One of the early issues of using Apple Pay Suica was that the Suica card ID number would change every time the card was removed and re-added to Wallet, migrated to a new iPhone, or transferred from iPhone to Apple Watch. This was no problem for using Suica for transit and payment, but soft-linked services like JRE POINT and the JR Central Shinkansen EX App were a problem. Users had to manually update the Apple Pay Suica card ID number in those service accounts. If they did not, those services stopped working.
The good news is that Mobile Suica and Apple Pay fixed the issue in 2017. The bad news is that the issue is back again. JR East has done a lot of backend work on the Mobile Suica system to get the iOS 13 direct Suica card creation Wallet feature in place. I moved by main Apple Pay Suica card to test it on Apple Watch and noticed that the Suica card ID had changed. I thought I might need to issue an all points alert, but close investigation revealed that JR East has really improved things on the Mobile Suica system.
The official JR East Mobile Suica support position is that Suica card ID numbers can change when removed and re-added to Wallet. Softlinked Apple Pay Suica services like EX App (smartEX and Express Reservation) and Touch and Go Shinkansen stop working when the Suica ID number changes and need to have the registration information updated to re-link the services.
My own experience is the Suica card ID number changes, once. After that, moving Suica around doesn’t change anything. I suspect this is related to the changes in iOS 13 Wallet. Another interesting change is that the JRE POINT system automatically updates a changed Suica ID number from Mobile Suica. It just works. Hurray!
Softlinked Apple Pay Suica services like EX App (smartEX and Express Reservation) and Touch and Go Shinkansen are still a problem. Touch and Go Shinkansen users simply register their device again at a JR East station kiosk. Apple Pay Suica & Express Card EX App users need to open up Suica App, tap the Express Reservation option and login to EX via the shitty little mobile EX browser window. You should see a “Your Registered Device has changed” and a “Update” button. Tap that and all is done. You can confirm the updated Suica ID number in EX App.
I do not have a smartEX account and cannot confirm this, but I suspect users need to update any changed Suica ID number manually in the EX/smartEX Apps. In the future I hope that JR Central does a better job of dynamically connecting their EX system with Mobile Suica.
Suica is the only transit card in the world on mobile that covers both high-speed rail and regular transit. Apple Pay Suica can be used for eTicket Shinkansen travel on all Shinkansen lines and ticketless travel in designated regions on JR East Shinkansen lines. However, Shinkansen eTickets are often more about convenience over price: paper tickets usually have better on the spot discounts unless you dig deeper into the system and sign up for services in advance.
Shinkansen eTicketing is a evolutionary mix of 2 different ticketing systems built by the separate JR company groups that operate the Shinkansen lines:
JR East created and used Mobile Suica cloud eTickets downloaded to Apple Pay Suica, Google Pay Suica and Osaifu Keitai for travel on Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Hokkaido, Joestsu, Hokuriku Shinkansen. This was replace by a new Shinkansen eTicket service called Eki-Net. This is a cloud linked service very similar to smartEX.
JR Central/JR West created and use the EX system (smartEX and Express Reserve) that links a online purchased eTicket to a preregistered plastic transit smartcard for travel on Tokaido (Tokyo~Osaka) Sanyo (Osaka~Hakata) Shinkansen. It is not a download eTicketing service for mobile devices because JR Central/JR West don’t have a Mobile Suica cloud-like transit card system. In this case Apple Pay Suica is just another linked transit card number, EX doesn’t know or care if it’s a plastic card or not.
JR East also offers ticketless Shinkansen travel for any Touch and Go service registered Apple Pay Suica or plastic transit IC card. Just like EX, the Touch and Go system doesn’t know or care if it’s a real card or not.
JR Central offers the EX App and EX Service for Shinkansen online eTicket purchases that can be linked with Apple Pay Suica for travel on Tokaido (Tokyo~Osaka) Sanyo (Osaka~Hakata) and Kyushu Shinkansen lines. EX has two different kinds of service: EXPress Reservation that links to Apple Pay Suica and smartEX which can link to Apple Pay Suica or PASMO.
