We at MickLay Motors in Tokyo have been asked this a lot over the years and until recently we though you needed a Japanese Credit Card in order to get a ETC Card (Toll card) so you can drive straight through the Toll gates however it seems there is a couple of other ways. Below I will list a few methods as well as some of the changes and the planned changes in fees that will be taking place shortly.
- Linking the ETC Card to your Japanese Credit Card, if you have a Japanese Credit Card this is the easiest way to set up your ETC Card. Just go to the bank that your CC is set up with and ask for an ETC application. They will be able to walk you through the process.
- The ETC Personal Card – If you have been on the highways around Japan I am sure you would have seen the rest areas or SA areas as most navigations call them. With in the major ones of these there is usually an ETC booth and at these booths they have an application form for the Personal ETC Card or if you can speak some Japanese or have a friend that can you can request for a form to be posted to you directly by calling this number – 044-870-7333. They way the Personal ETC Card works is you have to put a deposit of ¥40,000 to the company (payable at the local convenience store) then the card will get linked up to your bank account in Japan and the usage will get taken out directly from your bank account. There are a few restrictions so make sure you check them all out, i.e. The deposit amount needs to be around 4x your monthly usage so if you are using more than ¥10,000 in tolls for 2 months in a row they may request you to pay extra deposit amount. ¥15,000 in tolls a month = ¥60,000 deposit, ¥20,000 in tolls a month = ¥80,000.
- http://japanetccard.com/ – If you have a foreign CC then this option could be for you. It was originally set up for the military personal but they now offer it for everyone. You do have to pay an extra fee to use this system.
New discounts available with ETC Cards – Sign up required.
You can find the full list of current discounts available here – http://www.go-etc.jp/english/etc2/new_service.html – but in short if you are driving during 6am – 9am and or 5pm – 8pm Monday – Friday and on the weekends you might be entitled to between 30%-50%. If you drive 5-9 times a month then you can get 30% discounted rate or 10 plus times a month 50% discount rate – max travelling distance 100kms per time.
For more information look here – http://www.go-etc.jp/english/etc2/new_service.html