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Can one say whether for travelling in Tokyo Suica cards are better than PASMO cards or vice versa? I'm interested in moving around in Tokyo by public transport.

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    Suica and Pasmo are identical in function.
    – findwindow
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 22:11
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    Going to a maths conference in Tokyo soon? ICIAM 2023? Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 13:23
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    @MartinPeters with the risk of sounding creepy, see you there, unknown stranger! Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 19:06
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    Note that as of the 8th of June 2023, Suica cards are no longer being sold (semiconductor shortages). Tourists can purchase the "Welcome Suica" cards, but only at airport train stations at Narita and Haneda. Likewise, Pasmo isn't currently being sold either (source). For visitors they seem to be offering "Pasmo Passport". Purchase locations are listed here: pasmo.co.jp/visitors/en/buy. If you have an iPhone, you can add Suica to Apple Wallet, though you can't use VISA cards. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 0:49

2 Answers 2

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No difference at all when it comes to taking public transportation. They work exactly the same, and in my time of living in Tokyo and using a Pasmo I never had any limitation.

The only limitation you might encounter, but not public transportation related, is that some vending machines may accept one and not the other, but that would be relevant only if you are out of cash.

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    +1. The other (extremely minor) difference is that if you have any money left over and want to cash it out, you can only refund Suicas at JR stations and Pasmos at non-JR stations. Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 8:47
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    The fundamental limitation for transit is that commuter passes need to be loaded on the railway company's native card.
    – user71659
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 19:55
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Functionally they are the same, but in terms of convenience, Pasmo is better. In terms of long-term cost savings, Suica may be better.

Both cards have an automatic top-up feature, and with Pasmo you can just use the app on any modern phone with Android 6.0+ or iPhone 8 and above. However, for Suica you'll need the View Credit Card in order to use the feature. Hence, Pasmo is more convenient.

Both cards have a point system, where 1 point equals to 1 yen. Suica's point rebate does not require a credit card, and for every 1000 yen spent is 15 yen, giving it a 1.5% rebate. For Pasmo, the maximum amount any card gives is 1.0%, making it less economical in the long run.

If you're a traveler, you can consider Suica Light instead, which does not require a deposit and has a validity of 6 months. For the normal Suica referenced in this question, you'll need a 500 yen deposit when making a new card, and it costs a further 220 yen to refund it when you plan to leave the country. Pasmo does not require a fee to refund.

Thus, for the short-term traveler, Pasmo is definitely better. If you live in Japan, Suica may be better.

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