7 Best Travel Money Tips If You're Heading to Japan in 2024

Getting geared up for a trip to Japan? Don’t go anywhere without reading our travel money tips. We’ll walk you through how to spend conveniently and make your money go further when you’re in Japan, including how to get your Japanese yen with good exchange rates and no hidden fees, how to manage your holiday cash safely, and convenient options to make sure you’ve always got a way to pay no matter what you’re up to.

Tip 1: Take a prepaid travel card

Your number one priority should be having convenient and secure ways to pay for things in yen while you’re in Japan. Using your bank debit card could mean paying foreign transaction fees - and relying on your credit cards can add in extra costs like cash advance fees when you get cash. As an alternative, you could choose a prepaid travel card which lets you top up in pounds, to spend and withdraw in yen easily and with low overall costs.

One thing to note upfront about a trip to Japan is that it’s pretty common to find you need cash for day to day spending. To get JPY in cash conveniently and with low fees, consider using a travel card which offers some no-fee ATM withdrawals from a provider like Wise and Revolut. That’s safer than carrying loads of yen when you go - and can cut costs too.

Let’s look at Wise and Revolut in more detail.

Wise card

Wise accounts are opened and managed online or through the Wise app, making them easy to use while you’re away. You can top up in pounds and hold, send, spend and exchange 40+ currencies including JPY. There’s a small fee to get your Wise card, but then no ongoing costs, and you can use your card in 150+ countries globally.

Wise accounts are opened and managed online or through the Wise app, making them easy to use while you’re away. You can top up in pounds and hold, send, spend and exchange 40+ currencies including JPY. There’s a small fee to get your Wise card, but then no ongoing costs, and you can use your card in 150+ countries globally.

There’s no foreign transaction fee to pay, and when you convert currencies in the Wise app, or spend with your Wise card you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.43%.


  • Accounts are free to open, and can be managed with just your phone

  • Currency conversion uses the mid-market rate, fees can be as low as 0.43%

  • Order your card for home delivery, and start using your virtual card instantly

  • Convert in advance or let the card automatically switch to JPY when you pay

  • Get some fee free ATM withdrawals every month


  • You’ll need to pay a one time fee to get your card in the first place

  • Some transaction fees apply, including ATM fees once you’ve exhausted your fee free allowance

Read Wise review

Wise travel card

Revolut card

Revolut has 5 different types of account to suit different customer needs and preferences. You could start off with the Standard plan which has no monthly fee, or upgrade to an account with more features and a monthly charge from 2.99 GBP to 45 GBP.

Revolut card

You can hold and exchange JPY alongside 25+ other currencies, and get both a physical and virtual card for easy spending and withdrawals. The features you get with your Revolut account depend on the account type you pick - but all plans have some currency conversion which uses the mid-market rate, and some no-fee ATM withdrawals, too.


  • Varied account plans that suit different customer needs and spending habits

  • Hold and exchange 29 currencies including pounds and yen

  • All accounts have some currency conversion which uses the mid-market exchange rate with no extra fee

  • Physical and virtual card options available

  • Higher account tiers have lots of extras and perks including cash back and airport lounge access


  • Fees apply for some account tiers

  • Out of hours and fair usage fees may apply depending on how you use your account

  • No branch network for face to face service

Read Revolut review

Revolut travel card

Tip 2: Be careful when exchanging money at the airport

Cash is used far more widely in Japan than in many other countries - but if you’ve not organised your yen in advance, picking up cash at the airport can be a costly mistake.

Airport currency exchange is certainly convenient, but it’s often pricey thanks to a captive market and little competition. Airport exchange kiosks may not state that there are fees, but that might just mean that the costs you pay have already been added to the exchange rate used to calculate your currency conversion. That’s not transparent and means you may be paying more than you think.

One option to get around this is to see if you can order in advance for airport collection. This service isn’t always available but you may get a better rate online compared to on the spot. If the rates still don’t look great, consider waiting to make an ATM withdrawal at the airport as soon as you land.

Click here to read about the 10 best places to exchange currency in London.

Tip 3: Have different payment methods with you

Generally when you’re abroad, having several different methods of payment with you is a smart idea. You can pick the option that works best for different transaction types - and if one payment type is refused, you’ll have a plan B.

Consider taking a combination of one or more of the following with you to Japan:

  • A small amount of yen in cash

  • A prepaid travel card

  • Your bank debit or credit card

  • Some cash in pounds you can exchange if you need to

    You’ll need cash with you during your trip - but do remember to use your hotel’s safe for security. Cards are generally accepted in Japan in larger stores, restaurants and hotels, particularly in the cities and tourist areas. However, it’s a good idea to have a couple of cards on different networks - like one Visa and one Amex - just in case you find the network you prefer isn’t supported.

Tip 4: Pay in local currency when using your card

When you’re in Japan you should pay in yen. That may sound obvious - but you may still find you’re asked by a merchant or at an ATM if you’d rather pay in pounds.

This question indicates dynamic currency conversion (DCC), which means the merchant or ATM converts the bill from JPY to GBP instead of your bank or card network. That has the advantage that you can see instantly what you’re paying - but the distinct disadvantage that you’ll usually get a worse exchange rate. That means you pay more when you choose to pay in pounds.

One easy way to avoid DCC is to get a Wise prepaid travel card. You can add money to your digital Wise account in pounds and either convert to yen at the touch of a button, or just let the card’s autoconvert technology make the conversion for you. That way you’ll always know you’re paying in the local currency, wherever you are.

Go to Wise

Tip 5: Beware when making ATM withdrawals

If you’re planning on getting your Japanese yen at an ATM once you arrive there are a few things you’ll need to know.

First is about convenience. Not all ATMs in Japan accept international cards. Look out for machines marked as ‘international’ in 7-Eleven stores, post offices, 7 Bank and Shinsei Bank, Family Mart and Lawson stores. International airports and large department stores also often have international ATMs. Some ATMs will be unavailable overnight - bank ATMs are usually open 24/7, but those in stores may go off service at night or even at the weekend.

Secondly: costs. Double check if any extra fees are added by your bank or card issuer when you make an overseas ATM withdrawal, and remember to avoid DCC - which we covered above.

Finally, be mindful of security. Carrying too much money in cash is a risk, as distracted tourists make easy prey for pickpockets. Get a card with low fees that allows you to take out money as and when you need it.

Tip 6: Avoid taking too much cash with you

You’re going to need cash in yen when you’re in Japan. But it’s not a cheap place, and you’re probably not popping over for the weekend - so carrying your entire holiday budget with you in cash from the UK is not a good idea.

Instead, make ATM withdrawals little and often, and pick a prepaid travel card which has low or no international ATM fees. That means you can still pay by card where it’s available, but you should also always have some cash to hand as and when you need it.

In short: carry a small amount of cash, have a backup payment method, and use the hotel's safe box for cash and valuables when you can.

Tip 7: Book luggage when you buy your flight tickets

The baggage allowance you get for your flight to Japan will depend on which carrier you pick - but it’s important to double check so you don’t get caught out by high excess baggage fees at the airport.

If there’s any chance that the hold allowance on your airline’s standard ticket isn't enough, buy some more baggage allowance from the airline, online and in advance, to avoid unpleasant surprises and unnecessary costs.

Best place to get Japanese currency from?

There’s no single best place to get your yen - and most people choose a combination of options for flexibility and convenience.

You’re going to need some cash with you - so you can buy some before you travel, carry some pounds with you to convert on arrival, or use a prepaid, credit or debit card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival. You’ll also be able to use your card to pay for things once you’re there, wherever cards are accepted.

As well as cash and your bank card, it’s well worth looking into a travel card from a provider such as Wise and Revolut for an easy to use payment method for Japan which offers convenience, security and flexibility. You can order your card before you leave, add money in pounds and either convert in advance or at the point of payment, to make cash withdrawals and pay for things in Japan as easily as you would at home.

Learn more about buying yen here.

Other travel money tips when heading to Japan?

Let’s take a look at a few more sensible steps to take to make sure your holiday in Japan goes to plan - and stays below your budget.

Get travel insurance

Travel insurance is essential both in case of baggage, documents and valuables being lost, and in case of medical problems while you’re away. The UK government notes that health care in Japan - while excellent quality - is very expensive. If you need medical care you’ll be expected to prove you have adequate insurance or the full funds to pay for it upfront. Treatment can be delayed if you don’t comply - which is simply not worth the risk.

Many different travel insurance companies exist, with a broad range of packages including single trip cover and annual cover, at different price points and with different features. Compare a few to select the right one for you.

Agree on a price before a service starts

You’re on holiday and you want to have fun. But don’t let your guard down too much - if you’re buying a service or accepting an invitation make sure you know exactly what you’ve agreed to - and the price you’ll pay - before it begins.

Generally Japan is extremely safe, and the chances are that you’ll be just fine. But vigilance is still a sensible idea. One commonly reported issue, for example, is in the Kabukichō area of Tokyo, where touts try to lure drinkers into hostess bars for apparently low prices. As you may guess, at the end of the night, prices are no longer so low, and you’re stuck with a huge bill.

Keep your wits about you - and double check the final price of any service you agree to.

Beware of pickpocketing

Once again, on a global scale, Japan is extremely safe. But that doesn’t mean that distracted tourists can’t fall victim to opportunistic thieves and pickpockets.

Stay aware of your surroundings, exercise the same common sense precautions you would in a large city in the UK and beware of pickpockets who work in groups or pairs. If someone appears to be trying to keep you occupied or is being overly friendly, they may be keeping you busy while someone else relieves you of your valuables.

Japan prices

Japan is not known as a budget destination. While there are plenty of different places to visit which each come with their own costs, overall, it can be pretty pricey. Do some research in advance to set your budget and make sure you can make the most of your trip. Here are some things to think about.

How much does a trip to Japan cost from the UK?

Flight prices do vary based on the time of year, the carrier and exactly where you’re heading to. However, as Japan is long haul, you’ll usually find you can only travel with a more expensive flag carrier like Japan Airlines, BA or Cathay Pacific. Cheaper flight options usually include at least one stop, which increases journey time.

At the time of research (September 2023), for departure in October 2023 you can go from London to either Osaka or Tokyo starting at just under 550 GBP return, on a route which requires one stop.


Accommodation costs in Japan are very varied. The prevalence of hostels in the bigger cities can keep down your costs if you’re on a smaller budget - but if you’re looking for luxury, you’ll find that too.

For the trip we mentioned above (flying in October, booking in September 2023), you could get a hostel - including trendy capsure hostels - in Tokyo starting from just 20 GBP a night. However, hotels will set you back far more - over 300 GBP a night for popular locations. Book in advance for the best deals.

Restaurant prices in Japan

While life in Japan can come with a high price tag, food can actually be found at fairly low cost. Let’s stick with our trip to Tokyo for this example. In Tokyo, you’ll find that the average cost of a 3 course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant is just under 35 GBP. Of course costs vary based on where you are and what you choose - but it’s good to know that you can get great Japanese cuisine at an affordable price.

Compare the costs with the specific location in Japan you’re planning visiting, with Numbeo.com.

FAQ - travel money tips for Japan

What is the safest way to take money to Japan?

You’re going to need cash with you when you’re in Japan. However, carrying too much cash is a security risk and should be avoided. Using a low cost travel card to make ATM withdrawals as and when you need to is a good way to balance safety and convenience when you travel to Japan. Keep an eye out for ATMs marked as ‘international’ in some banks, post offices and many convenience stores.

Should I exchange money before I travel to Japan?

There’s no need to exchange money before you go to Japan if you don’t want to. You can make an ATM withdrawal at the airport on arrival - which can be a good deal if you get a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut, which can offer good exchange rates and low overall costs.

Is it better to use cash or card in Japan?

Cash is king in Japan. Cards will be accepted in larger places and where there are a lot of tourists - but having some cash on hand is essential. Generally having one or two cards including a prepaid travel card, and a little cash is a sensible move as you’ll always have a back up if one payment method isn’t possible.