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 cards from home to add money. This is a unique feature of Apple Pay Suica not available on any other platform for inbound visitors.
Anybody from anywhere with iPhone 8 and later, iPhone X or later, Apple Watch Series 3 or later can add and use Suica. To help inbound visitors enjoy the benefits of Apple global FeliCa support here is an Apple Pay Suica guide.
- Add Suica to iPhone
- Network and Battery
- Suica Coverage
- Add Suica to Apple Watch with Global FeliCa iPhone
- Add Suica to Apple Watch without Global FeliCa iPhone
- Express Transit and NFC Readers
- Support and Troubleshooting
- Apple Pay Suica Shinkansen
There are 2 different ways to add a Suica card to iPhone and Apple Watch:
- Add Plastic Suica: iPhone can add plastic Suica cards directly into Apple Pay Wallet, the easiest and recommend way. Continue below to add a plastic Suica
- Add Virtual Suica: add a virtual Suica card with the Japanese only Suica App
If you don’t have a plastic Suica you can get one at any Tokyo area JR station as shown in the JR East video below (the one minute mark).
Add Plastic Suica to iPhone
iPhone 8 / iPhone X or later required, the latest iOS recommended. Have your JR East issue Suica card ready and the last 4 digits of the Suica ID number on the back. Only Suica issued by JR East can be added to Apple Pay. Suica cards issued by Tokyo Monorail or elsewhere cannot be added.
1) Set your iPhone Region to Japan, after Suica is setup Region can be any 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:
-Verify the last 4 digits of the Suica card number
-If adding My Suica or Commuter Suica add your birthdate
-Transfer a Suica card by resting the top of your iPhone on the middle of the Suica card. Leave it on the card without moving it and may take a few minutes to complete.
-The plastic Suica ¥500 deposit is automatically added to the Apple Pay Suica balance when the transfer is successfully completed
-You cannot use the plastic Suica after transferring it to iPhone
2) 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 use Touch ID / Face ID to complete the transaction. Any Apple Pay card from home is good for Suica Recharge. Go here for details.
3) 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, you don’t need to wake or unlock your device or open an app to use transit or make the purchase. Simply hold the top of your iPhone or display of your Apple Watch within a few centimeters of the contactless reader until you see Done and a checkmark on the display.
You might need to select Suica payment on some store terminals when you pay (Lawson, AEON) . Most of the time just say, “Suica!” to the cashier then hold iPhone to the reader. For transit hold iPhone to the gate reader and go through in a single motion:
Suica Express Transit is convenient and secure:
- Express Cards only work while Face ID/Touch ID is active. Express Cards stop working when Face ID/Touch ID is disabled.
- Suica is a pre-paid card, it only holds the amount of money that you add to it with Apple Pay, or with cash
Network Access and Battery
Good network access is necessary when adding Suica to Apple Pay, Apple Pay Suica Recharge or using Suica App. Here are a few things to be mindful of:
- Apple Pay Suica does not require network access for transit, purchases and Cash Suica Recharge.
- Apple Pay Suica can be used in Airplane mode to preserve battery life, 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 Apple Pay Suica Express Transit cards with power reserve work even if the battery is run down. Let iPhone XS or iPhone XR run down automatically into power reserve mode. You can use iPhone XS and iPhone XR Apple Pay Suica in power reserve mode up to 5 hours for transit, purchases and Cash Suica Recharge. Using Suica on iPhone or Apple Watch in Japan states:
On iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, Express Cards with power reserve is available for up to five hours when your iPhone needs to be charged. You can press the side button to check if Express Cards are available when your iPhone needs to be charged. Doing this often may significantly reduce the power reserve for Express Cards. If you choose to power off your iPhone, this feature will not be available.
Apple Pay Suica Coverage
You can use Apple Pay Suica anywhere you can use plastic Suica. Apple Pay Suica is good for all the major transit IC systems covering rail and bus nationwide. It is good for convenience stores, vending machines, anywhere that accepts Japan IC Transit cards, look for the Transit IC or Suica acceptance logo mark at the payment terminal. The Suica mark is everywhere.
Add Suica to Apple Watch with Global FeliCa iPhone
If you are using Apple Watch with iPhone 8 or later, iPhone X or later, 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.
Add Suica to Apple Watch without Global FeliCa iPhone
If you are using an older iPhone paired with Apple Watch Series 3 or later create a virtual Suica with Suica App on iPhone then transfer it to Apple Watch.
Preflight check list
- iPhone running the latest iOS version paired with Apple Watch Series 3 or later 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 Region can be any preferred setting
Launch Suica App and add a virtual Suica.
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 X or later / iPhone 8 or later, or the display of your Apple Watch Series 3 or later 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. Just say, “Suica!” to the cashier then hold iPhone to the reader. NFC readers like the ones pictured below work great.
Unfortunately some NFC readers are not Express Transit card savvy. Older 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 older black JREM NFC readers pictured below on the left, the newer J Mups JREM readers pictured on the right work great.
UT1-Neo NFC readers show below are Suica Express Transit card savvy but sensitive how iPhone is held. The trick is to hold iPhone to the reader before it is activated and keep 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. Newer UT-X10 readers with EMV contactless acceptance mark work great.
- The latest iOS, watchOS recommended for using Apple Pay Suica.
- Mobile Suica Cloud Maintenance: from 12:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. JST daily many Suica functionalities aren’t available, this includes adding cards, Apple Pay Suica Recharge, using Suica App, and suspending and removing cards from Find My iPhone and iCloud.com.
- Apple Pay cards are linked to your Apple ID. If you sign out of iCloud your Apple Pay Suica card is stored on Mobile Suica cloud, see Migrate Suica to a new iPhone below to restore Suica. You must be signed in with the same Apple ID used to add Suica. If you sign into iCloud with a different Apple ID than the one used to add Suica, you cannot access Suica.
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
Apple Pay Suica Shinkansen
There are 3 ways to use Apple Pay Suica for Shinkansen travel:
- SmartEX: register Apple Pay Suica for e-ticket reservation, purchase and ticketless Shinkansen travel on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen
- Touch and Go Shinkansen: register Apple Pay Suica for ticketless Shinkansen travel in the JR East Shinkansen Touch and Go region.
- Use Suica App to purchase JR East Shinkansen e-tickets for Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Joestsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen