Up until last year, I have been using my credit card from back home in the Philippines and sending payments every month. Not only was this so much hassle, I realized I’m missing out on a lot of the benefits of having a Japanese credit card. That was when I decided to apply for one from Rakuten. If you are in the same situation or just considering getting a card, this guide is for you.
Reason 1: Ease of Application
As a foreigner, it is often considered to be the easiest Japanese credit card you could get in terms of the screening process. So easy, actually, that people often joke you could apply as anyone – even as a sniper – and you would still pass. The application procedure is also fairly easy. In fact, you could do it entirely online, no need for long queues in the bank struggling to converse in Japanese. This also takes out the requirement of having a legal stamp or はんこ - commonly needed for banking procedures in the country.
Reason 2: Practical Rewards
Just for (successfully) applying for a credit card, you instantly get 5,000 free Rakuten points. Each point is equivalent to 1 yen and Rakuten is prolific in Japan so you could use these for things ranging from shopping on their app to eating at McDonald’s to purchasing some gadget at Bic Camera and many, many others. Mind you, most people opt for the basic, no yearly fee card (more on the card types later) so there would be no hidden charges to be deducted from those 5,000 points. During campaign periods, they would even offer more points for signing up. Happy shopping, indeed.
Your plastic will also double as a point card. And, as I’ve stated, Rakuten is everywhere. This means more chances for you to collect points which you can later use as good as cash. Facilities that accept Rakuten point cards include convenience stores, lifestyle brands, fashion shops and fast-food restaurants. Pictured below are just some of their partners. For a complete list, you may visit this page .
For any ¥100 purchase from these stores, you get 1 Rakuten point (#freemoney).
In addition, you can also use your accumulated points for services offered by the Rakuten Group which, among other things, includes Rakuten Travel, Rakuten Ticket and Rakuten Net Supermarket.
- Rakuten Travel – using this service, you can book discounted tickets, accommodation, vacation packages for domestic and international travels.
- Rakuten Ticket – let’s you use your points to purchase tickets for events like concerts, Disney shows, sports tournaments and others.
- Rakuten Net Supermarket – launched in partnership with the supermarket Seiyu, this let’s you take care of your grocery shopping by using just your phone.
Reason 3: Quick Processing
Most credit card applications in Japan take up to 3 weeks to process. Rakuten, on the other hand, places importance on having the card delivered to you within a week.
Rakuten Credit Card Types
Rakuten offers many kinds of cards. Today, I’m going to introduce the three basic credit cards offered for first-time applicants.
1st: Rakuten Basic Card (楽天カード)
With no annual fee, this is the most popular Rakuten card. It is already equipped with Rakuten point capacity and you may also choose to use it for collecting Edy points. With this card, you get 1 point per ¥100 purchase at partner stores and up to 3 times the points when shopping using Rakuten Ichiba (楽天市場).
2nd: Rakuten Pink Card (楽天ピンクカード )
This card is pretty much similar to the first one except it is geared towards female users. It is customizable with cute designs and using this card would additionally give you access to Rakuten options and services created for women.
3rd: Rakuten Gold Card (楽天ゴールドカード)
This card has an annual feel of ¥2,200 yen. For that, you get the benefit of staying at domestic airport lounges twice a year for free as well as higher options for your credit limit. It also avails you of up to five times the points when using Rakuten Ichiba. For those who drive often, it is worth noting that the Gold also waives the annual ETC card fee.
This page is in Japanese but you can check it out if you want to know about other Rakuten cards.
Online Application Procedures
I hope by now you’re convinced that having a Rakuten credit card is not only easy but also beneficial. So then, let’s talk about getting you one.
Step 1: Create a Rakuten Account
Rakuten Card is just one of the services offered by Rakuten – mainly an E-commerce site. In order to avail of the service then, you would have to sign-up for a Rakuten account.
Don’t worry, though. This is a quick process that you can do in English. Just click on this.
If you already have a Rakuten account, you may skip this step.
Step 2: Access Rakuten’s Official Website
Click here to start your application. They regularly change the layout and contents of this page. Right now, there is a big 7,000 printed in the middle and that reflects the number of points the person will get for signing up since they currently have an ongoing campaign.
The present layout also places two buttons at the bottom – one red and one green. The red one is for those who already have a Rakuten account and the green one is for those who don’t. Since you are a registered member, click on the red button.
You will be asked to provide a few additional information about yourself on the next page. This would still be in English and focuses mostly on your address and contact information.
Once you’re done with that, you will then be asked to choose which card you would like to apply for.
Click on the red お申し込みへ button below the card of your choice to begin your application.
Step 3: Fill-out the first page of the application form
The first page of the application will ask you to enter basic information (基本情報の入力).
1.1 (ブランド選択 ) Choose your card’s brand.
1.2 (カード選択 ) Choose the design of your credit card. Note that the number of design options changes based on the brand that you choose.
1.3 (お名前 ) Enter you name. For the first two lines, you will have to type your name in Hiragana. For 性 or せい on the left side, put in your last name. For 名 or めい on the right side, your first name. The last line is for you to enter your name in Romaji. The system will try to guess your Romaji name based on the Hiragana you entered but if it is not right, you could simply delete it and key in the correct one.
