Ride the Rails with Apple Pay Suica and Earn JRE POINT

The enhanced NFC functions of iOS 13 could not have come at a better time for the Japanese market. The great 10% consumption tax cashless experiment begins October 1 when the tax hike becomes effective and the Japanese government starts giving 2%~5% refunds for cashless payments via established card point systems. The ‘My Number‘ Japanese Individual Number card will be a centerpiece for getting those point rebates and the Japanese government has already announced iOS 13 support for My Number card. The whole rebate/refund thing is clear as mud but exciting too. Suica is listed as one of the many e-money cards eligible for consumption tax refunds/rebates. Suica consumption tax point refunds will be delivered via JRE POINT.

JR East added to the excitement today with the announcement that starting October 1 Suica users can earn JRE POINT simply by riding the rails. Mobile Suica transit users (Apple Pay Suica, Google Pay Suica, Osaifu Keitai Suica) earn 1 JRE POINT per 50 yen of IC transit fare, plastic Suica cards earn 1 JRE POINT per 200 yen of IC transit fare.

That’s a huge incentive to drive transit users from plastic Suica to Mobile Suica. The same JRE POINT rates apply to Green Car Seat purchases. And get this, only Mobile Suica Commuter Plan purchases and renewals are eligible for JRE POINT with 1 JRE POINT per 50 yen of the purchase/renewal. This is a sweet deal if your company sponsors your commuter pass. They give you the money, you get the points. Ugh, now I have to hold off renewing my Apple Pay Suica Commute Plan until October 1 but the points are worth going without my commute plan for a few days. JR East’s big push for Mobile Suica over plastic is remarkable and will become a shove when the next generation ‘Super Suica’ format arrives in April 2021.

To earn points the Suica card must be registered to a JRE POINT account. The JRE POINT account setup process has gotten a little more streamlined, and the iOS JRE POINT App a little less clunky over the past year. Mobile Suica and JRE POINT systems are now dynamically linked so you don’t need to worry if the Apple Pay Suica card ID number changes.

Today’s announcement only applies to regular train travel but JR East will be adding a lot more in 2020~2021 as the Super Suica start date approaches: JRE POINT for Touch and Go Shinkansen travel starts with the new JR East eTicket system in April 2020, Round trip fixed travel route coupon-like JRE POINT is due December 2020. And finally, with Super Suica in place, the regular express train/Shinkansen ‘EkiNet‘ ticketing and point system will be rolled into the JRE POINT system. Travelers can then earn and use JRE POINT to purchase regular express train and Shinkansen eTickets and upgrade seats. It will be Apple Pay Super Suica eTicket bliss.

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Apple Pay Suica Troubleshooting #3: Recharge hangs and errors

1030/1050/1210/2040 Errors
All Apple Pay Suica recharge errors happen when iPhone has a poor network connection. If Apple Pay Suica Recharge fails or hangs, don’t panic. Cancel the recharge process by hitting the sleep button, then check to make sure iPhone has a robust network connection, sometimes it helps to toggle Airplane Mode on and off to clear a bad connection. Try recharge again.

One important thing to remember is that even if you see a charge on your bank card, it is only temporary and will not be processed. If recharge still fails Suica App may display one of the following error numbers: 1030/1050/1210/2040. Follow these steps to clear the error:

  1. Restart iPhone
  2. Make sure your iPhone has a good network connection
  3. Make sure you are not in the Mobile Suica maintenance window: 2am~5am Japan Standard Time
  4. Open Suica App (you do not need a Mobile Suica account for this operation)
  5. Tap the red explanation point you see on the Suica App card

This will clear most error problems. If it does not clear the problem the next steps are:

  • Make sure you are logged into Apple ID and the iPhone Region is set to Japan
  • Remove Suica from Wallet.
  • Wait 10 minutes.
  • Tap the plus sign.
  • Tap Continue, then tap Suica.
  • The Suica card you removed from Wallet should be showing with the balance.
  • Add the Suica to Wallet.
  • Return iPhone Region to your preferred setting.

In some rare cases you may get this screen when attempting to re-add Suica in Wallet:

This means you made multiple recharge attempts that Mobile Suica needs to clear. Simply wait for the end of the next Mobile Suica maintenance window: 2am~5am Japan Standard Time, then re-add Suica.

