A step-by-step guide to applying for a Rakuten Credit Card in English, from picking the right card to how to link your bank account and everything in between.
Japan is known for being a cash society. It is less common here to pay by credit card, and people often carry a lot of cash with them. That’s fine in daily life, but you sometimes need a card when it comes to online shopping or booking a trip.
However, as a foreigner, it can be tricky to get a credit card in Japan. Using your credit card from your home country might lead to expensive fees, and it is of no use in case you get paid on a Japanese bank account.
For many Japanese banks, a working visa is not enough to prove your creditworthiness. Many foreigners have applied to get credit cards from their banks but were rejected, without real explanations.
Today, I will tell you all about a solution frequently chosen by expats in Japan – the Rakuten card – and walk you through the application form. Feel free to just scroll through to see what you will need or check out our tips for a smooth application.
1. Benefits of having Rakuten card
It is often considered as the easiest card you can hope to get as a foreigner. It is also quite convenient, as you do not need to go to an actual bank, with impossible opening hours. All you need to do is apply on the internet and it will be delivered to you.
That also means you don’t need to have a はんこ(personal seal, used instead of your signature) to apply, often required in regular banks. However, you still need to have a job, as they will call your workplace for an identity check.
2. Types of cards
Rakuten offers several types of cards (including cash card, business card etc.), but let me quickly present the main credit cards.
楽天カード – Basic card
The basic one, free of charge, most often chosen for this obvious reason.
You can choose between MasterCard, JCB, or Visa. However, special designs (think adorable pandas) are not available in the Visa version. It also allows you to collect Rakuten points while shopping (1 point per 100yen).
楽天ピンクカード -Pink card
Same as the basic card, plus special advantages for women (special discounts with selected services, this kind of things). And it is pink, so what else.
楽天ゴールドカード・プレミアムカード – Gold/Premium card
They come with a yearly fee of respectively 2.160 and 10.800yen. You get advantages like free lounge at the airport, and higher credit limit.
Below I will explain the application process for the basic Rakuten card. Rather than explaining what’s written on the screen I go over what is necessary, what’s not and some background info. So when you apply you know what you need to prepare and don’t sign up for a service you don’t need. Once you applied it will take 1-2 weeks until you receive your card by mail
3. Application form2>
Access Rakuten card website
Go to the Rakuten website and click on the red カンタン申し込み (easy application) button. (If you don’t have a Rakuten account you can create one in English here.)
Fill in the basic information
1. Card type and design
Select the card category from JCB, MasterCard and Visa. You can then choose the design (choices are more limited for Visa).
2. Your name
You will need to fill in your name three times, once in hiragana as substitute for kanji, once more in hiragana, and finally using the Latin alphabet (they will automatically guess your name in alphabet based on the hiragana, but you can correct it as it will likely be wrong).
※If your name is too long to fill in, contact Rakuten directly. They will send you a document you can send in to submit your name. Believe me, you don’t want to have a wrong name on your credit card, you will need it to make payments later.
3. Birthday and Gender
Select your gender: 男 (おとこ) male, 女（おんな）female.
You need to be 18 or older to apply.
4. Phone number
You only need to fill in the first one.
5. E-mail address
Fill in your e-mail address in the first field. The second field, for smartphone e-mail address, is not compulsory.
6. Rakuten newsletter (optional)
If you choose to subscribe to the Rakuten newsletter you will be rewarded with 100 Rakuten points and from that day on get daily updates on all sorts of things.
Your card will arrive as registered mail, so you will have to receive it in person.
After you entered your postal code in the first field, click the button next to it. A pop up will suggest the rest of the address, choose the right one. It will appear in kanji in the first field under the postal code. The second field is the hiragana version. You will then be able to enter the rest of the address (the remaining numbers and the name of your building if needed). Both in kanji (third field) and hiragana (last field).
※You can only apply with a Japanese address.
8. Family situation
I love how they have the option “single, living with family” here.
When indicating the number of people living together, include yourself in the count.
This section is about the type of housing you are living in. Options are quite detailed, even asking for the owner in case of individual houses (I assume for financial reasons).
Once done, add for how long you have been living there.
Check left if you are paying off a loan, right if you do not.
※You also need to check yes if someone living else in your house is.
Choose your working situation. The choices are simple: employed / student / retired / unemployed
12. Annual income
If you indicated you are employed or retired, you will then be asked about your annual household income. Fill it in 万円（まんえん, 10K￥). If you chose ‘student’, you will be asked whether you have any income. If you check yes, indicate the amount.
This field asks about your savings (in yen). You have the option to not declare your how much you have in the bank.
