Delete Suica from Apple Pay for free

Stored value transit cards like Suica are different from branded credit/debit/prepaid cards issued by banks as the money is stored in the card balance. 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 account and chopping up the plastic card.

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, it makes a big distinction 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 attention to the wording. 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.

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 and 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.

Help Desk: time to toss the teiki for Mobile Suica?

I’ve abandoned renewing my teiki in favor of just using the suica app on my phone. So much easier, I think it’s worth the money I’m saving by buying a teiki. For some reason though, I’m not getting JRE points when recharging my suica. Any ideas?

Reader question from Fukuoka

In this era of on again, off again COVID infection waves and remote work from home, many people may not need a teiki/commuter pass for the office, even though they still need a transit card for occasional work use. A reader who lives in Fukuoka asked about using Suica in the Fukuoka sugoca/hayakaken/nicoma transit card territory. Is possible for Apple Pay Suica to do the job instead of native area cards?

If you do not need a teiki then absolutely yes, Mobile Suica takes care of your needs. But there are a few gotchas to be aware of. Actually there is only one: points. All of the various transit IC cards are tethered to their respective regions with reward points and company branded credit cards. Each card has a different reward point system, JRE POINT for Suica, JR Kyupo for Sugoca, hayaken point, JR West Point and so on.

If we take the example of using Suica in Fukuoka, there is only one way to earn JRE POINT, Apple Pay Suica recharge with a JR East issue VIEW credit card in Wallet app. And there is only one way to use JRE POINT, Suica recharge with JRE POINT via Suica App. If you can live without points Suica is fine, but if you want to rack up points, this sucks. It comes down to personal choice of using what works best for you, convenience, and/or what gives you the best return.

One thing is clear, the teiki needs to change with the times. If you follow this blog you know I write a lot about Suica 2 in 1 cards that support 2 separate reward point systems and commute passes in one card. Currently these cards are only for JR East region transit affiliates, but the next generation 2 in 1 FeliCa architecture can done anywhere. All the JR Group companies should do this and issue 2 in 1 cards for their respective regions and work with transit affiliates to improve transit IC card compatibility for cross region transit, multiple points, multiple passes, mobile support and so on.

An interesting aspect of Suica 2 in 1 such as the Yamagata cherica card is that commute plans include traditional point to point transit passes and transit zones passes. Japanese transit companies are have to get creative and offer different kinds of passes that appeal to different working styles in the post-COVID era. Tough transit times demand tough transit action. 2 in 1 transit cards that support multiple point rewards and commute passes on mobile is the future for transit IC.

October 23~24 Yamanote Line Inner Circle service suspension detour transfer guidance (suspension over)

Apple Pay Suica or PASMO commuter pass users who need to detour during October 23~24 must not use automatic gates, use the station agent window reader instead

Note: this post is marked archived as construction was completed.


The JR Shibuya station platform and track realignment of the Yamanote Inner Circle line takes place October 23~24 (unless bad weather postpones it to November 20~21). All Yamanote Inner Circle train service between Ikebukuro and Osaki stations is suspended all day, both days.

JR East posted multilingual information in English, Chinese, Korean (deleted after the construction was finished) that includes detour transfer guidance to non-JR lines during the line closure. The English wording is fuzzy because the exact distinctions between mag-strip commuter passes, Suica commuter passes and Suica IC transit fare are not always clear to the reader. It’s also important to understand detour transfer rules.

Detour Transfers
Tokyo area transit operators have special detour transfer rules to deal with transit situations when there is an unexpected stoppage and in-transit users suddenly need to use a different transit route from the normal one to reach their destination. Detour transfers have one rule for Suica or PASMO commuter passes, both mobile and plastic: do not use automatic transit gates during the detour portion of the route, go to a station agent window gate instead and use the reader. The station agent checks the validity of the commuter pass and waves you through, the NFC equivalent of visually inspecting printed tickets and passes. Regular non-commuter pass Suica, PASMO and other transit cards are outside of detour transfer rules and are charged normal IC transit fare.

For example, my normal commute route from JR Asagaya to Tokyu Ikegami has a line transfer point at Gotanda. A Gotanda transfer isn’t possible during the service suspension. Instead I plan to transfer at Shibuya to the Tokyu Toyoko line, ride to Jiyugaoka > transfer to Tokyu Ooimachi line > transfer at Hatanodai to Tokyu Ikegami line > exit at Ikegami.

