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I'm in Japan and I have a Mastercard, but I forgot my PIN. Do you know if it is possible to swipe and pay?

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Before, we could go to any bank and withdrawal directly, the bank will call and authorize and then give you cash. Not sure if this is applicable now or not. – Heidel Ber Gensis Jun 1 '14 at 6:50
Some banks will let you change your PIN via their website or over the phone. – Doc Jun 1 '14 at 7:03
If you ran out of options, and you are from the US, then you can transfer money from your credit card to MoneyGram anywhere in the world using PayPal, you will not need the pin to use the credit card online and you will be able to add money to your PayPal account then transfer it to yourself via moneygram and collect it instantly, check this page: – Heidel Ber Gensis Jun 1 '14 at 7:15
For us there was a 1% charge to use the Postal ATM machine when transferring money to Japan. Compared to any other option that was cheap. – John May 1 at 22:41
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Japan is a bit behind the curve for chip & PIN, it's now possible in some places but swipe & sign remains universally accepted. Do remember that Japan remains a cash-heavy society and there are lots of smaller shops, restaurants and accommodations that operate on a cash-only basis.

The only time you really need a PIN is for cash advances from ATMs, although most Japanese ATMs don't accept any foreign credit cards period (see Wikivoyage for the gruesome, ever-changing details).

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As answered above, swipe & sign is basically OK everywhere that accepts credit cards. However, you will not be able to use it at machines that sell JR tickets (like bullet train tickets). If you go to the counters with people selling JR tickets (usually next to the machines) you can swipe the credit card and use it, so if you want a bullet train ticket definitely line up at the counter (with people) selling them, not the machines. – Manmaru Jun 2 '14 at 1:20
As jpatokal mentioned it is primarily a cash based society so expect additional fee everywhere if you wish to use your credit card. Obviously at popular spots such as JR stations, I doubt extra fee is applicable, but I'd rather try and call my bank and get my PIN changed. – Aditya Somani Jun 2 '14 at 1:40
@Aditya, in my decade plus in Japan, I have never seen an additional charge for using a credit card. The only time I have seen a difference in price is when at an electronics store you can occasionally get a 3-5% discount for paying with cash. Recently at least in urban areas, just about everywhere that I would expect to accept credit cards does (the only cash-only businesses I can think of in major urban areas are smaller bars and restaurants). – jmac Jun 2 '14 at 4:24
@jmac That's odd. I saw extra money for credit card a week back, at Kappabashi-dori. Other times, I've been to places where it's just more hassle. Popular restaurants and shopping malls usually work fine. – Aditya Somani Jun 2 '14 at 5:08
@Aditya, for places offering the cheapest price possible (including discount sites like, credit cards are often not accepted to keep the prices down. In many countries, the credit card companies lobbied to make sure there can't be a cheaper 'cash only' price to reduce barriers to people using cards more (I do not know if that's the case in Japan). In many shops you can haggle a lower price if paying by cash (if not offered a discount automatically), but I would hesitate to say "expect additional fee everywhere if you wish to use your credit card" – jmac Jun 2 '14 at 5:16

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