With more first time inbound visitors coming to Japan recently, there are many westerners experiencing highly integrated wide area public transit for the first time. This results in the same questions posted repeatedly on social media sites which isn’t very helpful because people who think they know the answer post incorrect or out of date information. Here are some topics that get seem to be asked the most.
Q: Who can use Mobile Suica when visiting Japan?
A: Anybody with iPhone 8 and later with an Apple Pay payment card already added to Wallet that works for adding money to Suica (foreign issue VISA credit cards don’t work)
Q: I have an Android device.
A: If your Android device was not purchased in Japan then your smartphone cannot use Mobile Suica. Garmin and Fitbit devices support Suica paired with non-JP Android smartphones but the setup is not user friendly. Get a plastic Welcome Suica or PASMO PASSPORT card instead.
Q: Can I share a Mobile Suica with family members?
A: Absolutely not. You don’t share tickets right? One card/device per person. JR East terms and conditions explicitly state Suica can only be used by the person who bought the card. And if you are dumb enough to try sharing Mobile Suica, the transit gate alarm will sound with the risk of paying a fine, having the card revoked, etc. Mobile Suica is adult fare only, 12 and older, but only 13 and older are eligible to use Apple Pay.
Q: Can I use Mobile Suica (Apple Pay Suica) for non-JR East transit?
A: Of course. All Transit IC card regions are mutually compatible, just look for the IC logo:
Q: Can I use Mobile Suica for riding the Shinkansen?
A: Yes. This is the most convenient way for seamless transit across regular and Shinkansen lines. However there are eTicket purchase differences depending on the Shinkansen line you use.
JR East Train Reservation for reserve seat eTickets on JR East Shinkansen linked to Mobile Suica
JR Central smartEX for reserve and non-reserve seating on JR Central, JR West, JR Kyushu Shinkansen EX eTickets linked to Mobile Suica
Q: So I can ride from Aomori to Fukuoka with Mobile Suica?
A: Yes but you’ll have to purchase one eTicket for JR East Shinkansen and another eTicket for JR Central/JR West/JR Kyushu. If you are using that much Shinkansen during your trip a Japan Rail Pass will probably save you money.
Q: I can’t recharge Mobile Suica, what should I do?
A: See the recharge guide
Q: My iPhone battery is running low before my final station, what should I do?
A: Power Reserve Express Mode is your best friend.
Q: Can I get a Mobile Suica refund?
A: Only if you have a Japanese bank account. Otherwise remove Suica from Wallet until you want to use it again. You’re coming back to Japan sometime right? If you have a clean Wallet fetish and lots of time on your hands, run the balance down to 0 and permanently delete your Mobile Suica.
If I missed a topic, let me know.