Stored value transit cards like Suica are different from branded credit/debit/prepaid cards issued by banks as the money is stored on the card (called the card balance or SF=stored fare). The truth is in the card not the cloud which is why a Mobile Suica card can only exist on a single device. The transit card issuer has to refund the card balance before the transit card can be deleted, forever, from Apple Pay. Deleting a bank issue payment card in Wallet app leaves the card intact, but this is not the case for Suica. Deleting Suica is the digital equivalent of cancelling the card and chopping the plastic.
The difference between removing from Wallet and deleting from Apple Pay
People assume removing a card in Wallet means that it is deleted from Apple Pay and gone, but this is not the case. Before iOS 15 it was impossible to tell the difference between cards in Wallet and cards still attached to Apple Pay•Apple ID but not showing in Wallet. A very confusing situation for users.
iOS 15 Wallet added a new category ‘Previous Cards’ to solve this problem. Previous Cards are Wallet items removed from Wallet that are still attached to your Apple Pay•Apple ID. The screen blurb says, “Quickly add the cards, keys and passes you have already used in Wallet.” Cards still attached to Apple Pay but not in Wallet show up in a standby list ready to be added.
Wallet wording is tricky, there is a huge difference between ‘removing‘ a card, which removes it from Wallet and parks it on the Apple Pay cloud, and ‘deleting‘ a card which completely deletes a card from Apple Pay and Apple ID. Previous Cards makes things clearer than before, but you still need to pay close attention. Let’s apply this distinction using the Suica example. It is very easy to remove Suica from Wallet but impossible to delete Suica from Apple Pay because Wallet has no mechanism for refunding the balance. Refunding a Suica balance is the job of Suica App.
For most people it’s probably just easier leaving an un-used Suica or PASMO attached to Apple Pay, but some users may want to go the extra hassle of getting a refund and ‘chopping up’ their digital Suica or PASMO card.
Suica withdrawal refund
Getting a withdrawal refund from a Suica card balance isn’t easy for some as the refund can only be made to a Japanese bank account. There’s also a ¥220 fee that JR East charges for processing refunds.
Why not just refund the stored fare directly to a credit card like Octopus App? There’s a catch. Apple Pay Octopus only supports Hong Kong issue cards in Wallet. People without a Hong Kong issue bank card have to use the Octopus Tourist App that locks a foreign currency and a pricy predetermined currency exchange rate when adding Octopus. Inbound Octopus users get surcharged with every recharge, but they can refund the remaining balance to their credit card when deleting Octopus.
The Suica withdrawal refund workaround
There is a way to get around the ‘refund to bank account with processing fee’ problem and permanently delete Suica from your Apple Pay associated with your Apple ID. Mobile Suica support states:
The “Withdrawal” procedure on the registered members menu (in Japanese only) allows the balance of the SF (Stored Fare) to be remitted to your bank account in Japan. Since it costs ¥220 for the refund, it is generally advised that you use up all the SF (Stored Fare).Mobile Suica Support: Can I get a refund from the remaining balance on the SF (Stored Fare) ?
You still need a Mobile Suica account and Suica App to do the job but the process is simple. Before deleting Suica run the balance down to ¥0, then launch Suica App.
- Step #1: scroll to the bottom of Suica App Ticketing and Management menu and tap the red ‘Refund this Suica’ item at the very bottom
- Step #2: Confirm the refund terms and confirm
- Step #3: In the next screen confirm the balance, refund and processing fee are ¥0, tap ‘refund and delete card’.
- Step #4: Confirm refund and delete
- Step #5: In Wallet Suica shows ‘this card cannot be used’, tap ‘delete this card’
- Step #6: Confirm deleting Suica
- Step #7: Wallet notification that Suica has been deleted from Apple Pay
Done, the Suica is deleted though it may show in Previous Cards for a few hours until the Mobile Suica system processes it completely. Use the same steps for deleting PASMO from Apple Pay using PASMO App.