Suica is a transit prepaid card system developed by JR East, with Suica you can ride Japanese trains and buses nationwide and also use it for store purchases. Nothing beats the convenience of Apple Pay Suica for travel all over Japan purchasing things on the go.
Apple Pay Suica is ‘superglue’ that lets visitors enjoy the convenience of Japanese contactless payments in stores and transit while using Apple Pay credit cards issued from home to add money (Suica Recharge). This is the unique feature of Apple Pay Suica not available on any other platform for inbound visitors.
Anybody visiting Japan with iPhone 8/8 Plus and later, or Apple Watch Series 3 and later can add and use Suica. To help users enjoy the benefits of Apple Global FeliCa iPhone support, here is an Apple Pay Suica guide.
Troubleshooting & Information
Troubleshooting #1 Suica Registration
Troubleshooting #2 C102 / C110 Errors
Lost iPhone and Recovering Apple Pay Suica
Migrate Suica to a new iPhone
Renew Suica Commuter Plan
iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide
Fixing the Suica Lockout
Suica Inbound Battery Strategies
No Foreign Transaction Fee Apple Pay Suica
Mizuho Suica for Apple Pay
Apple Pay Suica Express Cards with power reserve
Getting Started: Plastic or Virtual Suica?
The choice of plastic or virtual Suica depends on what device you have: with iPhone you can add a plastic Suica card to Apple Pay, the easiest and recommend way. You can also add a virtual Suica card with Suica App, a little more work. Buy Suica at any Tokyo area JR station as shown in the JR East video below (the one minute mark).
Add Plastic Suica to iPhone
iOS 12 and above are recommended for adding and using Apple Pay Suica. Have your Suica card ready and the last 4 digits of the SuicaID number on the back.
1) First set your iPhone Region setting to Japan, after Suica is setup you can return it to your preferred setting. Open Wallet, tap , tap Continue, tap Suica and follow the screen instructions, also explained on Apple’s Set up a Suica card in Apple Pay: Transfer a Suica card to Apple Pay on your iPhone. The plastic Suica ¥500 deposit is automatically added to the Apple Pay Suica balance when the transfer is successfully completed.
2) Use Suica as explained on Apple’s Using Suica page. Not that you really need an explanation. You might need to select the Suica option on the terminal when you pay (Lawson, AEON) or let the sales clerk know that you are paying with Suica (everywhere else). Just say, “Suica!”
3) Add Money (Suica Recharge): in Wallet, tap the Suica card. tap , tap Add Money, then choose the amount, and tap “Add”. Select the card you want to pay from and place your finger on Touch ID to complete the transaction. Any Apple Pay credit card is good for Suica Recharge. Go here for details.
Suica Express Transit mode is automatically turned on when you first add a Suica card to Apple Pay. With Express Transit you do not use Touch ID or Face ID:
Simply hold the top of your iPhone X / iPhone 8 or the display of your Apple Watch Series 3 within a few centimeters of the contactless reader until you see Done and a checkmark on the display. You don’t need to wake or unlock your device or open an app to make the purchase.
Suica Express Transit is convenient and secure. Suica is a pre-paid card, it only holds the amount of money that you add to it with Apple Pay, or with cash.
Apple Pay Suica, Network Access and Battery
Network access is necessary only when adding Suica to Apple Pay, Suica Recharge with Apple Pay or using the Suica App. Here are a few things to be mindful of:
- Apple Pay Suica does not require network access for transit, store purchases and Suica Recharge with cash.
- Apple Pay Suica can be used in Airplane mode to preserve battery life while traveling. Do not run out of battery with iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3 and later before reaching your final destination.
- iPhone XS and iPhone XR Suica Express Transit cards with power reserve works even if the battery is run down. Let iPhone XS or iPhone XR shut down automatically into power reserve mode. You can use iPhone XS and iPhone XR Apple Pay Suica in power reserve mode up t 5 hours for transit, Suica Recharge with cash, and Suica purchase.
Apple Pay Suica Support and Coverage
JR East has an extensive Apple Pay Suica Japanese support site. English support is here.
Apple Pay Suica is compatible with all the major transit IC systems covering rail and bus nationwide. It is good for store purchases too, look for the IC logo or Suica logo at the payment terminal.
Note: if you are migrating Suica from another iPhone or Apple Watch you must delete Suica from the old device first before setting it up on a new device.
Add Plastic Suica to Apple Watch with iPhone
If you are using Apple Watch with iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XR all you need to do is add Suica to iPhone explained above, then transfer it to Apple Watch. See “Move your Suica from your iPhone to your Apple Watch” in the Set up a Suica card in Apple Pay support page for details.
Create a Virtual Suica or Add Suica to Apple Watch with iPhone 6, 6S, 7
If you are using an older iPhone paired with Global FeliCa Apple Watch you must create a virtual Suica with Suica App on the paired iPhone then transfer it to Apple Watch.
Apple Watch with iPhone 6, 6S, 7 Preflight check list
- iPhone 6 or above running the latest iOS version paired with Apple Watch Series 3/Series 4 also running the latest WatchOS
- A credit card already loaded into your iPhone Apple Pay Wallet. The card can be any Apple Pay compatible card issued from your home country
- Mobile data app use turned on for Suica, Wallet and Watch apps
- Passcode set for both iPhone and Apple Watch
- Apple Watch wrist detection turned on
- Network access when adding Suica to Apple Pay
- Suica App installed
- iPhone and Apple Watch Region set to Japan, after Suica is setup you can return it to your preferred setting
Launch the Suica app. Note that Suica app will only launch with a successfully paired Apple Watch Series 3/Series 4. Follow adding virtual Suica steps.
The last step is transferring Suica from iPhone to Apple Watch with the Watch app. See the “Move your Suica from your iPhone to your Apple Watch” section of the Set up a Suica card in Apple Pay support page if you need details.
Suica Express Transit and Store NFC Readers
Using the Apple Pay Suica Express Transit feature of iPhone and Apple Watch is slick, secure and very convenient. It’s the big killer feature heavily marketed by Apple and JR East in Japan and fun to use for transit and store purchases.
Simply hold the top of your iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XR or the display of your Apple Watch Series 3/Series 4 within a few centimeters of the contactless reader until you see Done and a checkmark on the display. You don’t need to wake or unlock your device or open an app to make the purchase.
You can test this for yourself at the transit gate or self checkout at NewDays station stores:
In the field however some older store readers are not Suica Express Transit savvy and require Touch ID / Face ID.
Fortunately, all convenience stores and almost all NFC store readers are Express Transit card savvy with newer readers and POS systems rapidly being deployed. Tell the clerk you want to pay with Suica, when the reader lights up put your device a few centimeters away, it beeps a completed transaction and you are on your way. No need to wake the device, choose the Apple Pay card or use Touch ID or Face ID. It just works. NFC readers like the ones pictured below work great.
Unfortunately some NFC readers are not Express Transit card savvy. J-Mups NFC readers force you to wake the device, manually select the Apple Pay Suica card, perform Touch ID or Face ID authentication then hold iPhone/Apple Watch to the reader. Be patient as transaction is very slow. Be wary when you encounter the J-Mups NFC readers pictured below.
UT1-Neo NFC readers show below are Suica Express Transit card savvy but very sensitive how iPhone is held. For iPhone 8 hold the top of the iPhone tilting forward slightly just in front of the reader and keep it still until the reader beeps. iPhone X seems to work best when held flat over the reader. The trick is to hold iPhone still until the reader beeps. Ignore the iPhone ‘transaction complete’ sound. UT1-Neo NFC readers are found in smaller stores and coffee shops such as Ueshima Coffee and Tsubakiya Coffee.