JR Central offers the EX App for Shinkansen online eTicket purchases that can be linked with Apple Pay Suica for travel on Tokaido (Tokyo~Osaka) Sanyo (Osaka~Hakata) Shinkansen. EX has 2 different kinds of accounts that can link with Apple Pay Suica: smartEX and Express Reserve.
The 2 different kinds of EX accounts that link with Apple Pay Suica have some important differences:
- Express Reserve: membership costs ¥1,080 a year but offers a wide range of ticket discounts. Registration is done via the Japanese language only Suica App and Express Reserve only accepts Japanese issue credit cards.
- smartEX: membership is free but discounts are limited. Online registration is offered in Japanese language and English language and smartEX accepts a wide variety of credit cards from Japan and other countries.
EX App from the Japan App Store offers more features: Japanese and English support, login support for all EX services: Express Reserve (Express Card), smartEX and JR West Card, and Face ID/Touch ID support, but does not support direct account creation/registration.
EX downloaded on App Stores outside of Japan support smartEx account creation/registration in the app, but do not support or Express Reserve login or Face ID/Touch ID login.
All versions of EX do not support Apple Pay for In-App eTicket purchases.
To register and use smartEX you need 2 things: a Japanese transit card ID number and a credit card. Apple Pay Suica users must have Suica App installed to access their Suica ID.
I highly recommend preparing your Apple Pay Suica ID number before smartEX registration. Copy Suica ID in Suica App then paste it into Memo app. It will be one long 17 character alpha-numeric string starting with “JE”. Put a few spaces between JE and the following 15 character string so that you can easily copy just the last 15 characters without JE.
- 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 Reserve Suica App Registration
Using Express Reserve 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 Epresss Express Reserve IC card.
After receiving your View Express IC card go to Suica App and tap Express Reserve. You are bumped to Safari and have to tap the agree-service connect button near the bottom. After tapping the button you are taken to 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.
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 Reserve Shinkansen ticket reservation and purchases. Be sure to login to EX App with your Express Reserve member ID and password using the Express Card sign-on option. You can also login with a smartEx account.
After login, Shinkansen eTicket reservation and purchase is the same. See the JR Central EX App online guide for instructions.
If you ride JR Central – JR West Shinkansen lines more than 1~2 times a year and have a View Card, Express Reserve ticket discounts are worth the registration via Suica App Express Reserve. Happy transit!