are no personal checks in Japan – mail order items and the like are often paid by bank transfer.
Japan has an 8% excise tax (included in most prices displayed) and some small local taxes for restaurant bills that exceed 5,000 yen and hotel bills that exceed 10,000 yen.