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Guide to Point Cards in Japan - How to Earn and Redeem Points

Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points

Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points

Go shopping anywhere in Japan, and you’re bound to be asked: Do you have a point card? (ポイントカードはお持ちですか?/ぽいんとかーどはおもちですか?/pointo ka-do wa omochi desu ka?)

You might think that point cards take up valuable real estate in your wallet. But, use them wisely, and your wallet will thank you! Japanese point cards have been long dismissed as something just for convenience store and neighborhood eateries, but point cards have evolved into something unstoppable. Nowadays, you can rack up points at gas stations,  fast food chains, major department stores, electronic stores, and supermarkets – all with one card!

If you want to get a point card in Japan and don’t know where to start, or are eager to earn more points with your existing point card, read on! We’ll start with a broad introduction of the 6 major point card programs, and round up with a few tips and tricks that will help you rack up more points when shopping in Japan.

T-Point

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Major Players: Softbank, Family Mart, Isetan, Tsutaya, Maruetsu, Welcia, Bamiyan. See full list here (link in Japanese)

T-Point cards and shops that accept T-Points are easily distinguished by the blue and yellow “T” logo. But, if you want prefer something original, there are a variety of T-Point card designs, ranging from Pokemon to the Softbank mascot Otousan, to popular music groups. Present your card to the cashier at checkout to earn points.

You earn 1 point for every 100 yen spent at T-Point affiliates. However, if you’re a Softbank customer, you’re in luck – you automatically earn 10 Softbank points for every 100 yen spent when using Yahoo! Shopping. Softbank customers can also earn and use T-Points for their monthly charges and are also eligible for special T-Point rebates.

When shopping at a place that accepts T-Points, carefully look at your receipt. Shop enough and you will be rewarded with free Tsutaya DVD rentals or a coupon for bonus T-points redeemable at a different Point affiliate.

Another perk of being a T-point card holder is that you can even earn T-Points when overseas! (link in Japanese)

Where to get a T-Point card: Pick up a new card for free at any Family Mart or Softbank shop.

Nanaco

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Major Players: 7-Eleven, Ito-Yokado, Denny’s, Seibu Sogo, Akachan Honpo, Tsuruha Drug Store, Ario. See full list here  (link in Japanese)

Those unicorn colored Nanaco cards aren’t just a trendy accessory — you’ll earn serious points when shopping at affiliate shops.

If 7-Eleven is your to-go convenience store, you’ll want a Nanaco card in your wallet; 7-Eleven often has “Buy 5, get the 6th Item Free” campaigns. In addition, card holders can earn bonus points on certain products. Check out the list of seasonal bonus point items here (link in Japanese).

Nanaco cards use smart touchless technology, and Nanano mobile Nanaco mobile (Osaifu-Keitai application for mobile phones with embedded contactless chip) is another option.

Where to get a Nanaco card: Purchase a Nanaco card for 300 yen at 7-Eleven or Ito Yokado.

***Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points***

Ponta

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Major Players: Lawson, Oisix, Jalan, HMV, Geo, Japan Post. See full list here (link in Japanese)

If Lawson is your convenience store of choice, get a Ponta card!

In addition to earning 1 point for 100 yen spent at participating retailers, Ponta points can be redeemed for items or discount coupons at Lawson. While being able to redeem points for coupons is nothing new, Lawson stands out because you can get more value for your points. Whereas an item valued at 173 yen will cost you 173 points, you can get the latest drinks, snacks, and alocoholic beverages at Lawson for only 70-90 points! See the full list of seasonal promotions here (link in Japanese).

Ponta cards are great for those who travel frequently within Japan — You’ll earn points when renting a car or booking reservations through Jalan.

Where to get a Ponta card: Pick up a Ponta card at your nearest Lawson or Geo.

D Point

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Major Players: Docomo, Lawson, Lotteria, KFC, Dotour, Takashimaya, Mastuzakaya. See full list here (link in Japanese)

D points are new in the point card world, making their mark in December 2015. Docomo users benefit greatly from being a D point card holder. You will receive coupons and various other special bonuses according to your stage. The stages are determined by the amount of points you earn in a 6 month period.

For example, every 1,000 yen spent towards your monthly user fee nets you extra points according your stage. Those in the “regular “ stage will earn a bonus 10 point per 1,000 yen spent, while those in the “gold” stage rack up 100 points per 1,000 yen spent.

The D point scheme is affiliated with Docomo, but you don’t have to be a Docomo user to register. You can earn and use D-points in a variety of ways including in stores and when shopping online.

Where to get a D-Point card: Pick up a new card for free at your nearest Docomo shop or Lawson convenience store.

***Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points***

Waon

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Major Players: JAL Mileage Bank, Aeon, Daiei, Ministop, Carrefour, Kitchen Origin, Yamato Kuroneko. See full list here (link in Japanese)

If you haven’t seen a Waon card before, you’ve probably heard it — the card makes a very cute “waon” sound after every successful transaction or charge! Some Japanese municipalities even sell Waon cards featuring scenic views, making them a perfect souvenir for yourself or friends.

