Figuring out how much you need to pay for a train ticket can be quite confusing and time consuming. Bypass all that unnecessary grief by purchasing JR's new prepaid IC card called "Welcome Suica".
Just press your card against the reader at the ticket gate, and the fare will be automatically deducted from your card. The card can be used for not only JR trains, but subway trains, buses, vending machines, coin lockers, convenient stores and even restaurants (can be used at any location that displays a Suica or IC logo).
Using the Welcome Suica card at the ticket gate
The Welcome Suica IC card itelf is free. The money you pay will all be transferred to digital money. Cards can be purchased from a minimum of 1,000 yen to 10,000 yen and can be recharged up to a maximum of 20,000 yen. You can recharge your card at JR Automatic Ticket Vending Machines.
JR Automatic Ticket Vending Machines
The card's expitiration date is 28 days from the first date of use. Once expired, the remaining funds on the card cannot be used, so charge accordingly. You can visit the Welcome Suica webpage here for more details. Caution though, the information on the website about the validity period is incorrect.
Upon purchasin the Welcome Suica card, you will receive a reference paper. Keep this on you at all times in cases where the staff want to verify your IC card purchase.
When purchasing the card for a child, you will need to provide ID showing that they are 12 or younger.
One key note is that they will not offer refunds for unused funds or lost cards. If, however, your card is malfuntioning, they will offer you a refund at any JR EAST ticket Office (Midori-no-madoguchi). You'll be able to receive your remaining funds on the day after your refund application has been submitted (you cannot receive it on the same day).
Where to Purchase a Welcome Suica card
JR EAST Travel Service Center - Shibuya
You can purchase these prepaid IC cards at JR EAST Travel Service Centers located at:
・ Tokyo Station
・ Shinjuku Station
・ Shibuya Station
・ Ikebukuro Station
・ Ueno Station
・ Hamamatsucho Station
・ At all Narita Airport Terminal Stations
・ Haneda Airport International Terminal Station (Tokyo Monorail)
These cards can also be bought from Welcome Suica Ticket Vending Machines at Narita & Haneda Airport.
For more information
Welcome Suica IC card
Visit their webpage to find out more about conditions, purchase locations, valid areas/locations, and how to apply for a malfunction refund at:
Narita Airport Rest House
Narita International Airport Chiba