Apple Pay Suica recharge workaround for non-JP VISA credit cards

Notice: The workaround outlined in this post stopped working for some with the iOS Suica App v3.2.2. update released on 2023-11-22, this appears to be fixed after Mobile Suica system maintenance on 2023-11-29.

If there is one constant in VISA’s block of Apple Pay Suica recharge with foreign issue cards that started in August 2022, it is this: the situation is always changing in smallish ways. At first nothing worked, then some VISA debut cards started working, slowly expanding but always piecemeal depending on the whims of the card issuer and country. Never a complete solution, only a changing collection of temporary loopholes, but the overall story arc is that non-JP VISA debit cards work in Wallet for adding money to Suica while VISA credit cards do not.

But now we have a new loophole to work with: staring in mid-October 2023 Asian VISA credit card users noticed they could recharge with their VISA using Apple Pay…but not in Wallet. Tapping the black Apple Pay recharge button in Suica App was suddenly working again. And though it is the same exact Apple Pay payment backend everywhere, the Apple Pay In-App purchase that works in Suica App is somehow different than the Apple Pay In-App purchase in Wallet App that does not. Good luck trying to figure it out but the gist of all this is: the Apple Pay ‘it just works’ advantage is dying a slow death of a thousand card issuer cuts.

Nevertheless, foreign VISA credit card users have a new recharge workaround option with Suica App. In addition to Hong Kong VISA, Wells Fargo and Chase Sapphire are working, likely more. There is a drawback: you must have a registered Mobile Suica account to access the Suica App recharge function. There is no guarantee that this workaround will last but with 2 weeks in bag and still running, at least we know it’s not a VISA payment system server configuration blip. PASMO and ICOCA are still NG for non-JP VISA credit card recharge across the board. If you feel up to the challenge use these links for Suica App registration and Suica App recharge.

Good luck and may the Apple Pay be with you.