In this case I make 2 automatic gate reads and 2 station agent window reads with my Apple Watch Suica commute pass: the JR Asagaya start point (automatic gate as always), leaving JR Shibuya (JR station agent window reader) transfer to Tokyu Toyoko line (Tokyu station agent window reader), Tokyu Ikegami (automatic gate as always).

This poster at the Tokyu Ikegami station clearly shows the ‘do not use automatic gates during detour rule,’ and which kinds of tickets can be used for detour transfers: Suica and PASMO commuter passes and all mag strip passes and tickets. For Apple Pay Suica and PASMO commuter passes, always use the station agent window reader on the detour portion and you’ll reach your final destination even with a long detour.

Suica App 3D Secure authorization for all non-Apple Pay in-app purchases

More fallout from the VISA JP Apple Pay agreement: JR East announced they will implement 3D Secure in iOS Suica App, requiring authorization for all non-Apple Pay in-app purchases.

Suica App is convenient because it works hand in glove with Apple Pay and app registered Japanese issue credit cards, giving users the widest possible card coverage. Since 2016, Suica App was the only work around solution for using VISA JP cards for Apple Pay Suica recharge.

With the VISA JP Apple Pay deal however, we are seeing a bunch of credit card backend changes, like merchant code changes that eliminate Suica recharge 3x travel points for Chase Sapphire Reserve VISA holders. JR East is changing how Suica App works, 3D Secure authorization for all non-Apple Pay in-app purchases is part of that. For users this means doing Suica recharge and commute plan renewal in Wallet instead of Suica App to avoid 3D Secure login hassles. Wallet is the hands down easiest way to recharge Suica and renew commute plans.

We’ll see a Suica App v3.0.4 update when 3D Secure is in place, likely after the new Eki-Net launches June 26. PASMO App already uses 3D Secure for registering cards but not for in-app purchases.

With direct Wallet addition of Suica cards starting with iOS 13 coupled with last year’s migration of Shinkansen eTicket functionality to Eki-Net, and the addition of VISA JP Apple Pay in-app support, Suica App is less essential than ever. The only reason for using it now is new commute plan purchases, Auto-Charge setup (which remains the 3D Secure free way to recharge) and receiving Suica Pocket recharge rewards.

There are some VISA JP cards that still don’t support Apple Pay in-app, MUFG holders still have to recharge the old Suica App way. Whatever the reason, the across the board change will be likely be very unpopular with iOS Suica App and Android Mobile Suica users.

UPDATE July 20, 2021
3D Secure is now required for registering credit cards in Suica App. So far there are no reports of 3D Secure confirmation required for Suica App in-app recharge or Green Car Seat upgrades. This matches my own limited testing. I’ll update this post if anything changes.

Any purchase in Suica App can be made with Apple Pay instead of the app registered card that bypasses 3D Secure, Suica App registered CC on the left, Apple Pay on the right

If you need to enter your passcode

A reader asked me about using face masks with Express Transit. The great thing about Express Transit with Suica and Octopus is that the user doesn’t need Face ID or Touch ID to use transit or buy stuff. It’s very convenient to have, especially in our face mask era. iOS 13.5 added a small Face ID tweak for easier passcode entry when wearing a face mask. It helps with the basic unlock but for me regular Apple Pay authentication is still a pain.

The reader wanted to know if the iOS 13.5 Face ID tweak affected Express Transit. It does not. You don’t need Face ID to use Apple Pay Express Transit. But Face ID needs to be ‘on’ in order for Express Transit to work and finding the right information on Apple support pages is a little confusing. The reference page you want is If Face ID isn’t working on your iPhone or iPad Pro>If you need to enter your passcode:

The key sentences are outlined in red. Wearing a face mask is not a problem with Express Transit and Face ID turned on. However, “five unsuccessful attempts to match a face,” turns off Face ID and Express Transit. You need to enter your passcode to turn on Face ID and Express Transit again.

Unfortunately turning off Face ID wearing a face mask with five unsuccessful attempts without realizing it is easy to do and trips up a lot of Express Transit users who are not aware of it. That’s why I suggest turning off the ‘Raise to Wake’ option in Settings > Display & Brightness. Doing so reduces the chance of ‘five strikes’ and makes Face ID with face mask life a little easier.