Best Ways to Take Money to Japan in 2024

Japan has a lot to offer visitors - whether you’re looking for culture and history, great food, vibrant cities or a quiet country retreat. No matter what you’re planning on doing when you’re in Japan, you’re going to need some money to pay for yourself. Managing your money in Japan doesn’t have to be a headache - but some advance planning is essential as there are a few important factors about spending in Japan you’ll want to know about.

Read on as we explore 4 possible ways to take money to Japan, including their benefits and drawbacks, to help you pick the right way for you.

Best ways to take money to Japan

In this guide we’ll walk through 4 of the most practical and popular ways to take money to Japan, including our top picks for providers to look at, pros and cons. Here are the common ways to pay overseas that we’ll investigate:

Prepaid travel cards to use in Japan

Ideal for: setting your travel budget ahead of time or on the go, converting between currencies anytime in an app, and making secure and convenient payments and withdrawals

Prepaid travel cards are usually linked to a digital account you can top up by card or with a bank transfer in USD, before switching over to JPY for your trip. Some cards also let you leave your money in dollars, and automatically convert at the point of payment, with no extra foreign transaction fees to pay.

Most prepaid travel cards support a selection of major currencies as well as JPY, so you can simply hold on to your card once you're back from Japan, to top up and use on your next foreign trip. If you plan on doing this, it’s also worth looking for a card with no inactivity fee and no ongoing charges, so you can just pop it in your pocket whenever you’re headed overseas, with no maintenance costs to worry about.

Wise - good value prepaid travel card

With this card:

  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies in your linked Wise account
  • No annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement
  • Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup
  • Some free ATM withdrawals available every month
  • Receive payments to your Wise account in multiple currencies conveniently
Wise card prosWise card cons
✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate

✅ No foreign transaction fees apply

✅ Free to spend any currency you hold in your account, conversion fees from 0.43% if you need to exchange from one currency to another

✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies

✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees

❌ 9 USD fee to get a card in the first place

❌ Free ATM withdrawals are limited to 2 per month, to the value of 100 USD. Fees of 2% + 1.5 USD after that

❌ No branch network or face to face service

Pros and cons of taking money to Japan with a prepaid travel card

  • Convenient for both spending and cash withdrawals
  • Secure as not linked to your everyday USD account
  • Cards are often available with no ongoing fees to pay
  • Currency exchange may have better rates than a bank will offer
  • Exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market rate
  • ATM fees may apply, depending on the card you pick
  • Some cards have inactivity fees which apply if you don’t use them regularly, or cash out fees if you close your account
  • Some cards charge a fee if you spend in an unsupported currency, or if you spend a currency you don’t hold in your account already

Travel debit cards to use in Japan

Ideal for: convenient spending and withdrawals in Japan with travel friendly perks and no interest to pay

Travel debit cards are often available from specialist online services, and allow you to top up a balance in a linked account, to spend and withdraw in JPY and a selection of other foreign currencies conveniently. Different cards have their own features, often including extra travel perks and benefits. Plus, because they’re debit cards not credit cards, there are no restrictive eligibility requirements, and there’s no chance of accidentally overspending and blowing your budget.

As with prepaid cards, you’ll often find that travel debit cards are linked to a multi-currency account you can use to hold Japanese yen ready for your trip. Again, picking a card which supports a broad range of currencies will also mean you can use it for the next time you go away, too. 

We’ll go into more detail about our top pick for a travel debit card - Revolut - next.

Revolut - good value travel debit card

With this card:

  • Hold and exchange 25+ currencies, no fee to spend currencies you hold
  • Choose the account plan that suits your needs and spending, including some with no monthly fees
  • Some no-fee ATM withdrawals and currency exchange with the mid-market rate, based on the account tier you choose
  • Extra perks like accounts for under 18s
  • Travel benefits offered for some account plans
Revolut card prosRevolut card cons
✅ Hold and exchange 25+ currencies, spend currencies you hold for no extra fee

✅ Choose from different account tiers to suit different customer needs

✅ Get some no-fee ATM withdrawals every month, depending on the plan you pick

✅ Get some currency exchange every month which uses the mid-market rate - limits vary by account plan

✅ No card order fee

❌ Ongoing fees apply for some account tiers

❌ Out of hours fees push up currency exchange costs on the weekend

❌ ATM fees of 2% apply once you exhaust your free withdrawals


Pros and cons of taking money to Japan with a travel debit card

  • Convenient and safe as you won’t need to carry a lot of cash at any one time
  • Many cards come with linked accounts you can use to hold a selection of foreign currencies
  • No interest or penalty fees - just top up the amount you want to spend and you’re done
  • Not connected to your main USD account, adding a layer of security when you’re overseas
  • ATM fees might apply - and cash is still important in Japan
  • Some transaction fees usually apply
  • Some cards have monthly fees to pay to get full feature access

Taking cash in Japan

Ideal for: spending where cards aren’t accepted - you’ll find many smaller businesses prefer cash to cards

While things are changing slowly in favor of card usage, cash is still heavily used in Japan. Large stores and hotels will usually take cards, but smaller merchants normally require cash payments, so carrying cash in yen is essential. 