1.4 (性別) Choose your sex. 男 on the left stands for ‘male’ and 女 on the right is for ‘female’.
1.5 (生年月日) Enter your birthday. The first box is for the year, followed by the month and then the day. Applicants below 18 years old will not be accepted.
1.6 (電話番号１・２) Enter your phone number/s. If you have landline, enter your landline number on the first line and your mobile number on the second line. If you only have a cell phone, only fill in the first line. They may use the information here to contact you about your application.
1.7 (メールアドレス) Enter your email address on the first field. The second one asks for your smartphone email address and may be left blank.
1.8 (楽天カード・楽天ポイントカードからのおしらせについて) Click on 受け取る at the left if you want to receive email updates about your Rakuten Card and Rakuten Point Card. If you don’t, choose the 受け取らない option on the right. Opting to receive updates will get you 50 points upon joining.
1.9 (ご住所) Enter your address. Start by providing your postal code. From there, there will be a pop-up prompting you to choose your Chome. On the third line, type the rest of your address (building name, room number etc.). The 2nd and 4th fields are for the Furigana of the address you provided and would be automatically filled-in by the system.
1.10 (ご家族について) Provide information about your family. The drop-down will give you the following options from top to bottom: married with kids (配偶者有子供有), married with no kids (配偶者有子供無), not married with children (配偶者無子供有), single and not living with family (独身家族別居), single and living with family (独身家族同居).
1.11 (世帯人数（同一生計の人数) Provide information about your household. Click on how many, including yourself, live in the same household. So, if you live alone, choose 1.
1.12 (居住状況) Provide information about where you live. The drop-down options are as follows: house owned by you (持家 自己所有), house owned by spouse (持家 配偶者所有), house owned by someone other than spouse (持家 配偶者以外所有), rented mansion – as in apartment units called mansions in Japan (家賃マンション) , apartment – as in the smaller apartment buildings called apaato in Japan (アパート), rented house (借家), company housing (社宅), dormitory (寮), boarding house (下宿), other (その他).
1.13 (居住年数) Click on how long you have been living in current residence.
1.14 (住宅ローンもしくは家賃のお支払い) Answer whether you are paying either rent or a housing loan. 支払いあり on the left if you are and 支払いなし on the right if you are not.
1.15 (お勤め先・学校について) Choose your employment status. From top to bottom, choices are as follows: employed (お勤めの方), student (学生の方), pensioner (年金受給の方), unemployed (お勤めされてないの方).
Once you’ve made your choice, another field – ご本人様税込年収 will come up. This asks for your yearly taxable income. Note that if you chose ‘student’, you will first be asked whether or not you have income. If you answer ‘yes’, then you will be asked to enter the amount.
If you have indicated that you are married, you would also be asked whether you could provide your spouse’s yearly income (申告する for ‘yes’ and 申告しない for ‘no’). If you choose to do so, enter your spouse’s yearly income under 配偶者様税込年収. Note that the amount should already be in 万. If you are not very familiar with this unit, just think of it as four zeros in the western counting system.
You would also be asked to provide your entire household’s yearly income under 世帯年収. The amount here should be in 万 as well.
1.16 (預貯金額) Click on how much you currently have in savings. Listed choices from the top are: more than 3 million yen (300万円以上), 2 million to 2.99 million yen (200万−299万), 1 million to 1.99 million yen (100万−199万), 500 thousand to 990 thousand yen (50万−99万), 100 thousand to 490 thousand yen (10万ー99万), none (なし), will not tell (申告しない).
1.17 (請求書送付先) Choose whether you want to have your bill delivered at home (自宅) or at the office (業務先).
1.18 (カード入会後の利用目的) Click on the reason why you would like to have a Rakuten card. The one on the left, 普段のお買い物等に利用, means you want to use it for shopping. The other option, 現金のお借り入に等に利用, means that you want to use it to take out a loan. You are allowed to choose both. Note that the company is less likely to grant your application if you say that your goal is get a loan unless you have very reliable credentials.
Additional options will also come up once you’ve answered the prior questions.
For 楽天カードBESTレコメンド, check 申し込む if you want to receive email recommendations from Rakuten (could be a lot of annoying messages) and 申し込まない if you don’t.
Next, check the box on the left if you want to avail of Revolving Payment (自動リボサービス申し込み). Revolving Payment is an option offered by Rakuten which let’s you pay only a set amount for every month even if you used more than that amount. This has an interest rate of 15% so be cautious about your choice. If you do opt to enjoy this service, you will then be asked to set the amount on another pop-up field.
Card Cashing Service (カードのキャッシング枠 ) let’s you withdraw cash using your Rakuten credit card and this field asks you to choose the the withdrawal limit. Again the amounts are in 万円. The lesser the amount you set, the faster it would be for Rakuten to process your application. I, for one, chose ０万円.
1.19 (他社からのお借入金額) Indicate wether you have any outstanding loan from other companies. あり on the left if you do and なし on the right if you don’t.
