How Long Does a Japan Subway Card Last, Anyway?
Got a Suica or Pasmo card sitting in a desk drawer for your next visit to Japan? Here’s how long you have until it deactivates for good.
By Jay Allen
If you’ve traveled to Japan, chances are you still have a Suica, PASMO, or ICOCA card sitting in a desk drawer somewhere. But how long do you have until it expires?
Ubiquitous cards going digital
Japan is the second largest consumer of rail services in the world. Its average 2,142km of travel per person per year ranks it only behind Sweden. So it’s no surprise that transit cards are an important part of daily life here.
Japan’s major rail companies all offer their own version of a transit card based on Japan’s native FeliCa IC chip. And the cards are useful for far more than just travel. You can use the most popular cards — particularly Japan Railways East’s Suica card and the PASMO Corporation’s PASMO card — to make purchases at supermarkets, convenience stores (combinis), and more.
Sadly, the physical IC card may soon be a thing of the past. Both Suica and PASMO announced earlier this year that they were halting the sale of anonymous (no name engraved) physical IC cards due to a chip shortage.
You can still get a physical card if you register your name and phone number for one. Tourists can also get Welcome cards that last for 30 days.
But the need to have any sort of physical card is rapidly diminishing. Both Apple Pay and Google Pay now support adding digital Suica and PASMO cards directly to your smartphone wallet. And a few rail lines in Japan are experimenting with using credit card touch payments directly at ticket gates.