Foreign issue VISA card holders using Apple Pay Suica beware, you might be in for a rude surprise when you get the monthly statement. A reader sent some very interesting information:
JR East started processing these Visa transactions differently on foreign cards. Previously, these were processed as ‘SUICA MOBILE PAYMENT’ and the merchant category was passenger railways (travel). Since around May 11 or 12, these are now processed as ‘MOBILE SUICA APPLE V’ and the merchant category is catalog merchants (shopping). This is an unfortunate change as the merchant category change from travel to shopping downgrades the points earning capability on several American cards (eg. from 3x points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve to 1x).
Chase Sapphire Reserve is a popular choice for Apple Pay Suica recharge because of the 3x rewards. The VISA JP Apple Pay agreement has changed how foreign issue VISA brand card payments made with Apple Pay in Japan are processed obviously, but the merchant category change from travel to shopping is a mystery. JR East or VISA JP? On the surface JR East as they are the merchant but as the change came on the May 11 VISA JP service start day, I suspect the latter, perhaps a deal for JR East in return for changing the Suica recharge merchant category. Another backend change: JR East also started 3-D Secure credit card checks in iOS Suica App and Mobile Suica (Android) from May 10.
I do not know if Apple Pay PASMO is in the same boat but suspect so. Foreign issue VISA users may want to consider using different credit cards for Suica • PASMO recharge for the best reward points. There are too many reward point differences to make any definitive recommendation. The best long term strategy is to examine your spending patterns and select a JP issue card that fits your needs. The reward point empires to consider: JRE POINT (BIC CAMERA View), Rakuten POINT (Rakuten Card) and V POINT (SMBC Numberless Instant issue).
I will update this post as more information comes in, reader feedback is appreciated.
Update 1: The merchant category for foreign issue VISA cards using Goggle Pay Suica a few months ago.
I also noticed JRE’s category change for GooglePay Suica a few months ago (see new VS old statement)