Travel Tokyo with a virtual Suica

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Getting an IC card (Suica/Pasmo) is a must when you’re in Tokyo. This prepaid card allows you to pay for transport, and can also be used as electronic money to general purchases at places that support its use.

Other than getting the physical card, you can also get a digital version. If you have an iPhone 8 or iPhone X, you can get yourself a virtual Suica card in iPhone’s Wallet. With Apple Pay, you can reload and use the virtual Suica even if you are a tourist.


  • Can be set up and charged before you enter Japan
  • Can be charged with your foreign credit card via Apple Pay
  • No 500 yen card deposit
  • No worries about forgetting or losing the physical card


  • App is in Japanese
  • If you want to reload with cash, it can only be done using a few machines
  • Cannot be refunded unless you have a bank account in Japan
  • No support if you lose or permanently delete the virtual card

How to set up Mobile Suica

1. Download the Suica app

Search “Suica” in the app store, and the app should appear as the top result.

2. Create a virtual Suica card

Tap the “issue Suica” option.

Scroll all the way to the right and choose the Suica (unregistered) option.

Agree to the terms.

Load an initial amount onto your new card.

You can also create a virtual registered My Suica, which has your name on it. However, this requires your personal details, and there isn’t a real need for it.

Transferring a physical Suica card

If you already have a physical Suica card, you can also transfer the card to the Suica app. This converts your card into a virtual one, and the physical Suica card will be invalidated. Your 500 yen card deposit will be credited into the virtual card. You can keep your physical Suica card as a souvenir without losing the card deposit!

Follow the instructions from Apple on how to transfer a Suica card

If you have a physical My Suica card (with your name on it), it will be transferred as a registered My Suica.

Do note that only the Suica card with the penguin can be transferred into the app (the one with the exact picture shown in the app). Monorail Suica and Suica cards with other designs cannot be transferred at the moment.

For more detailed instructions and information on how to recharge the virtual card: refer to this site

You can keep your card in Wallet for the next time you travel to Japan. Do however, consider not keeping any balance in the card, especially if you’re not travelling to Japan anytime soon, in case there are any changes to the system or if you lose the virtual card. You cannot refund the card unless you have a bank account in Japan, but what you can do is to reload just enough money to make a final payment before you leave Japan. (You don’t have to reload in 1000s after you create your card.)