Tokyo Cashless 2020: Dear JR East, we need a new Suica Charge App

With less than a year to go until the Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo Cashless 2020 is a periodic look at all things cashless as Japan gears up for the big event. If there is a topic that you’d like covered tweet me @Kanjo

Now that iOS 13 with supercharged Core NFC is almost here, it’s time for JR East to junk the old Suica Charge app for Sony PaSoRi FeliCa reader combo on life support until the plug is pulled in September 2020, and create a new Core NFC supercharged app for iOS 13. Since any iPhone 7 and later has the ability to Read/Write FeliCa cards build a whole new app around iPhone as the NFC read/write device. Here are some other helpful suggestions:

  • Make the app multilingual, or at least support English in addition to Japanese
  • Cooperate with the other major transit card companies to support all compatible Japanese transit IC cards for recharging, not just Suica
  • Support international issue credit/debit card registration in the app so that anybody from anywhere can recharge plastic transit IC cards with their bank card
  • Support In-App Apple Pay for recharging
  • Support the app on Non-Osaifu Keitai Android phones that can read/write NFC-F, there are lots of them out there coming to Tokyo in 2020, support Google Pay for In-App recharging too

There is an ocean of plastic Japanese transit IC cards out there. There are lots of Android users, and even iPhone users, who cannot use Apple Pay Suica or Google Pay Suica. A handy Suica recharge app that lets inbound travelers recharge plastic transit cards on the go with just a smartphone is screaming to be born, it would be an essential tool in alleviating station recharge kiosk lines during the Tokyo Olympics. JR East, please make it happen.

Update: I forgot that JR East already announced the end of “Suica Internet” services in September 2020. Suica Internet is a set of internet based services for online shopping and recharging Suica cards with the Sony PaSori reader and a Windows PC. JR East is pruning legacy services as they prepare for the next generation Super Suica rollout in April 2021.


Tokyo Cashless 2020
>Dear JR East, we need a new Suica Charge App
Consumption tax relief with the CASHLESS rebate program

Unlocking Suica App Security Lock

Suica App is very handy but comes with serious limitations for inbound visitors:

  • Suica App is Japanese language only
  • Suica App only accepts Japanese issue cards for registration

An English version of the app is certainly coming before the Tokyo Olympics, likely arriving in tandem with the new JR East Shinkansen eTicket system in April 2020.

Fortunately we have the English language SuicaEng app for adding a virtual Suica card, and we also have direct virtual Suica card creation in iOS 13 Wallet that eliminates dealing with SuicaEng or Suica App. And if you need to purchase anything in Suica App, such as Commuter Plans or Shinkansen eTickets, it can all be done with your Apple Pay cards.

Suica App has good security, but if you forget your Mobile Suica account password or attempt to register an international issue credit card, you can get yourself security locked out of Suica App and Mobile Suica. Here’s how to unlock the Suica App security lock and get a new password issued.

The first thing you need to do is write down your Mobile Suica registration details:

  • Last name, first name in Romaji/Kanji and Katakana
  • Birthdate
  • device phone number
  • Japanese postal code number
  • Mobile Suica registration e-mail address
  • An e-mail address you want the password reset sent to, this can be the same as the Mobile Suica registration e-mail

Once you have this information ready, go to this Mobile Suica Password Reset form. Follow the screenshot example below and enter the information. After entering the information click or tap on the button to verify the information, if all looks good click or tap the send button at the bottom of the verification screen.

You will receive a Mobile Suica password reset message from info@mobilesuica.com, messages can take up to 2 hours to arrive. Be aware that Mobile Suica issues password resets daily from 9:00 to 20:00 Japan Standard Time (JST), if your request arrives outside of those hours, it will be processed the next day.

After you obtain a new password from Mobile Suica, login to Suica App using the new password. You can then change the password in Suica App, follow the screenshots below:

In the event that Mobile Suica Support requests that you contact them to remove the security lock on your account you only have 2 options, both of them require Japanese language ability:

For either option have the following pieces of information ready:

  • Last name, first name in Katakana
  • Birthdate
  • Mobile Suica registered device phone number
  • Mobile Suica account ID
  • Suica card ID number
  • Suica card ‘Shikibetsu’ ID: this is the same as your Apple ID or slightly different with an ‘_1’ or ‘_2’ appended at the end


When using the chat option you type a request such as ‘Mobile Suica account has a security lock that I want unlocked.’ The next step is passing though a few canned support responses before being connected to an online support person. They will then ask you to confirm your account with the above information. Confirm to the support person that your Mobile Suica account has a security lock that you want unlocked.

AWS outage takes down PayPay

The Amazon Web Service outage that started around 1pm August 23 local Japan time took down some PayPay service along with it. Japanese users tweeted about payment and recharge not working. AWS service was completely restored by 8pm Japan time. Engadget JP’s Takahiro Koguchi posted a complete rundown.

Since QR Code payment systems depend on centralized processing, a cloud outage can easily bring down the system for all transactions. While this is a minor annoyance for paying at a convenience store where you can always pay on the spot using something else, it’s not the case when QR is used for transit where large numbers of people can suddenly be stranded. This is exactly what happened in Chengdu last April. It’s a risk of using QR Codes for transit.

Locally processed transactions like Suica are resilient because it was designed to avoid the trap of central processing, the stored balance is held on the card and not on the cloud. When things do go wrong with cloud services like Mobile Suica or Apple Pay, damage is limited to the credit card recharge side. Cash recharge at the convenience store, the station, the ATM is always there as a backup because it only deals with the card, not the cloud.