You can receive the invoice at your house (left button) or at your workplace (right button).
15. Reason for application
Indicate the reason why you are applying for a Rakuten card: For shopping / to get a loan
(Better check shopping to increase your chances.)
Set your preferences
1. Revolving Payment (optional)
Here you can opt for the revolving payment system. It enables you to set the amount you pay each month, regardless of the amount you spent. Be aware that there is an interest rate of 15%. Check left to use the service, right to refuse. If you applied for revolving payment, you can then set the monthly amount in the next field.
2. Withdrawal Limit
If you previously indicated that you had an income, you can set the withdrawal limit for your card. Be aware that you cannot change this amount during the first 6 months.
3. Loan, the Second
Indicate whether you got a loan from another company.
4. Additional card
You can choose to get an extra card for free.
5. ETC card (optional)
Check to get an ETC card (Japanese toll roads card) for 540yen per year.
6. Edy function (optional)
Check to get the Edy function (for free), which allows you to pay at selected stores by placing your card onto the reader. It is a prepaid type card, so you first need to charge it.
7. Edy, automatic charge (optional)
By choosing this (free) option, your Edy card will be automatically charged when reaching a fixed balance. First pulldown: your card is charged when reaching this amount Second: amount charged Third: daily limit
In the second block, choose to receive Edy newsletter or not. Left for yes and right for no.
8. Bank account
Select the bank of the account you wish to link your Rakuten card to. You can either select your bank and fill in your account details directly, or have Rakuten send you the paperwork to your home. To get it in paper, choose the 郵便で口座設定手続き box at the bottom.
9. Pin number
Choose a pin number for your card (enter it twice). When you are all set, click the yellow button to go to the next step.
※Remember your pin! You won’t be able to inquire about or change it later on.
Fill in the work information
1. Company name
If you previously indicated that you are currently working, you then have to fill in your work information. First, choose your company type from the list then fill in the company name in kanji and hiragana.
Fill in your workplace phone number (no mobile number). They are very likely to call you at work in order to check your identity.
4. Time at company
Indicate how long you have been working there.
※Selecting less than a year still makes you eligible, so no need to worry about it.
5. Job type
Choose your job category from the following list: Sales / service / office work / HR / education / sales representative / science / driver / other
6. Employment status
Choose your employment category among the following options: Employee / self-employed / civil servant / part-time / contract employee / board member / other
Choose your industry from the list: Manufacturing / service / wholesale or retail / education or healthcare / information and communication / public service or organization / construction / finance or insurance / freight / catering trade / real estate / publishing / electricity or gas / agriculture / other
8. Driver’s license (optional)
Indicate if you own a Japanese driving license. If you say yes, a field will appear so you can fill in your license number. When you are all set, click the yellow button to go to the next step.
Create a Rakuten account
You will then be asked to create a Rakuten account, using the information you filled in previously. Check whether all the information is correct, and just type in a password (twice). You will also be asked if you want to receive Rakuten newsletter. Check left for yes and right for no.
Then, click on the yellow button to go to the next step.
Link your bank account
If you selected your bank during the basic information step, you will then have to link your account to your Rakuten card.
Click on the yellow button. If you chose to receive the paperwork at home, you will be redirected to step 8 (confirmation) instead.
1. Select your bank
Choose your bank from the list.
2. Enter branch and account type
Fill in the branch number, select the type of account (should be the first one, regular account), and fill in your account number. Click on the button on the far right (次へ進む) to go to the next step. You will have to confirm your account on the next page.
1. Confirm the information you entered
You finally got to the last step!! (well, for the online part). Check whether the information you wrote is correct. Click 修正する to correct any detail.
2. Add password for Rakuten e-navi (optional)
You can add a different password for Rakuten e-navi, for more security. Check left for no, right for yes.
3. The final button!
Check 同意する to indicate you agree to the terms, take a deep breath and click on the red button when you are ready.
4. Wait for your identity check
What follows now is a whole lot of waiting. After you completed your application, you will receive a confirmation email (in Japanese), which informs you among other things that they might call to check your identity. They do so by asking you your name, and date of birth. In my case they called my workplace 4 days after I submitted my application.
5. Wait for your card
If you linked your bank account to your Rakuten card, you should receive your card by mail, within one or two weeks. In the case that you didn’t link your bank account, you will first receive the to return, before finally receiving the long-awaited card.
I hope this article will be of help in your Rakuten card application process! Feel free to share your experience with the Japanese credit card system.
※We do our best to keep this article up to date. Please keep in mind that things might change and that we cannot take responsibility for the results you may receive from Rakuten. Thank you for understanding.