All About Suica App

1︎⃣ Apple Pay Suica Guide
2︎⃣ Apple Pay Suica Recharge
3︎⃣ All About Suica App
4︎⃣ Apple Pay Japan Credit Cards

Update: Apple released the iOS 11.2.5 Update on January 23, I recommend it for all Apple Pay Suica users.

Suica App and Mobile Suica
Mobile Suica is the JR East Suica service that launched in 2006 for mobile devices, first with feature phones, then Android in 2011, then Apple Pay in October 2016. Suica App extends the functionality of Apple Pay Suica with access to Mobile Suica cloud services.

Before starting please consider a few points:

  • Suica App is only available in Japanese language
  • Wallet lets you use Suica cards seamlessly in Apple Pay without having to deal with Suica App or a Mobile Suica account at all. With Wallet you can add plastic Suica cards, Suica Recharge with Apple Pay credit cards and renew Suica Commuter plans. Apple Pay Suica without Suica App is slick and very easy to use. For the vast majority of Apple Pay Suica users Wallet alone is more than enough.
  • Suica App can be downloaded from the Japan App StoreUSA App Store and Australian App Store. App Store distribution is expanding, but may not be available in your country.

Sections

  1. Suica App Basics
  2. Create a Virtual Suica Card
  3. Mobile Suica Registration
  4. Suica App Credit Card Setup
  5. Suica Recharge with Suica App
  6. Main Suica Menu
  7. Suica Commuter Plan – Suica Auto Charge
  8. Summary and Helpful Links



Suica App Basics

Suica App offers extra functions. Most of these require a free Mobile Suica account and are marked “MS”.

    • Create a virtual Unregistered Suica on iPhone 8, iPhone X
    • Create a virtual registered My Suica on iPhone 8, iPhone X  (MS)
    • Create or change a Suica commute plan (MS)
    • Purchase Shinkansen e-tickets for JR East trains: Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Hokkaido, Joestsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines (MS)
    • Purchase Green seats on regular trains (MS)
    • Set up Suica Auto Charge (JR East View Card only) (MS)
    • Reissue Suica (MS)



Create a Virtual Suica Card

Note: Suica v2 has been released with a refreshed UI design. Functionality is the same but the look is slightly different from some v1 screen shots in this guide. Suica v2 screens are used where appropriate.

You do not need a Mobile Suica account to create a virtual Suica. Set iPhone Region to Japan, launch Suica App then follow the screenshots and captions below to create a new Suica card, add an initial balance, and load it to Apple Pay Wallet.

You now have a Suica card in Wallet setup for Express Transit. Suica App limits you to a single Unregistered Suica card in Wallet. Any additional virtual Suica can only be My Suica or Commuter Suica and Suica App will take you through the Mobile Suica Registration steps explained below.



Suica App Menus and Mobile Suica Registration

When you have a Suica card loaded into Apple Pay you see the basic Suica App home screen similar to the one below.

Suica app home screen
The refreshed home screen design of Suica App v2

On the upper left corner is Mobile Suica Account Settings [a], on the upper right is Add Suica Card {b}. Near the bottom is Suica Recharge [c] , on the bottom right is Ticket Purchase • Manage Suica [d]. Access to [a]  [d] menu features requires a Mobile Suica account.

Note: Mobile Suica registration requires basic Japanese language reading ability and a Japanese address.

Tap the Ticket Purchase • Manage Suica button [d] and you are greeted with the Mobile Suica registration page.

Once past the initial agreement screen you are in the main Mobile Suica registration screen. It is one screen but the screen shot sections are separated out for clarity.

MS registration 4

MS registration 3

After successfully completing Mobile Suica account registration you can access and use all the menus of Suica App.



Suica App Credit Card Setup

Suica App credit card setup is optional. You can make Suica App e-ticket purchases with only Apple Pay.

The Suica App Mobile Suica account accepts a large number of Japanese credit cards and pre-paid cards such as Line Card, as well as credit cards issued outside of Japan. The Suica App credit card also bypasses the Apple Pay Wallet system and the Apple Pay Japanese Visa limitation giving you the most payment flexibility.

