The Apple Pay Suica Super Smart Shopping League Oath

I aspire to become an Apple Pay Suica Super Smart Shopping League (Apple Pay 4S) member and solemnly swear that the following items are true:

  • I possess a iPhone X, iPhone 8 or Apple Watch Series 3
  • I have a plastic Suica commuter pass
  • I like shopping at Bic Camera and posses a Bic Camera Point Cardfullsizeoutput_679b

I also solemnly swear to follow and uphold the Apple Pay 4S rules:

  • Add my Suica Commuter Pass to Apple Pay
  • Obtain a JCB Bic Camera View Card
  • Duly record my Bic Camera Point Card number in my JCB Bic Camera View Card application and the iPhone Bic Camera App.
  • Add my JCB Bic Camera View Card to Apple Pay Wallet and always use it for Suica Recharge and Suica Commuter Pass without fail.
  • Endeavor to conduct all purchases and public transit with Apple Pay Suica to earn regular Suica points and extra Suica Commuter Pass renewal points to attain massive Bic Camera Points.
  • Endeavor to assist all those who aspire to become Apple Pay 4S members

    Online application form for Bid Camera View Card
    You can apply for a JCB Bic Camera View Card online or get a paper application form from any Bic Camera – Kojima -Sofmap Store

Congratulations, you are now a member of the Apple Pay Suica Super Smart Shopping League. Happy Transit and Shopping!


Apple Pay Suica Inbound #6: Dead Battery FUD

Now that Apple Pay Suica Inbound is happening it’s interesting to see how people from abroad use and react to it. Some people worry a lot about iPhone dying on route before reaching the end station, a topic that Japanese users don’t mention much.

It is true that you do not want iPhone to die before reaching your Apple Pay Suica transit end point. Fortunately there are 2 easy things to do when your iPhone or Apple Watch battery runs low on route to get you through the final station gate.

1) Put iPhone in Airplane Mode, Apple Pay Suica works perfectly well without network access but few people realize this.


2) Power down iPhone until you reach your final station, when you get there power up and unlock iPhone just before going through the gate.

Some sites offer advice that could be misleading. Kevin Chen’s Creating a new Suica to use in Apple Pay is a decent explanation but suggests carrying a spare plastic Suica in case iPhone dies:

This could be inconvenient if your phone dies but you still need to take the subway home. To get the best of both worlds, keep your physical card active and generate a new Suica just for Apple Pay.

A backup plastic Suica for a complete start to finish trip is one thing, but some people will inevitably misinterpret that to mean either completing a transit with a backup plastic Suica or using it to pay whole fare if iPhone dies on route. You cannot do either one.

If the worst happens and iPhone really dies on route you must do 2 things:

1) Pay whole fare in cash, and only cash, at the end point.


2) Once your iPhone is charged take it to the nearest station and ask the station attendant  to reset Suica (clear the last transit information) so you can use it again.

With Suica coin lockers Suica acts as the electronic key in addition to payment so you must use the same Suica to unlock the coin locker. JR East says to call the help number listed above the Suica coin locker reader in case you run into any problems and need assistance.

Last but not least if the worst happens and iPhone dies, keep calm and be respectful with the station attendants. That way you’ll get the best help they can offer.

iPhone X and Apple Pay Suica Store Reader Errors


My iPhone X experience has been a very positive one that I hope to write about soon, but those finicky UT1-Neo NFC store readers are extremely finicky and error prone with iPhone X. Suddenly there are some irate Japanese tweets about Apple Pay Suica NFC reader errors, what’s going on?

JR East issued a notice via Suica App on November 8: “Issues to be careful of when using Apple Pay Suica for store purchases.” The notice points out 2 kinds of NFC reader errors:

  1. The NFC reader requests Touch ID/Face ID authentication even though your Apple Pay Suica is set for Express Transit. This happens most with vending machine purchases. Open Wallet, select Suica, authenticate and then purchase.
  2. Slow transaction-errors-repeat reads. Keep your iPhone position on the reader still until either the NFC reader beeps a completed transaction sound or the store clerk says the transaction is complete.

If JR East needs to issue a notice it means there are more than a few users experiencing problems. My own experience at Ueshima Coffee shops is that UT1-Neo readers take 2~3 attempts for a successful transaction. The iPhone 7 optimum position doesn’t work anymore.

As the JR East notice says keep iPhone in place until the transaction is done. UT1-Neo readers in other stores are behaving a little better.

It’s not clear what the issue is. iOS 11.1 Apple Pay Suica was a smooth ride on my iPhone 7 but on iPhone X it’s a problem with slower older NFC readers. Convenience stores and large store chains use the latest Panasonic and NEC NFC readers and work fine.

I suspect Apple needs to fine tune the NFC chipset performance on iPhone 8 and iPhone X to be a little more patient with older slower NFC readers along with adjustments on the store POS side as well.


The iPhone X Apple Pay Winner is Suica

Japanese IT Journalist Tsutsumu Ishikawa, one of the few to receive early iPhone X review unit a week ago, field tests Apple Pay and declares Suica is THE Apple Pay card for iPhone X. After one day with iPhone X, I agree: the double-click side button gesture to activate Apple Pay takes getting used to.

Express Transit Suica doesn’t need Touch ID or Face ID.  It was already my favorite Apple Pay feature in iPhone 7, more so than ever on iPhone X. Many Japanese and inbound Apple Pay Suica users are sure to agree.

One thing I notice with iPhone X is that tapping Suica notifications brings up a Recharge option. I didn’t notice this in iPhone 7 but have not confirmed if it is a iOS 11 feature I missed or a iPhone 8/iPhone X feature.

It’s very handy. One tap and you are in the Suica Recharge screen. Face ID activation and payment is the side button double-click.


Upgrading to iPhone X? Don’t Forget the Suica Two-Step

Apple Pay Suica is different from Apple Pay credit cards in that Suica can only exist on a single device. An Apple Pay credit card can coexist on iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad, not so with Suica.

When you migrate to a new iPhone or Apple Watch you must delete Suica from the old device first before setting up your new iPhone. Fortunately this is very easy to do. In Wallet simply delete Suica from the old device before migrating. Once you have setup your new iPhone simply add Suica in Wallet in the new device as shown in the above video. JR East has a nice Japanese support video too showing the same operation.

Don’t worry about losing your Suica SF account balance or commuter pass information. Apple Pay and the Mobile Suica system preserve all of your Suica information. Just make sure that you are signed in with the same Apple ID on your new iPhone, Apple Pay is turned on and iPhone Region is set to Japan.

Notice to smartEX users: a new Suica ID will be generated each time you delete/add the same Suica to Apple Pay. Make sure to update the Suica ID number in EX App.