Credit Card Girl in a Cash Society

I never have cash.  This is coming from someone who has written a check to the toll booth collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike [well before ezpass was invented – one of the best  inventions ever to get rid of cash].  I used to get emergency money from my mom which I always spent on sushi.  In the US, you really don’t need cash.

Not. in. Japan.

Japanese ATMs do not process cards from foreign banks.  Only 7Elevens and Post Office ATMs.  This is important to know as a traveler in the most expensive city for expats.

http://images.businessweek.com/slideshows/2012-06-11/most-expensive-cities-for-expats-in-2012

I’ve been in line at a restaurant for lunch and gone through 3 different credit cards before having to dig through my purse for change.  Fairly embarrassing in a place where everyone has lunch at the same time.  I think it has somewhat to do with US cards not having chips but someone in the banking business is better to say than me.

When I was in Nikko for a nice weekend away 2 weeks ago, I neglected to get cash before getting on the train.  Nikko is a historic area and full of little shops and a very nice, fancy hotel where I stayed next to this beautiful bridge and clear mountain water.

140 year anniversary of the Kanaya Hotel

I located an ATM in the bank across the street from the hotel but it said there was an error and of course on Sundays, no one is there to help.  So I found the least expensive option for lunch (meat pie, $3) and had dinner in the hotel so I could charge it to the room.   The next morning, I decided it was best to go back to Yokohama but not before a nice long walk.  Just a mile down the road – 7Eleven!  I got my cash and hopped on a bus to Lake Chuzenji.

I’ve managed so far, but plan to have cash this upcoming weekend before heading out.

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3 Responses to Credit Card Girl in a Cash Society

  1. Marie says:

    Have you thought about getting a Japanese bank account? That’s what I did, so I could use the ATMs (which were fairly new back then). It might be worth it since you’re there for awhile.

    • Colleen says:

      I have thought about it and there is a bit of complication as most of our expenses are still in the US. I doubt our accounting people would redirect just my per diem to a separate bank. Otherwise, I’m constantly moving money around which is just as much of a pain as finding 7Elevens. [plus google maps has 7Elevens but it just requires my pocketwifi to have a charged battery].

  2. Grace says:

    I understand your predicament. Some cities and towns in the Czech Republic are also cash based. 🙂

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