The Suica card


When we set foot in a new country for the first time, one of the first difficulties encountered directly concerns public transport. After disembarking at Narita Airport, you will travel to Tokyo using a special first ticket for the « Narita Express ». But if you are arriving from Haneda Airport, you could directly purchase one of the most widely used cards such as the « Suica » or « Pasmo ».

Although it is possible to travel around Tokyo using the « Suica » and « Pasmo », we preferably buy one or the other depending on the train lines we use. Indeed, each line belongs to certain railway companies.

In this new article, I will tell you about the Suica card in particular, although the use of the Suica and Pasmo cards is the same.

The Suica card

The Suica card was created by JR East Company, a Japanese rail company providing service to the northern half of Honshu Island. The Suica card is the name of a prepaid smart card that allows you to use most trains in Tokyo, as well as the metro, bus and monorail.

Suica's card

This is a card that you can top up yourself as soon as it reaches its limit of use. Indeed, the card is debited each time you pass a terminal on your journeys. In Japan, you pay from distance, and the further you go the more you will pay.

Buy the Suica card

When you go to a station in Tokyo for the first time, you will find various train ticket terminals allowing you to either buy your tickets or transport card, but also to recharge your transport card.

It is possible to put each terminal in English and thus buy your Suica (or Pasmo) card. To buy your first Suica card you must pay in cash and proceed to the following steps:

First screen: click on « Purchase new Suica »,

Second screen: click on « Suica new purchase »,

Third screen: click on the amount you want to deposit on your Suica card. You can start with ¥ 1,000 (yen) and put in up to ¥ 10,000 (yen).

Fourth screen: insert the amount you have chosen previously. On the same screen, you can request a receipt.

You will thus receive your first Suica card with the amount you have assigned to it.

NB: a deposit of ¥ 500 (yen) will be automatically deducted from the first amount you pay (this will be returned to you minus ¥ 220 (yen) when the card is returned).

Reload the Suica card

The Suica (or Pasmo) card can be recharged at any station in Tokyo. If you stay in Tokyo for a long time, you will quickly notice that there are several types of kiosks. Some ticket machines will allow you to top up only your transport card and others will allow you to both top up your card but also buy it.

Among the terminals where you could buy your Suica card, you will find that some terminals are older than others. Indeed, the old ticket terminals have been replaced by new ones in some Tokyo stations. But the use between old and new remains the same.

To top up your Suica (or Pasmo) card, you must:

Place your card in the empty space at the bottom right for the new terminals (on the old ones you just have to insert the card into the terminal),

The machine will display the various amounts ranging from ¥1000 (yen) to ¥10,000 (yen) with which it is possible to reload your card,

On the next screen, the terminal will display your current amount on your card as well as the amount you have previously selected,

Then you must insert the amount you have chosen to reload your card.

After five seconds of waiting, your card will be recharged.


Blue rectangle: deposit of the card to reload it.

Orange rectangle: display of the amount selected for recharging the card.

Red circle: cancel all actions by returning to the home screen.

Yellow rectangle: deposit of cash to top up the card.

Where to use the Suica card

Although the Suica card is a prepaid card for public transport in the capital of Japan, it can also be used in different places. Indeed, the Suica card (or even the Pasmo card) can be used like a bank card. In addition to the crossing points, you can also use it in the following places (although the list is not exhaustive):

Food and drink vending machine,

In the game centers,

In konbini such as Seven-Eleven, Family Mart or Lawson.

And of course, as soon as your card is used up, you can top it up at any station.

How to return the Suica card

After your stay in Japan, if you do not want to keep your Suica card, it is possible to return it. However, if you decide to keep it as a souvenir, know that it will still be usable for ten years.

Regarding the return of the Suica card:

You must return the Suica card only in offices belonging to JR East present in most stations in Tokyo,

You get back your deposit of ¥500 (yen) as well as your remaining balance (less ¥220 (yen) fees).