You earn 1 point for every 200 yen spent or charged on a Waon card. Waon cards are accepted at a variety of supermarkets under the Aeon group, such as Aeon Malls, Daiei, and My Basket. If your weekly shop is at Daiei or My Basket, or Aeon, you’ll definitely want this one in your wallet.

Where to get a Waon card: Purchase a Waon card for 300 yen at Aeon, Daiei, My Basket, Max Value, or Mini Stop.

Rakuten/Edy

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Major Players: Rakuten Group, Mos Burger, Lawson, McDonald’s, ANA

If you prefer online shopping, consider creating a Rakuten account and signing up for the Rakuten/Edy Card. Rakuten point card service began in 2014 as a way to allow shoppers to redeem points earned while shopping online at brick and mortar shops.

You’ll earn 1 point for every 100 yen spent. When paying with a Rakuten card, you’ll earn an additional 1 point. Finally, when paying with Rakuten Edy, an additional 1 point can be earned for every 200 yen spent.

The most popular way to rack up points is during Rakuten’s 買い物マラソン (かいものまらそん/kaimono marason), a shopping period in which your point bonus increases for every shop you use during the period. For example, shop at 3 different shops and earn 3 points for every 100 yen spend. Shop at 6 shops and get 6 points per 100 yen spent.

Rakuten Super Points can be converted into Edy Points, and Edy Points can be converted into Rakuten Points.

Where to get a Rakuten/Edy card: Purchase a Rakuten Edy card on Rakuten for 300 yen.

***Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points***

Tips

Earning points

Choose your point cards wisely, otherwise you’ll end up with a wallet full of unused cards. The trick is to create point cards for major and small shops you frequent – the convenience store you pass on your way to the train station, the bakery near your office, the supermarket on your way home.

The new generation of point cards also function as prepaid cash/rechargeable/contactless electronic money cards similar to Suica and Pasmo train and bus passes. However, unlike Suica and Pasmo, most point cards will allow you to top up or charge or charge with gift cards or credit cards. Plus, when you top up your card, you’ll also earn points!

Score more points with a point card branded credit card (e.g. Family Mart, T Point Credit Card, Rakuten Mastercard)

Pick up flyers and sign up for shop newsletters for info on bonus point campaigns and products that earn you extra points. Look for the following words:

Bonus points: ボーナスポイント /ぼーなすぽいんと/bo-nasu pointo

2x/3x points: ポイントx倍/ぽいんとxばい/pointo x bai

Have frequent flyer miles with a Japanese airline but not enough to earn a free fight or upgrade? JAL and ANA miles can be converted to points or exchanged for coupons. For example, 2,000 JAL miles can be exchanged for 2,000 yen worth of coupons at Family Mart. Conversely, rack up enough points and you can redeem them for JAL or ANA miles.

***Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points***

Redeeming Points

Don’t let hard-earned points go to waste! Periodically check your balance (online or on the receipt) to ensure that you redeem your points before they expire!

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Points that you earn can be later converted into electronic money (電子マネー/でんしまねー/denshi mane-). Generally your 1 point is equivalent to 1 yen per point, but be on the lookout for campaigns that give you a greater value for points.

Before redeeming points, remember to register your point card! Register your cards here:

Rakuten/Edy (link in English)

T-Point (link in Japanese)

D-Point (link in Japanese)

Waon (link in Japanese)

Nanaco (link in Japanese)

Ponta (link in Japanese)

***Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points***

Phrases for Redeeming Points

When shopping, the clerk may ask you if you would like to redeem points.

Would you like to redeem your points toward today’s purchase?

Pointo wa otsukai ni narimasu ka?

ポイントはお使いになりますか?

ぽいんとはおつかいになりますか

If you would only like to redeem a certain amount of points, say:

I’d like to use only — yen worth of points.

en bun no point de,

—円分のポイントで。

— えん ぶん の ぽいんと で。

If you want to redeem all your points, simply say:

Use all of my points.

Zenbu de.

全部で。

ぜんぶで。

If you’ve earned enough points and are ready to reap the rewards of your hard work, present your point card and tell the cashier:

I’ll be paying with my points.

Pointo de onegai shimasu

ポイントでお願いします。

ぽいんと で おねがい します。

Have any tips for earning points? Let us know in the comments!

Check out our other posts on shopping in Japan:

Fukubukuro Lucky Bags in Japan – 10 Tips for Smooth Shopping

Top 10 Tokyo Shops for Japanese Gifts

Top 10 Tokyo Toy Stores – Domestic to Import Brands We Have You Covered

Greater Tokyo Area Outlet Centers -10 Day Trip Outlets

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Guide to Point Cards in Japan – How to Earn and Redeem Points

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Written By: Teni Wada – A work-at-home-mom determined to find the perfect work-life balance in the bustling city of Tokyo. Find out more about her life as a new mom in Tokyo over at her blog, babykaiju.com.

 

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