Everything You Need to Know About the New Tokyo Metro and JR Suica Point Systems
Japan definitely loves its loyalty point systems! Whether you're shopping at a humble convenience store or a high-end department store, you're likely to be asked if you have a point card at the cashier. But did you know you can also earn loyalty points riding the train in Japan? In this article, we’ll give you a summary of two point systems you can use for your Tokyo train fare: Tokyo Metro's Metro Point Club and JR East's JRE Points. Read on to find out how they work, how much you can save, and how to take advantage!
Sep 17 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
Earn Metro Points Using PASMO on the Tokyo Metro
What Is PASMO?
Unlike some other cities like Paris, the Tokyo Metro isn't a catch-all term for the underground rail system, but the name of one specific network out of around 30 rail providers in the greater Tokyo area. The Tokyo Metro has its own brand of IC card called PASMO, but it doesn't just work on the Tokyo Metro lines; you can use PASMO almost anywhere in Japan. For more information about the Tokyo Metro in English, you can check out the official Tokyo Metro English site.
Tokyo Metro Points Club
The Metro Point Club system is a way to earn loyalty points by using a PASMO IC card on Tokyo Metro lines. These points are called Metro Points, or "Metopo" for short.
There are three types of points you can earn: Daily Points, Holiday Points, and Bonus Points. You'll earn three Daily Points by using your card Tokyo Metro on any weekday. On weekends or holidays, you will also earn an additional four bonus Holiday Points. You only earn these points once a day, no matter how many times you ride the train.
You can earn additional Bonus Points by using your PASMO to ride the Tokyo Metro 10-19 times in a month. Doing this will earn you an extra 10 points. If you use your card 20-29 times, you’ll earn 20 bonus points. There are other ways to earn more Bonus Points, including buying a commuter ticket or using the Tokyo Metro To Me credit card.
Each Metro Point equals one yen, which you can use in 10-point increments to charge your PASMO card. The entire point system is completely free to sign up for, and there are no membership fees.
How to Sign Up for the Metro Points Club
To sign up, you'll need to first register your personal details (including Japanese address) and create a password on the Tokyo Metro Metro Points site. You can find the login page to start this process here. Once you've signed up and set a password, you'll need to link your PASMO card at a Tokyo Metro ticketing machine. You can find step-by-step instructions including screen captures on how to do this on the official Metro Points Club site. You can also find instructions about how to redeem your points using a ticketing machine on this page, too.
Unfortunately the site is only in Japanese for now, but the process isn't too complicated. If you would like to sign up but don't speak Japanese, ask a friend for help!
Earn JRE Points Using Suica on JR East Lines
What Is Suica?
Suica is the name of another type of IC Card used in Tokyo, sold primarily by Japan Rail East. Like PASMO, you can use this card on almost all networks that support IC payment throughout Japan.
Unlike PASMO, today you can also get a Mobile Suica app that works with iOS and Android devices that support cashless payments.
The Suica point system is a little different to the Tokyo Metro Point system. Unlike Metro Points, which are calculated by the day, JRE (Japan Rail East) Points are calculated by the cost of your train fare. You can earn 1 point for every 200 yen you spend on a fare on JR West lines using a Suica card, or 1 point for every 50 yen for using the card-less Mobile Suica system. You can earn points on JR East green class surcharges and commuter tickets, too.
Another difference between the Tokyo Metro system and the Suica system is that you can earn additional points by using your Suica card to pay at selected stores, particularly those at JR stations such as New Days convenience stores or ecute shopping centers. You can see a list of stores where you can earn points here.
How to Sign Up to Earn JRE Points
Just like the Tokyo Metro system, knowledge of Japanese and residence in Japan is assumed for the JRE Points program, so try to enlist a Japanese speaker to help if you need it!
To sign up for the system, you will need to make sure to buy a “My Suica” type card that comes with your name printed on the front when you arrive in Japan, and then register the card at the link here. For step-by-step instructions on how to go through the sign-up process, you can find a guide with screenshots here.
The Mobile Suica payment offers a more generous cashback on tickets, so if you have an Apple or Google Pay enabled phone, this will allow you to earn points more quickly! If you want to sign up for Mobile Suica, you can find information about signing up and getting the app for Android or iOS on the Mobile Suica website. Once you have the Mobile Suica app set up, you can find a guide to registering your Mobile Suica with the JRE Points system here.
What Can the Points Be Used For?
A good thing about these point systems is that there are plenty of options for how to use the points. Both Tokyo Metro and JRE Points can be used to charge your PASMO or Suica IC card, which you can use to pay for public transport as well as for cashless payments in Japan.
IC card payments are accepted at many convenience stores, taxis, vending machines, and more. You can find a list of stores that accept Suica here, and many of these stores will also accept PASMO.
Using an IC card to pay in stores can be handy for travel, especially if you prefer not to deal with cash or your credit card has high international fees. You can simply charge your IC card with cash at a ticket machine, then tap your card to pay!
Should I Choose Suica or PASMO in Tokyo?
After reading about the two point systems, you might wonder which IC card you should get in Tokyo: Suica or PASMO? Since most IC cards in Japan are compatible with most public transport systems, for day-to-day use, either will serve you about equally as well. In regards to which is best for earning points, it's a little more complicated.
The one downside to both of these point systems is that they’re definitely targeted towards people who live in the Tokyo area and use these train lines every day. The points can take time to accumulate, and if your Japanese skills are limited, the registration process can also be tricky to navigate. However, if you're planning to spend a lot of time in Tokyo and want to earn points, the best thing to do is to work out which line you'll use more for your daily commute.
If you're only visiting, the Tokyo Metro point system is essentially limited to a 3 - 7 yen cashback a day so it may not be worth the effort to sign up. On the other hand, if you are a regular visitor or will be in Tokyo for an extended period, the savings could add up.
Since you can earn points through purchases as well as train travel with the JRE Point system, the Suica system could be worth looking into if you know you’re going to be spending some money in Tokyo. For example, you can shop for fashion, accessories, cosmetics and more at ecute shopping centers, so if you were planning to stock up on Japanese products or have a lot of souvenirs to buy, you get up to a 0.5% - 1% discount using the point system. This can add up, particularly if you’re taking advantage of the tax-free system too.
Save Money in Japan with Loyalty Points!
While Japan has many IC cards you can use to ride public transport, it generally doesn’t matter which card you get. Whether you pick up a Suica or PASMO card in Tokyo or an ICOCA card in Osaka, most major IC cards will be compatible with the public transport and cashless payment systems throughout Japan. But as you can see from this article, it doesn’t mean all these systems are identical! If you spend a lot of time in Japan or are just the type to value every yen you spend, the Metro Point and JRE Point systems are worth looking into. We hope this article introducing the two systems is useful for planning your next trip to Japan!
Header Image: Terence Toh Chin Eng / Shutterstock
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.