How to use a Point Card - The loyalty card helps you save money

“Point Card wo Omochi Desu Ka?" or "Do you have a Point Card?" this is a phrase that customers are commonly asked at stores in Japan, such as supermarkets and convenience stores. A Point Card ポイントカード is a loyalty card or a reward card in English, which is a membership card allowing the cardholders to receive discounts.


What to answer when a cashier at checkout asks if you have a point card

In case a cashier (Reji-gakari) asks you something in Japanese and you don’t understand what he/she says, just try picking up the word “Point”. If you hear this word, the cashier must be asking you whether you have a point card or not. If you don’t have a card, just answer “No” or Iie いいえ in Japanese. If you want to make sure to answer properly, just say “Point Card? Motte Imasen = A Point card? No, I don’t have one. "

Do you want to make a point card? If “No”

Those who answered “No” may get questioned with another set phrase, “Point Card wo Otsukuri Shimashou ka? = Would you like to make a point card? ” To know if the cashier is asking you this question, just try picking up the words “Point Card” and “Otsukuri”.

If you don’t need it, answer “Iie, Kekkou desu いいえ、けっこうです。”, or just say “No thank you”.

Point cards will help you save money

Staying in Japan for a long term as a student or a worker? Then, having a point card will help you save some money. Earning points is not much trouble at all. There are stores offering bonus points for purchase on specific days, and some stores give a point to customers who refuse plastic bags.

There are Point Cards can be used at multiple partner stores

The Point Card issued by a large chain store or collection agency is often available to use at their partner stores. For example, the points you earn for purchase at Store A can be used at Store B to receive discounts. Having one of these types of cards is convenient as you don’t have to carry many different cards.

How you can get points

Hand your point card to a cashier at checkout when you buy something and make the payment, The cashier swipes your card, and then you can get certain points based on the amount spent, for example, at a rate of 1 point per 100 Yen.

How to use your points

Points can be used to receive discounts when purchasing something. (At some stores, you can also redeem your reward points for gift vouchers, lifestyle products, etc.)

Once the number of points reaches a specified number, you can use your points to get the discount accordingly, for example, use of 100 points equals to 100 Yen discount.

When you buy something and make the payment at checkout, hand your point card to a cashier and say “Point wo tsukai masu = I’d like to use my points". As the cashier will ask you how many points you want to use, you need to tell the number. If you want to use all of your points, say “Zenbu Tsukaimasu” for “I’d like to use them all”. As for a partial use, say “[ ] point de” for “I’d like to use [ ] points”.

How to know how many points you have earned

See the receipt where the statement is printed on, including the points you get from the purchase and the total earned points. Remember the use of earned points has a validity date, usually, expires if the card is not used within one or two years. It is better to check the expiration date now and then.

The statement is often printed at the bottom of the receipt. It can be helpful to use a camera translator app. You can also check the records on the web if the store provides the online service.

The points you earned from this purchase = 今回お買い上げポイント計
Total points you have earned = 累計ポイント数
Valid to use by = ~迄有効


How to make a point card

A point card is actually a membership card with a loyalty program. To get a point card issued, you need to sign up for membership. If you ask the store for a Point Card, they will give you a membership application form that you can fill in with basic personal information; name, telephone number, etc. However, the application process varies depending on what types of card you require. Also, there are cards that it takes several days to be valid to earn points after the issue.

Types of point cards

Point Cards can be separated into four types as below. Since some stores are offering several different cards, you may need to designate which type of cards you want.

(1) Regular Point Card

A membership card just to collect points, issued quickly. If you ask the store for a point card, they will give you an application form that you can fill in with basic personal information; name, telephone number, address, etc. The card will be issued then and there. Some stores require a service fee for the card issue. (100 JP Yen or so)

Extra info | Point Cards issued at rental shops
The point card issued at rental shops may require annual membership fee (e.g 300 Yen per year) for members who signed up to use their rental service. If you are not going to use their rental service, be sure and clarify it when applying. Otherwise, you will have to pay an annual fee when renewing your card.

(2) Prepaid card with a loyalty program (Denshi Money 電子マネー)

This type of prepaid IC Cards allows users earn some points when they use the card for payment. The application is as simple as it for (1) regular cards; only basic personal information is required to get the card issued. (You may be asked for a deposit or a service fee to issue the card.)

You can earn points only by using the prepaid card for payment. However, some stores give points for payment by cash. Since the condition varies depending on stores, it is better to ask the store to find it. Just say at checkout “Genkin no Shiharai de Point tsuki masu ka?” to ask “Can I get points for payment in cash?”

Extra info | Prepaid cards are not refundable
The money in the prepaid card is not refunded in principle. The only exemption is that IC cards issued by railway transport companies, such as Suica, are refundable under certain conditions.

(3) Credit cards with a loyalty program (Credit card kinou-tsuki Point card クレジットカード機能付き)

This is a point card with function as a credit card, allows you earn points for purchase either by credit card or cash. Though this card is actually a credit card, you can also use it as a regular point card when buying in cash. Some stores give extra points for payment by credit card.

The application is not easy as it involves more requirements to be approved. You will need to submit identification and bank account information. The cancellation is not easy either. You will need one week or more to get the card issued.

(4) Debit cards with a loyalty program

This is a card issued by financial institutions. You can earn points by using this card for payment at their partner stores. To get this card issued, you are naturally supposed to have a bank account at the financial institution. The application is similar to it for credit cards, involves requirements to be approved.

How to cancel the membership

Cancelling the card (3) Credit Card and (4) Debit Card is not easy. The trouble may already happen at the very beginning of the procedure when trying contact the card company by telephone, letting you wait for a long time after following the automatic guidance. You may feel like giving up at this stage. After getting in touch with the card company by telephone, they will mail you documents that you need fill out in Japanese and return.

If you are a short-stay resident in Japan, who wants a membership card just to earn points, having a regular point card is much suitable. The regular point card expires if not used for a particular time, such as for 2 years or 3 years, you can practically withdraw from the membership. (The earned points will also be invalid at the time.)

Last updated: June 2017
This article is also available in Japanese