Best ways to take money to Japan - 2024

Preparing a trip to Japan? Planning how to manage your travel money before you leave Malaysia can help you save time, money, and hassle. Join us as we compare the best ways to spend in Japanese Yen, including travel money cards and cash. Whether you prefer to spend with a card, or need to know if Japan is great for cash, this guide shows you the best money solution when you travel overseas.

Best ways to take money to Japan - an overview

Let’s kick off with a quick summary of the travel money options we’ll cover in this full guide - click to check out the providers we’ve highlighted, or read on for more detail.

ProviderCard typeSpending feesGo to provider
Wise travel debit cardVisa debit cardNo fees to spend currencies you holdGo to Wise
EnrichMoney prepaid cardVisaNo fees to spend currencies you holdGo to EnrichMoney
HSBC Travel One credit cardMastercard1% foreign transaction feeGo to HSBC

Debit cards for Japan

Debit cards can be issued by a bank or specialist provider. Your card will be linked to an account you need to top up before you can spend.

Spending and making cash withdrawals with a travel debit card in Japan can be convenient, and if you pick a low cost provider, it could be cheap too. Generally using a debit card cuts out a few common fees compared to using credit cards, but you’ll need to have money in your account before you travel as there’s no credit facility with this option.

Ideal for: Low cost spending and withdrawals when you’re in Japan, particularly if you choose a flexible card which has good exchange rates when you spend in JPY

Wise travel card

Delivered in MalaysiaDelivered in MalaysiaVisa/Mastercard debit cardVisa/Mastercard debit cardVirtual card availableVirtual card availableMid-market exchange rateMid-market exchange rate

Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, to order a Wise travel card you can use for convenient spending and withdrawals in Japan. Wise accounts can hold 40+ currencies, so you can top up in MYR easily from your bank or using your card. Whenever you travel, to Japan or beyond, you’ll have the option to convert to the currency you need in advance if it’s supported for holding a balance, or simply let the card do the conversion at the point of payment.

In either case you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees whenever you spend in JPY, plus some free ATM withdrawals every month - perfect if you’re looking for easy ways to arrange your travel cash.

Wise features

CardFees for spendingATM feesWithdraw limitAnnual feeApp availableTrustpilot score
Visa or Mastercard Debit CardNo fees to spend currencies you hold

Some fee free withdrawals monthly, with low fees after that

23,000 MYR a month

N/AiOS & Android4.2 / 5 (200,000+)

Wise travel card pros and cons

  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies with the mid-market rate
  • Spend seamlessly in JPY when you travel
  • Some free ATM withdrawals every month, for those times only cash will do
  • Ways to receive payments to your Wise account conveniently
  • Manage your account and card from your phone
  • 13.7 MYR fee to order your physical card
  • ATM fees apply once you've exhausted your monthly free withdrawals
  • Physical cards may take 14 days to arrive (you can use your virtual card right away)

Here’s how to apply for a Wise account and order a Wise  travel card in Malaysia:

  1. Open the Wise app or desktop site

  2. Select Register and confirm you want to open a personal account

  3. Register with your email, Facebook, Apple or Google ID

  4. Upload your ID document to complete the verification step

  5. Tap the Cards tab to order your card, and pay the required fee

  6. Confirm your mailing address, and your card will be on the way, and should arrive in 14 days

How much does a debit card cost?

Debit cards are usually relatively cheap to use. It’s worth checking if your bank debit card can be used in Japan, and if any foreign transaction fees or international ATM fees will apply. Compare your bank debit cards against a specialist alternative like the Wise debit card, which is optimised for international use, to see which is cheaper.

Advantages and disadvantages for taking a debit card to Japan

Travel debit cards are good ifConsider alternatives to cards if 

✅ You want low cost spending and withdrawals

✅ Your bank or specialist card has low or no foreign transaction fees

✅ You need ways to both spend on card and get cash from ATMs

✅ You’re happy to top up your account in advance to set your travel money budget

❌ You’d prefer to spread the cost of your trip over a few months

❌ You need a card you can use as payment guarantee when checking into a hotel or hiring a vehicle

Prepaid cards for Japan

Prepaid cards are often issued by specialist providers, although some banks do also offer this facility.

