Stored value transit cards like Suica are different from branded credit/debit/prepaid cards issued by banks as the money is stored on the card itself (called the card balance or stored fare/SF). The truth is in the card not the cloud which is why a Mobile Suica card can only exist on a single device.
Remove from Wallet vs Delete from Apple Pay
People assume removing a card in Wallet means that it is deleted from Apple Pay and gone, but this is not the case. The cards are still attached to your Apple ID and can be easily re-added. Before iOS 15 this was not easy to understand. Only active cards in Wallet were visible but dormant cards removed from Wallet but still attached to the user’s Apple Pay • Apple ID were not. A very confusing situation.
This is the classic ‘where’s my Suica? ‘situation when a user forgets to remove Suica or PASMO from the old iPhone when transferring to a new iPhone. Suica, PASMO and eMoney cards (nanaco, WAON) are automatically stored in the cloud when iPhone is accidentally wiped or remotely wiped if iPhone is lost or stolen.
iOS 15 Wallet added a new category ‘Previous Cards’ to solve this ‘where is my card’, idly parked in iCloud vs running in Wallet problem. Previous Cards are inactive Wallet items removed from Wallet stored in the cloud still attached to your Apple Pay • Apple ID. The screen blurb says, “Quickly add the cards, keys and passes you have already used in Wallet.” Cards and Keys in the cloud still attached to Apple Pay but not in Wallet show in Previous Cards as a standby list ready to be added.
Wallet wording is tricky here because there is a huge difference between ‘removing‘ a card, which removes it from Wallet, parking it in Apple Pay iCloud, and ‘deleting‘ a card which completely deletes a card from Apple Pay and Apple ID. Previous Cards makes things clearer than before, but you still need to pay close attention.
The Stored Value difference
There are also differences when deleting a card from Apple ID • Apple Pay for good. Deleting a bank issue payment card from Apple Pay is easy to do in Previous Cards as nothing is stored on the card itself, deleting leaves the card account intact and untouched. It can all be setup and added again if you want to do so. However you cannot delete a Suica or PASMO from Previous Cards. Why not?
Deleting Suica or PASMO is the digital equivalent of cancelling the card account and chopping up the plastic. The transit card issuer has a legal obligation to refund the card balance to the user before the transit card can be deleted, forever, from Apple Pay. This is why it is very easy to remove Suica from Wallet but impossible to delete Suica from Previous Cards and Apple Pay because Wallet has no mechanism for refunding the balance as required by Japanese regulators. Refunding a Suica balance is the job of Suica App.
For most people it’s just easier leaving an unused Suica or PASMO attached to Apple Pay and remove it from Wallet. An unused Suica or PASMO is valid for 10 years and can quickly re-added and used when visiting Japan. But some users may want to go through the extra hassle going through the withdrawal refund process and ‘chop up’ their digital Suica or PASMO card.
What’s a Suica withdrawal refund?
Getting a withdrawal refund from a mobile Suica card balance isn’t easy for inbound visitors as refunds can only be made to a Japanese bank account and the card must also be Mobile Suica registered in Suica App. There’s also a ¥220 processing fee that JR East charges for plastic and mobile card refunds. Ditto for PASMO.
The “Withdrawal” procedure on the registered members menu (in Japanese only Suica App) allows the balance of the SF (Stored Fare) to be remitted to your bank account in Japan. Since it costs ¥220 for the refund, it is generally advised that you use up all the SF (Stored Fare).Mobile Suica Support: Can I get a refund from the remaining balance on the SF (Stored Fare) ?
Using up the stored fare/card balance is easy to do: just buy something more expensive than the card balance, pay with Suica first and the rest in cash.
The Suica withdrawal refund workaround
With a zero card balance and nothing to refund, you do not pay the refund processing fee and can permanently delete Suica from your Apple ID • Apple Pay account. You still need a Mobile Suica account and Suica App to do the job but the process is simple. Before deleting Suica run the balance down to ¥0, then launch Suica App.
- Step #1: scroll to the bottom of Suica App Ticketing and Management menu and tap the red ‘Refund this Suica’ item at the very bottom
- Step #2: Confirm the refund terms and confirm
- Step #3: In the next screen confirm the balance, refund and processing fee are ¥0, tap ‘refund and delete card’.
- Step #4: Confirm refund and delete
- Step #5: In Wallet Suica shows ‘this card cannot be used’, tap ‘delete this card’
- Step #6: Confirm deleting Suica
- Step #7: Wallet notification that Suica has been deleted from Apple Pay
Done, the Suica is deleted though it may show in Previous Cards for a few hours until the Mobile Suica system processes it completely. Use the same steps for deleting PASMO from Apple Pay using PASMO App.
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