To add a Suica App credit card tap the Ticket Purchase•Manage Suica menu at the bottom of the main Suica App screen. Tap credit card and enter credit card information in the appropriate fields.

Suica App lists seven eligible credit card brands: View Card, VISA, JCB, Master Card, American Express, Diners Club, JR Central EXPress Card. Another bonus if you are a LINE member is that Suica App works with JCB Pre-paid LINE cards you can purchase at any convenience store.

Some Suica App functions only work with specific credit cards: Suica Auto Charge and View Express/EX Reservation only work with JR East issue View cards.



Suica Recharge with Suica App
Once you have a credit card registered you can Suica Recharge in Suica App with the Mobile Suica credit card or with Apple Pay.



Main Suica Menu

Ticket Purchase • Manage Suica, menu [d] from the opening screen menu, is where most of the Suica App functionality resides.

Shinkansen e-ticket Purchase and Direct Shinkansen Boarding
The ticket purchase section includes Shinkansen e-tickets, Green Car seats on regular trains, and commuter plan purchase/renewal.

Shinkansen e-ticket purchases can be made up to 30 days in advance and are limited to JR East Shinkansen lines. You can also purchase JR Central Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo=Osaka) or JR West Sanyo Shinkansen (Osaka=Fukuoka) via the EX Reservation menu but this requires a separate EX-Press Reservation membership and JR East View credit card.

Tap JR East Shinkansen in the Ticket Purchase screen and follow the steps shown below to purchase a Shinkansen non-reserve e-ticket:

A Shinkansen reserve seat e-ticket purchase has a few extra steps to choose the Shinkansen and seats:

As you can see from the screenshots, purchase options are well covered, The i-mode style UI is not pretty but gets the job done.

With a Suica App Shinkansen e-ticket purchase you can directly board Shinkansen with just Apple Pay Suica. Download your e-ticket purchase in Wallet or Suica App before going through the Shinkansen ticket gate. Here are 2 Japanese videos that show e-ticket purchase, download and gate entrance:



Suica Commuter Plans

Suica commuter plans allow you to either purchase a Suica commuter plan for Apple Pay Suica or renew a Suica commuter plan that already exists.

To purchase a new Suica Commuter plan tap Commuter Plan in the Ticket Purchase • Manage Suica menu. Follow the steps in the screenshots and captions below.

Some points to remember: the easiest way to renew Suica Commuter Plan is in Wallet. The renewal window is 14 days before the expiration date. If you miss the expiration date you have to purchase a new commuter plan in Suica App.

Suica Auto Charge, Suica Transaction History, Suica Pocket Refund
Transaction History is a simple list of Suica transit and store transactions, there is separate transaction history for online purchases. Suica Pocket is basically Suica App refunds but somewhat convoluted: when you cancel a Suica purchase, tickets or store merchandise, the refund transaction can take time. Suica Pocket is a temporary transaction holding area before you send a processed refund amount to a designated Japanese bank account.

All Suica refunds must be processed to a Japanese bank account.

Suica Auto Charge
There are limitations for using Suica Auto Charge

  • Suica Auto Charge only works with JR East View cards
  • Suica Auto Charge only works within the JR East rail network region. It won’t work for example when you are using transit in Nagoya or Osaka
  • Suica Auto Charge does not work with store or vending machine purchases

Other Options
The last few menu items: SF (stored fare) to cover commuter plan fare in case your pass expires and forget to renew it, spoken guidance and EX-Press membership setup for View Card holders.



Summary

Apple Pay Suica works perfectly well without Suica App but if your Japanese language ability is up to it the extra functionality of Mobile Suica is well worth the registration process, and it is free.

The UI is built on top the legacy of JR East’s i-mode system: sub-menus are text heavy and accessing every option is a long exercise drill down through multiple screens. It is a pain but Suica App is rich with options and gets the job done.

Suica App Shinkansen e-tickets are limited to JR East Shinkansen trains but View Card holders have the option of registering with the View EX-Press service. EX members can then purchase Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen e-tickets in the EX app and travel with just Apple Pay Suica.

Helpful Links
Apple Pay Suica Paper Receipts
Apple Pay Suica Commuter Plan Renewal Window
JR East Suica Apple Pay site and Shinkansen ticket purchase video

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