Important Suica App update due October 10

JR East announced an important Suica App update that will drop immediately after the early morning Mobile Suica maintenance window that ends 5:30 am JST. The new version is Suica App v 2.3 with seemingly minor app UI changes but has big updates on the cloud service side. The new features are:

  • Mobile Suica password resets can be done from Suica App. Finally. Until the new system becomes operational, ‘I forgot my password’ resets can only be done with a web site form or calling the Japanese only, hopelessly overloaded Mobile Suica Call Center.
  • Mobile Suica members can cancel their account without logging in. This is very convenient for users who want to switch to Android devices. Because of the way Apple Pay and Mobile Suica are integrated, users have to cancel their account and set up a new one for Android use.
  • Mobile Suica members can see Suica cards parked on the Mobile Suica cloud. This is extremely useful to have in case you delete Suica on one device but have yet to load it onto a new one, or forgot you even had another Suica card. Anything parked on the Mobile Suica cloud will all be there and visible in Suica App.

There are great new features and I look forward to using them. It should also help free up the overloaded Mobile Suica Call Center as users can take care of mundane Suica account management without calling in. It would be great if the Apple Pay Suica performance enhancing iOS 12.1 update drops at the same time.

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Decision of the day

OK, you are the manager of the Kaldi Coffee Farm in the JR East Asagaya station Beans mall. Your store offers JRE POINT and is taking part in 3 day free 500 JRE POINT present campaign that starts Friday.

Today, Tuesday, is double JRE POINT day at Asagaya Beans mall. It is also raining which means foot traffic is down. Do you

    Offer double Kaldi Coffee points and screw shoppers coming for the free 500 JRE POINT campaign on Friday?
    Offer double Kaldi Coffee points on Friday so that shoppers get the girl, the gold watch and everything?

The answer of course is #1 screw the shoppers. Kaldi management must have graduated from the ‘dangle the carrot don’t let them eat it’ school of business.

Update: Interested piqued, I asked a Kaldi clerk if coffee double points would be in effect during the 500 JRE POINT Campaign. “We only do it on the 25th of every month, but sometimes on other (unannounced) days, it changes each month.” Other unannounced days…hmm. I then asked a Japanese friend to confirm things, “Kaldi has been doing that a lot recently. They used to have ‘store anniversary sale’ days on actual anniversary days but those are all unannounced now. I guess food imports business is not so profitable these days with the exchange rate so all the sales campaigns are unannounced. Maybe they’ll start announcing them again when they get desperate.”

Bingo.

Suica Platform Update: JRE POINT September Point Campaign

JRE Points

Now that you have your JRE POINT account setup on the JrePoint iOS App, we have the perfect opportunity to get free JRE POINT with the just announced September Premium Point Campaign running September 28~30. If you purchase a grand total of ¥5,400 worth of goods on those three days you automatically get an additional 500 free points in addition to the regular points (¥5400=540 points). At least 1040 JRE POINT that you can turn around for a free ¥1,040 Suica Recharge.

In order to get the 500 free points you must first sign up for the campaign in JrePoint App. Launch the app, tap the Yellow campaign banner, scroll down the campaign page, tap “Entry” and you are done.

The only thing left to do is shop at any store that offers JRE POINT. Look for the green logo below. At the register give the cashier your plastic JRE POINT card and pay anyway you want to: Suica, credit, cash.

There is a Kaldi Coffee Farm store in the Asagaya Station Beans Mall. I need some coffee and things and can kill ¥5,400 in less than a minute there. I’ll pay with my BIC CAMERA View JCB card and get JRE POINT + BIC CAMERA POINT. The latter will kick me over the line so I can pick up a new Apple iPhone case there for free.

Now that’s what I call platform lock in.

Setup and Use JRE POINT

JRE Points

Update: JAPAN CASHLESS rebate program information at bottom

JRE POINT is the JR East point system for Suica (Apple Pay Suica), View Card (credit card) and JRE POINT Card (plastic point card and multifunction credit + point card). Here is a quick overview guide to help you get the most out of using Apple Pay Suica, View Card and JRE POINT. JR East has streamlined the account setup and point exchange process over the past year and continues to improve it. Once setup is complete you can start racking up points for free Suica Recharge or purchases.

JRE POINT Setup

Step 1: Basic items

  • Apple Pay Suica: If you only have a single Suica card use that, if you have multiple Suica cards you have to choose one for earning JRE POINT
  • Suica App: Mobile Suica/Suica App account required, Suica App is where you receive points for free Suica Recharge
  • JRE POINT Card: The plastic point card is not necessary to get an online account but highly recommend for earning maximum JRE POINT with Suica
  • JR East VIEW Card: optional but highly recommended and you can set it up to Auto-Charge Apple Pay Suica.
  • JRE POINT App

Get a plastic JRE POINT card at any JR station area store displaying the green JRE POINT logo. The JRE POINT Card is free and requires filling out a simple form with name, address and email. Give the store staff the completed form and they will set up the card for you.

Step 2: Create your JRE POINT
The first thing to do is create your JRE POINT account on JRE POINT WEB. You can do this first and link your cards later.

  • Create a temporary account with a email address and password. I strongly recommend using the same email address and password you have for Suica App/Mobile Suica. It will make life easier. The JRE POINT web site offers the option to sign in with JR-EAST ID but strongly recommend not using it unless you are very familiar with the JR East online password system.
  • After creating the temporary login and password you receive an email to complete the account setup. Follow the link and complete your JRE POINT online account. In addition to the regular login password you also need to set a 6 number PIN that is called #2 Password. Be sure to write this down, I guarantee you will forget it otherwise. The 6 number PIN #2 password is a backup password necessary when confirming account information updates and accessing transaction history.

