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

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 in October 2016. Suica App lets iPhone 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
  • 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 can be downloaded from the Japan App StoreUSA App Store and Australian App Store. Distribution appears to be expanding, check availability in your country App Store.

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. Summary and Helpful Links


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)
    • Reissue Suica (MS)



Create 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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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. Apple Pay limits you to a single Unregistered Suica card in Wallet. You can only add Registered Suica or Commuter Pass Suica as a additional Suica and will be taken through the Mobile Suica Registration steps explained below when creating one.



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 opening 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. Tap credit card registration 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 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, menu c from the opening screen menu, is where most of the Suica App functionality resides.

Shinkansen e-ticket Purchase and Direct Shinkansen Boarding
The purchase section includes Shinkansen e-tickets, Green Car seats on regular 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 can also purchase JR Central Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo=Osaka) or JR West Sanyo Shinkansen (Osaka=Fukuoka) via the EX-PRESS purchase menu but this requires EX-PRESS membership and setup.

Below is a group of screenshots showing the steps involved in a Suica App Non-Reserve Shinkansen e-ticket purchase.

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 Shinkansen boarding with just Apple Pay Suica. Download your e-ticket purchase in Wallet or Suica App. Here are 2 Japanese videos that show e-ticket purchase, download and gate entrance:

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
Purchase History is a simple list of transactions. 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.

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 last few menu items: SF (stored fare) to cover commuter transit fare in case your pass expires and forget to renew it, spoken guidance and EX-PRESS setup for View Cards.



Summary

Apple Pay Suica works perfectly well without the 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 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 via the EX-PRESS menu.

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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