With a prepaid card you’ll need to add money to a digital account before you can spend. The features and fees of prepaid cards can vary quite widely - some are designed for overseas use, while others may have pretty high fees when you’re overseas. Comparing a few will help you pick.

Ideal for: Setting your travel budget in advance, and then spending and making withdrawals as you travel in Japan

EnrichMoney travel card

Delivered in MalaysiaDelivered in MalaysiaVisa debit cardVisa debit card

The EnrichMoney card lets you spend in Japan and internationally conveniently - either by adding money in cash or by converting Enrich points you already hold for cash equivalent. You can add money with points or in MYR and spend and make withdrawals with no fee to spend a currency you hold, and a 1.75% fee for spending a balance you don’t have in your account.

As the list of supported currencies for holding a balance does change from time to time, it’s worth checking if JPY is available before you decide on this card, to make sure you don’t run into unnecessary fees.

EnrichMoney features

CardFees for spendingATM feesWithdraw limitAnnual feeApp availableTrustpilot score
Visa Debit Card

No fees to spend currencies you hold

1.75% foreign transaction fee when you don’t hold the balance needed

10 MYR international ATM fee

Check limit in the EnrichMoney app10 MYRiOS & AndroidNot active on Trustpilot

EnrichMoney travel card pros and cons

  • Hold 20 currencies
  • Top up with money or with Enrich points you already hold
  • Earn Enrich points as you spend
  • Track your money and your spending online
  • 10 MYR annual fee
  • 1.75% fee if you don't have the currency you need
  • 10 MYR international ATM fee

How to apply for a EnrichMoney card

Here’s how to apply for a EnrichMoney account and order a travel card in Malaysia:

  1. Download the EnrichMoney app

  2. Complete the online order process

  3. Pay the 10 MYR issuance fee and the 20 MYR deposit

  4. Your card will be sent to you

How much does a prepaid card cost?

Prepaid cards which are designed for international use can offer flexibility and low international fees. It’s worth shopping around to find an option which supports low or no cost spending and withdrawals - if you’re eligible, getting a EnrichMoney could be a smart move, as a prepaid card with great travel features.

Advantages and disadvantages for taking a prepaid card to Japan

Travel prepaid cards are good ifConsider alternatives to prepaid cards if

✅ You want to add money to your account in advance for overseas spending

✅ You need to make cash withdrawals as well as pay by card

✅ You’ve picked a card with flexible international features and low or no cost overseas spending 

❌ You want to earn rewards or cash back on your spending

❌ You need to be able to pay off your travel costs over a few months

Credit cards for Japan

With a credit card you’ll be able to spend to your credit limit and then repay your bill later - fees apply if you don’t pay in full and on time.

Credit cards can come with a few extra fees compared to debit and prepaid cards, such as interest, penalties and cash advance costs. However, they’re still an attractive option if you have a travel optimised card which lets you earn rewards as you spend, or if you need a card to act as a payment guarantee when you hire a car or check into a hotel.

Ideal for: Spending now and paying back later - you may also earn rewards or cash back spending on the card you pick

HSBC TravelOne Credit Card travel card

Mastercard networkMastercard networkUp to 8x rewards on spendingUp to 8x rewards on spendingRedemption on rewards, for hotels and flightsRedemption on rewards, for hotels and flights

The HSBC Malaysia TravelOne credit card allows you to earn variable rates of rewards, up to 8x on your spending. You can then redeem your points instantly on the HSBC website or app, for things like flights and hotels. Other great travel perks include airport lounge access, travel insurance and golf discounts, making this a good option for customers looking for lifestyle benefits. There are high ATM fees, and you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee when you spend overseas.