The 2 different kinds of EX services:
EXPress Reservation: a premium service aimed at frequent travelers with JR Group credit cards or other select JP issue credit cards. Membership costs ¥1,080 a year but offers a wide range of deeper ticket discounts than smartEX. VIEW CARD users register via Suica App. Other select JP issue credit cards can be used, confirm card status here. Can be linked with Apple Pay Suica or PASMO.
smartEX: is the ‘regular service’, less discounts but can be used with any credit card as long as it supports 3-D Secure 2.0. Membership is free. Online registration is offered in Japanese and English. Can be linked with Apple Pay Suica or PASMO.
EX App from the Japan App Store offers more features: Japanese and English support, login support for all EX account types (EXpress Reservation and smartEX) and Face ID/Touch ID support, but does not support direct account creation/registration.
EX downloaded on App Stores outside of Japan supports smartEX account creation/registration in the app, but does not support EXPress Reservation account login. The Japanese App Store EX version supports all account types and English language when the iOS system language is set accordingly.
Some points to be aware of: 1) EX App purchased tickets, eTickets and paper tickets, are station to station only and do not include local line region to region transit fare included in paper tickets purchased at JR Train Reservation offices or station kiosks. Make sure the eTicket discount makes up for local transit fare of your trip. 2) EX App/smartEX/EXPress Reservation do not support Apple Pay for In-App eTicket purchases.
SmartEX registration To register and use smartEX you need 2 things: a Japanese transit card ID number and a credit card with 3-D Secure 2.0 support. Apple Pay Suica users must have Suica app installed to get their Suica ID number. Apple Pay PASMO users can get their PASMO ID number with PASMO app. Simply tap the card in the app and copy the ID#.
I highly recommend preparing your Apple Pay Suica or PASMO ID number in easy copy/paste format before smartEX registration. Copy the ID in Suica or PASMO app then paste it into Memo app. It will be one long 17 character alpha-numeric string starting with 2 characters, JE or PB. Put a few spaces between JE/PB and the following 15 character string so that you can easily copy just the last 15 characters without the lead characters.
Register name, birth date, email, password, credit card with credit card verification, and transit card ID. Be careful to copy and paste just the last 15 characters of your Apple Pay Suica ID explained above.
Login with your password. Unlike the Japanese EX App, FaceID/Touch ID is not supported. However you can download and use EX from the Japanese App Store which offers full support and works in English.
The Suica App sign up process is not difficult but requires decent Japanese reading ability, patience and a JR East View Card already registered in Suica App. With that in place and your 4 digit View Card PIN number on hand, tap the Suica App View Express menu, then tap View Express Register.
The View Express Register section will instruct you to enter 4 digits of your PIN number in a random order.
Once View Express Register is successfully completed, wait 2 weeks for JR Central to send your View Express-Express Reserve IC card and Express Reserve member ID/Password
After receiving your View Express IC card go to Suica App and tap Express Reserve. You are presented with a Safari browser window service agreement, tap the agree-service connect button near the bottom. After tapping the button you will see the mobile Express Reserve login site.
Tap the text line just below the orange login banner that reads: “Mobile Suica users accessing Express Reserve for the first time touch here.”
This takes you through a quick registration process where you enter an email address and receive a mail with a special smartphone registration link. Tap the link then enter your View Card number/expiration date and a password. When completed you receive an Express Reserve member ID.
EX App Login and Transit Card registration An interesting and important difference from smartEX is that registration via Suica App automatically registers the Apple Pay Suica card ID with the EX system.
Once registration is complete, use the EX App downloaded from the Japan App Store for EXPress Reservation Shinkansen ticket reservation and purchases. Be sure to login to EX App with your EXPress Reservation member ID and password using the Express Card sign-on option. You can also login with a smartEX account. Once you are logged-in with any EX account you can register up to 5 Transit IC cards (Suica, PASMO, TOICA, ICOCA, etc.) for group ticket purchase and travel.
If you ride JR Central – JR West Shinkansen- JR Kyushu Shinkansen lines more than 1~2 times a year and have a View Card, Express Reserve ticket discounts are worth the registration via Suica App Express Reserve. Happy transit!
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