It’s also worth noting that not all ATMs in Japan can offer services to foreign card holders. Look out for an ATM marked as ‘international’. You can usually use machines branded as Seven Bank, Japan Post and E-net, which are found in 7-Eleven stores, train stations and malls. If you’re outside of city areas it’s worth carrying a bit more cash than you think you’ll need just in case you can’t get to an international ATM conveniently.

The best strategy for your JPY cash depends on where you’re heading. You can get your JPY before you travel, or you could choose to take some dollars to convert when you’re there if you’ll be in tourist areas. If you’re sticking to cities, making ATM withdrawals in Japan should be fine, but off the beaten track this may be trickier. 

Generally having a few different payment options at any one time is a good plan. Carry some JPY cash (either converted in advance or by making an ATM withdrawal at the airport on arrival), make ATM withdrawals when you can, and have some USD cash to convert too, and you should be covered for all eventualities. 

Do I need cash in Japan?

Yes. Wherever in Japan you’re heading, carrying a little cash in JPY is essential, as you’ll find cash is the only accepted payment method in many smaller stores and restaurants.

Generally having more than one payment option with you is a smart plan, so taking some cash in JPY and USD, plus one or more cards should mean you’re prepared for anything. If you’ll mainly be in the cities during your visit, using a prepaid card or travel debit card to make ATM withdrawals should be enough to get the cash you need, as long as you plan in advance and top up your supply of JPY as you go.

How to buy JPY on arrival in Japan?

You’ll usually be able to exchange a major currency like USD with money changing services in Japanese cities and tourist areas. There are commonly exchange desks in airports and railway stations, too, serving international arrivals from all over the world. Check the exchange rates and fees before you switch your dollars for Japanese yen - airport exchange services are often not great value, so you may be better waiting until you reach the city center instead.

How to buy Japanese yen in the US?

If you choose to, you can also often exchange USD to JPY in advance in the US. Try a service like CXI which has 90+ US branches and also allows you to order whatever you need online for collection or delivery. Fees and exchange rate markups may apply, so do compare your options before you commit. Learn more: How to buy Japanese Yen

Best place to get Japanese yen from

There’s no single best place to get your travel cash - it’ll all depend on where you’re heading and how good a rate you can find either at home or on arrival. Compare a few options and bear in mind that it’s usually worth avoiding currency exchange in the airport or in your hotel.

Pros and cons of taking cash to Japan

  • Cash is the only accepted payment method in smaller places
  • Convert in advance or take dollars and switch on arrival
  • Set your budget in advance so you know exactly what you have to spend
  • Carrying a lot of cash isn't safe - tourists may be targeted by petty thieves
  • You’ll have to invest time during your break or in advance, shopping round to get a good deal
  • Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee

Travel credit cards to use in Japan

Ideal for: easy spending where cards are accepted - often with extra rewards when you spend in JPY

Travel credit cards usually have specific features which make them good for overseas use. This might include low or no foreign transaction fees, or more ways to earn rewards when you spend in foreign currencies. You can also often trade your rewards for discounts on future travel bookings, and you may find some cards come with complimentary insurance.

Spending with a credit card overseas can be a good option if you’d rather pay for your trip over a few months - although interest will apply in this case, pushing up the overall cost. There are also a few scenarios where a credit card is preferred, such as when you check into a hotel or rent a car, where a credit card may be accepted as a payment guarantee. Bear in mind though, that using a credit card at an ATM is a very expensive option, with cash advance fees and interest mounting up quickly.

Capital One Venture Rewards - our pick for travel credit card

With this card:

  • Check if you’ll be pre-approved online to get a card quickly
  • 95 USD annual fee
  • No foreign transaction or currency conversion fees
  • Make ATM withdrawals overseas with relatively low 3% cash advance fees
  • Earn rewards you can trade for travel benefits later
Capital One Rewards Venture card
Capital One Venture Rewards prosCapital One Venture Rewards cons
✅ No foreign transaction fees - your payment is converted to USD using the network exchange rate

✅ Earn rewards you can trade for travel benefits

✅ Repay your bill in full monthly to avoid interest or penalty fees

✅ Travel extras like some fee free insurance available

❌ Cash advance fee of 3% or 3 USD (whichever is greater), plus interest, when making an ATM withdrawal