HSBC TravelOne Credit Card features

CardFees for spendingATM feesAnnual feeApp available
Mastercard Credit card1% foreign transaction fee + any charge applied by the network5% or 15 MRY, whichever is greater300 MYROn Android and Apple

HSBC TravelOne Credit Card pros and cons

  • Up to 8x rewards on spending
  • Complimentary airport lounge access
  • Some travel insurance included
  • Get golf privileges with your card
  • Spread the costs of purchases easily
  • 60,000 MYR minimum income needed
  • 300 MYR annual fee
  • Variable interest applies depending on how you use your card

Apply online - the documents needed depend on your personal situation, but are all clearly detailed on the HSBC Malaysia website.

How much does a credit card cost?

Generally, using a credit card can be more expensive than using a debit or prepaid card. There are various fees to consider, including an annual fee, interest and penalties, depending on how you use your card. Plus for international use you might find foreign transaction fees and hefty cash advance charges for ATM use. Check your card’s terms and conditions carefully before you use it overseas.

Advantages and disadvantages for taking a credit card to Japan

Travel credit cards are good ifConsider alternatives to credit cards if 

✅ You want to earn rewards or cash back on spending

✅ You want to spread the costs of your purchases over months

✅ You want a card you can use as a payment guarantee

✅ You can find a card with low or no foreign transaction fees

❌ You’re concerned about interest or penalty fees

❌ Your card has high cash advance costs for ATM use

Taking cash to Japan

There are likely to be times in Japan when cash is handy - for smaller purchases, tipping and taxis for example. Having some cash in your pocket is also reassuring in case your preferred payment card isn’t available or can't be accepted for some reason. Carrying too much cash is a security risk, so do be careful as tourists are often prey to opportunist thieves  - in Japan and the world over. Take out cash from ATMs little and often if you can.

Ideal for: Those times when only cash will do - market purchases, tipping and taxis for example

How much cash should I bring to Japan?

The budget you need to set for your trip depends a lot on what type of trip you’re expecting – you may be travelling or a shoestring, or you might be all up for a big blow out, with the very best of everything available in Japan. In either case you can avoid spending money unnecessarily with a bit of advance planning, booking accommodation online before you travel, and looking out for deals and offers.

How much money do I need per day in Japan?

While the amount of money you need depends a lot on the type of trip you’re taking, there are some things pretty much all travellers need to consider, including:

  • Accommodation

  • Meals

  • Transportation

  • Entry to tourist locations

  • Activities and entertainment

  • Tips and discretionary spend

  • Any tourist taxes or visas that apply

You can start to set your budget for different spending types long before you travel - it’s also worth taking into consideration less obvious costs like the fees you’ll pay for currency conversion.

The exchange rate between the MYR and Japanese Yen changes all the time, but getting a better rate means your money goes further when you’re in Japan. Right now, 1 MYR/JPY = 33.6269. Get familiar with the exchange rate by using a reputable online currency converter, so you know what to expect.

In Japan, the average accommodation typically costs around 543 MYR per night, offering a wide range of options from cozy hostels to luxurious resorts, ensuring there's something to suit every traveler's budget. Local transportation, like buses, trains, and trams, provides convenient and affordable ways to explore the cities and other areas, with an average price of 84 MYR.

Dining experiences in Japan offer many options, from fresh seafood to multicultural cuisines, with meals averaging around 140 MYR. For people seeking hassle-free adventures, organized tour packages are readily available, showcasing the country's iconic landmarks, wildlife encounters, and cultural highlights, with prices starting from 89 MYR.

Outgoings average for one dayCosts in Japan
Accommodation543 MYR
Public transportation84 MYR
Meal140 MYR
Entertainment89 MYR

Is Japan expensive?

The amount of money you’ll spend in Japan depends a lot on the type of travel you like - whether that’s low cost or luxury. You can always make sure you stick to your planned budget by booking accommodation well in advance, and looking for great local places to eat rather than sticking to tourist hotspots where the prices tend to be cranked up. There are loads of great, and up to date, online resources to help you plan your trip to Japan which include hot tips and ways to save - do some research before you go to make your money go further.

What is the best way to pay in Japan?

Cash is still widely used in Japan. That means having some JPY in your pocket is essential. You may be able to pay by card in tourist areas and chain hotels, but it’s important to keep cash handy just in case. Because carrying a lot of cash with you isn’t safe, withdraw little and often from ATMs, and use hotel safes to keep your money safe if you can.

