Why you can't use credit cards very often in Japan?

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Feb 12, 2014 20:19
I've been wondering why we can't use credit cards in many shops or restaurants in Japan.

In the UK, it's actually very hard to find a small shop where you can't use any credit cards. I don't know the exact number, but I guess that almost 90% of shops and restaurants in the UK may accept credit cards.

Probably, in Japan, the situation is quite different. You thought Japan is a high tech-oriented country and had no doubt that you could use your credit card nearly everywhere just as much as you can in your own country. However, in reality, you never find a small souvenir shop that accepts a credit card. It's of course not convenient at all, in particular, if you are a traveller and not accustomed to Japanese coins and bills.

Why is that? Surely, it's not a technological issue. Many countries have been using credit cards commonly for a long time by now.

I heard that in Japan affiliated shops have to pay quite a lot of fees to card companies, and so small shops and restaurants tend to avoid credit cards. If that is the case, why small shops in the UK or US can accept credit cards? Don't they have to pay fees to card companies as well?

According to an article in the Internet (http://www.nikkeibp.co.jp/archives/236/236918.html), it's related to cashing with credit cards. In many countries other than Japan, card companies can make profits from cashing service, so they can reduce the fee for affiliated shops. However, in Japan, many people try to avoid cashing with credit cards, so that the card companies cannot make profits from cashing service. They hence have to keep the fee for the affiliated shops high compared to other countries.

Right, then. I don't know what needs to be done, actually.

Instead of unpopular credit cards, there are bunch of "cards" that you can use for payment in shops in Japan. Typical examples are prepaid or postpaid cards for trains. You can use those cards not for trains but also buying stuff at convenience stores etc. There are many different types of such cards. Some of them are compatible, whereas others are not. Importantly, you cannot use those cards at small shops or restaurants. So basically, you have carry many different types cards other than credit cards as well as a good amount of cash in your wallet!