❌ Interest charges apply if you don’t repay your bill in full monthly

❌ Subject to eligibility and credit checks


Pros and cons of taking travel credit cards to Japan

  • Some cards have low or no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn rewards and discounts, or get travel perks - depending on the card you pick
  • Spread your costs out over a few months
  • Credit cards are useful as a payment guarantee in some situations
  • Interest and fees usually apply if you don’t pay back your bill immediately
  • Cash advance and interest costs apply when using an ATM
  • Eligibility rules apply

Travel requirements from the US to Japan

If you’re going to Japan as a tourist you can usually enter for up to 90 days visa free with a US passport. Make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay, and that you have proof of onward travel which may be requested on arrival in Japan. You can’t work during a visa free period, and if you enter Japan visa free and then subsequently decide to apply for a visa to cover other activities like work or study, you’ll need to leave Japan before you can get your new visa and return to the country.

Check the State Department’s travel website to learn more, and to get up to the minute information for US visitors to Japan.


Does Japan accept US dollars?

No. You won’t be able to spend USD anywhere in Japan. If you’re carrying dollars with you you'll need to exchange them for JPY at a money changer on arrival.

Best currency to take to Japan

The currency in Japan is the Japanese yen - JPY. If you’re planning on exchanging your dollars in advance, you’ll need to switch over to JPY for spending once you arrive in Japan. On the other hand, if you’re planning on exchanging cash in Japan you’ll be fine to carry USD, as clean, undamaged notes will usually be accepted by money changers in major Japanese cities and tourist areas. 

Top travel money tips to Japan

Here are a few final tips to help your money go further while you’re away:

  • Cash is important in Japan - make sure you have some cash on your at all times, to avoid unnecessary problems
  • Have several different payment methods in case one isn't accepted wherever you are
  • Get a travel money card before you leave to make it easier and cheaper to spend and withdraw in Japan

How much money do I need per day in Japan?

Exactly what you’ll need to pay for your visit will depend a lot on what you like to do, and where in Japan you’ll stay. You’ll find prices in major cities far higher than in the countryside, but there’s a pretty good choice of accommodation price points wherever you go. That means you can design your trip to suit your budget.

To put this in context, in Tokyo, a 3 course lunch for 2 will set you back a little under 50 USD on average, a cheap lunch for one will be around 7 dollars - and a domestic beer about 2.5 USD. Public transport tickets in Tokyo are on average just 1.4 USD for a single journey, making this an attractive option for getting around while in Japan. 

Do some detailed research to see how much things are likely to cost wherever you’re headed, so you can plan your budget. Get more detailed cost information by country and city, from

How much does it cost to fly from the US to Japan?

Flight costs vary widely depending on where in the US you’ll leave from and where exactly you need to be in Japan. At the time of writing (January 2024), you can find flight deals from not much more than 600 USD return - but these cheap options will inevitably involve a layover which takes time. Direct flights are more expensive - usually 900 USD per person or more.


There’s no single best way to take money to Japan. You’ll meet situations where you definitely need cash - but carrying all your travel money in cash isn’t a smart move for safety. That means that for most people, having a variety of ways to pay including some cash and one or more cards makes sense.

One good idea is to get a travel card - such as a prepaid travel card from Wise or a travel debit card from Revolut - to use for spending and withdrawals, and to carry this alongside your regular debit or credit card for emergencies, and a little cash. This will often mean you can cut the costs of overseas spending, by using your specialist travel card, and you can stay safe by minimizing the amount of cash you need to hold at any given time.

Use this guide to decide which option to take money to Japan will work best for you, based on your own preferences and needs.

FAQs - Best ways to take money to Japan

Should I exchange money before I travel to Japan?

You’ll need to have some cash in Japan, so you can exchange in advance or make an ATM withdrawal on arrival at the airport. Using an ATM can also be cheaper than advance exchange, particularly if you have a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut.

Can I withdraw Japanese yen from a local ATM?

You can’t withdraw Japanese yen at an ATM in the US, but you can use a travel card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in Japan. Bear in mind that not all ATMs in Japan can support international cards - look out for specific international ATMs at branches of 7-Eleven and Japan Post.

Learn more: How to avoid international ATM fees

Are prepaid travel cards a good way to take money to Japan?

International prepaid debit cards from services like Wise have some great features like linked multi currency accounts and low or no ATM fees. They can also be a safe way to spend when abroad - consider getting a travel prepaid card to use alongside your other preferred payment methods, to bring down the costs of your trip.

Can I use cash in Japan?

Yes. Cash might be the only payment method accepted by smaller merchants, so having some cash to use alongside your cards is pretty much essential when you’re in Japan.

Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
March 18th, 2024