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Is it worth getting the JCB card for a single trip to Japan?

I visited Tokyo back in April this year. It was my first trip to Japan which involved leaving the airport, and it was awesome. The food, the scenery, the shopping. I’d go back again in a heartbeat.

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Now that I’m back I’m a bit annoyed that I only seriously looked at the JCB card today. Because there are quite a few offers they have which could have saved me money in Japan, at no cost to me.

The UOB JCB Platinum card’s has an income requirement of $30,000 and an annual fee of $64.20, but they give you the first year free. During that period you can enjoy the following

Free Wi Fi throughout Japan

Japan, unfortunately, isn’t covered by Starhub‘s excellent Happy Roam plan. It isn’t exactly cheap with Singtel/Starhub’s unlimited $25 a day plans either (M1 lets you pay $25 to utilize your local data allowance in Japan).

Fortunately, WiFi coverage in Japan is plentiful. If you’re a JCB Cardholder you can get a Travel Japan Wi-Fi premium code that lets you access more than 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across Japan through the Travel Japan Wi-Fi app (the regular, free access version gives you 60,000 Wi-Fi hotspots)

Premium codes for JCB Platinum cardmembers can be obtained at JCB Plaza Tokyo or at Narita International Airport limousine bus ticket counter or here.

1 for 1 dining offers

There is an extensive list of restaurants in Japan where you can get 1 for 1 dining on set menus with a minimum of 2 guests.

The JCB list allows you to filter restaurants by price. For Tokyo the cheapest set menu I could find was 5,000 JPY which is still quite expensive, but hey, if you’re headed there anyway…


Reservations need to be made through the JCB Platinum concierge (and given the generally poor standard of English in Japan, you might want to use them anyway). You can enjoy this 1 for 1 offer a maximum of once a year per restaurant. Although this isn’t going to give you fantastically cheap meals, getting 50% off at a nice restaurant will certainly take the dent out of a night out.

20% off the airport limo bus

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The airport limo bus is one of the most economical modes of transportation getting to and from HND/NRT.  I wrote about my experience taking it here, suffice to say it’s 930 JPY from HND to Tokyo Station and 3,100 JPY from HND to NRT, so you could save quite a bit depending on your travel plans.  You can buy up to 4 tickets at one time.

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Or, if you spend at least JPY 50,000 (about S$670) on your JCB Platinum card in Japan you can redeem a free limo bus ticket to NRT.

Airport Lounge Access

With your JCB card you can get unlimited free access to airport lounges in 58 airports across 5 countries (Japan, Thailand, USA (Hawaii), Hong Kong and South Korea).

If you refer to the JCB website you can see that the list has since been expanded to 7 countries (Singapore and China are now available). In Singapore the lounge available is the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 or The Green Market in Terminal 2. The catch, however, is that you cannot use the lounge access in the country your card is issued. So you will not be able to use the lounges in Singapore.

Plaza Premium Lounge T1
Plaza Premium Lounge T1

In Tokyo you can access the IASS Executive Lounge in Narita and the Airport Lounge Central in Haneda.

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IASS Executive Lounge Tokyo
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IASS Executive Lounge Tokyo

Guest fees are charged so if you’re travelling with a partner you might want him/her to get a JCB card of their own. There is no limit to the number of complimentary lounge visits.

Free Admission to Japan Towers

I didn’t visit any of these attractions while I was in Japan, but the Tokyo Tower is apparently worth a visit if you’re into views. Admission is usually 900 JPY, but you can get in for free with your JCB card.

You can also access the following attractions for free

Participating Towers:

  • Goryokaku tower, Hokkaido
  • Choshi port tower, Chiba
  • Tokyo tower, Tokyo
  • Chiba port tower, Chiba
  • Yokohama marine tower, Yokohama
  • Crossland tower, Toyama
  • Tojinbo tower, Fukui
  • Nagoya TV tower, Nagoya, Aichi
  • Kaikyo yume tower, Yamaguchi
  • Beppu tower, Beppu, Oita

Conclusion

In addition to the above offers, JCB has other promotions for its Platinum card members.

Since the first year annual fee is waived, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t apply for a UOB JCB card if Japan is on your upcoming travels list.

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16 Comments on "Is it worth getting the JCB card for a single trip to Japan?"

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Hi, I just came back from Osaka and I had the JCB card. I never used the JCB card during the trip. For the airport limo, the discount is only applicable for single trip from the airport to your destination. Depending on your travel plans, it may be cheaper to buy return ticket when you purchase the limo ticket. I bought return ticket and it was cheaper than using the airport limo discount.

Agree with ayql83 – I, too, signed up for a JCB card to use the airport limo offer, only to realize when we were there that it was cheaper buying return tickets instead.

Guess we’ll use it to access one of the lounges next time we’re there…

wifi really sucks in japan, i would recommend renting a dongle.

i used global advance communications. not the cheapest, but they efficient and have good customer service. pickup and drop off at your hotel or airport post office. unlimited use.

also can try renting from changi but rates arent that great and i’m certain the customer service sucks.

Thanks for sharing this tip, Aaron! I’d get the JCB card just for the lounge access. Priority Pass isn’t accepted at Haneda Airport last I tried this May.

hey aaron! i’m back! quick tip for everyone about the Travel Japan Wifi Premium Code. the 2 places to get under the UOB-JCB card is quite out of the way. in fact, you can get the code at most Don Quixote in tokyo! the full list can can found on their website. i always use this wifi to supplement my local sim card 😉

http://wi2.co.jp/tjw/premiumcode.html

I’m planning to get the card for my upcoming Japan trip! However, most airport lounges specifies the need to be JCB gold member for access, just wondering if you know the UOB JCB card is JCB gold?