JR Central offers the EX App and EX Service for Shinkansen online eTicket purchases that can be linked with Apple Pay Suica for travel on Tokaido (Tokyo~Osaka) Sanyo (Osaka~Hakata) and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. EX has two different kinds of service: EXPress Reservation that links to Apple Pay Suica and smartEX both of which link to Apple Pay Suica, PASMO, or ICOCA for seamless mobile ticket train and Shinkansen travel.
There is a good introductory smart-EX video by One Good Dream that focuses on using the version of smartEX for inbound visitors. This guide will focuses on using domestic EX App version that has a different registration process.
The 2 different kinds of EX services:
- EXPress Reservation: a premium service aimed at frequent travelers with JR Group credit cards or other select JP issue credit cards. Membership costs ¥1,080 a year but offers a wide range of deeper ticket discounts than smartEX. VIEW CARD users register via Suica App. Other select JP issue credit cards can be used, confirm card status here. Can be linked with Apple Pay Suica, PASMO or ICOCA.
- smartEX: is the ‘regular service’, less discounts but can be used with any credit card as long as it supports 3-D Secure 2.0. Membership is free. Online registration is offered in Japanese and English. It can be linked with Apple Pay Suica, PASMO or ICOCA.
EX App from the Japan App Store offers more features: Japanese and English support, login support for all EX account types (EXpress Reservation and smartEX) and Face ID/Touch ID support, but does not support direct account creation/registration. EX App supports all the different account types from the JR Group companies and also English language when the iOS system language is set accordingly.
Basic points to be aware of:
1) eTickets are station to station only. EX App purchased tickets, eTickets and paper tickets, are station to station only and do not include local line region to region transit fare included in paper tickets purchased at JR Train Reservation offices or station kiosks. Make sure the eTicket discount makes up for local transit fare of your trip.
2) No Apple Pay In-App support. EX App/smartEX/EXPress Reservation do not support Apple Pay for In-App eTicket purchases, you must register and use a compatible credit card in the app.
To register and use smartEX you need 2 things: a Japanese transit card ID number and a credit card with 3-D Secure 2.0 support. Apple Pay Suica users need to download Suica app to get their Suica ID number. Apple Pay PASMO users can get their PASMO ID number with PASMO app. Simply tap the card in the app and copy the ID#. Apple Pay ICOCA users can copy the ICOCA ID number in Wallet > Card Details.
I highly recommend preparing your ID number in easy copy/paste format before smartEX registration. Copy the ID then paste it into Memo app. It will be one long 17 character alpha-numeric string starting with 2 characters, JE/PB/JW. Put a space between JE/PB/JW and the following 15 character string so that you can easily copy just the last 15 characters without the lead characters.
- Register name, birth date, email, password, credit card with credit card verification, and transit card ID. Be careful to copy and paste just the last 15 characters of your Apple Pay Suica ID explained above.
- Login with your password. Unlike the Japanese EX App, FaceID/Touch ID is not supported. However you can download and use EX from the Japanese App Store which offers full support and works in English.
EXPress Reservation Suica App Registration
Using EXpress Reservation with Apple Pay Suica requires a JR East View card or JR Central Express Card or Plus EX membership. This guide only covers JR East View card registration.
The Suica App sign up process is not difficult but requires decent Japanese reading ability, patience and a JR East View Card already registered in Suica App. With that in place and your 4 digit View Card PIN number on hand, tap the Suica App View Express menu, then tap View Express Register.
The View Express Register section will instruct you to enter 4 digits of your PIN number in a random order.
Once View Express Register is successfully completed, wait 2 weeks for JR Central to send your View Express-Express Reserve IC card and Express Reserve member ID/Password
After receiving your View Express IC card go to Suica App and tap Express Reserve. You are presented with a Safari browser window service agreement, tap the agree-service connect button near the bottom. After tapping the button you will see the mobile Express Reserve login site.
Tap the text line just below the orange login banner that reads: “Mobile Suica users accessing Express Reserve for the first time touch here.”
This takes you through a quick registration process where you enter an email address and receive a mail with a special smartphone registration link. Tap the link then enter your View Card number/expiration date and a password. When completed you receive an Express Reserve member ID.
EX App Login and Transit Card registration
An interesting and important difference from smartEX is that registration via Suica App automatically registers the Apple Pay Suica card ID with the EX system.
Once registration is complete, use the EX App downloaded from the Japan App Store for EXPress Reservation Shinkansen ticket reservation and purchases. Be sure to login to EX App with your EXPress Reservation member ID and password using the Express Card sign-on option. You can also login with a smartEX account. Once you are logged-in with any EX account you can register up to 5 Transit IC cards (Suica, PASMO, TOICA, ICOCA, etc.) for group ticket purchase and travel.
After login, Shinkansen eTicket reservation and purchase is the same as smartEX. See the JR Central EX App online guide for English eTicket reservation and purchase instructions if needed but the process is straightforward: