One point for every ¥200 purchase might seem small at first but having a point card in Japan is an easy way to get some extra savings with every purchase. Besides, it’s always exciting to look down at the end of every receipt to see your current total. But which one to get?

Point cards don’t just fatten a wallet

When checking out at almost any cashier in Japan, you might have come across the question, “pointo kaado arimasu ka?” (do you have a point card?”). It may seem unnecessary, but those points often add up to become nice rewards for someone who patronizes a particular store.

Now, it’s completely normal to want to acquire all the point cards available and rack up the points. However, doing so would only give you a fat wallet with cards you end up not using. Here are a few of the best and most worthwhile ones to grab, in case you’re looking at saying, “hai, arimasu,” when asked the point card question.

Introducing the top 5 must-have point cards

T-Point (Culture Convenience Club, Softbank, Family Mart)

Considered the gold standard of point cards, the T-point card can be used (and redeemed) in a massive selection of stores from supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores, drug stores, shopping centers, electronic shops, even travel purposes like Airbnb.  

Just look for the hard to miss yellow “T” on a blue background, and you have the opportunity to get points. Furthermore, you can exchange points for ANA miles, wherein 500 T-points can get you respective airline miles.

T-points can also be exchanged for other services such as banking and gas-related transactions and vice versa. For example, the points you earn in a Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos card can be converted to T-points, giving a more comprehensive selection of choices for redemption. When one owns a T-Point card, it’s very typical to search for the logo at every cashier, just in case.

Sign-up/card fee: Free

Where to get: At a Tobu or Tsutaya store, any Family Mart, Softbank shop, and more.
Eligible shops: Tobu store, Maruetsu, Welcia, Gusto, Bamiyan, Jonathan’s, Yoshinoya, Lotteria, Onitsuka Tiger, ASICS, Family Mart, Tsutaya, Studio Mario, and more. Complete list here.

Conversion: ¥200 = 1 point

Redemption: 1 point = ¥1 (may vary for other exchange systems with establishments)

Nanaco (Seven-Eleven Japan)

Each of the big convenience store names has their own point card except Family Mart, which uses T-point. For 7-11, it’s the Nanaco card, which works as an ‘e-wallet’ IC card, meaning you would need to top up before point accumulation. On a positive note, you can use the Nanaco card at other places besides 7-11. Keep an eye out for the rainbow-looking card with a giraffe mascot when checking out at the cashier.

Sign-up/card fee: ¥300

Where to get: Ito Yokado or any 7-11 store

Eligible shops: All 7-11 stores and Seven&i Holdings-operated establishments such as Ito-Yokado supermarket or Denny’s, McDonald’s, and Coco Ichibanya.

Conversion: ¥100 = 1 point 

Redemption: 1 point = ¥1

D-Point (NTT Docomo)

Another big convenience store chain is Lawson, which uses the D-point card. Although it’s relatively new in the point card playing field, the D-point card has been building up its partnerships. If you’re a Docomo user, you can benefit more from this point card due to the numerous coupons and special promotions offered to your current tier. The tier-based system (regular to gold) is dependent on how many points you earn in 6 months.

Sign-up/card fee: Free

Where to get: Docomo shop, any Lawson store

Eligible shops: Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Life, Takashimaya, Bic Camera, Aoki, Lotte Duty-Free, and more.

Conversion: ¥100 = 1 point 

Redemption: 1 point = ¥1

R-Point (Rakuten/Edy)

This point card is for the online shopper. Rakuten/Edy-point cardholders can earn numerous points by shopping through the Rakuten website. If you pay with a Rakuten credit card, you can earn even more points. There are over 2,500 stores at the Rakuten marketplace, and you can get cash back with purchases. One would need to keep a close look at the timing, though, because the same item purchased today with a two percent cashback can become five percent next week. Still, an R-point card is one to get.

Free 200 points for the first time downloading and using Rakuten Web Search

Sign-up/card fee: ¥300

Where to get: Online at Rakuten or partner stores

Eligible shops: Rakuten, McDonald’s, Mister Donut, Mos Burger, ANA, Lawson, Ootoya, and more.

Conversion: ¥100 = 1 point 

Redemption: 1 point = ¥1

Majica Point

This might not be an official point card, but if you are a Don Quijote frequent shopper, then it’s something to have. The majica card works like an e-wallet, where you can charge and spend to earn points. I’ve personally acquired over 6,000 points in two months due to the many points promotions, such as charging your majica card at the cashier and using that to pay. During those two instances, you get points.

You can also get a JCB majica donpen credit card managed by UCS and use that to charge your majica card conveniently. The fact that this one-stop-shop has branches all over Japan makes it a worthwhile card to have in your wallet.

Sign-up/card fee: Free

Where to get: Any Don Quijote store

Eligible shops: Don Quijote

Conversion: may vary

Redemption: 1 point = ¥1

At the end of the day, the choice would depend on which you patronize the most. Some of them even overlap and are accepted at the same stores. Watch your points stack up and enjoy spending them for groceries and rewards without paying for anything.

When you wish to use your points, you can simply inform the cashier with pointo de onegai shimasu. They might ask how much you want to use. You can reply with all (zenbu de) or just a portion (–en bun no point de). Lastly, make good use of bonus points and campaigns. The signs are often plastered around the area, so you really can’t miss it. Certain products might earn double or triple points, or there’s a special period where everything gets bonus points.

You can also look at flyers or brochures located in the check-out area for more info on the campaigns. If you link your account to an email address, you can also receive links to raffles, surveys, games, which you can join to earn more points.

There you have it, point cards that are worthy of a slot in your wallet. You can go for a point card branded credit card to score more points while signing up for a credit card or choose a regular point card. Oh, and if you prefer a more card-less approach, most of the point cards mentioned above have their online version, so you can simply show the bar code on your phone to use. Either way, each swipe gets you some cashback, which can be thoroughly enjoyed in the future.