For married individuals, you would also be asked if your spouse has a shopping debt (配偶者様のショッピングのお借り入れ金額). ありif your spouse has one and なし if he/she doesn’t.
Another option that would be offered is for a Family Card (家族カード）which is just an extra card that you can use for your family’s expenses. The yearly fee for this card is waived. Additionally, there’s the ETC Card (ETCカード) which is a Japanese toll card that you could pay for for 550円 per year. For both fields, is for 申込む ‘yes’ and 申し込まない for ‘no’.
1.20 (Edy機能付帯) If you wish to have Edy function on your card, choose 希望する and if you don’t, choose 希望しない.
1.21 (Edyチャージ設定) If you chose 希望しない above, you can skip this part. This asks you to set the auto-charge options for your Edy.
Choose 申し込む if you want auto-charge. Then, set the details that follow. The first line asks for ‘when’ you want to be auto-charged (when your Edy balance goes below the amount you choose), the next one is for the amount you want to be auto-charged and the last one asks you to set the daily maximum amount.
1.22 (楽天Edyからのお知らせ) Choose 受け取る if you want to receive email notifications from Rakuten Edy and 受け取らない if you don’t. Speaking from experience, these notifications can get annoying.
1.23 (ご利用代金お支払い口座) Choose the bank of the account you wish to use for payments. If you would rather do this step through writing, click 郵便で口座設定手続き at the bottom of the choices and Rakuten will mail the paperwork to your address.
1.24 (暗証番号) Choose a pin number for your card and enter it twice.
1.25 (次へ) Click on this button to proceed to the next step of the application.
Step 3: Complete the 2nd page of the application by providing information about your employment.
2.1 (勤務先名) Choose what kind of company you work for by choosing the appropriate affix. The choices are pretty extensive and include both Japanese and English titles. In most cases, you should be able to figure this out simply by looking at your company’s name. My company’s name, for example, is like *Something Kabushikikaisha (株式会社 – Japanese for corporation). So, I picked the second choice on the list.
Once you have that covered, enter your company’s name on the lower two boxes. The first box is for the actual name (may that be in Kanji, English or whatnot) and the 2nd one is for the Hiragana writing of the name.
2.2 (勤務先所在県名) Select the prefecture/area where your company is located.
2.3 (勤務先電話番号) Provide your company’s phone number.
2.4 (勤続年数) Indicate how long you have been with the company. Variety of ranges are given. Just remember that 以上 means “more than” and “未満” means less than.
2.5 (職種) Choose your job category. The choices offered, from top to bottom, are: sales (営業), customer service (接客), office work (事務), labor work (労務), education (教育), diplomat (外交員), art (美術), machine operation (運転) and others (その他).
2.6 (職業) Click on your employment status. The drop-down options are: company employee (会社員), self-employed (自営業), public servant (公務員), part timer (パート。アルバイト), contractual employee (契約社員), board member (役員) and others (その他).
2.7 (職業) Select the type of industry you work in from the following list: manufacturing (製造業), service (サービス業), wholesale or retail (卸売小売), education or healthcare (教育医療), information and communication (情報通信業), public service (公務), construction (建役業), finance or insurance (金融保険業, shipping (転輪業), restaurant/food business (飲食業), real estate (不動産業), publishing (出版), public utilities (電気。ガス｡水道), agriculture (農林水産), and others (その他).
2.8 (運転免許証等の確認) Check あり if you have a driver’s license and なし if you don’t.
2.9 (次へ) Click on this yellow button to proceed to the next step of the application. If you have any need to go back to the previous page, you may click on the smaller 戻る button beside it.
Step 4: Connect your bank account.
If you chose to link your bank account through mailed documents (Step 2, field number 1.23), this step will automatically be skipped.
3.1 (支店番号) Enter the branch number of where you opened your bank account. This information is usually located on your cashcard as well as the documents given to you by the bank when you opened your account.
3.2 (支店番号) Key-in your bank account number.
3.3 (入力内容の確認へ) Click on this yellow button to proceed to the review of your bank information
3.4 (金融機関へ申し込む) Once you’ve confirmed that all the bank information you have provided are accurate, click on this button. This would most likely bring you to a third-party site (your bank’s) where you would be asked to finish the linking process.What you should do next depends on the financial institution you belong to but it should be easy to go through as long as you have all your bank details.
3.4 (同意する) When you are done linking your bank account, you will be brought to a page containing all the information you have provided. Check and confirm that everything is correct then click this button.
3.5 (お申込みを完了する) To complete your application, click on this red button. Congratulations! You are done applying for your credit card!
For those who chose not to link their bank account online, also check boxes 3.4 and 3.5. Rakuten will soon after send you papers asking for your bank information. Once you’ve completed and mailed those back to Rakuten, you also get to proceed to the next step.
Step 5: Wait for Rakuten to call to check your identity
Shortly after applying, you will receive an email from Rakuten letting you know that they have received your request for a credit card and that they might be contacting you in a couple of days to verify some information. During the call, they asked me some basic information such as my name and phone number.
Step 6: Receive your Rakuten Credit Card
Hurray! A few more days after the identity check, you will receive your card by mail. Since it is an important document, you should be there to receive the card in person.