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DICIEMBRE 13

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Cost, Money & Banks: Credit cards and wiring money



Credit and debit cards weren't popular in Japan a few years ago. Most of the cards used in this country are Visa and American Express, Mastercard, then Diners Club, which you should be able to use in those hotels, restaurants, shops and travel agencies where they're used to serving foreigners. But, several retailers only approve locally issued cards, so it's never safe to conclude you'll be able to use your foreign plastic.

Banking hours are generally Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm, and closed on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays. ATM's are generally close among 5 and 8pm, relying on the bank. Few offer 24h ATM service, as convenience stores take care of it (though each for a limited number of Japanese banks). UFJ Bank was the first major Japanese bank to offer 24h ATM in 2003.

Nevertheless, abroad credit or debit cards are not received in Japanese banks. Even if you provide a Visa or MasterCard sign, it only concerns Japanese ones. Anyway, Japanese banks always charge about 110 yen for ATM withdrawal, except for one's own bank during the bank opening hours (i.e. not the longer ATM's opening hours, but until 3pm).

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