The best bank account for short-term stays in Japan

If we are going to spend a small part of the year in Japan, one of the most important things to think about is how we are going to get our money and pay our living expenses without having to pay too much.

Japan is a country at the forefront of technology, but when it comes to the banking system and the habits of its citizens, it is a very conservative country. To this day, cash remains the preferred means of payment for the Japanese, although measures have been taken to facilitate card payments since it was announced that Tokyo would be hosting the Olympic Games. The problem with cards from Spain and the vast majority of Latin American countries is that they are subject to exchange fees when used in Japan, which are generally not very high.

The best solution for those planning to spend several weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun is undoubtedly Revolut. This digital neobank is a banking institution, currently based in Lithuania, that allows you to manage your personal – and business – finances conveniently from your mobile phone, tablet or PC. Revolut is a bank that offers all the guarantees of traditional banks, such as the Deposit Guarantee, which allows bank accounts and deposits to be protected by the European Deposit Protection Scheme (EDPS), which covers up to the first €100,000 of deposits that each customer has with Revolut.

One of the main features of this account is that it allows you to have free accounts in other currencies and to exchange currencies from your main account to any of your other accounts at the same price as the interbank rate. This means that at the time of use the money is deducted from your local currency account and there is no exchange as it has already been converted. It is important to remember that Revolut offers Visa debit cards, not credit cards.

In the case of Japan, all you need is a yen account – just like a euro or dollar account – and you can save a lot of money on fees for the most common payments. The bank offers various payment options and plans, but the free option is more than enough. The main features are:

  • Completely free account: no usage limit and free to use.
  • No exchange fees. There are virtually no exchange fees between 30 different currencies from Monday to Friday, as Revolut uses the interbank exchange rate as a reference. The exchange rate offered by the neobank is limited to €1,000 per month in its free offer, but it remains the best currently available, although if you decide to exchange currencies at the weekend, fees may apply.
  • Accounts for up to 30 currencies. These accounts can be opened for free. And if you want to get your leftover money back later, simply exchange it back into your main currency account from Monday to Friday and that’s it.
  • No commission cash withdrawals: On a monthly basis, the free package allows you to withdraw €200 per month at the exchange rate, commission free. However, this does not avoid bank charges in Japan – and the possibility of weekend withdrawal charges – as there are always charges for withdrawing money from a third party ATM, but this is not Revolut’s responsibility. It is possible to withdraw money from most convenience stores – 7-Eleven, Lawson, FamilyMart, etc.
  • Secure online shopping: Revolut lets you create disposable, one-time-use virtual cards free of charge. This is very useful not only for Japan, but also in everyday life. When you shop online, you can use one of these virtual cards, making it impossible for anyone to discover your details and use the card for fraudulent purposes.

Wise: an alternative

Another neo-bank, Wise, is also a good option if you’re looking for a convenient and inexpensive way to manage your money when visiting Japan or other international destinations. The service allows you to open a Wise multi-currency account online and easily manage your money in 40 currencies, including sterling, euros and Japanese yen.

Wise has no monthly fees and only charges a small, transparent fee when you want to transfer or convert currencies. With Wise, you can get a physical card for around €7 and withdraw up to €200 free from ATMs, making it one of the best options for your stay in Japan.