Can I use my bank card in Japan?

Generally you can use your bank card in Japan wherever the network is accepted. However you might find you can get a better deal with a specialist provider like Wise. Using a bank card issued in Malaysia for spending in Japan may come with a few headaches. You might need to inform your bank of your travel plans in advance, you could run into fees such as foreign transaction fees - and there’s a good chance you won’t get the very best exchange rate available either.

Is it better to exchange money in Malaysia or in Japan?

There’s no strict right and wrong when it comes to exchanging currency in Malaysia versus Japan. Ultimately, the best option comes down to the exchange rates and fees you can find both here and on arrival - and the convenience. Changing money on arrival means wasting precious time looking for a good deal, but carrying too much with you when you travel might not be the safest option.

Having some cash on hand can be very useful and reassuring, as you know you’ll always be able to pay for immediate expenses, or for emergencies. It’s also a handy back up if your preferred card isn’t accepted.

Because carrying lots of cash can make you a target of thieves, be sure to use the safety box in the hotel where you can, and split funds between a few different spots in your baggage as well. No matter whether you exchange at home or abroad, it’s also a smart idea to keep an eye on exchange rates so you’ll know you’re getting the best available deal on currency exchange.

How to buy JPY on arrival in Japan?

If you plan on changing your money on arrival in Japan you’ll want to research currency exchange options in advance to avoid wasting time on your trip. In many cases physical exchange offices are clustered in one area of a city, such as the CBD or financial area. Compare your options based on fees and rates available before you hand over any money. It’s also worth stressing the importance of using a licensed money changer to avoid scams.

If you don’t want to waste time changing your money to Japanese Yen on arrival, consider an alternative like the Wise card. With the Wise card you can add money in MYR and tap to pay in JPY without needing to do a manual exchange. Your money is changed using the mid-market rate and low, transparent fee - with no extra foreign transaction fee to worry about.

Does Japan accept MYR?

Generally it’s not possible to pay in MYR anywhere except in Malaysia. The official currency in Japan is Japanese Yen - and in most cases this is the only currency you can use to pay.

Conclusion - Best ways to take money to Japan

There’s no single best way to spend in Japan - and for most people, having a blend of payment options gives flexibility and reassurance. Consider getting a low cost debit card from an international provider like Wise, alongside your regular bank debit or credit card, and some cash in JPY. That way you’re prepared no matter what happens.

FAQ - Best ways to take money to Japan

What is the best way to take money internationally?

The best way to take money with you when you travel depends on your personal preferences and where you’re headed - usually having an international debit or prepaid card, alongside your bank debit or credit card and a little cash is a smart plan.

Should I exchange money before I travel to Japan?

While you can exchange money before you travel, it’s not necessary and can eat up your precious planning time. If you don’t want to change your money in advance you can get a low cost international card from a provider like Wise, to make ATM withdrawals with low or no fees when you arrive in your destination.

Can I withdraw JPY from a local ATM?

You can’t withdraw Japanese Yen from a local ATM in Malaysia. You’ll need to wait until you arrive to make a cash withdrawal - ATMs are often found in airports, train stations and other travel hubs to make this easier.

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

Generally debit travel cards are cheap and flexible for international spending and withdrawal. Pick a low cost international card from a provider like Wise, to get flexible international services and low overall fees.

Can I use cash in Japan?

You can often use cash, but carrying a lot of cash isn’t a smart move for safety. Using a mix of cards and cash, and making ATM withdrawals as and when you need to can give you the best of all worlds when it comes to your travel spending.

Data sources & references

Data on the cost of accommodation, meals, travel and entertainment is kindly provided by BudgetYourTrip. The information is correct as of April 2024.

Note: “accommodation” refers to the cost of a double-occupancy hotel room and “entertainment” refers to outgoings on shows, excursions, etc.

According to the 2024 WorldPay Global Payments Report, the most popular point-of-sale payment method in Japan is cash.

Claire Millard
Şeyma Mektepli
Last updated
7 May 2024