All About Suica App

1︎⃣ Apple Pay Suica Guide – 2︎⃣ Apple Pay Suica Recharge – 4︎⃣ Apple Pay Japan Credit Cards

suica-app

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, then Apple Pay starting in October 2016. Suica App lets iPhone users access Mobile Suica services that extend the functionality of Apple Pay Suica.

Before we get into it please consider a few basic points:

  • Suica App is only available in Japanese language
  • Suica App can only be downloaded from the Japan and USA App Stores
  • 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 physical Suica cards, Suica Recharge with Apple Pay credit cards and renew Suica commuter pass. 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 Basics
Suica App offers extra functions. Most of these require a Mobile Suica account and are marked “MS”.

  • Create a new “virtual” Suica card on iPhone 8, iPhone X
  • Create or change your 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)

Creating a Virtual Suica Card
You do not need a Mobile Suica account to create a virtual Suica. Follow the screenshots and captions to create a new Suica card, add an initial balance, then load it to Apple Pay Wallet.

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Tap “Add Suica”at the bottom right of the screen highlighted in red.
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In the next screen tap the top “Suica Unregistered” option highlighted in red. This is the only option to create a new Suica without a Mobile Suica account.
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Ignore the notices and tap “Next” in the upper right as highlighted in red.
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Tap “Agree” in red to accept terms and conditions.
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Last but not least you have to comply with the JR East Terms and Conditions, tap “Agree” in red.
Apple Pay Suica Express Final
Tap “Done” in blue.
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Wallet notification that Suica has been added to Apple Pay Wallet.

You now have a Suica card in your iPhone Wallet app setup for Express Transit.


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 basic menu 1

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

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

Tap  the Ticket Purchase•Manage Suica button [c] 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 still make Green Seat and Shinkansen e-ticket purchases with only Apple Pay.

The Suica App Mobile Suica account accepts a large number of credit cards and pre-paid card 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 current Japanese Visa limitation and gives you more payment flexibility.

To add a Suica App credit card tap the Ticket Purchase•Manage Suica button at the bottom of the main Suica App screen.

Suica purchase menu
Ticket Purchase•Manage Suica menu items

Tap credit card registration and enter credit card information in the appropriate fields.

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Suica App credit card setup

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 only works with JR East issue View cards.

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

Main Suica Menu
Ticket Purchase•Manage Suica is where most of the Suica App functionality resides.

Suica purchase menu

Shinkansen e-ticket Purchases and Direct Shinkansen Boarding
The purchase section includes Shinkansen ticket purchase, Green Car seat purchases on local trains, and commuter transit pass purchase/renewal. Ticket purchases can be made up to 30 days in advance, Shinkansen e-ticket purchases are limited to JR East rail network trains. You cannot purchase JR Central Tokkaido Shinkansen (Tokyo=Osaka) or JR West Sanyo Shinkansen (Osaka=Fukuoka) but this will change on October 23 with a new version of Suica App.

Suica app Shinkansen ticket purchase has the added benefit of giving your Suica Apple Pay direct Shinkansen boarding. To do so you have to purchase a Shinkansen ticket first in the Suica app, then download the ticket (受け取り)  to Suica Apple Pay before going through the ticket gate. Below is a group of screenshots showing the steps involved in a Suica app Shinkansen ticket purchase. See the screenshot captions for details.

As you can see from the screenshots, purchase options are well covered, The i-mode style UI may not be pretty but gets the job done. The commuter transit pass purchases/renewal section has all bases covered as well from simple renewals to route changes and as well as Green Car commuter pass upgrades.

Suica Purchase History and Suica Pocket
Below the Shinkansen ticket purchase section is Purchase History and Suica Pocket. The first item is straight forward but Suica Pocket is 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.

Suica Auto Charge
There are limitations for using Suica Auto Charge

 

  • Suica Auto Charge only works with JR East issue 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 very last two menu items cover setting SF (stored fare) to cover commuter transit fare in case your pass expires and forget to renew it. The last item is a spoken guidance option.

Summary
Apple Pay Suica works perfectly well without the Suica App but if your Japanese language ability is up to the task 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 can be a long exercise drill down through multiple screens, but Suica App is rich with options and gets the job done.

The biggest drawback is that Suica App Shinkansen e-tickets are limited to JR East Shinkansen trains but this is changing on October 23 with a new version of Suica App. Users have the option of registering with the JR Central EX-PRESS service. EX members can reserve and purchase Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen e-tickets directly in Suica App.

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

 

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