Step 3: Register related JR East card numbers in your JRE POINT account. This is where you tie Apple Pay Suica, View Card, JRE POINT Card together to your JRE POINT account:

Login to the JRE POINT mobile web site and register your Suica, JRE POINT card, and View Card (if you have one). Follow the screenshots and captions below:


Install JRE POINT App on iPhone and log in with your JRE POINT ID and password. The first time you log in you may encounter an annoying ‘confirm you are a person’ step where you have to find all the photos with car, a sign, etc., or enter the number displayed on the screen. JR East has been strengthening the integration between Suica App and JRE POINT App, if you are logged in with Suica App, JRE POINT app launches without requesting a separate login.

When all is set up and you are logged in, the JRE POINT App will display your current JRE POINT balance at the top of the main screen. You can also confirm the cards you have registered with JRE POINT.


Get JRE POINT

There are 4 ways to get JRE POINT:

Green Logo JRE POINT
Use JRE POINT Card with cash, credit card or Apple Pay Suica purchases, user must present plastic JRE POINT Card to get points. Green logo JRE POINT points are added to JRE POINT account instantly. Green Logo JRE POINT Store list in Japanese.

Yellow Logo JRE POINT
Use Apple Pay Suica for purchase at stores, vending machine and self checkout terminals. JRE POINT are added automatically to your JRE POINT account, no need to use the plastic JRE POINT Card. Yellow logo JRE POINT from Apple Pay Suica are added within 24 hours. Yellow Logo JRE POINT in JR Stations or surrounding areas.

VIEW JRE POINT
Use View Card for purchases anywhere, for Apple Pay Suica Recharge and Suica Commute Plan purchase/renewal. JRE POINT are added automatically. View Card JRE POINT are added at the end of the View card billing month.

Apple Pay Suica/Mobile Suica Transit JRE POINT
Use Apple Pay Suica for transit, commute plan purchase or renewal, and Green Car Upgrade purchases, Mobile Suica JRE POINT are added automatically (starting October 1, 2019). at the start of the month based on previous month Apple Pay Suica/Mobile Suica transit use.

Do some research to find a card combination that makes your money work harder. For example: BIC CAMERA VIEW JCB Card + Apple Pay Suica + JRE POINT gets you JRE POINT and BIC CAMERA Points with purchases and Apple Pay Suica Recharge. BIC CAMERA points can be used to purchase items at BIC CAMERA. I usually use BIC CAMERA points to pick up Apple brand iPhone cases and other related items.


Exchange JRE POINT for Suica Recharge

Step 1: JRE POINT App Suica Recharge
We finally arrive at the fun part of this whole exercise: exchanging JRE POINT for a free Suica Charge. Open JrePoint App, login if needed, follow the screenshots and captions below. 1 JRE POINT converts to 1 yen, 500 JRE POINTS for a 500 yen Suica Recharge, etc.

Step 2: Receive Suica Recharge in Suica App

Launch Suica App and confirm that your Suica card is selected. Tap Ticket Purchase•Suica Management in the lower right menu, tap Suica Pocket, tap the Suica Point Charge amount, tap Suica Charge, as shown in the screenshots below.

That’s it. Your JRE POINTS have been converted into Suica e-money you can use for Apple Pay Suica transit or purchase that get you more JRE POINT. This guide barely scratches the surface. There are many more options and configurations available. Take some time with it and you’ll be rewarded with much smarter Apple Pay Suica use.



JRE POINT and JAPAN CASHLESS rebate program

The Japanese Government CASHLESS rebate program, CASH=LESS get it?

In tandem with the 10% consumption tax starting October 1, the Japanese government is launching a CASHLESS rebate program that offers a 5% or 2% rebate with cashless purchases at participating stores and purchases on Amazon JP and Rakuten JP online stores. The CASHLESS program is run by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and will be valid for all cashless purchases from October 1, 2019 until June 30, 2020.

View Card
Make purchases at any store displaying the red 5% or 2% CASHLESS logo with a View credit card, by plastic or Apple Pay (QUICPay). Your CASHLESS program rebate amount is calculated by View at billing time and automatically deducted from your monthly credit card bill. There are some limitations:

  • The maximum monthly CASHLESS rebate is capped at ¥15,000 per View card
  • CASHLESS rebates do not apply to Apple Pay Suica Recharge
The CASHLESS + SUICA JRE POINT logo

Apple Pay Suica
Make purchases at any store displaying the CASHLESS and JRE POINT logo. This also applies to vending machines or self-checkout terminals. There is no rebate for Suica Transit use. CASHLESS program rebate amount is calculated at the end of the month and refunded to your JRE POINT account.

CASHLESS Rebate Strategies
View Card is the winner here because it is not tied to JRE POINT and has a larger footprint: any CASHLESS logo store will automatically give you rebates with a View Card purchase. Apple Pay Suica is at a disadvantage because CASHLESS rebates are tied to CASHLESS + JRE POINT logo stores/vending machines/self-checkout: a smaller footprint.

However JR East is trying to make up for the smaller footprint by offering more JRE POINTS for Suica purchases with a point campaign running concurrently with the CASHLESS rebate program, October 1 to June 30:

We won’t know how things will shake out until the fun starts on October 1. All in all I think I will be making more purchases with my Apple Pay View Card (QUICPay) and fewer with Apple Pay Suica for the duration of the CASHLESS rebate program.